Monday, February 24, 2020

Quinebaug River - Fabyan to West Thompson – February 23, 2020

Earl - our fearless Leader
I’ve paddled the sections of the Quinebaug from Holland Pond to East Brimfield and Sturbridge to Southbridge to the north, and Putnam to Dayville/Brooklyn to the south, but I had never paddled the section in the middle. When Earl posted that trip on the RICKA Flatwater Message Board I decided it was time.

The Quinebaug River arises at East Brimfield Lake in Sturbridge and flows generally southeast for 60 miles through MA and CT to Norwich where it joins the Willimantic to form the Shetucket. We would be paddling the 5.8-mile section from the Fabyan Dam down to West Thompson.

At the Fabian Dam
We met at the Fabyan Dam (622 Fabyan Road, Thompson CT 06255 ) for the shuttle. The Fabyan Dam was built in the 1820’s to provide power to a carding/fulling mill, and later to a foundry and textile mill. The mill was damaged in the 1938 hurricane, and destroyed by fire in 1939.

As we put-in the day was sunny and warm, and the river was running at 2 feet, 300 cfs on the West Thomson gage. I was paddling tandem with Bill, and we had 7 other boats – 3 canoes and 4 kayaks. The river alternates between flatwater and quickwater as it twists and turns though forests and fields.  

Me and my Mohawk
Eventually, the river opens up to the 200-acre West Thompson Lake - the backwater from the West Thompson flood control dam that was built in the 1950's by the ACOE. The reservoir was iced over, so we took out above it. (326-342 Ravenelle Rd, North Grosvenor Dale, CT 06255)

Monday, February 17, 2020

Providence River/Waterplace Park – February 16, 2020

Danny and Bill at the put-in
The forecast was cold on Saturday, but warming on Sunday, so Sunday was the day to paddle. Fortunately, I can always count on Bill to join me. His only requirement was that we do something local, so we decided on the Providence River from Bold Point. I posted it on the RICKA Flatwater Board, and Danny joined us as well.

“Many years ago - before there was a Waterplace Park, Waterfire or a River Relocation Project - there was the Woonasquatucket River and the many parking spaces over it in downtown Providence.” This is a quote from story that Bill wrote for the Paddler about his first RICKA trip on the Providence River back in 1978. In those days the river was covered with a deck along what is now Memorial Boulevard. “When someone asked what the widest bridge in the US was in 1978, the answer was the bridge and parking spaces over the Woonasquatucket River” Bill continued. 

Downtown Providence
Today, a paddle in downtown Providence is one of the finest urban paddles in the country thanks to the removal of that bridge deck and the completion of Waterplace Park in 1994. Located along sections of the Moshassuck, Woonasquatucket, and Providence Rivers, Waterplace Park is a four-acre park located in the heart of the city. Pedestrian bridges over the river connect over a mile of cobblestone-paved walkways known as the Riverwalk. The park is home to the popular summertime Waterfire events.

We put in at the Bold Point in East Providence and headed out across Providence Harbor towards the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier. The water was calm with just a slight hint of wind-blown waves. Rounding Fox Point and entering into the Providence River we passed some tugboats before paddling through the hurricane barrier.

Danny near South Water Street
As we paddled upstream we passed under the new pedestrian walking bridge built on the piers of the old I-195 Bridge. We continued upstream past the South Water Street Landing and through downtown Providence to the confluence of the Woonasqatucket and Moshassuck Rivers. Bearing to the left we paddled up the Woonasqatucket River into the Basin at Waterplace Park.

The tide was up, so we paddled under the Providence Place Mall and upstream as far as the US Rubber Mill. The river was getting low, and I didn’t want to scratch my Spirit II, so we turned around there and headed back downstream. After a few pictures in the Basin, we headed back to Bold Point. Fun trip, as always!

Bill and Erik in the Basin

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary - February 8, 2020

A tough decision today - there was a RICKA hike at Tillinghast Pond and a Papa Joe hike at Broadmoor Wildlife Sactuary. The Broadmoor hike won out since it started earlier and would be my first hike of the season with the Papa Joe crew. I also thought it would be good to talk with Jonathan and Bill about our spring camping trip. Jonathan is pushing for the Allagash, but we'll see. Combine a hundred or so pictures with a new Jerry Vandiver song and what do you get - a new video...

