Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Following the Ice

My plan was to follow the ice upriver but its melt out far exceeded my expectations and I reached the Salmon River without seeing any river ice at all.  Ten days ago, this section of the river, 200 yards or more across, was frozen bank to bank.
young bald eagle

Salmon Cove looked open, at least as far up as I could see, but I found the preferred boat launch still eight inches deep in snow, just begging to trap my car a ways from the road.  So, I put in a bit down river behind the opera house (yes, there is an opera house out here).  Today, I'll head down river into the wind on my outward leg and into a section of the river that I've not seen.

From land, the far side of the river looked whole and continuous, but from the canoe I find myself paddling behind a couple wooded islands with an unseen passage that leads back into a tidal pond, which is still frozen over.  It is still and quiet and the calls of a few Canada geese echo off the trees.  It is a place to return to.

I pass the remnants of Gillette's trestles and cliffside bridges, wood with heavy metal plate reinforcements tumbled down the bluff to the waters edge.  Gillette was a famous stage actor of the late 19th century.  He built a bizarre "grotto" style "castle" up on the hill and had a miniature steam engine train that he could drive around his estate. 

one of Gillette's trestles

I pass the Hadlyme ferry dock and enter Whalebone Creek.  Each of the wooded meanders holds a couple dozen ducks - hooded mergansers, lots of wood ducks, and lots of ringnecks...more bird life in one spot than I have seen in a long time.  They take wing as the bow of the canoe comes around each turn, so I keep the telephoto out on my camera and drift each bend.

Lots of wood ducks
I stop at the last bend where the it opens up into a wide marsh.  There are a couple hundred ducks up ahead and I have disturbed enough of them already.  I turn and leave them, only to find two fellows in kayaks coming in to look at ducks as well. 

leaving Whalebone Creek

I return upriver on a following wind that eases the paddle without causing concern.

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