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Archive for the ‘Belctertown, MA’ Category

Megan and the three ducks…
(Photo Credit – Don Samson)

The Swift River has always been one of our favorites. I have probably been back here over forty times. When I first returned ten years ago to kayak it immediately bought back some great memories of fishing with my friend Neil and his dad. Neil’s dad was an avid fisherman who took us to some of his favorite spots on the Swift River. The beginning of the Swift right below Quabbin Reservoir was a beautiful spot for fly fishing, and further down river was great for casting off the banks. Seeing these spots after an absence of thirty five or so years was thrilling. Just as beautiful now as it was then.

The launch is off Route 9 just east of the main Quabbin entrance, look for the sign to the Fish Hatchery on East St. At the end of East a left onto Cold Spring street and a quick right will put you at the launch. From the boat launch we love going both up and down river. Each way will provide a great experience as both are uniquely beautiful. Oh and by the way, stop by the fish hatchery to feed the fish sometime too, kids big and small will love it!

Open Marsh on the Swift – Fragrant Water Lilies and Pickerelweed

For many years we returned to find the same lone man in a canoe every time. We soon learned it was John Berry, an old guy in a homemade racing canoe with one lung. He knelt in his canoe just so and paddled on one side. John had some good stories about the races and racers in his past. He had a lot of knowledge of the Swift, as we came to find John was there almost every day of the year. In winter he was seen chopping ice with a hook in the end of his paddle! Some years he’s made it into mid January. He told of days past before they built the fish hatchery. Of how their waste goes into the river and has caused rapid growth of green weeds in the water. Makes him mad as it used to be clear all the way to the dam. But to many of today’s kayakers the flora on the river’s bottom is a draw. To see the vibrant green leaning down river on a sunny day is stunning especially when you spot a Rainbow or Brook Trout swimming by. John also called the Swift a Kayak Super Highway! No wonder when you see how many there are on a sunny Sunday! (We go early to try to beat the crowds.)

Louise, I, and the Spider in the morning fog
(Photo credit Don Samson)

Don in the morning fog

I’ve been here with so many friends and family over the years. Many times at their request to return. Each may have their own reasons why it’s a favorite. The clear water or the fact that you can see the brook and rainbow trout swimming underneath maybe but for me it’s just the feel of the river, both closed in by the deep forest or opened up to pastures and marshes. The morning fog on the water is really great here as the water is always fifty degrees year round. There is nothing like being on the river in early morning in a fog hanging over the water. It’s surreal! Or on what’s going to be a hot summer day you might experience some great variations in the temperature of the air. What a feeling it is to paddle into a pocket of “refrigerated air” just sitting invisibly before you. You’ll ask yourself “Where did that come from?”

House by the dam down river

There are time of quiet when you might be alone to enjoy the quiet beauty or your able to pass pleasantries with people who live on the banks, passing fishermen and kayakers . These days all will have something to say about losing the dam. It in real danger of being lost. See the Swift River Preservation Association if you’d like to help! “Save Our Swift!!!”

The Cedar Waxwing!

There were also some great birding experiences here. One I’ve enjoyed countless times is just listening to the Veery singing in distant trees. This is one bird song I’ll never forget, its ethereal! By far my favorite. I so look forward to hearing it again. You’ll have to paddle north river to go by his favored home deep in the neighboring forest. Another lucky experience was happening upon a small flock of Cedar Waxwings feeding on bugs over the river. The Cedar Waxwing is in my opinion the most beautiful bird in this part of the God’s little earth. The buff yellow breast, the “Lone Ranger” mask, and the slicked back head feathers make it like no other. These birds are nomads so finding them is sheer luck. Feeding time is mesmerizing to watch as I described in my Mill River blog. This one Sunday, I watched with Don, Alice and Tim as they fed. Every time they returned to the lay down it was a perfect photo opportunity! We just hunkered down against the lay down and took pictures for thirty minutes or so. I have this picture framed along side a Great Blue and an Osprey in out living room. Beautiful!!!

I should also tell of the time I flipped and went for a unexpected swim! I had my nine year old nephew Anton with me in my kayak and we were headed down river with Ray, Don, Danielle, and Megan when approaching a little maze of lay downs. I noticed Danielle was going backwards. I warned her that she wouldn’t make it through that way and she should turn herself. As she did she pinned us against the second lay down and in a split second we were both in the water! I grabbed hold of Anton who was paddling across the river towards his dad and then my camera. We struggled to get Anton into Danielle’s kayak without dumping her. I had to float my Old Town down river about a quarter mile before finding a spot I could stand firm to be able to right the vessel for the wet trip home. Lost a cell phone and my camera was never the same. It was a long wet trip home but at least we were all safe.

Fall on the Swift

I’ve talked about houses on the river, there are quite a variety and most will send you wishing they were yours. I did look at one with Diane once but alas,,, it was not meant to be. Oh well, I can be content with my Sunday visits for now. There is more I could say about the Swift but I’m thinking I should leave some of it’s gems out so as to leave some new discoveries for you as I’m sure you’ll want to paddle the Swift soon….

Enjoy!

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