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Enviously hiking the Charles River Peninsula

Almost all of the boats opted to head away from, rather than towards the South Street Bridge.

By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

You know when you take young children to the beach, and you play with them in the creek or along the waterline but can’t help but notice how big the waves are in the main surf? Or, maybe you have been to an amusement park when the line for the big roller-coaster was too long, so you went on a different, less exciting ride instead? It’s fun, but you can’t help but notice how much more fun people are having around you and wish you were doing what they are.

That’s how I felt walking the Charles River Peninsula trail on Saturday afternoon. It was relaxing, it was pretty, and yes, it was fun. But nearly the entire time, I was surrounded by people doing activities that were far more exciting than walking a trail.

The first thing I noticed was the number of stand-up paddle-boarders. As I headed past the boat launch towards the open meadow, there were a ton of people paddle-boarding in the water, and to their credit, all were looking pretty sturdy. One had a basketball tied to the front of his paddle board, but when I yelled to him about it, he assured me he’d pulled the ball out of the water and was going to throw it out. It was not part of some kind of cool new game the group had invented.

The basketball was a piece of trash he was clearing from the river, not part of a cool new stand up paddle boarding game.

The trail at Charles River Peninsula leads to an open meadow full of tall grasses, decorated with a plethora of bat houses. This was good because a sign at the beginning of the train noted that EEE is now “critical” in the area. Whether the bat houses work, or it was too dry and sunny for them, I didn’t see any mosquitos. One thing I did see was an old, knotted rope hanging off a tree limb that looked like it was an old rope swing into the river. The river must be low, however, because it would take a heck of a swing to get deep enough into the water as it stands now.

It would take quite the swing to get to the water from this rope swing.

Throughout its run, the trail follows a similar pattern: open meadow, followed by a duck down a small path onto the riverbank. It’s neat and does get scenic, but it’s hard not to wish you were on the water getting to see everything instead of on the land and only seeing the river on occasion. Considering how many kayakers and canoers there were on the water, it must be a very scenic tour. The next time I go to the area, I’d like to be on a boat of some kind, rather than on foot.

The river was full of canoes, kayaks and paddle boards.

One thing I won’t be doing is jumping off the South Street Bridge. On the way back to my car, I saw a couple of teenage boys in bathing suits standing on top of the bridge. They hesitated for a long time as I waited to photograph them jumping into the water, but did eventually take the plunge. I was surprised to see them jump, because I had always heard that, even now, it was a bad idea to swim in the Charles River. But that’s not why I wouldn’t jump.

While they hesitated, these two teenagers did jump off the bridge eventually.

I’m from Braintree and am the perfect age to have been too young to swim in the Quincy Quarries, but old enough to have older siblings, and know my friends’ older siblings, who frequently jumped off the cliffs there. The quarries were filled when I was eleven, but to this day I get extremely annoyed hearing about them.

While swimming in any quarries is dangerous, to boost their own daredevil histories, older siblings exaggeratedly talked as though going for a Sunday swim at the quarries was like overtaking the Japanese forces at Okinawa: you looked around in the car and knew half the people you went with weren’t coming back. With the quarries filled, we could never dispute these increasingly tall, tall tales, and couldn’t prove ourselves their equal by cliff-diving anywhere else. We could try, but it’s pointless knowing they’d just say: “You dove off a 150 foot cliff in Acapulco? Big deal. What are you dealing with, sharks? Some rocks? Try landing on a Volkswagen bus Whitey torched in 1987 and get back to me.”

It’s annoying. It’s frustrating. It’s why I will never jump off anything. But I will return to The Charles River Peninsula some time - only this time, I will be heading to the water instead of down the trail. It just looks more fun.  

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