10 Mile Paddle

Sunday, I did Charles River Canoe and Kayak’s Shuttled River Trip from their Nahanton Park location. The way it works, you meet at Nahanton Park in the morning, and they schlep you and the kayaks ten miles upstream.

They dropped us off at Charles River Park, a barely noticeable turnout along Route 135. From the parking area, a path leads down to the water, where you can put the boat on the water, and go. The put-in is just downstream from the Dedham Ave bridge.

The scenery is very nice along the way, and the weather was perfect. Some parts are very wild looking — you’d never  know you were close to civilization. In other parts, you’re drifting past some very nice homes– lots of money, for sure. A long section runs behind the VFW Parkway, but you’d never notice it, aside from the road noise, and the fact that you can see parking lot lights in the distance above the trees.

I’ve been trying to shoot herons all summer, but they have seemed to know when I have the camera and been hiding. I saw four or five this trip, and several egrets as well.

The birds are definitely aware you’re there. I closed in slowly and quietly, and they would slowly and quietly walk away, until, when I got too close, they would bolt. The egret tolerated me quite a bit longer than any of the herons, and let me get a bit closer too. I definitely missed the zoom lens on my SLR.

They say on their website that the trip takes 3 – 4 hours, but it took me around 5. I stopped only briefly, in a futile attempt to adjust the seat position, but I also drifted a lot too. My arms were definitely nearly spent at the end of the day.

Part of the problem was that I was never comfortable in the kayak. They did call ahead of time, to ask what kind of boat I wanted, but I didn’t really know what to request, so they put me in a sea kayak, because it has a rudder and tracks straighter. And while I appreciated the rudder — it definitely came in handy– I had a very hard time sitting up straight in it.  Sitting up straight was very tiring — I found myself holding on to the front rim of the cockpit often. The cockpit was too tight for my body shape (pear-shaped, unfortunately) , and there was no back support. I tried a several times reseating myself on the very back end of the seat, and that helped a little, but then I had trouble reaching the foot pegs. I ended up doing most of the trip kind of laying down in the kayak, which meant I wasn’t getting as much power out of my torso as I should.  It was a welcome sight when the Kendrick Street Bridge came into view, meaning I was nearly at the end.

Still, it’s a pretty trip, with lots to see along the way. You run under a number of bridges along the way, some old and scenic, and some very new. One of the things that surprised me was how many dead trees there were at the water’s edge– trees like the water, but but they run the risk of the soil being washed out from under them. The water level was low, but there were plenty of marks from when it higher.

I don’t think of Needham, Dedham or West Roxbury as being rural, but this trip proved that there’s still a lot of wildlife left, even this close to Boston.