Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Crushed Ice

I start the trip by making an unplanned tour of my favorite Connecticut River put-ins.  The Chester Ferry site has a fixed ledge of ice running about 75 yards out from shore.  I could launch from it without much trouble, but the return might be an issue.  At Essex, I find a smaller and less stable ice platform, but out over deeper water, and I pass on that too. 

The Lieutenant River site is open although the calm air of the morning has now been replaced by a steady breeze off of the sea.  I put in and head down river on a flood tide that is already high.  Just beyond the RR bridge, which is no more than ten minutes in, I find a large jam of small ice. 
Pushing into it, I find it to be mostly broken shards of some previous sheet ice.  I make three attempts, each coming to a bogged down halt...more like being stuck in mud than running into anything hard.  It seems a good time to turn around and explore upriver.  I stop to write.  I finish writing and decide to try one more time along the left shore. The jam is tons of small pieces, window glass thick and mostly dinner plate sized.  But, the jam is two or more feet thick with it.  It is like paddling through a giant glass of crushed ice...it even makes the same sound. 
But, the shore route goes through to the first fork.  To the left is the inside passage to the sea.  It has another bank to bank jam.  To the right is the river route to the Connecticut River, and it is open.  I flush a dozen buffleheads, which is pretty much the wildlife report for the day.

I reach the river and confirm that there is a secondary way out, and I confirm that the wind is pretty strong out in the open.  So, I return, push my way back through the jam, and continue upstream.

The river is open for a good stretch with a easy jam to push through at the highway bridge.  Beyond that, there is long ledge of ice on the east shore that is of no issue to me with most of the river open.  I get within a quarter mile of the big boulder marsh before the ice covers the entire width.  I could push on, but there is no open water to push on to.  So, it is time to return.

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