Friday, July 19, 2013

Forest Street Follies!

Another Thursday evening paddle means...a meeting with the Pirates!  This time due to extreme heat (95 degrees at 6:00 p.m.) we decided to stray from our original plan and head to the Forest Street Launch in Millis, MA.   This launch is a fairly easy in and out depending on the water level.  We did battle a few small rocks, but it really was fine. Known for being the shady part of the river, we figured this was perfect for a hot, summer evening.  As it turned out, the sun went behind the clouds though the heat & humidity never left.

Our plan was to head upstream towards the Route 115 bridge.  This part of the river winds its way along the banks of Cedariver, a Trustee of the Reservation property.  Noticing the water level was very low prompted silent concerns.  These concerns became a reality shortly after departure.  Partly submerged across the river was a fallen oak tree.  The combination of low water level and downed tree made passage nearly impossible.
Folly #1: A few brave souls tried to cross and got hung up on the tree (yours truly included).

Quickly, we changed the plan, wiggled off the tree and headed down stream.  Our efforts were rewarded with the sighting of a beaver (maybe the culprit of our Folly #1) scurrying through the water.  Even downstream there the river was laden with downed vegetation. 
Folly #2: We struggled to find passage through those trees. Heading to the far left or right of the obstacle allowed us to progress slowly forward.

Coming around a bend in the river, our point man (actually woman - Karen) spied a lone deer on the river bank.  The deer stood silent and watched as each of us passed by.  As Earl stated "no matter how many times I see a deer,  I think it's just true beauty".  Enough said!

Chatting and paddling we came to a little 'fast' water (and rocks!). We stopped a moment to think about the paddle BACK - would we be able to power through it?  We felt confident we'd be able to make our way back through and decided to 'go for it'. 
Folly #3: Time was passing quickly and shortly after crossing the 'fast' water, we needed to turn around to make it back before dark.  Heading upstream through the fast water was not as easy as we thought it was going to be.  Some of us had to attempt it several times to get through (yours truly included).  Check out the cheering section that Thia had while clearing the obstacle (she is in the kayak behind the yellow one)!

Our return trip to the launch was uneventful, but sweet with conversation and camaraderie.  To round out the evening we grabbed some pizzas and salad and enjoyed a late night swim at the home of one of our pirates (yours truly)!  Half the fun of paddling with the "Pirates" is reliving and laughing about the events of the evening!!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Norton Reservoir Retreat

Pirates Paddling by Lisa Rubini
Our "paddling club" has now been renamed "The Pirates of the Charles River" thanks to our matey, Earl!   We are still meeting on Thursday evenings when the weather cooperates (which hasn't been often this summer season).  Because we have been stormed out the past several Thursday evenings, we decided to spend a Saturday morning and depart from our beloved Charles and head over to the Norton Reservoir.  

The dreary start to the day did not ward us off.  Five 'pirates' decided to take a chance with the clouds and launch at a spot near Tsang's Restaurant off Route 140.  Launching was easy off the sandy area and we paddled our way through the lily pads which were donned with white and pink blossoms.  

Lilly Pads by Lisa Rubini
The Reservoir, which is actually in Norton and Mansfield, is a quiet place for fishing, boating and kayaking.  This 530 acre area is home to all kinds of wildlife.  We spotted swans  swimming in large groups as well as Canada Geese with their goslings.  Nearby many Mallards milled about. A great blue heron was seen among the weeds doing his own fishing while seagulls flew above. Even Fish and turtles could be seen poking their heads out of the clear water as if to say 'hello' as we passed by.

We cut through a couple of the islands and headed to the far edge of the reservoir and made our way around the perimeter and through some coves.  Beautiful homes and forest gave us the feel we were in some New Hampshire resort area.  We spent 2 hours paddling and gabbing.  Although the day never cleared, we weren't rained on which was an extra bonus.

While exploring the eastern edge of the reservoir we found a spot where there is a dam.  The unmistakable sound of rushing water told us to be wary.  We paddled closer and thought our eyes deceived us as it looked as if we could pass right through.  Upon closer inspection we realized that indeed this was a dam.  Not wanting to get too close, we continued past this area and continued on our way.

The water itself was shallow and clean and all kinds of growth was visible. Much of the reservoir seems enshrouded with aquatic vegetation. Some even ending up on the paddle!

We rounded out our outing with a visit to Tsang's for a quick bite and a chance to talk about our paddle.

If you're interested in trying out the Norton Reservoir but don't own your own kayak, why not check out the Norton Kayak Company run by a fellow Walpolian, Dave Lennon.

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