Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Sunday in August on the Coginchaug River

All the rain this last week, brought the Connecticut River to near flood stage. In the spring you are just about guaranteed a chance to paddle the river and her tributaries; the Mattabesset and Coginchaug at or above flood stage, but this is somewhat unusual for the month of August, so we took advantage of this on Sunday heading out from Harbor Park, Our goal was to paddle the Coginchaug to Veterans Park.

A month earlier paddling with an outing organized by the Jonah Center for Earth an Art, www.thejonahcenter.org/ the Coginchaug had just a trickle of water and we found that two sections of downed trees made it impossible to reach Veterans park, more than a half mile further upstream.

Paddling on these tributaries, at different times of the year, and with high and low water, offers unique views of the
natural landscape and her inhabitants. 

Today we saw three of the seasonal camps, now abandoned because of the high water. A month ago, it was clear folks where living there, but almost everything is gone now. We
noted the remnants’ of camps among the “floating meadows” lodged among the bulrush and wildrice. Still there was a bird feeder swaying against a breeze, in one of the abandoned camps. Living on the banks of the river in the summer, has an appeal be it by choice, or by the fact of being homeless. I'm not going to begrudge anyone who does so, except to say that living on the river bank, or in our city along the river carries an obligation of doing one's part to keep the river clean, and healthy.

George’s outdoor basement, just behind the old Remington Rand Factory building, and the power plant the city evicted him from, looked to just miss being underwater. Has anyone heard how George is doing on his trip south to Key West. Conservacity blog was last news I’ve heard. http://conservacity.blogspot.com/2008/06/dugout-paddlers-off-for-florida.html

 On our return home we found his vacant houseboat being explored by the power-boaters, who had just speed by us at open throttle, throwing up a huge, mighty wash. We were not so polite in reminding them, with anger in our voice that they were well above the 6mph speed limit for the length of the waterways that is posted with signage as you enter the Mattabesset. Their response, not surprisingly was that they did not know. Not that I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt, though I would ask, why the sign is not bigger, and note that, of the many waterways I’ve been on, this speed limit sign is the smallest one I’ve ever seen, and does not do much to get your attention. Paddling back to the docks in Harbor Park I was able to speak to officers of Middletown's harbor patrol unit, and they indicated that they would head towards the Meriden Boatclub, where we later observed them docking.

I'm always surprised that we do not see more non-motorized users on the river.
It is nice to be just about the only paddlers out on this stretch of river on a
Sunday afternoon,  I'm not complaining, but at the same time it feels selfish
to keep the knowledge of this destination under wraps. Middletown and Cromwell residents have an on the water recreational playground in our respective backyards, and it is a shame so few take advantage of it. If you choose to paddle, remember to bring your bug spray, sun screen, and life jackets. If you can, take home more than you set off with, by picking up some lightweight floating trash, and do a part in helping to keep our backyard treasure just that.

You can find a map of the Mattabesset and Coginchaug River here: www.mrwa-ct.org/canoe.htm
You can find the Mattabesset canoe/Kayak trail on line here: file:///Users/elizabet/Desktop/MattabessetCanoe.pdf
More  photos of the Rivers are available on my flicker site at http://www.flickr.com/photos/93775143@N00/collections/72157606585136931/


Barrie said...

Did you get to Veteran's Park?

Barrie said...

PS: Please, will you submit your beautiful photo and sighting of what appears to me to be a Northern Water Snake to Middletown's Biodiversity Database?
http://biodiversity.wesleyan.edu/index.php It's easy and it's fun!