Saturday, October 1, 2022

Lost Lake and Two Regular Haunts

Sandwiched between paddles on two familiar haunts, this past week was my first visit to Lost Lake/Knops Pond in Groton, MA, a Massachusetts Great Pond.  The lake is described by Mass Fisheries and Wildlife: "This 204-acre impoundment is actually three ponds that were bound into one when water levels were raised by a dam."   Two of those ponds were Knops Pond and Springy Pond.  I chose to visit the lake on an early-morning weekday in the shoulder season when it would be less busy and I found it serene...  

Finding Lost Lake wasn't a problem...it was the boat launch that proved a bit elusive.  Though maps don't provide an address with a street name for the public boat launch I finally found it at the end of a short road bearing a street sign "Paul Revere".  The kiosk's many warnings...

...pertain to nuisance aquatic plants that can be brought in from other waterways via boats and trailers.   These invasive plants have plagued the lake in the past and are presently controlled with aquatic herbicides. 

After launching near the lake's north end I worked my way around the lake in a counter-clockwise direction and soon found the lake's outlet to Cow Pond which, in turn, flows into Cow Pond Brook leading to Massapoag Pond and eventually the Merrimack River.


The shores of the lake are mostly developed with a variety of cottages and year-round homes.  My attention was drawn to some of the older cottages such as this one which has seen better days...

Probably the wildest part of the lake was the cove where Martin's Brook, a tributary, enters...
...and where this blue heron had the place to itself...

Grotonwoods Camp and Conference Center owns 247 acres along the lake and has its own beach...

At the narrowest part of the lake red and green buoys try to channel the boat traffic...


Saw this shoreside home that its owner could paddle right into (sweet!)...

Just as I was finishing my loop around the lake the sun emerged...
...and persuaded me to extend my paddle...as I had nowhere to go and all day to get there.  Saw only 3 other boats over the course of the morning.

Earlier in the week, on Sunday, I got out on the Sudbury River and headed up to Fairhaven Bay...

At the Egg Rock inscription it was noted that water levels are slowly being replenished...



On Thursday I paddled a sun-splashed Nashua River from Petapawag in Groton, MA...

Saw some early fall color...
...and a bald eagle watching over some ducks...

Not too far from where the eagle was perched was this large nest...
Speaking of bald eagles I was saddened to read this morning of noted wildlife photographer Maury Eldridge having passed away.  Maury was a fellow paddler and he and I would occasionally encounter each other on the Sudbury River.  He graciously shared incredible photographs he'd captured of eagles as well as locations of nests and the fate of eaglets.  If I recall correctly the last time we talked he shared some photographs of the wayward Steller's Sea Eagle that showed up this past winter on the Maine coast.  Rest in peace Maury.

On the Nashua a male wood duck in full regalia was seen...


The day was a beauty and this pine-needle covered spot proved perfect for taking lunch...


Sunday's trash...




Tuesday's trash which included my 1,000th nip bottle of the year...


Thursday's trash...





Thursday, September 22, 2022

Some Salty Salps

 

Woke up on the last full day of summer to the realization that my boat hadn't yet been immersed in salt water this season.  Remedied that with a drive to Danversport where I launched into the Danvers River at Pope's Landing.  My trip downriver coincided with a morning high tide and ultimately brought me to Fort Pickering Light (above photo) at the entrance to Salem Harbor.

Skies were cloudy at the start...
...and heading downriver I was surprised at how many boats were still at their slips and moorings along the way...


Passed under the carousel-style Kernwood Street Bridge and got to see it in the open position as a powerboat came through...

Before heading out into Beverly Harbor I decided to visit the Bass River and follow the route a juvenile gray seal, now known in local news stories as "Shoebert", might have taken to his present predicament in Shoe Pond...

These days the river ends at Route 62 where there's a culvert...

...which leads to Shoe Pond named for the former shoe manufacturing facility that operated here in the past.  Presumably Shoebert swam through the culvert under Route 62 in order to reach the pond.  According to news reports he's been in the freshwater part of the pond for a week now and officials are trying to decide whether or not he'll figure out how to return to the sea on his own...or need human intervention. 

Leaving Bass River I headed under the low commuter rail bridge and the much higher Essex Bridge as the promised sunshine began to appear...

