Saturday, October 8, 2011
Perfect Day for a Paddle
Perfect! That's the only way to describe the Hudson River this exquisite morning, when I joined Ed Miller and some of his friends for a leisurely paddle.
We put in at the boat launch below Spier Falls, then crossed the river to glide along under sun-warmed banks. About a mile downstream, we crossed the river again to follow where the waters flowed around rocky promontories and tree-studded islands.
Because of high water levels due to excessive rainfall this summer and fall, we were able to paddle well back into a swamp that was bordered by an abundance of Black Tupelo trees. Unfortunately, most of these trees have had their trunks girdled by gnawing beavers and so are slowly dying, if not already dead. I've often pondered why the beavers left the trees standing, since their usual habit is to topple trees to access the tender bark and twigs at the top. My guess is that the beavers found the tough wood of the tupelos as difficult to penetrate as did early human settlers whose axes would simply bounce off the interwoven and cross-braided fibers of the timber.
Those tupelos added just about the only vivid color to the forest today, what with our autumn foliage so long delayed this year. Thankfully, the Winterberry shrubs are right on schedule with their brilliant berries.