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Plum Is. Sound


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Plum Is. River, Parker River, Mud Creek 9/1/04 S&G

Of the four of us (PatE, Jon R, Scott K, and I) none had been in the Plum Island Sound before, but I'd read about it in the Lisa Evans book and viewed maps. Since public hunting land surrounds much of the northern portion, I called the Parker River National Wildlife Reserve to verify that waterfowl hunting season hadn't started. The person answering told me she didn't know but we didn't need to worry because; "they don't shoot toward the water." Not sure exactly what that meant, but it didn't reassure me. Later, someone called back with a definitive answer, waterfowl season starts 9/6, and no hunting on Sundays.

My plan was to put-in at the Plum Is. Turnpike bridge 2 hrs before high tide, paddle down the Plum Is. River, up the Parker River a bit, then cut over to Mud Creek and land on Essex County Greenbelt Assoc. property for lunch before heading back. The put-ins on either side of the bridge were small, steep, and muddy so we opted to drive 5 minutes to the Parker River National Wildlife Reserve on Plum Is. and pay $5 per car to use their boat ramp.

Launching at about noon, we found light winds from the Northwest, sharp clear light, and an early autumn golden glow on the acres of marsh grass. Since the tides come into the Sound from the North and the South, we had weak current with us for a bit as we headed south on Plum Is. River, then against us as we still headed south, and with us again as we turned up the Parker River. We took a narrow cut through the marsh to Mud Creek following the bright white sail of a small boat low enough in the marsh that it appeared to glide across the grass. It was time to find the Greenbelt landing for lunch. We snaked along the Creek closely examining the shore and never found the landing. A kind soul allowed us to put-in on private land and sit on a dock to eat. Looking at the maps again later I think we didn't follow the Creek far enough. This area has abundant Great American Egrets, Snowy Egrets, various migrating shore birds, and on this day, many floating dead Horseshoe Crabs.

Heading back we veered off onto one of those infamous marsh short cuts. Several twisting miles against current later, it petered out, so we admitted our folly and retraced our route. One more wrong turn, this time paddling against wind and current, put us on the Parker again so we retraced a bit and got back on the Plum Is. R. Paddling hard against the strong mid-tide current we were gratified to know that not far ahead we'd reach the mid-point in the Sound and the current would again be in our favor. Naturally, the direction change didn't happen nearly as soon as we thought it would. We arrived back at the put-in about 5:00. It was a good paddle, of about 11 miles, on a lovely day, with a bit of marsh meandering adventure thrown in.

Note: I spoke to someone at Greenbelt about the elusive landing spot. They thanked me for the input and said they would install a sign to mark the spot. Information about Greenbelt and their conservation properties can be found at www.ecga.org.


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