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

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