Monday, September 2, 2019

My old Impluse has a new home – September 2, 2019

Glendale Rapid on the Branch in 2006
With the purchase of my new Outrage, it was time to make room in the boathouse by passing on my old Impluse to a new paddler, and Danny seemed like the perfect choice. I met him this morning at Lincoln Woods and he took it for a spin – deal done.

I bought the the Impluse in the fall of 2005 after taking the NHAMC Whitewater School in the spring. The first trip that I did in this boat was the fall draw-down at the Pcat, which I have done many times since. The next trip was the icebreaker trip on the Upper Winni the following spring, and then I did my first trip on the Branch with Bill Luther in June. The first picture that I have in this boat is running the Glendale Rapid on the Branch.

Shepaug in February 2008
In the fall of 2007, I started paddling with Matt and Scott, and took many trips to CT to run the Farmington. One of my favorite pictures in the Impluse is a winter shot from February 2008 on the Shepaug.

In 2008 or 2009 I bought my first Encore, and the Impluse became my spare boat. I used in for a few months in 2011 when my original Encore got stolen. Fortunately, I was able to purchase another Encore from Tommy, and the Impluse went back to being my spare. I think the Impluse will have a good new home with Danny.

Danny in his new boat - have fun!
My Pictures

Pawcatuck – Lower Shannock Falls to Alton – September 1, 2019

Running Lower Skannock Falls
I sent an email to Bill and Jonathan to see if they wanted to paddle on Sunday. Jonathan wanted to do something with current, so we decided on the Pawcatuck from the Lower Shannock Falls down to Alton. Bill wanted to paddle tandem, so I brought the Mohawk.

We met at 10:00 at Alton Landing to run the shuttle. The day was beautiful – sunny and warm, and the river was at a nice level – 2’, 70 cfs. on the Wood River Junction gage – low, but still fluid.

Lunch at the Carolina Canoe Campsite
We checked out the rapid at Lower Shannock Falls, and Bill and I decided that it was a little too low to run in the tandem. Jonathan ran it in the Courier, and made it look easy. From there, we continued down through the Carolina Raceway (moving pretty well) to the Carolina Canoe Campsite (getting overgrown) where we stopped for lunch. The Richmond Dam was too low to run, but the surf wave below it was prefect.  

Last year I ran a trip from Richmond down to Bradford, and the section below Richmond was full of blow-downs. Fortunately the WPWA has been in there with chainsaws and cleared a path. It was a bit of work paddling up the Wood River to Alton, and I felt bad for Jonathan paddling solo, but as always he managed fine.  Great day!

The crew at the take out below the Alton Dam

Sunday, August 18, 2019

My new boat - Mad River Outrage – August 18, 2019

New boat arrives home
I have a new boat – a 15-year old, but like-new Mad River Outrage. I bought it from Nancy Gero, and picked it up this week. A great find.

Mad River Canoe was founded in 1971 by Jim Henry in a shed at his home near the Mad River in VT. In its early years, Mad River was known for innovative designs and the use of new materials. Mad River was among the first to mold Royalex canoes in 1973, and introduced Kevlar to the canoe industry in 1974. Its best-known canoe, the Explorer, was introduced in 1975. Mad River merged with Wilderness Systems in 1998 to form Confluence Watersports, which would later acquire the Dagger, Harmony and Perception brands. 

Bags installed - ready to go
In 1995, Mad River introduced the Outrage whitewater canoe, which was designed by Tom Foster and Jim Henry. The Outrage is a fish-form design (widest section forward of the centerline producing a buoyant bow that is ideal for paddling upstream and rising over large waves) with soft chines, a shallow arch hull, and lots of rocker. Specifcations are:
  • Length: 12'
  • Gunwale Width: 25.5"
  • Depth at Center: 15.5"
  • Weight: 52 lbs.
First paddle at Lincoln Woods
Back in the old days a 12’ boat was considered short and a 13’ version, the Outrage X, was introduced for paddlers over 180 lbs. Today, 12’ is “old school”. Mine is the 12’ version with new gunnels and outfitting by John Kaz (Milbrook Boats) and hardly a scratch on the hull itself. All I needed to do when I got it home was adjust the straps and put in the bags.

I finally got it out on flatwater today. I am 50 lbs. over the old 180 lbs. max. weight, but it paddled fine. It is great at spinning and carving circles, but like all whitewater boats, it can be a challenge to paddle straight. I love the hip blocks and lack of foot pegs, but the the 8" pedestal is going to take some getting use to.

Outrage from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.


Monday, August 12, 2019

Dead River Weekend - Day Two – August 11, 2019

Heading Out
As I was preparing for my Dead River trip, I got an email from Jonathan wondering what was up for the weekend. When I told him that I was going to the Dead, he decided to join us on Sunday. Our original plan was to paddle tandem on something easy (“anything but the Dead”), and then get an early start home. After a good day on Saturday and with a lower release level on Sunday, I convinced him to paddle tandem on the Dead instead.

We rigged-up Jonathan’s Mad River Explorer with the end and center bags that he had brought, and an end bag scavenged from my Encore. The shuttle from Webb’s was a joy compared to yesterday. We only 12 paddlers, so we were all able to sit in the van. Ken and Jim decided not to paddle with us on Sunday, so we had 7 boats (one tandem canoe - me and Jonathan; one solo canoe – Norm; and 5 kayaks – Jonathan, Ken, Dave, Doug, Cian and Conrad). The release was 1800 with another 100 from Spencer Stream – mostly class II rock dodging. The weather was great – sunny with a few clouds. 

