Thursday, April 13, 2017

Tree Paddling

I went upstream, the river in flood.  But unlike most rivers, the current in this one doesn't rush at speed, rather it comes to a standstill.  It feeds into the Connecticut which is high enough to have reduced the gradient.

I turn back after an hour when I get to the first fast water, which coincides with a bank to bank log jam that I don't feel like messing with on such a nice day.  Along the way I have seen a couple of great blue herons, some mallards, and more wood ducks than I can bother to count.  A river up in the trees of the forest is perfect for wood ducks.  
Motion to my right startles me...actually, we startled each other.  A large beaver takes a running start and launches itself into the river like a torpedo.  I stop and watch the bubble trail created from air being squeezed out of its fur.  I wait hoping for it to come up or slap its tail. It looked big.

Nothing for half a minute, then I spot it 15 yards downstream swimming lazy esses while eyeing me waiting for me to move off.  I can smell the sweet musky odor of castoreum from where it was sitting.  It's a long time since I've picked up that scent.  I move over to the opposite bank and rest against a drift log.  The beaver swims past feeling that I am at a safe enough distance.  It climbs out of the water and begins to groom.  It is possibly the largest beaver that I've seen in person.  When swimming it was about 30 inches from snout to base of tail.  /Sitting on the bank its girth rivals a nearby tree that looks to be 15 inches across.  I stay for a while and observe.  When I try to maneuver for a better view it slips into the water.  I don't want to disturb it anymore, so I paddle off and leave it to bask in the sun.
Back at the put-in I continue down, or rather I continue down and out into the forest.  The water in the forest is 2ft deep or more and the river channel is no longer an obligation.  Tree paddling.

Mattebasset River

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