My mother and siblings (Karen and Matthew) were kind enough to buy our family two kayaks for our 40 birthdays. Both kayaks are lightweight, flat-water boats; one is a double and one is a single. We have started to take the kayaks on afternoon outings, once each weekend as we train for a summer kayaking trip.
On some of the Kayaking outings, I will bring the digital camera, take pictures and post them here. Instead of creating a new page for every outing, I will just put all the pictures together. So pay attention to the date below each picture.
April 21: Upper Mystic Lake, Winchester by Joel
We tried the kayaks out on a local lake. Upper Mystic Lake straddles the Winchester/Medford line. It is approximately 2 miles long and is home to both the Winchester and the Medford boating clubs. The eastern shore has parking and easy access to the water from a number of points.
Daphne, Beth and I put in on the southeastern shore of Upper Mystic Lake. The day was cool and windy but the sun is shining. A sailboat race (out of the Medford Boat Club) was in progress in the center of the lake as paddle around.
We circled the sailboats at the southern end of the lake and then headed north. Joel was in the single kayak, Daphne and Beth were in the double. We paddled all the way to the northern end of the lake, and partway up the Aberjona River, which feeds the lake after flowing through Winchester from Woburn.
The most interesting sites were the painted turtles sunning themselves on the logs in the river and on the northern end of the lake. Daphne found a turtle shell (sans occupant) that we brought home as a souvenir.
On the way back south, we past a group of sea kayaks moving north. They looked a lot faster and more steerable than our small flat water kayaks. Probably heavy and hard to load on their cars.
The main part of the lake had a strong wind from the south; good for the sailboats but hard on the kayaks. We had to paddle into the wind to make it back to the car and it was tough. Beth and I were in the double kayak on the way back and Beth is not the strongest paddler. I ended up powering us both home.
April 29: Sudbury River (Mile 31.2 - 29.2, 4 miles round trip) by Joel
We wanted an easy river outing for our first time, so we choose the downstream end of the Sudbury River, just before it flows into the Concord River.
We put in at the Old Calf Pasture on Lowell Road in Concord. This spot is actually on the Concord River, half a mile below the mouth of the Sudbury River. The water was high so parking was limited but it was easy to get the kayaks to the water.
We rowed up the Sudbury river, a half-mile past the Route 2 bridge (at mile 29.5) and then turned around and came back. The river was relatively wide with houses on one side and marsh on the other. The water was high and some of the banks were obviously still flooded.
It was interesting, as we passed some nice houses in Concord, to guess which house got water in their basements when the river has flooded a month ago. All the houses seemed to have canoes in their yards. I assume they were recreational and not for getting around during floods.
We passed a few canoes and at least one motorboat on our trip. In fact, part way up the Sudbury River there was a place to rent canoes and kayaks.
May 6: Sudbury River (Mile 16.1 - 18.4, 4.6 miles round trip) by Joel
The weather was perfect for our third outing. I choose a section of the Sudbury River on the Framingham/Sudbury border. We put in at the end of a residential street where there was parking for up to eight cars. There were five other cars there when we arrived, some in the process of launching their canoes.
The launch was tricky. The Sudbury River was low for this time of year and we had to walk through the woods a little way to get the kayaks down to the river. The launch was just below some rapids that we would have to portage around if we had gone further upstream.
The Sudbury River, at this point, is relatively narrow and very pretty. Trees and marshes lined both sides of the river with almost no signs of houses, except in the far distance. A bird sanctuary borders much of the river and signs were posted all along the river to keep off the land.
We rowed with the current until we got to the inlet to Heard Pond, around 2 miles from the put-in. Unfortunately, the entrance to the pond was too shallow at this water lever to allow us access so we went about a half-mile further downstream before turning around.
On this trip we brought Ben instead of Beth. Ben started in the single kayak but quickly switch to t he front of the double where he had to do much less work. Daphne and I took turns in the small Kayak, which is more maneuverable but is less comfortable to sit in.
The afternoon was wonderful, not too warm with the sounds of birds all along the trip. I took a bunch of pictures but the turtles proved too elusive and the birds to distant.
May 13: Sudbury River (Mile 21.3 - 18.3, 6 miles round trip) by Daphne
We got an early start to this trip and were on the river by 8am. The river in the early morning is beautiful. No one else is on the river and all you can hear are the numerous birds. The sun was low in the sky and Beth and I wish that we had brought out sunglass with all the glare off the river. And best of all there was no wind!
At various spots along the banks, we saw fish (148Kb) jumping out of the river. We went closer to investigate. The carp seemed to be spawning. They were stirring up the mud at the bottom of the shallower parts of the river. Occasionally we saw several carp together in the water making a ruckus. When we were inside some of the mud flats, a fish would jump out of the water right next to us and scare us. The water was so muddy you couldn't see them except when they jumped out.
The other highlight of our trip were the birds. They were noisy in the morning constantly calling to one another. And there were so many types. There were two little yellow birds that were chasing one another back and forth, from the trees to the river bank and back. They flew too fast to get a real look at them, but were just yellow streaks. Another favorite were the herons (181Kb, 606Kb). Around every river bend we would see more. The best group was right before the route 20 bridge. There were about seven of them, most flew off before we could get good photos of them, but one didn't seem too bothered by our kayaks floating by.