Bottom of Minefield
We started with me in the bow and Jonathan in the stern but decided to switch when others commented how out of trim the boat was. Although I generally like to be in the bow, I must admit that it was better with Jonathan up front. The boat was more stable and maneuverable, and to be honest, Jonathan is better at picking out lines than me. 

We ran Sunday pretty much the same as Saturday. We ran Spencer Rips, Minefield and a bunch of other unnamed rapids before taking a break at Hayden's. After the break, Hayden’s was our first real test on a class III rapid with big waves, and we made it through fine. We then ran Gravel Pit and some other unnamed rapid before stopping for lunch at Enchanted Stream. 

View from the stern
After lunch we headed out to run Elephant Rock. This time, we followed the crew left and then right to line up on the shoot on Elephant Rock – we nailed it. Next up was Mile Long, and we managed to make to the bottom before filling up the boat. From there we continued down through some unnamed rapids and Upper and Lower Spruce to Upper and Lower Poplar. Considering ourselves lucky to have made it this far without swimming, we decided to portage Upper and Lower Poplar. 

We carried up the first hill hoping from there it would be “down-hill” all the way. It wasn’t. We dragged the boat up and down numerous hills before we finally reached the put-in below Lower Poplar about a mile away – definitely a class IV portage. For there, we enjoyed the quickwater back down to Webb’s. The rest of the crew was waiting for us at the take-out. We packed up our gear and said our good-byes before heading out for the long drive home.

On the portage trail around Poplar Falls

Dead River Weekend - Day One – August 10, 2019

Norm running Spencer Rips
It has been a couple of years since I have been up to the Dead, so I was able glad that Conrad was willing to move the Boston AMC trip that he usually runs during my family vacation in July to August. We would be running a 2400 release on Saturday, and an 1800 release on Sunday.  

The Dead is a great river, but it definitely makes you work. First, it is out in the middle of nowhere. My drive up on Friday, which should have taken 4½ hours, took over 7 hours due to traffic. Then there is the shuttle, which can be brutal. On Saturday we had 64 boaters heading up to the put-in. I ended up in the back of a pickup truck with 8 other boaters in the pouring rain for the 45-minute trip down dirt logging roads. 

Jim running Minefield
Once you get on the river, though, it is all worth it. The Dead arises at Flagstaff Lake and flows 42-miles to its convergence with the Kennebec River at The Forks. It has one of the longest continuous whitewater runs in the northeast with approximately 30 named and unnamed rapids along the 14-mile stretch from Spencer Stream near Grand Falls to The Forks. At lower levels (1200 to 1800), the run is primarily class II rock-dodging except for a couple of the larger named rapids, which are class III.  At medium flows, (2400 to 3500), it is class III with lots of long wavetrains. At higher levels (4500 to 8000), it is class IV and beyond my skill level.

The release on Saturday was 2,400 cfs with another 100 cfs coming from Spencer Stream – an easy class III. We had 9 boats (3 canoes -  me, Jim and Norm; and 6 kayaks – Jonathan, Ken, Dave, Doug, Cian and Conrad). The day alternated between sun (rarely), clouds (lots) and rain (occasionally). We even had a couple of rumbles of thunder. We ran through Spencer Rips, Minefield and a bunch of other unnamed rapids before taking a break at Hayden's. We then ran Hayden's, Gravel Pit and some other unnamed rapid before stopping for lunch at Enchanted Stream. 

Conrad below Minefield
After lunch we headed out into Elephant Rock. I got confused and thought that Elephant Rock was closer to Enchanted Stream than it actually is. I went right immediately and ended up bouncing through a nearby boulder garden that everyone else avoided. I then followed Doug down through the waves on the ledge at the left side of Elephant Rock. It was only when I got to the bottom and saw Conrad running the slot that I realized that I had missed it completely.  Oh well, good to know I can also run the left side.  

Next up was Mile Long that has always been my nemeses. I headed in and I did fine in the top half. I followed Cian through the middle and over the rock that usually fills my boat. This time I made it through relatively dry and was able to get down to the bottom before emptying my boat.  

The crew running Hayden's
From there we continued downstream to run Upper and Lower Spruce and Upper Poplar. Hayden’s is often said to have the largest waves, but on this day, I thought the waves were bigger at Upper Poplar. Now, all that was left was Lower Poplar. I headed into Lower Poplar center right and followed the seam between the boulder garden and the big waves down to the middle where a large group of rocks forces you left into the waves or right into the boulder garden. In the past I have always gone right into the boulder garden, which is boney at lower release levels.  This time I went left into the waves and bounced my way to the bottom of the rapid filling up my boat in the process.  It was a fun ride. 

We paddled the last couple of miles of quickwater down to Webbs to complete this great day - no swims. We had a nice dinner at Hawks Nest and returned to the campground for an early night.

Running Hayden's - photo by Rapid Shooters Maine

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Fife Brook - August 4, 2019

It’s been a while since I had my whitewater boat out, so I decided to head up to the Deerfield for a Fife Brook run. I posted on Where’s the Whitwater at? and John Kaz invited me along. The release was 3', 900 cfs on the Charlemont Gage.  I had my second and third swims of the year.  My second was in the rapid above Zoar Gap. I was eddying out on the left, hit a rock, and went over. John recovered my boat so I was able to run the Gap. On my Gap run, I caught the eddy at the top, but tried to go left instead of right – it never works.  Don caught my air brace, gunnel grab and sculling hand brace on video.

I need to do it like like Rick - two good forward strokes from the eddy to ferry river right, and then down the right side.  Next time. My Zoar Gap record now stands at 15 attempts - 7 successful, 6 swims and 2 walks. You'd think after all those attempts I would have it down better.