Thursday, October 18, 2012

Treasure Hunting

It is a calm and sunny day once again, a day calm enough that one must make use of it to do things that can't be done on other days.

I portage through town and put in on the steep bank at the top of the harbor.  Then, I paddle out to where the harbor meets the sound.  I had two plans in mind, and it is so calm on the salt water that the trip to Charles Island wins out.  From here, it is a mile and a quarter of open water to the small island where it is rumored that William Kidd buried some treasure.  It is now a state park and one of the east coast's best heron and egret breeding colonies.  It is off limits from May to September to protect them.  There is a tombolo connecting the island with the mainland so people can walk to the island at low tide...and they can get swept away at high tide.

Charles Island

The bulk of the island is about 15 feet high and forested with tall, thin and scraggly trees that show their vulnerability to sea weather.  The island interior is fenced off so that visitors are limited to the shoreline.  There once was a religious retreat here and at another time, a fish fertilizer operation. 

The fence probably helps to protect the ruins as well as the birds.  I circle the island, it is less than a quarter mile long, and stop twice to walk the shore.  The beach is almost entirely made of shells that are much closer to whole shells than to the sand that they will eventually become.

I return the way I came and opt for going into Gulf Pond, this time at high tide.  There is a strong flood current going under the bridges.  The old retired rusty bridge is perhaps high enough that my canoe might clear by an inch.  Perhaps it is not that high.  There is no turning back once the canoe is in that flow, so I beach and portage across the road instead, staying dry for sure.  A bald eagle flies by.

At near high tide Gulf Pond is a whole new body of water and I am not restricted to the 10 yard wide channel that flows through.  In fact, the paddling area is probably a 100 times larger.  But, the bird life is much less.  The shallows that would bring herons and egrets are too deep for them to hunt.  There are only one or two visible in the whole pond.

I paddle up to the bridge that divides the pond in half.  This second bridge has even less room under it than the first.  Rather than portage again, I go off left and right exploring shallows that were exposed mud flat on my last trip. 

I find an osprey in a tree on the west side.  We watch each other for a time until it feels comfortable enough with my presence to go back to its business.  That is when I see that it is holding a large fish in its right talon.  I shoot a zillion photographs.

note the fish

I take out at near rusty bridge and do the longer portage back home.

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