Saw this houseboat being towed by a lobster boat in Beverly Harbor...

Soon thereafter I found myself looking at open water...

The aforementioned Fort Pickering Light became my turnaround point...

As I approached Juniper Point on my return trip I put down my paddle and dipped my arms into the ocean waters.  However, in addition to the cool water, my arms felt something else...small objects of some kind.  Cupping my hands I was able to collect some of these translucent objects and place them on my spray deck...

Some were the size of raisins and others the size of grapes. My first thought was that someone had dumped a load of ice cubes in the water and they were slowly melting.  Next I thought they might be tiny jellyfish.  Once home I checked online and found descriptions there leading me to believe the slippery little creatures were salps which are tunicates and not related to jellyfish.  They feed on phytoplankton and can exist in huge numbers.  Also came across the terms "oozooids" and "blastozoids" which like "salp" are terms I'd never before encountered.  

Leaving the salps to continue doing their thing I passed an uncrowded Salem Willows...
...on the last full day of summer 2022.


The return trip saw this inbound train crossing from Beverly to Salem ...

 Trash was light...

Hope Shoebert finds his way home!

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Paddlin' Local Waters

 

Paddled local waters this past week on the Concord River in Bedford, MA and the Assabet River in Acton, Maynard, and Stow.

The Concord River last Wednesday featured an adult bald eagle...

... actively fishing in the area of the Route 225 bridge (opening photo) between Bedford and Carlisle.  Also fishing were belted kingfishers, blue herons, and this osprey (with his catch)...


On Friday Mrs. Trashpaddler and I participated in the OARS Annual River Cleanup.  This year's event was similar to last year's in having 3 days in which teams could participate.  We focused on the approximately 1 mile of river between the Powdermill Dam in Acton and the Waltham Street Bridge in Maynard where navigable waters came to an end...


Yesterday, I returned to the Assabet in Stow, MA and paddled upriver to the Route 62 Bridge Repair project in Gleasondale where a boom now stretches across the river...

Came across an empty cubic-yard bag related to the project that had escaped downriver and snagged on a fallen tree...

The bags are made of woven polypropylene and when filled with sand are used in building temporary cofferdams around the bridge abutments allowing the work area to be relatively dry.  One of the bridge project's employees gladly took it off my hands.

Only other boater on the river was a fellow fishing from his powerboat.  He was having good luck catching bass.

Trash for the week:

Wednesday's...


Friday's (from above Powdermill Dam)...



...and yesterday's...

...which included a 1941 Coca-Cola bottle.



  

Monday, September 12, 2022

Beyond Dummer

 


After visiting the submerged site of Fort Dummer (1724 to 1760) in Brattleboro, VT 2 weeks ago, I decided to return there and spend some time this past Wednesday exploring the waters immediately upstream of the fort.      

On my previous visit I tried to imagine the 40 soldiers stationed at the fort looking downriver towards the English settlements they were hoping to protect.  On this visit I tried to imagine their thoughts as they looked northward into an untamed and unknown world they'd be expected to scout.  After all, according to The Annals of Brattleboro by Mary R. Cabot, their mission was "...to be employed in scouting a good distance up the Connecticut River, West River, Otter Creek, and sometimes eastwardly above Great Monadnock for the discovery of the enemy coming toward any of the frontier towns."  In The History of Eastern Vermont by Benjamin H. Hall I read of one such patrol lead by Captain Eleazer Melvin in May of 1748 that left from Fort Dummer and headed up the Connecticut River to Fort Number 4 where they joined with Captains Stevens and Hobbs before following the "Indian Road" along the Black River to Otter Creek.  After the captains split-up and headed in different directions, Melvin's patrol continued to the shore of Lake Champlain and found themselves on the opposite shore from the French Fort St. Frederick at Crown Point (which I visited earlier this summer).  Upon seeing Indians in 2 canoes they imprudently fired upon them revealing their presence.  This resulted in a large force being dispatched from the fort and Melvin and his men beating a hasty retreat.  Eventually they headed back to Fort Dummer following the West River route.  Thinking they'd eluded their pursuers they rested alongside the river and began shooting salmon for eating and by doing so revealed their position which resulted in 6 of Melvin's men being killed.  Melvin and the rest ran for their lives back to Fort Dummer arriving there on June 1st.  They'd been away from the fort for 19 days. 

