Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Post Nuke Wildness

I tried Essex, the historical boat building town come tourist town, but the water there is broad and open and there is too much wind and too little shelter for a prudent start to an enjoyable canoe trip.  So, I head a few miles upriver to the town of Haddam where the river is narrower and held between wooded hillsides that soften the wind.

Last night, the temperatures dipped into the 40's, the coming of fall for sure.  But that coolness takes the summer humidity from the air and combined with the day's bright sun, it leads to brilliantly clean landscape views with intense colors and deep contrasts.  It will only increase as winter comes on and the sun stays lower in the sky casting the long shadows.

Connecticut River

I cross the river to the opposite bank where the trees on that shore have almost stilled the wind, and I head downriver looking for the entrance to the Salmon River, just to see what is there.  The first cove is blocked by 15 orange floats spanning the gap, "Access Forbidden" and "Federal Law ...." painted on them.  I continue hoping that that wasn't the Salmon River.

the tip of Haddam Neck

The land inside the bank slowly lowers, becoming swamp, and in another 1/2 mile I find the turn.  The river starts out a hundred yards wide, but gets wider as I paddle.  There is no firm shore, at least at this tide level, instead between the water and dry ground is 50 or a 100 yards of low swamp with bent and stunted hardwood trees and plenty of silver dead snags.  I spot three osprey nests, 2 natural and one a platform, but no ospreys.  I turn the first point and find more than thirty swans, half strung across the river and the other half flocked together.  I'm still a couple hundred yards off, but I hear the whistle-fart call that identifies them as mute swans.  I spot a few houses, but only when I get near to shore, so well hidden in the forest.

Salmon River

The river continues quite a ways from here, but unfortunately, geography has set the wind straight down the valley.  It's not making waves, but skimming over the surface.  It is a beautiful spot worth returning to on a calmer day and having that knowledge, I turn back.

Returning on the same east shoreline, I have time to wonder about the prolific no trespassing signs that probably go along with the orange floating barrier.  There is a sign damn near every 10 yards, sometimes two or three on adjacent trees...no mistaking the intent.  Once I pass the swampy section, there is a large flat open meadow area above the bank, but it is too high above to actually see.  There is a high tension power line dropping down the hill but not leaving.  A truck drives past, so there is a road.  I spot a concrete building back up against the hill.  With that power line, the only thing the Federal Government could be doing is attempting to duplicate the experiments of Dr. Frankenstein, unless they are building nanorobots... but that's two possibilities.

When I get home, I search some and find out that it was the Connecticut Yankee Atomic Power Plant, decommissioned in 2004 and most impressively wiped away since then.  So, they were doing Frankenstein work, but they've stopped.  They've also left a good long stretch wild and undeveloped shoreline to paddle along, even if you can't hike on it.

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