Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Sixth Bridge

A couple of my friends are in the Quetico, a couple others are in the Boundary Waters.  I'm drifting downstream on a tailwind and an ebb tide in the East River when I stop to write.

spartina in seed
The tall spartina grass has gone to seed and some of it is turning red, while the short spartina is starting to turn blonde and the cattails went tan at least two weeks back.  The cattail pods are just beginning to go downy.  I use the Bailey Creek sneak, taking advantage of the high tide.  The sneak is a more intimate route to the first bridge.

Bailey Creek Sneak

There are not too many osprey visible today and as I paddled the river, I was amazed by the large number of schools of menhaden in the water, their tail fins above the surface looking all tiny shark like.  It's a fish that is similar to herring - the name menhaden is derived from a native american name that meant fertilizer.  They form tight schools five to fifteen feet in diameter and scatter only when the canoe reaches the edge of the gathering.  The lack of osprey is probably due to the osprey needing to digest the equivalent of a Thanksgiving dinner.

school of menhaden

I came in at high tide, riding the lag most of the way up the river.  A high tide means that the river will be canoeable bank-to-bank to the fifth bridge, the Foote Bridge, without any risk of touching bottom with the paddle.  I pass the fifth bridge and when I get to the next bend, I pass a kayaker who has been dipping his way upstream.  He says, "looks like this is as far as it goes" and I tell him that one can go at least one more bridge, although it requires doing the limbo.  I continue, he turns back.

the sixth bridge
The river here changes from a marsh river to a forest creek.  I duck a few low trees, but mostly I weave around them.  The water stays deep and I paddle easily to the sixth bridge.  It is only the second time that I've been here.  But, the tide is a little extra high today and I keep going.  Another hundred yards and I have to crawl over a deadfall tree that spans the river.  Another fifty yards and I wade and clear a small log jam.  I wade more and paddle less the farther I go, and finally the creek becomes a wet foot hike, and it is time to return.

American Bald Eagle

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