Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Break Up

It has been the longest stretch out of my canoe since I started my journal some six years ago.  February came in cold, very cold for this region, and it stayed cold with only a couple scattered days of thaw and a majority of days in single digits or teens (Farenheit).  Even the salt water of Long Island Sound had significant ice and it was frozen out as far as I could see on many days.

I put in at the feral cat park on the big river during a flood tide, all of that planned so that I coud paddle against the tide up to the narrowest parts of the river where ice might pile up.  I have managed to paddle in ice conditions most every winter, but that ice was mostly the 1/16 to 1/4 inch of night ice, the stuff a canoe canoe slice through.  The ice in this stretch of the river has broken up so that the surface is mostly water, but the first kiss of my canoe on the side of a flow comes more as a threat than an amusement.  After of month of freeze, the ice has substance.  Many of the flows are 4 inches or more in thickness.  That first kiss pushes my canoe aside and the flow hardly moves.  From now on I will treat anything bigger than a dinner plate as if it was a rock.

I head down river past Pope's Flat (an island) noting two hawks sitting on the downriver point.  They become four, and then they become immature blad eagles.  Ice moves birds around quite a bit.  Fresh water ducks and Canada geese, even some swans have been in the shallows of the salt water.  Eagles aren't so often seen although they are around.  The conditions may have forced them into a smaller area.

common mergansers (males)

I hope to reach the big marsh at the mouth, but at the last bridge I find a ice dam spanning the river.  I watch a fishing boat work its way through, but it takes two tries and some effort on his part.  This is as far as I'll go.

The first of my western red cedar paddles on its first trip

On the return while edging Carsten's and Peacock Islands, I spot some common mergansers, a flock of buffleheads, some ringneck ducks, and a few red breasted mergansers, and three of the eagles.  I pass my put-in at the feral cat park and continue until I reach ice jam up about a 1/2 mile upriver.

the upstream ice jam

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