Monday, October 7, 2013

Kayaking the Herring River Estuary and Popponesset Bay of Cape Cod


Day 1: Kayaking the Herring River Estuary of Wellfleet and Truro
John invited Dundee and I to Cape Cod for two days of kayaking.  Day one was planned to be a full day paddling around Wellfleet Harbor. However, our plan was short-lived when we explored the Herring River Estuary, a tidal river with a history of bygone prominence. 
 


We proceeded west along the shoreline from kayak landing next to the Wellfleet pier. As we neared Chequessett Neck Road, and the dike at the mouth of the Herring River, John recalled a recent newspaper article on this dike built in 1909 when it significantly reduced tidal flow to the salt marsh on the other side of the Road.  This dike transformed the estuary into one of the Cape’s most degraded natural resources.




In 2007 the Towns of Wellfleet and Truro and the Cape Cod National Seashore signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate on the development of a restoration plan for the Herring River.

It is expected that when the existing tide gate structure at the mouth of the Herring is replaced, along with other upstream considerations, that this significant change will restore and provide full tidal flow to the Herring River Estuary and a promise for shell-fishing and other community opportunities.

We had before us an opportunity to see a "before" peek of the Herring River Estuary - with an incentive for us to return  for an "after" look of the restoration on the environmental vitality of the Herring River Estuary.

We decided it would be worth our effort to portage over Chequessett Neck Road and paddle up the Herring River.

The Herring Run in Middleboro, MA
As we paddled along the Herring River I recalled to my friends how as a youngster I used to visit the Herring Run on the Nemasket River, Middleboro, MA. Each spring, herring migrate from the ocean, up coastal rivers and into tributaries and lakes to spawn.  The herring were so plentiful you felt you could walk across their backs on the river – and so hundreds of people would come to see them.

Friends and I would go to the fish ladders and catch herring with our hands and sell them to people.  I remember coming home soaked and with coins in my pocket from selling my herring catch to people for food and garden fertilizer.  It was a marvelous memory – and my connection to the Herring River Estuary.

Our paddle up the Herring River was well worth the expedition of nearly seven miles in five hours up and back on the Herring River Estuary:
  • We saw Swans, Great Blue Heron, Osprey, Red Wing Blackbirds and other birds.
  • Many times we thought we were at the end of the river and about to turn back, but we managed to find a path through the narrowing quagmire of brush, prickly bushes and marsh weeds.
  • We passed under old wooden plank bridges.
  • We went through culverts under tar and dirt roads.
  • At about three hours mark we found a road sign that told us we were passing the intersection of Bound Brook Island Road the Atwood Higgins House.


 
If you are interested in more information, or to stay up-to-date on the Herring River Estuary, please visit Friends of Herring River.  They have an email newsletter.



Day 2: Paddling the Mashpee River and Popponesset Bay, Cape Cod, MA



  Day two’s paddlers were Tim, Rob, John, Dundee and I.
  • We put-in at Pirates Cove in Popponesset Bay.  
  • Paddled up the tidal Mashpee River.  After an hour or so, we were in marsh weed, and decided to return to Popponesset Bay.
  • Paddled around Popponesset Island.  Beautiful homes and boats/yachts.
  • Lunch on the sandbar protecting Popponesset Bay
  • Crossed Popponesset Bay to Pirates Cover in choppy water and wind.
  • Total paddling time about six hours.


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2 comments:

  1. Steve very nice. Thanks for sharing.

    Mark

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  2. Very cool. Dundee was a brave man to go into that culvert! You guys are hardcore. Thanks for sharing. :)

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