Friday, March 20, 2015

Plan B

I went to the end of Ely's Ferry Road hoping to follow the shoreline up and into Hamburg Cove.  But, I found thousands of ice flows slipping upriver on the flood tide towards the ice edge of the Connecticut River, which looks to be right at the entrance to Hamburg Cove.  At least two patches, an acre or more each, pass by as I watch. 

At Ely's Ferry

The original plan no longer has a plan B.  I can easily imagine being stuck in the Cove as the bergy bits pile up at the ice edge or not being able to reach my put-in as the bergs pile up on the return towards the sea.  The shoreline in this area just is lots of cliffs and it isn't conducive to walking or portaging, the only plan B is very very long end to the day.

Instead, I put in downstream two miles on the Lieutenant River and catch the last of the flood upriver.  Soon enough I push two great blue herons upstream, and then I start collecting common mergansers, mostly males and obvious in their white and black plumage. 

mute swans
The bottom few miles of the Lieutenant are wide and bounded by cliffs, hills and marshes with any houses set well back from the river.  It has become a short trip favorite.  At the top of those few miles, it opens into a broad marsh with an open bay that holds numerous massive canoe-smacking boulders.  Today, with the very high tide, I can speed through the boulder bay and enter the upper river, a narrow and shallow creek.  In fact, there's not enough water to float a canoe in this section unless the tide is high.

I pass through the last bridge, icicles sawtoothing the passage, and then take the north channel, which I figure to be man-made.  Brush overhangs the stream and reasonable passage ends in a couple hundred yards, and being less than a canoe in width, I spin around and paddle the canoe out.
I end up seeing at least 30 mergansers, plus a young eagle, a large unidentified hawk, a pair of ringnecks and a third heron and a pair of swans.

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