Last Paddle of the Season

Today was my last kayaking trip of the season. I’ve had a season pass this year at Charles River Canoe and Kayak, and wanted to go one last time before they transfer over to the  Weston Ski Track for the winter. The weather was sunny, but seasonably chilly — a little over 50°, I’d guess. With water temperatures in the forties, though, wet suits were required,  so I wore my diving 7mm suit.

I wasn’t the only one on the river, either. As I was getting ready on the dock, a guy in a dry suit was returning on a stand up paddle board, and I saw a couple of other folks in kayaks over the course of the trip. It was fairly comfortable while I was in the sun; slightly chilly when I was in the shade. All the maples, and many of the other trees, had lost all their leaves, but the oaks still had their leaves, brown, but just beginning to drop.

One thing that surprises me every single year is how low the sun gets this time of year. I expect it, but it’s still a shock every year. Even though I started around 12:45, the sun was still low in the sky, and shining nearly directly in my eyes as I headed upstream. It did have the effect of making the usually prosaic piers supporting the Mass Pike onramps rather dramatic:

Piers supporting the Mass Pike
Piers supporting the Mass Pike

As I paddled through the arch of the railroad bridge, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the old pony truss bridge by Riverside Park was back in place. Earlier this year, it had been removed for rehabilitation. The western abutment had been completely replaced, and now the bridge is back in place, newly repainted and restored.

Riverside Park Footbridge, framed by the arch of the railroad bridge
Riverside Park Footbridge, framed by the arch of the railroad bridge
Closer view of Riverside Park Footbridge
Closer view of Riverside Park Footbridge

The bridge is clearly not quite finished–it looks like there’s still work to complete on the new western abutment, and the eastern end is blocked off. The project plans mention a new footpath to be built.

As I continued on upstream, I could see the back side of the MBTA’s Riverside Maintenance Facility. During the summer, the only way you could tell it was there  was by the occaisional sound of steel wheels squealing around the yard’s tracks, but with the leaves down, it can be seen clearly. This is the back side, where they stash vehicles that have been involved in accidents:

Riverside Yard
Riverside Yard

I continued upstream, going under the Recreation Road bridge, which has also been undergoing repairs this year. As I was driving over, I saw that half of it was still blocked off, but paddling under it, I noticed that most of the temporary staging under the bridge was gone. Then I was under Route 128 and in the bend of the river approaching the Leo Martin Golf Course. All along the way, the river was littered with leaves, slowly drifting downstream:

Leaf on the water
Leaf on the water

As I rounded the bend heading toward the golf course, I noticed a small nest in the reeds above the river:

Bird's nest
Waterfront housing

I continued on upstream, past the Park Ave bridge, past Intervale Road, and headed toward the foot bridge joining the two halves of the golf course. The sun was in my eyes, so it was hard to see the camera’s viewfinder. As I rounded the corner, the sun was a little more off to the side, and I saw these back lit cat-tails:

Backlit Cat-tails
Backlit Cat-tails

As you approach and pass the golf course footbridge, the current becomes noticeable, picks up, and gets stronger. It was especially strong today, probably due to all the rain we’ve had recently–and I noticed signs along the river that the water level had already dropped a couple of inches. It became work to continue paddling upstream.

Railroad bridge
Railroad bridge converted to footpath

I finally reached the old railroad bridge, which was converted to a foot path earlier this year. I remembered we had company coming this afternoon, so I turned around and started the run back downstream, and was immediately repaid for my efforts in paddling upstream. The current took the boat, and in a moment, I was racing downstream.

As I passed Intervale Road, with the sun now behind me, I could see the trees hovering over the river, and their reflections in the water.

Trees along Intervale Road
Trees along Intervale Road

Once past the golf course, I saw a stand of oak trees, brown, against a backdrop of evergreens:

Oaks and evergreens
Oaks and evergreens

I’d hoped to do more of my picture taking on the downstream run, but I’d forgotten to swap out the camera’s batteries. I was able to get one last picture of the sunlight reflecting up onto the underside of the Route 128 underpass before the camera stopped, and refused to come out of its shell and play.

Under Route 128
Under Route 128