I tend to pick up sporting-ish hobbies and discard them without accomplishing a whole lot; this is partly because I am competitive by nature, but not actually very athletic, and partly because I am lazy. But I've wanted to go canoe camping for a long time, and finally managed to do so on our honeymoon. That was fun, so I wanted to do it again, and also was going boating a bunch with saxifrage so I idly started looking at canoes. One of the ones I liked best showed up used on Craigslist, and suddenly I had a boat.
So after a few paddles, I booked a night on Perkins Island on the Ipswich River, in the middle of the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary.
And this is where the picspam commences, so .
I haz a boat. It's light enough I can throw it on top of the car myself.
Too much stuff, oddly packed, since I didn't want to shell out for gear until I'd done a trip or two. So I packed my stuff into my waterproof panniers, tossed food in a cooler, and called it done. Also I bought a new hat. Because I've always wanted a Tilley hat.
I had Foote Brothers drag me upriver from where I parked to the overly-grandiosely-named Thunder Bridge in Middleton, which is really just a little road:
There were some other folks going boating as well, but they didn't go as far upstream, so when they left the van was the last I saw of them.
I had planned, since it wasn't that far downriver, to go upstream for an hour or two, then turn around. This plan hit a few snags:
Or, to be more accurate, downed trees across the entire river. You can see one clearly there, but there were several more visible. This wasn't that long after Hurricane Irene came through, and while the canoe livery had assured me they'd gone through and cleared, they clearly hadn't touched the area above the highest point they drop people off at. (Which I don't hold against them. Not their job. Still, it was disappointing.)
So I just shoved off downstream again:
Except that they'd cleared out when the water was a fair bit higher -- I got to practice lining (walking in the water or along the bank dragging the canoe by ropes) around one downed tree, which was too close to the surface to go over with me in the boat, and then ran into a choice between trying to lift over another tree in deep water on one channel, or going under this:
We went under, with no ill effects, but I was a lot more damp and mud-covered than I'd expected to be. From there out it was pretty smooth -- the freeway looks pretty peaceful from underneath:
The neatest part of the scenery was the wetlands themselves -- there was this bog, where the water level was actually higher than the river. In places, it was spilling over and down into the river:
At this point the main channel was still easy to pick out, even with all the other water around.
The MA highway engineers weren't the only ones affecting the scenery:
I saw an actual beaver swimming around later, but he or she didn't stand around mugging for the camera. There was a lot of wildlife, though the beaver was the most exotic thing I saw.
(this is me. did you expect there not to be pictures of bridges? this is the last one, though not the last bridge. just the last one I photographed.)
There was a lovely little landing with paddle-only access that I stopped at for an early lunch, courtesy of the Ipswich River Watershed Association, who also made the very nice map I was using.
And then we got to the only place where I could possibly have gotten lost on this section of the river -- the turn-off for an old canal.
The canal! And, to the left, the actual main channel:
I'd thought maybe I'd come back up and explore the canal, since it was very close to Perkins Island:
Google Maps link -- the canal is pretty obvious, and the island is the green lima bean of trees pretty much dead-center of the map. But I had to get there, first.
Which I did, a few minutes later.
I was then distracted from the idea of taking another paddle by the fact that some kind souls had cleaned up from some more Irene-felled trees by building a brand new fire ring and stacking a ton of perfect firewood at my campsite. I hadn't actually planned to light a fire, but when life hands you firewood?
you make FIRE.
So instead of paddling more, I unpacked:
...If anyone wants to go as a group this summer, the campsites are plenty big enough. This was just mine, and there are three of them on the island. You have to be a Mass Audobon member to make reservations, but obviously I (now) am.
and played a little Iron Chef Backcountry -- here we have ddeokbokki with roasted scallions.
Then I played with the fire and played Me and my Katamari until it got dark, at which point I obeyed atavistic biological imperatives and went to bed early.
In the morning, I took far fewer pictures. The scenery in the wildlife sanctuary was a little more open:
and it wasn't always clear which way was downstream by looking, though all I had to do was let the canoe drift a bit to tell. At least one boat (with a tiny trolling motor) of fishermen passed me twice going upstream both times, which meant they knew more about which little loops could actually be cut off than I did. I wasn't in a hurry, though, so that was fine. The canoe livery had put up little not!mileage markers (they were in order but not evenly spaced) so that people knew they were still headed downstream:
which I initially thought was exceedingly silly and then found kind of nice.
And more evidence of wildlife:
After that, I passed a lot of birds, a troop of girl scouts of varying canoe ability, a guy in a gorgeous wooden kayak, and a lot more scenery that looks like the photos I'd already taken, so I didn't take more.
Next summer: as I said above, if anyone wants me to lead a group overnight on Perkins Island, I'd be happy to. It'd be kid-friendly and novice-friendly -- we wouldn't have to start as far upstream as I did, which would avoid any possibility of dealing with downed trees.
And then I'm going to take my boat up to Maine and do a longer trip.
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