Saturday, June 9, 2012

Salt water adventures

Storm surge at the Great Gargoyle

After much anticipation - and delay, the new kayak finally found its way to salt water. Still, as I made my way towards Essex County, it seemed as if the recent weeks of rain might be a premonition of things to come. Upon arrival, the better part of two days was spent waiting out rain showers. During that interval, big boulders in the West Gloucester woods were checked out (first day), and shoreline sites on the second. Among those seen along the Cape Ann coast were Plum and Folly Coves, Halibut Point, and Pigeon Cove. The storm surges along the ocean were quite impressive but also a reminder of how dangerous it could be venturing out too far onto the rocks. I did get to see the Halibut Point sea boulder cave(s) completely immersed, while over at Pigeon Cove, the surged reached up to the base of the Great Gargoyle. Also located was one more site from an old postcard, but this was in an area well visited in the past by the Giant's Stairs/Cathedral Rocks. Pigeon Hill and Granite Pier also got a look over while in the area.

Milestone marker on the way to the Parker River

On the third day the rains did give way for a significant portion of the day enabling me to head on up to Newbury. On my way to the Parker River, a curious stone - an ancient milestone marker - was seen by the side of the road. But I finally got the kayak on out to the river with a couple hours to go before high tide. Working my way upstream, I navigated as far as that section of the waterway would allow. In the process, I passed two islands. One contains the Balance Rock. The second is accessible by land and, previous to entering the river, I had stopped in to catch Gerrish Rock as it slowly sank beneath the waters just off that island. But on the return down river, the rising tide made for a tight squeeze under the bridge but saved me climbing up an embankment to the car: the waters now reached the very bottom of the tires!

The fourth day was more for R&R as the rains once again moved in by early afternoon. However, in the morning I squeezed in Pool's Hill which is sometimes called Hospital Hill for the old Rockport hospital that once existed here. The 'Turtle Mound' is also located nearby. Downtown: the Headlands where a significant dike can be seen amongst the rocks of the shore.

Turtle Mound/Rocks near the old hospital site

The fifth day got off with a bang as part of the Tompson's Reservation with Eagle Rock was hiked. This is a BIG piece of property and certain sections contain significant boulder formations. So a return visit will be in order. A Rockport quarry was visited and my local guide explained this was perhaps the most recent of the area's past quarrying operations. Like many of the others, it now contains water. The morning was ended with a return to Hospital Hill where my guide showed me the ruins of the old hospital, now surrounded by woods. The afternoon was spent once again out on the water. The Jones River brought me out to the Annisquam where I headed north until reaching the ocean by the lighthouse.

Significant thunderstorms gave way to bright sunshine for the morning of the sixth day. It was the day to head home but I still had my primary goal ahead of me. To cover a portion of the Rockport shoreline from water. This included two visits (pre-low tide and low tide) to the Devil's Den, the Pigeon Cove area (often visited by foot) and south to (almost) Straitsmouth Gap. Observation from the sea allowed me to see two exposures of the great Pigeon Cove porphyry dike. Other observations were old postcard sites, discovery of a small sea cave formation, and in general just get a different perspective on the whole area that is unattainable from shore. But then, that is what the whole goal of kayaking was about!