Sunday, February 10, 2019

A Below Freezing Day

It was somewhere just below freezing when I got to the put in.  The tide was mid-high and rising and a thin shelf of night some 20 feet wide lay on the sloping bank.  In ice weather one always has to think ahead about getting out of the river.  Before unloading any gear, I walked out onto the shelf.  It turned out to be the foamy ice that salt water forms and it crushed easily so that my feet could grip the rocks underneath...nothing to worry about.

I set out up the Neck River planning to go as far up that small river as the depth of water would permit, then return to where Bailey Creek meets and paddle up that stretch.  A couple of Common Mergansers were fishing the river near the put in and two Bald Eagles were perched a couple hundred yards toward the sea.
Bald Eagle
I found the old corduroy road sections that stick out of the bank just at the water level.  At each bend I flushed several ducks eventually counting about 60 Black Ducks and perhaps a dozen Mallards.

As I got into the tighter meanders of the Neck I began to find ice formed in the bends.  At first it was the soft salt ice, the canoe cut through with little effort.  But, well short of where the river goes shallow I began to meet up with fresh water ice that was a quarter inch thick and much tougher.  I turned when I could see that it was going to be a continuous sheet.

Corduroy Road in the Neck River
The wind had increased during the outbound trip and it was strong and cold as I muscled my return against it.  I opted out of heading up Bailey Creek as it would be a brutal headwind grind to return from there.  So I headed back downriver hugging the wind shadow of the lee shores when possible.

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