Monday, September 25, 2006

Today - a workout.

I drove another mile down the road to a different put-in today. With a beautiful fall day and two hours of crisp autumn afternoon to engage, I decided to give myself a workout by paddling two miles instead of my usual one. I jumped into my '89 Nissan pick-up (a faded gray/blue bucket with more rust underneath than some of the old steel cans I see along the river banks) after grabbing paddle, spray skirt, and PFD, having already strapped the Walden kayak into the bed. Within a few minutes I found myself waiting for a car to pull out of the small steep drive into the parking area as dozens of commuters coming home from Hartford passed by on my left.

Here by the side of route 185 which leads into the capital city after rising up over Talcott ridge is the largest tree in the state. The Pinchot Sycamore is a massive living being with a girth that rivals redwoods and a canopy spread that is as wide as the tree is tall. I'd been thinking about starting my paddle here for several days as I thought that I needed to pay a private tribute to this wonderful giant. The man standing by the tree in the photograph came down to water's edge after seeing my bumper sticker touting the sanctity of returning salmon to the Farmington. The Farmington River Watershed Association is working hard, among other heroic efforts, to support a salmon fry release program each spring with the aid of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. He and I chatted about salmon briefly - he had recently returned from visiting the Klamath River in Oregon. We both have concerns about the human impact on important and valuable rivers like the Farmington. I had mentioned that the FRWA had conducted a build-out survey in the town of Farmington recently which evaluated the quantity of impervious surface in the town. Man-made structures through which rainwater cannot percolate are one of the greatest threats to rivers. Excessive run-off leads to erosion issues during higher than normal flooding, and then poor groundwater recharge leads to unusually low water levels during dry spells. As I paddled away, he mentioned that he wished he had brought his canoe.

I finish my workout in a fresh breeze that made the day seem so very different from just forty minutes before when I slipped into the shallows by the sycamore under sun and in calm air. Then I smiled as I remembered that every meander offers a surprise - welcome or not.

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