Thursday, July 05, 2007

Independence Day Paddle

Tuesday night when I got home from work I loaded the kayak gear into and onto the car. I'd decided last weekend while on my way to the batting cages that aren't there anymore where I wanted to paddle. So, everything was in place for an early morning departure. That was the plan anyway.

Yesterday I woke up a bit later than intended, and it took me a while to get going. So it was almost 11 before I got out of the house. It was nice to have the gear ready to go so no more time was wasted.

My intended target was the Sudbury River. I put in just off Route 20 in Wayland (just west of Russell's Garden Center for those who know the area). There is a small parking area here and the edge of the river has a nice sandy bottom, although it does drop off pretty quickly. I was on the river by 11:20, and headed south (upriver) toward Framingham.

It was a slightly gloomy day, with a solid cloud cover. The weather gurus had promised that we wouldn't get rain until late in the day, so I wasn't too worried about that. There was a steady wind which when coupled with the current of the river made for a bit of a workout.

The river takes a hard left turn under Route 20 then a right turn under an old railroad bridge. From there river widens and passes through an area with marsh on one side and tree lined shores on the other. One more bridge, and the river widens a bit more. This stretch had fairly significant waves, particularly when you consider that this is usually a quiet river. I'd paddled here before (last fall), although on my previous trip I started further downriver (just off Route 27). There is a country club on the south/east shore of the river at this point but the only sign of human habitation is a path lined with curb stones that comes down to the water.

Once I'd passed the country club I entered the portion of the river I hadn't traveled before. The shore gives way to marsh at this point and the river meanders along. I passed a couple of other paddlers as I worked my way through the marsh. The view here is grass, grass and yes more grass. Finally when it seemed the marsh would go on forever I paddled around another bend and saw deep shade ahead. The marsh had given way to tree lined banks.

I had my first critter sighting of the day as I entered the shade provided by the trees. Slithering off the bank into the water was a beaver. It was quick, but the coloring and texture were definitely beaver. My guess was supported by trees showing definite beaver damage along the banks.

This picture is not one of those. This is the root system for a clump of trees (I'm not sure what kind). There were several of these along this stretch of the river. I'm fascinated by the patterns the roots make.

Most of the rest of my trip was between tree lined banks, and in tree littered water. As the river moves into Framingham, the evidence of humans increases. This stretch of the river is ripe for a clean-up effort. I had to wonder if the plastic tricycle caught in a downed tree was the result of flooding or littering. And the tires (I must have seen a dozen) - were those the remnants of swings, or do we really think that rivers make good dumping grounds.

I went just beyond the bridge pictured at the top, which isn't so much a bridge as a pier. If you look carefully you may notice that there is water to the right of the bridge. The water flows pretty rapidly here, but with a little work it can be conquered.

Just beyond the bridge a large white pipe arches over the river. This pipe brings drinking water from the Quabbin Reservoir to greater Boston. Our town doesn't get it's water from the Quabbin, ours comes from wells in town. The pipe is impressive.

Turning around was sweet bliss. Although the urge to see what was around the next bend in the river was strong, the time and slightly tired muscles convinced me turning around was in order. I love the feeling of having the trip go from the work of paddling against the current to the freedom of steering while the river provides the power. As much as possible I plan trips so the the downriver portion comes after the upriver portion.

The critter sightings were few on this trip. In addition to the beaver, and a squirrel or two, I saw lots of little birds (I'll have to figure out what they are one of these days), and a red-winged blackbird or two. The critter highlight of the day was the heron which took off from the river bank over the front of my kayak about 1/2 mile before the put in.

I pulled the boat out of the river at 2:05. It was a very nice trip and a great way to spend part of my day off.

1 comment:

Carmi said...

Hi Chelle. I dropped by from Michele's site, and I must say I'm enchanted by this entry. I feel as if I was almost in a kayak alongside you.

There's a rowing club here in London, Ontario. They're eagerly waiting for the dam that holds back the Thames River to be repaired so that water levels will return to normal and allow them to resume their normal activities.

When that happens, I'll be first in line for a demo run. What an enchanting way to get out into the world.