Stick a Paddle in It...

...because 2018 is nearly done and preparing to leave in fine fashion compared to its predecessor.

Unlike last year when the paddling season ended abruptly, I had the luxury of knowing this past Saturday would be my last paddle of the year and thereby was able to savor it as such...and also savor the unseasonable warmth.

So, while paddling the Concord River between Bedford and Billerica I reflected upon the past year which included:

Exploring new sections of the Housatonic in CT, the Hoosic in NY, the Ashuelot, Cochecho, and Souhegan in NH, the Kennebec, Cobbasseecontee, Sebasticook, and Wesserunsett in ME.

Paddling to the Native American villages of Nanrantsouak in ME and Menamesit in MA.

Paddling to historic Native American fish weirs in the Ashuelot River, Sebasticook Lake, and the Assabet River.

Paddling and camping along a stretch of the Connecticut River's Upper Valley in October with fellow paddlers Bill, Conrad, Erik, and Jonathan.

However, one 2018 experience stood out more than any other.  It occurred on an idyllic morning in June.  I'd launched into the Kennebec River downstream of Waterville, ME and paddled the short distance up to Fort Halifax at the confluence of the Kennebac and Sebasticook rivers.  After exploring the grounds of the fort and returning to my beached kayak I looked up to see a Native American man performing his morning prayers at a small fire...

 ...we talked a bit about the effects being seen since the removal of the Edwards Dam on the Kennebec River in Augusta and the more recent removal of the Fort Halifax Dam at the Sebasticook River's mouth. Anadromous fish such as alewives are now able to swim upriver to as far as Sebasticook Lake in Newport.  With the alewives came a resurgence in the bald eagle population.  Following our brief chat I paddled up the Sebasticook River to its confluence with the outlet from China Lake and saw more eagles in one spot than I ever thought possible (without going to Alaska).  Anyone doubting the value of removing dams need only look at the Kennebec and Sebasticook rivers to be amazed by nature's ability to restore itself.  The importance of Sebasticook Lake's prehistoric fish weir is taken to a whole new level.



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