Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Narragansett Bay


Landing on the west shore of the Narragansett Bay, it was my intention to kick off fours days with further water-based explorations of the rocky coastlines in the Bay. On this day I went south looking over the coast of the Bonnet, and an area just to its south. At that point I paddled across the West Passage of the Narragansett Bay to re-examine a section of Conanicut Island (Jamestown) seen in June. What I thought to be a cave previously was merely the all too typical recess and shadow in the rocks.

The second day was devoted to exploring a number of sites on the northern portion of Aquidneck Island. A stand old growth forest managed to escaped the ravages of time. Then I fulfilled a long desire to look at some of the coal history of Portsmouth, examining several shoreline sites while also looking at a couple possible future kayak put-ins. Sandwiched in there was a quick walk by a section the old Hessians Hole, part of the early Portsmouth history. Finishing the day: a long awaited trip to another historic site: Lawton Valley, once the location of early grist mills.


The Falls at Lawton Valley - circa 1870s

I returned to water and coastal explorations on the third day. This time from Jamestown itself. Leaving the Fort Wetherill area, I re-examined some sections visited last year and was pleasantly surprised by the find of a shallow sea cave. One (Pirate's Cave) has been reported in this area for many years and this is the only likely possibility I have ever come across. Then it was only to shoot across the mouth of Mackerel Cove, leaving granite behind for a more slaty Rhode Island Formation. Cruising down the coast I saw another possible cave site and visited (unfortunately at high tide) a number or rocky formations including the Bay's major sea formed cave. On my returned, I looked over the two recently discovered cave sites while capturing photos. The day was closed out by a low tide visit to a site on Aquidneck visited the previous day, revealing much more rocks including fossil bearing formations.


Sea formed cave on the Narragansett Bay

Day four saw me leaving Aquidneck Island and making my way up to the Snake Den. A multitude of old granite quarries exist here as well as the rocky ridge know as Snake Den. Some small cave formations do exist here. I attempted to work a nearby site known as Round Rocks only to find roads into the area closed - or non existent. A later aerial view search reveals the area now incorporated into a massive quarrying operation.


The rocky Snake Den

Friday, September 13, 2013

South ... to North Shores


A couple days to relax on the South Shore before heading on north, up around Boston, to the North Shore.

The trip was kicked off by dropping down off the Pike to start a search for another Devil's Den in Worcester County. The cave also has a connection (at least in an alternate name) to a historical figure. My details were slim, but I hoped I to get lucky. Unfortunately NOT! So this one will have to be worked further at a future date.

Landing on the South Shore, I set about checking the relationship between high tides and the entrance/exit to two salt water estuaries. Primarily, I watched the Gulf (River) which is suppose to be navigable just around high tide.


Squaw Rock - or Squantum Head - early 1900s postcard image.

The second day sent me up to the Squantum section of Quincy for a more in depth look at its ledges and where the profile of Benjamin Butler once lay. Careful examination could not reveal anything for a positive id (it has been determined Ben no longer exists) but a set of photographs was taken for later examination. The same was done for nearby Squantum Head which has also suffered deterioration since the Golden Age of postcards portrayed it. It might be mentioned the Ben Butler site may be identified from a large rock laying in the water just in from of its former site. That area is highly susceptible to erosion being mainly composed of argillites, a slat like rock, whereas the Squantum Head is much more a tougher conglomerate. Indeed, an abandoned slate quarry exists nearby that was also examined.

Out of Squantum and back more to the south lies the land of many boulders. Indeed the original name of Cohasset is Quonahasset or "long rocky place" as named by the Native Americans. A number of sites there provide excellent examples of glacial geology and a couple were visited after my years absence of many years. Wheelwright Park has the Devil's Armchair, Big and Little Tippling Rock, as well as a split rock formation. The Whitney and Thayer Woods have an assortment of glacial boulders with names like Ode's Den, Rooster Rock, and the Bigelow Boulder.


The Devil's Armchair at Wheelwright Park

Day three proved to be somewhat of a bust. Traveling up to Marblehead, I intended to continue (by kayak) the shoreline investigation of Marblehead Neck. Unfortunately, winds, high seas, and eventually rain moved in and squashed those plans. So I continued the trip on up to Cape Ann to set up camp and reconnect with old friends.

The next day brought in late season brutal heat. I monitored the situation down in Marblehead but ninety-six degrees with an air quality alert and heat advisory left me to toot around Cape Ann on that day. I thought of launching the kayak out of Rockport but difficulties ensued at two different launch points. I used the time to examine Loblolly Cove as well as a postcard of that area called "The Maid", another rocky formation. Then some hiking over at Goose Cove in Gloucester before retiring from a VERY hot day.

With the vacation time winding down, I was determined to get into the ocean at least once. The choice was Ipswich at Little Neck. Here I cruised over to the southern part of Plum Island before turning south towards Crane Beach. I landed to looked over the Skull, a rock formation, not looking very skull-like in recent times. Moving on, I entered the Ipswich River, relaxed amongst the sand dunes, then returned to the beach launch area to call it a day.

Severe thunder storms moved in that night so it left the final day to pick up the wet equipment and head on home.