Friday, October 28, 2022

One Last Paddle?

 Maybe my last paddle this year.  We'll see.  Once frost has faded the riverbank flowers, and the brilliant fall foliage actually falls, and the water turns cold enough to convince me to don my clunky PFD, the lure of the river starts to lessen.  Also, water is starting to seep through the much-abraded bow of my boat, so I probably should take it up to Hornbeck's to be patched.  But the paddling season sure took a beautiful farewell bow this past week, with summer-warm temps and spectacular vistas all along the Hudson River at Moreau.  And best of all, my friend Ruth joined me last Tuesday to mosey along the banks and poke into quiet coves and basically immerse ourselves in the last-gasps of the glory that is autumn on the river, as witnessed from our seats in our solo canoes.

And to think that I almost cancelled this paddle! An hour before we'd agreed to meet, the rain was pouring down hard in Saratoga.  But Ruth, on my call to see if she wanted to cancel, assured me that the rain would soon stop.  And so it did: leaving just some remnants of mist to rise through the riverside mountains, only to amplify the gorgeousness of the scene.

We entered the river by following a steep path through the woods that leads to some quiet backwaters behind an island.  Here, the water lay mirror still, reflecting the breathtaking beauty of the surrounding forest and bouldered shore.

The general riverbank glow of ochre and orange and old-gold was punctuated by pops of brilliant scarlet, thanks to the many Highbush Blueberry shrubs (Vaccinium corymbosum) that thrive on these banks.

The radiance of this frieze of young American Beeches (Fagus grandifolia) made me feel as if I were drawing near to glowing embers as I paddled into one of the quiet coves along this shore.

From the back of that cove, I could see West Mountain rising above the far shore of the Hudson.

The Hudson River here flows in a northeasterly direction between two Adirondack mountain ranges, the Luzerne Range to the north in Warren County and the Palmertown Range here on the Saratoga County side. Because of the mountains falling directly to the river, much of the riverbank here is composed of bedrock, most of it eroded by flowing water into interesting and beautiful promontories.

As we moseyed close to these rocky shores, we enjoyed the multi-colored array of many different rock-clinging plants.  This bedrock bank was adorned with a lime-green Sphagnum, a patch of red-fruited Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens), a starry-leaved mound of Common Haircap Moss (Politrichum commune), and down close to the water's edge, a glossy dark-green patch of a liverwort called Scapania nemerosa.

So many beautiful shapes and colors and textures of various plants adorn these rocky shores! Here, the evergreen fern called Rock Polypody (Polypodium virginianum) curves over a fine-leaved cushion of Apple Moss (Bartramia pomiformis). A patch of shaggy Big Red-stem Moss (Pleurozium schreberi) joins the scene on the right.

A closer look at the spore capsules of that Bartramia pomiformis reveals the apple-round shape that suggested both the scientific and vernacular names of this moss.

Carpeting the exposed bedrock here was a vivid multi-colored patch of Small Red Peatmoss (Sphagnum capillifolium), surrounded by low-spreading Eastern Hemlock boughs (Tsuga canadensis).

As we returned to our take-out spot, I lingered a while, simply savoring the exquisite beauty of this place on the river, realizing it might be my last paddle here this year, before freezing weather arrives. But I also took comfort in hoping I might return again next spring to this very site, which has remained basically unchanged over the 30 years I've been paddling here. A comforting thought, indeed!

1 comment:

Woody Meristem said...

Absolutely beautiful place for a paddle in the fall. A number of years ago I cracked my Hornbeck on a stump and Pete repaired it while I waited and watched. Sadly he's gone now, but my canoe live on.