Friday, March 13, 2015

Return to Wildness

I stopped at the Chester Ferry landing, but only briefly.  Hoping for open water, the river was instead still frozen bank to bank.  I stopped next in Essex, and while there was open water in the main channel, the interesting places were still iced over.  So, I ended up near the mouth of the Connecticut River putting in where I had two days earlier, next to the winter killed Canada goose, which in the same place where I had last seen it.

This time, the water upstream was open as far as I could see.  Yesterday had been warm enough and windy and the ice jam that was near the landing was gone, or at least moved.  This time, I paddled upstream.

I headed up the Back River, which is not at all a river, but just a channel between two islands.  It might be a half mile long.  White thicker ice flows were grounded in the silt on the west bank while, after a couple hundred yards, thin fresh water ice from the night decked the water.  The canoe cut through the night ice, which got thicker the farther I progressed.  I turned back about half way up the channel when the ice got to be a 1/4 inch thick.  It's do-able, but pretty slow work at that point.

I returned and turned upstream into the excellent side channel that comes down from the Lieutenant River.  Although the mouth and bay at Four Mile River were solid, the marsh channel towards the Lt. was wide open.  Hooded mergansers, buffleheads, a few ring-necks and a couple goldeneyes occupied the marshy meanders, staying ahead or flying off as I approached.  The open water took me to within 500 yards of the actual Lt. River.  The ice wasn't solid, but the river was jammed with larger flows, the first few which I could work through or over, but the rest was a jumble.

On the way back out, a snipe darted over.  Even in its speed, its obvious silhouette identified it.

The Lieutenant River is just beyond the railroad tracks
 There is a specialness to paddling in ice that goes beyond the breaking an open path with its visual and aural sensations.  Even though it is a temporary condition, for no discernible time has anyone been here.  Everything is a new discovery beyond the sheet of frozen water.  Winter has changed whatever was here before, and whatever has changed has gone eyes unseen.  The condition of ice returns it to wildness.

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