Tuesday, April 1, 2014

West New Milfordporttuck Havenburytown

The lack of the founding fathers' imagination in naming places has become a bit of an amusement.

A great egret flew over as I was leaving town.  Further along, I passed under a turkey vulture.  I was heading towards Lyme, to put in on the big salt marshes at the bottom of the Connecticut River, but I made a side trip to check out a smaller river that I'd noticed on the maps.  It was as far as I got.

I put in on the Menunketesuck River and paddled upstream, through one bridge and under another,
for about a half mile to where progress is stopped by a eight foot high low head dam that holds back a mill pond that once powered the industry that once stood on the foundation remains that still stand on the east side of the river.

This dam is a generation earlier than any of the dams on the west coast where I started this project.  By the time dams where built there, electricity was well in use and those dams were designed to turn generators.  Here, there is a whole generation of dams that provided direct power by supplying water to waterwheels...which means that most everything that could be dammed was dammed.

I return on the current back to the put-in and continue down river.  At the first big bend an osprey soars over on its way to someplace and ignoring the nest box that has been built for its convenience.  One more turn of the river and the scattering of houses becomes much, much more sparse.  The marsh broadens to a couple hundred yards in width while the river meanders through, sometimes it bends just to bend, sometimes it bends to get around one of the bedrock outcrops that are so typical of Connecticut.  All the while there is one species of bird calling back and forth in a series of alto whistles, hidden from view and identification by the forest. The marsh, here, is the short spartina grass, still dormant from winter and flattened by the snows.  It is textbook spartina marsh, the tidal salt marsh where spartina rules and out competes any other plant, and until one gets to the edge of the forest, there is no other plant.  I spot two great egrets and one more osprey.
I pass under a low and narrow railroad bridge.  It is a door much like many bridges that I pass under in the tidal areas.  Downstream not another half mile are the marinas and shrink wrapped motor yachts. 

I have developed good filters for seeing and feeling my way into wildness in the most unlikely places, but I always have a hard time seeing past hundreds of shrink wrapped boats.  I explore a short while to get the lay of the land and then return to the upstream side of the railroad bridge where I belong and where they can't go.
I find a debris field in a seasonal drainage near the tracks and I collect three specimens.  I make one side trip, up a tributary (Gatchen Creek), a distance of a 1/2 mile or so that takes about a mile and half to do because of the creeks wide meanders.

As I take out, I meet a guy who lives next to the put-in just as he is getting ready to take his rowing dory out.  We agree on a lot of things.

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