As I paddled upriver from Fort Dummer I passed under the Route 119 bridge connecting Brattleboro, VT and Hinsdale, NH (opening photo). The first tributary above the bridge is Whetstone Brook...

...where navigable waters extend only a short distance in from the Connecticut.  Not much further upriver is the confluence of the Connecticut and West rivers.  Heading into the West River I passed two sites where Native American petroglyphs lie submerged, just like Fort Dummer, due to the Vernon Dam.  The Retreat Meadows launch site allows access here...

...and is where I concluded my first day's paddle allowing time to setup camp at the Brattleboro KOA.

On Thursday I'd planned to launch on the Connecticut's opposite side at the Cartop Boat Access near the Route 123 bridge in Walpole, NH...
...however, despite my best efforts, I could find no established path to the river.  So, I decided to cross back over the river and drive a bit further upriver to Herrick's Cove in Rockingham, VT.  The change in plans worked out well as I got to spend some enjoyable time exploring the Williams River...

This river is named in honor of Reverend John Williams who was one of 112 Deerfield residents taken captive by a force of French and Indians and marched north to Canada in 1704.  On the 5th day of their journey his captors allowed him to preach to his fellow captives near the confluence of this river with the Connecticut.  Heading upriver on the Williams one soon passes under the Route 5 bridge built in 1929...
...and then around the bend are the concrete pillars supporting Interstate Route 91...

This river's route is also followed by the Green Mountain Railroad between Bellows Falls and Rutland...

Wildlife encounters included this great egret...
...and this green heron...

An immature eagle was also seen being seemingly harassed by ducks in flight.


I ran out of deep water about 1.4 miles upstream where during a lunch break the sun finally broke through making for a pleasant return trip.  Stopped on the way back to marvel at the concrete structure carrying Route 91 high overhead...

 

Once back on the Connecticut I headed further upriver to Roundeys Cove before turning about...

On the way back to Herrick's Cove I caught a glimpse of Amtrak's southbound Vermonter on the New Hampshire side...
About 25 miles south of here the passengers on this train will come within a few hundred feet of the site of Fort Dummer and never know it.

After breaking camp on Friday morning I launched from Old Ferry Road in Brattleboro and headed up river into the morning's fog...

On the Chesterfield, NH side of the river this immature eagle watched my approach...

Went up as far as Catsbane Brook...
...which was mentioned several times in accounts of Fort Dummer scouting expeditions.

Then it was downriver to the Route 9 bridge...
...where an adult eagle was also enjoying the view...

Arriving back at the boat launch I waited until this thirsty yellow beast was finished drinking from the river...
...before landing my boat.

Once off the water I began the trip home but not before visiting the Fort Dummer Cemetery in Hinsdale, NH.  The cemetery is on a knoll across the river from where the fort was located.  There is no identifying sign, only tombstones...

The only tombstone I saw that mentioned Fort Dummer was that of Hannah Willard the wife of the fort's Captain Josiah Willard and also the mother of Nathan Willard the fort's last captain...
Oddly, her husband Col. Josiah Willard who died in 1750 is buried in the Old Dunstable Cemetery in South Nashua, NH.  Henry David Thoreau in his journal entry for July 2, 1858 mentioned seeing Josiah Willard's gravestone: "Noticed the monument of Josiah Willard esq. Captain of Fort Dummer Died 1750 aged 58".  Upon leaving the cemetery and walking a short distance to the shore of the Merrimack River he wrote the following: "What a relief and expansion of my thought when I come out from that inland position by the graveyard to this broad river's shore -- Suddenly I see a broad reach of blue beneath, with its curves and headlands, liberating me from the more terrene earth.  What a difference it makes whether I spend my 4 hours nooning between the hills by yonder roadside - - or on the brink of this fair river within a quarter of a mile of that!  Here the earth is fluid to my thought -- the sky is reflected from beneath --and around yonder cape is the highway to other continents!"  On the same day's journal entry he later wrote: "River towns are winged towns".

Trash beyond Fort Dummer was on the light side.
Wednesday's...

Thursday's...

Friday's...