As we were almost back to the car, I noticed a small animal in the river. It was a beaver! As soon as he noticed how close I was he took off underwater. I waited and waited, but he never came back.
May 20: Sudbury River (Mile 21.3 - 24.8, 7 miles round trip) by Joel
The most memorable thing about out May 20th outing was the birds. The Sudbury River is a stop-over spot for migrating birds of all kinds. In fact, they have turned the banks of the Sudbury river into the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. According to one wesite, March through May is a great time to visit the river because of seasonal bird traffic.
The first surprise of the trip of a group of five swans. When we came upon them, I did not have the camera out and they flew upstream as soon as we came into sight. The swans are magnificant birds, but very noisy in flight. A couple of times during the trip they flow right overhead and you could hear the loud beating of their very powerful wings.
I chased after the swans with my camera a few times during the trip in an attempt to catch them in flight. Daphne finally got a few decent pictures of the swans taking off. We were also able to put together this animated GIF of the flying swans (61Kb).
High in the sky we also observed some hawks circling the area. The smaller birds would fly up and harass the hawks until they moved on.
While we were watching the hawks, a canoe approached us and asked us if we knew what type of birds were so common on the shores during this trip. Until that point we had not noticed these unusual birds but we spend the rest of the trip taking pictures of them. When we got back home, we printed the pictures and identified the birds as Greater Yellowlegs (or maybe Lesser Yellowlegs). These birds are not native to Massachusetts so they must be migrating. In past (and future) weeks we did not see them again but on this trip they were all over the river stretch. I guess we were just lucky with our timing.
I also snapped a few pictures of geese and more Great Blue Herons. You can see these and all the other pictures we kept in the companion photo album.
May 26: Sudbury River (Mile 24.8 - 29.2, 8.8 miles round trip) by Daphne
Well we finished up the last little bit of the Sudbury River (below mile 16) that we hadn't done yet. We didn't really want to go over 8 miles today, but we figured with just a little bit more we would finish it. The last mile really hurt. Expecially since we pushed the speed up. Usually we go an average of 2 mph, since we are constantly taking breaks to look at things and taking photos, but today we went about 2.5 mph. So not only was it long, but it faster. We collapsed when we got home.
The reason we didn't laze around so much is that the river was less interesting today! Ok there were still the herons, turtles, goldfinch, redwing blackbirds, etc. But we had seen them all before. On previous trips we had seen migrating birds that we had never seen before or the spawning carp. Always something new. The only thing new today were the houses. We saw two very expensive homes of note. The first one was in Fairhaven Bay. It was a monstrosity and stuck out like a sore thumb. The other was right above the route 117 bridge and it was absolutely gorgeous. Beautiful curves, lots of glass and stained wood.
June 2: Concord River (Mile 4.5 - 0.1, 8.8 miles round trip )by Daphne
Well I must be getting in shape because even though we went almost 9 miles I didn't feel it until the last mile. Last weekend I was pooped after about 4.5 miles. I felt great most of the time and was just zipping along. It was great fun. This was good because this was definately the most boring stretch of the river yet. A lot of it was wide open river and straight. The sides were monotonous bushes. The weather was nice to us though. It was misting most of the time and this kept a lot of the power boats off the river. This stretch is frequented by power boats, but today only the fishermen were out.
We did go though historic Concord today, which livened up the trip a bit. We got to see the Old North Bridge as we floated along, with a very bored looking ranger standing around. This was definately the prettiest part of today's river. The river is narrower here and winding. I thought about getting out and reading the plaques on the statues, but decided it was much more fun to keep going. When we finally made it to the Old Calf Pasture we switched boats as usual and Joel got in the double with Beth. I love kayaking in the single. It is so much more manouverable, and you can just zip along. The double only zips along if both passengers are paddling but the kids have a tendency to get tired and not paddle a lot.
June 9: New England Canoe/Kayak O Championships (6+ miles)
June 10: Concord River (6+ miles)
June 16: Ipswitch River (put in at MA 62 bridge and went upstream, 8 miles round trip) by Daphne
I was none too keen on going back to the Concord River to do more miles there. It is a boring river for kayaking. I wanted a small little river that meanders a lot. So I chose the Ipswitch.
Right at the put in at MA 62 we had to get out of our kayaks and drag them up a small quick, shallow part of the river. It wasn't really that the water was too fast to get up with a kayak, but the river was so shallow that you couldn't get your whole paddle in for a stroke. But it was an easy portage and getting our feet wet was pleasent since it was hot.
The river meanders back and forth, back and forth. It goes quite a long distance by river while it is very short as the crow flies. Joel was having a little trouble. He was in the double with Beth. The double is a barg and turning that kayak is hard work. I was in our single having a good time. It turns quite easily and is fun to play with. Sorry Joel :>
We had three other portages before we turned around. The first was a tree across the river. It was quite easy to get out onto the tree and haul the kayaks over and hop back in. The second was where there used to be a little rock dam in the river. The middle part is broken down and the water flows through very fast. It was easy to get through on the way back downstream though. The third was a beaver dam. A little ways up past the beaver dam, we saw his lodge, but we never did see the beaver himself.
