Monday, October 10, 2016

A Night Out

 It is about three-and-a-half miles from ramp to camp.

I rather pride myself, in a small way, with being an outdoors type.  Yet I haven't spent a night outdoors in over a year.  Columbus Day weekend seemed the last opportunity before cold weather set in.  I figured to reprise a little kayak camping trip from last August.  Kayak camping seems the perfect water adventure: as much fun as a sailing trip, but with much less preparation and fewer logistical hassles.  This time I'd take the bigger boat: Musketequid could not take the full-sized sleeping bag needed for cooler weather.

Since real rain seemed unlikely, I skipped the tent, only adding a small tarp to my gear when the forecast changed to "showers after midnight."  (They forgot to mention the evening drizzle that would precede the showers, and the sixteen hours of steady, soaking rain that would follow.)

The result was one of those unexpected adventures that is short on the prettier aspects of nature, and long on character-building.  

Great blue herons always seem like prehistoric birds as they croak, and flap heavily into the air.

 Conspiracy Island at the mouth of the Assonet is smaller than it's name,and connected to the mainland at low tide.

 The tide is so low that a bar blocks my way at the entrance to the creek.
The low water will mean a slow slog through deep mud at landing.

 Looking downstream.  Salt marsh is zoned, with tall marsh grass nearer the water,
short "marsh hay" forming almost a lawn a little higher up.

 Serendipity hauled up and unloaded; damp camp the next morning.
(Light is so dim camera keeps insisting on flash.)

 First quarter moon means neap tide which shouldn't rise this high, 
but anchoring boat makes better safe than sorry.

I left the Assonet boat ramp Saturday mid-afternoon to take advantage of tidal currents going my way, but didn't think to allow for enough water in the creek I camped beside.  The result was a late-afternoon landing in deep marsh mud well below the level of the marsh.  I got my tarp established in failing light just before the drizzle began.  I spent a very long night trying to keep the edges of my sleeping bag under the too-small tarp while a small but steady rain drummed.  (My stew can had 3/8 inch or rain in it next morning.)

I crawled out into the twilit rain next morning after concluding that it wasn't going to get any brighter.  Both butane lighters refused to light, so no coffee or hot breakfast.  Once I got them lit hours later, the gasoline stove wouldn't light until I'd used up a lot of butane drying it out.  Hot coffee and oatmeal--sitting dry(ish) under a re-set tarp--at long last!  

 Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) is very pretty in fall.

A chestnut of pretty good girth has somehow escaped the chestnut blight so far.  

 I love this view.  And tide rising means I might get off without so much mud.

 Re-set tarp makes comfortable place to wait, and drink hot drinks;
view across the creek from my seat.

 I think this is a goldenrod, but don't hold me to it.

High marsh grass, tupelo, and an aster.

 Loaded for departure.

 Hard to make out: a row of cormorants ignoring the plastic owl
(right, on piling) meant to keep them away.

Finally put the paddle up and sailed.

There was some wildlife to make it all worthwhile: the Assonet River was lousy with great blue heron and egrets and a few swans.  As I boiled water for coffee, an osprey circled above the creek with a big fish in its talons.  (The osprey turned out to be one of a pair that wheeled above the creek in the late morning as I prepared to leave.  Do they stay paired year-round?)  Tupelo trees' brilliant leaves and marsh goldenrod lent color to fall foliage that is on the drab side, overall this year.

After changing into dry clothes and breaking camp, I paddled hard against a significant headwind going home, and only got to raise my little sail for a mile or so of sledding near the end.  It rained steadily, and I rued the decision to put an (absorbent) fleece under my jacket, rather than the more effective wool sweater that lay in the bottom of my drybag.  Gotta work on my stay-dry techniques and gear before the next adventure!  (Winter camping, anyone?)

No comments:

Post a Comment