Sunday, February 2, 2020

River Island Park - February 1, 2020

I have to read at 10:30 Mass on Sunday, and the only trip on Saturday was a late afternoon run at Tville, so I ended up at River Island Park for a quick run with my whitewater boat. The river was at a nice level - 2.75', 800 cfs. At this level the surf spots aren't too big, but aren't washed out either. I brought my cameras with the intention a taking some video, but I didn't bother. This is the only picture I took - the new stairs at the  put-in.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Lower Shannock to Alton - January 26, 2020

The put-in at Lower Shanock
I knew the weather would be better on Sunday, and I needed another day to rest after getting sick last week, so I posted on the RICKA message board and Facebook for a flatwater trip. Jim S. responded that he wanted to do Lower Shannock to Alton with a campfire stop at the Carolina Canoe Campsite. Once Bill signed on the deal was done. 

Bill and I did this section with Jonathan back in September at a much lower level.  With the rain on Saturday the level was up around 3’, 260 cfs on the Wood River Junction gage. We met at Alton at 10:00 for the shuttle up to Lower Shannock Falls. We warned Jim about the current paddling up the Wood River to Alton, but he was OK with it.

Below Lower Skannock Falls
We put in around 10:30 below Lower Shannock Falls and headed downstream. I was the only one with a drysuit, and Bill’s objective was to stay dry in his shortly wetsuit, so running Shannock wasn’t an option. The day started sunny with temps in the mid-40’s – relatively warm for January. I didn’t need gloves, but I kept my hat on just the same.

Bridge construction on the Carolina Road Bridge (Route 112) above the Carolina Raceway continues through 2021. We scouted it for obstructions and ran through fine, but we will need to be careful going through there for a while. Portaging across the construction site would be a pain.

Construction at the Carolina Road Bridge
We stopped for lunch and a small campfire at the Carolina Canoe Campsite. I tried to think of something to bring that I could cook over the fire, but in the end decided to bring PB&J. The fire was still nice, and we got visit with our new friend Buck who was smoking his cigar on the bench when we pulled in.  

From there, we portaged the Richmond Dam and picked our way through the blow-downs down the Alton. The paddle up the Wood River was a bit of a slog, but we made it fine.

Enjoying the fire with our new friend Buck

Monday, January 20, 2020

Cold Spring Park - January 19, 2020

Upstream of the Woonsocket Falls Dam
We woke to 4-5 inches of nice light powder. It would have been a nice day for a hike with Papa Joe and the crew, but I had shoveling to do, so that was out. Instead, I went for a quick trip down at Cold Spring Park. The trip itself was uneventful. I paddled down to the Woonsocket Falls Dam and back. With the wind, I wasn’t motivated to paddle up to Blackstone. Instead, I dragged my boat over to the sledding hill to join the kids for a couple of runs. Unfortunately, a 30-pound kid on a sledding disc goes a lot faster that a 200-pound guy in a 14-foot canoe.  I did pack the snow down, though, so the kids went even faster when I was done.

On the sledding hill

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Hunt River – January 11, 2020

The crew heads out
The forecast called for a warm day with temperatures in the 60’s. I had the usual whitewater options, and potentially a trip with Earl on the Quinebaug, but decided to stay local and paddle the Hunt River with Henry, Frank and Danny.

The Hunt River arises in East Greenwich at Scrabbletown Brook and flows generally northeast for 11-miles into Potowomut Pond. After Potowomut Pond, the river emerges as the Potowomut River and flows east for 2.5-miles forming the southern shore of Potowomut Neck in Warwick before emptying into Narragansett Bay just south of Greenwich Bay.  

Picture time
We put in off Davisville Road in North Kingstown near parking for the Davis Memorial Wildlife Refuge, and just above a stone dam that once powered an old textile mill. There was plenty of water in the river with the gage at 1.5 feet, 10 cfs. We paddled upstream against a strong wind and a surprisingly strong current. The river twists and turns through acres of wetlands that make up this 94-acre Audubon property. 

It was an uneventful trip until I decided to get out of my boat to take some pictures. I stepped out on an island that appeared to be solid ground, and immediately sank in the muck up to my knees. As I tried to turn around to get back in the boat I sank up to my thighs, and then my waist - I know because the zipper on my drysuit wasn't closed all the way, and that water is COLD! Fortunately, Danny came to the rescue before things got too out of hand, and I managed to get back into the boat without tipping Danny over as well. Fun trip as always.

Back in the boat with Danny's help