Monday, May 31, 2010

Day 2: Hanover to Osceola Island (Sam Trachtman)

The second day of the canoe trip began at the Tyack’s home. We were well-rested and well-fed—ready for the second leg of the canoe trip, which Nik had warned us would be one of the hardest days.

The group had shrunken since Sunday, with only Nik, Greg, and I remaining from the group that set out Sunday (Justine would come back Tuesday). We had a new arrival though—Alex Garver—a Pomona friend who had come up from Atlanta, Georgia to join us.

Nik set out before the rest of us to do a leg of the journey that was too narrow to be navigated by canoe, so he went solo in a kayak. From what I was told, much of his 3 hour journey consisted of dragging the kayak through shallow water deep in the woods. While Nik was fighting off bugs and mud on the river, the rest of us brought the canoes out to the launching point, and brought some things to the island where we’d be staying the night. We picked Nik up, drove to the launching point, and began the day’s journey.

At the outset, the river was beautiful, wide, and easy to navigate. This would quickly change. After around half an hour, we reached an obstruction—railroad tracks running over the river. We disembarked and hoisted the canoes up a steep embankment and over the tracks, but not before taking some pictures.

The short portage over the tracks turned out to merely be a harbinger of things to come. After getting back on the water, we soon found ourselves in less navigable waters. The underbrush became thicker, the water dirtier, and the river more narrow. We finally reached a point where continuing in the water was unimaginable, and we were forced to drag the canoes through some almost impassibly thick brush to finally reach… a construction site.

At this point, we had our longest portage of the day—a quarter mile one which brought us out of the woods, down a road, and back into the water. I think it is safe to say that canoes are meant to be paddled and not carried.

Back in the water, we had a nice stretch of navigable river, before reaching a dam, where we ate 2nd lunch (we had the first one right when we were setting out). The dams were built in order to help irrigate cranberry bogs, but now, they are mostly just damaging the ecosystem, and making our lives much more difficult. Beyond the dam, the water level was far lower, and we had trouble navigating the canoes through the tall grass. The area, though, was beautiful.

At the next dam that we had to portage over, the reentry into the water was a little bit precarious. Alex and I ended up getting taking some water into our boat. Unfortunately, I was the one stuck in the unstable boat.

After that little mishap, we were back on our way. Reentry into the water at the next dam again proved to be problematic. Trying to get the canoe over the dam and into the water, Nik stepped on a shark rock, and opened up the bottom of his foot. He didn’t lose too much blood…

After moving from the narrow river to a pond, we could finally see our final destination.

We arrived at an island in the middle of a beautiful pond, where we planned to spend the night.

Although our tent turned out to be dysfunctional, we had a relaxing night sleeping under the stars. A special thanks to Nik’s sister, Sophie, who brought us much needed provisions so that we could go to sleep with full bellies.

It was a brilliant day—difficult, but hugely rewarding. Having the company of Nik, Greg, and Alex was great fun. More importantly, spending 3 days on the rivers of New England made me believe more than I ever did in the cause of the trip—raising money for organizations like the North and South Rivers Watershed Association that protect our rivers --- the lifeblood of the ecosystem. Preserving them is of the utmost importance.

Thanks to Nik and his family, thanks to those who donated, and thanks to our beautiful rivers!

- Sam Trachtman

Day 1: Scituate to Hanover (Sam Jones and Lucien K)

When Nik asked Sam and I to join him on the first leg of his North River paddle journey I admit I was hesitant at first. I had not grown up on the river as my friends Nik and Sam had so I had no relationship with the river except to imagine the mosquitoes, leeches or other foul critters that could inhabit those murky waters. Furthermore, I had kayaked only once in my life and was afraid I would be a burden on the group (not to mention embarrassing myself). In the end I managed to hold my own on the water–floating breaks helped–and the critters we saw were egrets and ducks not leeches. In fact, I got more mosquitoes bites at the post paddle barbecue than during the whole paddle.

Looking back on the trip, I cannot imagine a better way to have spent that day. We took the thirteen miles at a relaxed pace which gave us time to take in our surroundings and explore the river instead of rushing through it. There is something special about being so close to the water, floating just above the surface, so you can feel the water beneath you. It is an intimate feeling that you can’t get from a bridge or on a motorboat, and most of the time we move to fast to notice what we are missing out on. Seeing Nik and Sam’s connection to this river that they have known all their lives rubbed off on me, and experiencing it for myself made clear why they love it so much. The four hours we spent on the river that day changed my relationship to the river and was an experience I will not soon forget and hope to soon repeat.

- Lucien Kahn

I have lived next to the North River my entire life, swimming and kayaking in it since I can remember. My family loves the river, the most enthusiastic member being my dog Jack, who escapes down to the river whenever he gets a chance. The major reason my parents moved to our home in Hanover was because of the North River. When I was young my dad was the NSRWA director, and is still involved as the North River Commission Representative for Hanover. Starting at age three I was attending river cleanups and clambakes.

The annual NSRWA Great River Race is a tradition with my family, and I’ve raced in it since I was in middle school. The growing enthusiasm surrounding the race and the increase in participation is really remarkable. When Nick asked if I wanted to be a part of the Wampanoag Canoe Passage I was thrilled, but a little nervous because I hadn’t paddled in the river since last summer. In comparison to the next few days of the journey, Day 1 was a relatively tame 13 mile stretch. Seven of us started at the mouth of the North River (the Spit in Scituate), taking one double kayak and two canoes, and ended a couple hundred yards before reaching the Washington Street Bridge in Hanover. The North River is truly beautiful. We saw a variety of birds and even a muskrat in the reeds. The Wampanoag Canoe Passage is fun, but also a great opportunity for fundraising. In its 40th year, the NSRWA is an incredible non-profit organization that has continued to grow in numbers, educating people in the towns surrounding the rivers, working to restore and preserve our incredible natural resources.

- Samantha Jones

Wampanoag Canoe Passage 2010

This year's team was made up of Sam Trachtman, Justine Selsing, Alex Garver, Greg Keches, Samantha Jones, Lucien Kahn, Sam Lind, and myself.

Here we are before launching our boats on the first day: