I took yesterday and today off from work (PTO paid time off). I spent yesterday loafing and doing a little work in the woodshop (first step of finishing the foot stools), and I finished up the day umpiring a fast-pitch softball game - very one sided, not a lot of fun to umpire.
Today after going to an 8am doctor's appointment I loafed some more, worked in the wood shop for a couple of hours (finishing the nightlight and working on a jig). And then it was time to hit the river, Charles that is.
I put in at the Elm Bank Reservation in Wellesley. This was the first tryout for the kayak trailer I got for Christmas. The trailer has a cradle for the back end of the boat and two straps one which secures the back. The other strap runs through a large hook. The hook is hooked to the cockpit and the straps are tightened to secure it. It works like a dream and makes moving the kayak more than a couple of feet a lot easier.
I put in under a large tree at the edge of the river. This put in is quite steep. My everlasting thanks to the woman, there playing with her dogs, who pointed out the gradual sloped launch site 20 feet away.
From there I headed upriver toward the dam in South Natick. I haven't paddled much of this stretch before. Like much of the Charles it is a mellow stretch of water that winds past park land (Elm Bank) and houses. Many of the houses had canoes resting by the water. And one had a great tree house right at the edge of the river. I got as close as I could to the dam. I had to turn around not because of the current, but because the water was too shallow. I did get within about 50 feet of the dam. Then it was back down river. Because I had time I continued about a mile or so beyond Elm Bank before I headed back to the car.
As I paddled my mind wandered around a bit. I composed haiku in my head, or I should say part of a haiku. I've got the first two lines. I thought about what to write about the paddle. I thought about the last time I paddled part of this stretch back in November. And I thought about things I've forgotten.
Total paddle time: 1 hour 45 minutes. Total distance ~ 3 1/2 miles. Turtle sightings - 1; heron sightings - 2; goose sightings - too many to count; plastic dog sightings - 3 (designed to counteract goose sightings). Human sightings were few - the woman with the dogs, 2 little boys who'd been fishing and their grandmother (I think), 2 couples reading in the sun, one adult rollerblader, two women on horseback, and two other kayakers.
Take a careful look at the picture below. Do you see the fish?
The other kayakers were not wearing life vests, and based on a short conversation I had with them were not clear on which direction was upriver and which was down. While the Charles, particularly in this section, is a fairly easy paddle I still don't think it's smart to paddle without life vests; and it's always smart to know where you're paddling.
A note on my own paddling practices. I do frequently paddle alone. When I do I always let Amy know where I'm putting in, where I'm planning to paddle and how long I expect to be gone and I call her when I'm out of the river. I also leave a note in the car with the time I'm putting in, the expected return and where I'm going. I always wear my life vest, which has an emergency whistle attached to it, and I always have identification (in the form of my medic alert bracelet) with me. I also do my homework. Before I try a new route I check guidebooks and maps so I know what to expect.