Down Along the Cathance River

I recently drove up to Topsham, Maine to walk a portion of the trail along this unusual area. It was an overcast, fall day and I had the river all to myself. All looked beautiful until I noticed the white foam, as you can see in the right-most photograph in the top row of photos (although they look so, they are not taken in infrared and I used no filter). This is sometimes the result chemical discharge. As it turns out, however, this is not likely the case here because it is not near any discharge pipes nor did it have a soapy smell. Instead, “The foam that accumulates in the streams sometimes is caused by dissolved organic matter,” says Scott Bailey, a geologist up at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. “So you can think of it as kind of like tea. You steep some tea leaves in water you end up with a colored substance that’s got materials that have leached out of those tea leaves, and the same thing happens in our forests.” This is more common in the spring since there is more rain draining organic matter into the streams. However, this past summer and fall have seen above average rainfall in Maine. Read More.

According to its website, “The Cathance River is one of six rivers that converge to form Merrymeeting Bay, together draining 38% of Maine’s land area. The Bay is one of only four places in the world where large rivers with entirely separate watersheds come together to form an inland, freshwater, tidal delta.” Read More.

The only downside to the trip was two days later I discovered a tick embedded in my tricep muscle (I guess my post-hike tick check was not thorough enough), so off the doctor’s office for doxycycline.


  1. There has been lots of sea foam lately due to the heavy winds and big waves. It blows up on the road on the back shore. Something different from on a river, I suppose, but still foam …


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