Thursday, April 14, 2011

Union River at Low Tide

Basics: Public Launch off Water Street. Seems to be sufficient Parking. Rest Rooms in season, picnic tables year round. Launch 10:30, Low 10:30 Down to the Bay and back, 6 miles.
We arrived at the Union River at a moderately low 10:30AM tide. The concrete ramp extended in to the water, and the barren dried river bed gave a stark appearance to the area. The river was still moving at a good clip. Just upstream of the launch the river moved over rapids, and Ellsworth Center was visible.
We glided down on the current, past an array of spring fish nets. At the ramp there were no signs of salt water, but that changed quickly, first traces of seaweed, then barnacles and clams appeared. The stream had several wharf remains along it and a variety of birds, golden eyes, buffle heads, the obligatory eagle and even a turkey were spotted on or over the river. Cormorants were on the river, back from their winter hiatus to the south.
It was a short pleasant journey to the base of Blue Hill Bay, where we stopped at what we thought was an exposed sand bar, though later examination of charts determined that at low tide it was attached to the shore; and therefore, under Maine rules, private property not available for landing.
I had some concerns that working my way up the river would tire me, but to my gratitude the wind picked up, and we blew up river to the launch.

When we'd launched we were the only car at the site, but not so on our return. A number of vehicles filled the lot with residents enjoying the warmth of a spring Sunday settled at picnic tables and below the grand gazebo.
All in all, the Union River at low tide was a great choice for an early spring paddle, though one should be cautious about the velocity of the downstream current. There is a channel up the middle of the river, varying in depth from 15 feet to 3. But through much of our journey we paddled over shallow water, and could easily have waded to the shore. Our favorite parts were exploring the sand bar island (which regrettably we know now is not an option for future trips), playing the fast water above the launch, (though it was rocky enough that we did not go very far up) and having the salt water in the bay rinsed off by the time we made it back to our car.

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