My favorite bit of fauna on the river today were the damsel files (at least I think they were damsel flies). They were irredecent blue and green, and their wings were black. They fluttered around us, dancing in the breeze. It was hard to get a good picture since they were always on the move.
June 24: Shawsheen River (put in at Ballardville dam and went upstream, 8 miles round trip) by Daphne
My favorite river around here is the Shawsheen River. I thought about running it last week, but it really is best with higher water. Since tropical storm Allison went through last week and it rained last night, it seemed like the perfect day. We put in at the Ballardville dam and paddled upstream. The current in the river is much faster than the other rivers we paddled this spring. And a few spots made us work hard. We were both in the double today without our kids, so we had ample power. We had one portage across a downed tree. It was a little trickier than our portages last week. We were going to turn around after about 2 1/2 hours but we got to a small rapid that we couldn't paddle up and we turned around.
Coming back was very fast since we went with the current. We met no one on the river today, though we saw one couple starting to put in as we went zipping by downstream. These smaller rivers are not so popular as the Sudbury and the Concord and tend to be very peaceful since there is no motor traffic. Though we met no people, we did see two little heads pop out of the water, watching us. River otters! They were so cute. They would duck underwater then come back up to stare at us. As we drifted closer, they ducked under and disappeard. Luckily they were curious enough to stay around long enough for Joel to get a picture.
July 08: Wickford Harbor, RI (3 1/5 hours) by Joel
We went down to Rhode Island to visit our friends, the Meeks, who have moved to the Rhode Island coast. (Is there
any part of Rhode Island that is not coast?) We brought down our two kayaks for a couple of hours of exploring
the harbor next to their hours, Wickford Harbor in North Kingstown.
Unlike most days, we got a late start. Between dropping the kids off at the airport (so they could visit
Grandma), getting ready, driving to Rhode Island and getting ready at the other end, it was 10:50 before we got
on the water. The Meeks do not have their own kayaks, but there is a rental place at the other end of the harbor.
We took Amos Meeks with us and paddled from the northern end of the harbor to the kayak rental place, where the
Scott and Caroline met us. Then we paddled around the southern end of the harbor for an hour plus before stopping
for lunch. There was an arts festival going on in downtown North Kingstown, so the place was mobbed. We got a
table and waited in line for lunch while the Scott and Caroline returned the rental kayaks.
After lunch we walked around the arts festival for a little time before getting back on the water. For the
second part of our journey, Daphne and I were alone. The Meeks drove back home after returning the rental
kayaks and Amos did not want to ride in the front of the double kayak anymore. I tool the double kayak again,
but adjust the seat so that I was riding in the middle. Daphne and I then explored the northwestern part of
the harbor on our ride home.
Much of Wickford Harbor is taken up by sailboat berths. It seems than any deep water is filled by a sailboat
attached to a mooring. Fortunately the inner sections of the harbor were more natural.
The southern end of the harbor was very nice. From the kayak rental place, you first had to pass through a narrow
opening. Then you had to go through large pipes that pass under a road. To get the the innermost section you
had to navigate up a small rapid under another bridge. But the inner section of the southern harbor was very
peaceful with very few houses on the shore and no boats. We spent some time taking bird pictures before
heading back towards town.
When going though the harbor you have to be aware of the tide. The tide was mostly high, but walling as we went
south. The high tide made it difficult to pass through the large pipes under the road. We all had to duck
down in the boats and propel along by using our hands on the pipe top. But the high water made it easy to go
over the rocks deeper in the harbor.
We then went north to town. There is a low bridge we passed under to get into a small bay in the western
part of Wickford harbor. Since the tide was dropping we easily made it under the bridge but could not pass
a rocky section a short distance past the bridge. We spend some time looking at the art festival from the
water before beaching the kayaks and looking for lunch.
After lunch, Daphne and I explored by ourselves. We ended up going down into a small extension of the
harbor next to Wilson Park. With the tide out we had to be careful about getting stuck but we were able to
take some great egret pictures before we paddled back into the deeper waters.
Then we went around a small island, called Rabbit Island. There was a man-made wooden platform on a
small tower on the island that had been turned into a hawks nest. Using the binoculars, Daphne identified
the hawk as an osprey, nesting on the small tower. There were also plentiful egrets along the shore as
well as seagulls. We watched some seagulls eat mussels by picking them up and dropping them from a height
of around 10 feet, over and over again until they crack open.
We finally got back to the docks at around 3:30. Subtracting the time for lunch, it was probably three and a
half hours of kayaking.
This web page (http://www.gouldhome.com/SpringKayaking01.html) was last updated on March 20, 2003.
For any comments or suggestions about the site contact Daphne Gould.
Contents copyright © 1999-2003 by Joel and Daphne Gould.