Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Up to the Cascades

I set out in the long shady cove.  It is exceptionally quiet and any bump against the canoe reverberates off the forested hillsides.  What first appears to be a 100 yard long patch of pond matter - small sticks, pine needles and other veggie material, turns out to be a layer of cellophane ice from last night.  It is so thin that the canoe barely makes a sound as it slices through.
Skim Ice
At the main river I turn down to round the first point and head up the more secluded Shephaug River.  Just short of the point I hear a half dozen Canada Geese coming.  It is, in fact, only a pair that flies by, the ghost geese being the echoes of their calls.

A disturbance in the water ahead, what looks to be the final remains of a boat wake, signals that I might not be alone.  Around the point I find a motorboat with two men.  One is wearing a drysuit like surfers or divers wear - the entry zipper running across the back of the shoulders.  Perhaps they are setting a mooring anchor in front of Mr. Bigbucks house.  Then, the drysuit guy  jumps into the water and takes hold of a tow rope.  He is barefoot water skiing and they speed about 2/3 of a mile up the river before stopping.  With 45 degree water, I tell myself a story that the skiers legs are numb to the knees and he has collapsed in a heap unable to feel or control them.  As I near them they speed off the other way.

I spot a young Bald Eagle.
I had planned to observe an Eagle nest that I have seen up on the ridge top.  But, I am unable to spot it and have no sightings of any mature Bald Eagles.  So, my bird tally is made up of several Common Mergansers, a pair of Mallards and a few Wood Ducks.  I also note that there is a frequent beaver activity along this shore -perhaps four well used feed zones.  This is bank burrow terrain without ponds or marshes where beaver could build the more commonly known conical lodge.  I've yet to spot a bank burrow here.  I usually find them by locating the branch pile that guards the vent hole.  Here the banks and hillsides rise up so quickly that they might not have a vent.

I add eight Mallard decoys to my collection.  A sip of schnapps to warm ones self while duck hunting might be "almost" okay, but if you drink the whole bottle you're going to lose some gear.
The Cascades
After two hours I reach the cascade that halts further progress (it also prevents downriver travel as there is a deep gorge of junk rapids that can't be walked out of).  A sandwich, some coffee and some sun before following the opposite shore back.

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