Friday, May 26, 2017

Thursday Night Tville - May 25, 2017

It’s been a while since I’ve had my whitewater boat out, and I would really like to do the Great Swamp trip with RICKA this weekend, so I decided to head down to Tville for the CTAMC's Thursday night paddle. Forecast was for rain, so I was a little worried that I would drive all the way down there only to find that the trip was cancelled – fortunately not. We had 8 boats – 7 kayaks (what else is new) and 1 canoe (guess who).  Level was around 2’, 800 cfs.  

It’s been a while since I have run it at this level.  There are lot’s of great surf spots, but the ferry between the two ledges at the bottom is tough. I actually got swept downstream early, but still made it through the shoot. Too bad this is so far away, it makes for a long drive home.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Blackstone Gorge - May 16, 2017

After a week of cold, wet weather, it was great to have a warm, sunny Tuesday – especially since this Tuesday was the kick-off for the Blackstone Valley Paddle Club’s 17th season. We had 28 boats paddling above the Blackstone Gorge, We explored the diversion to the to the old power plant before heading up stream to the Triad Bridge.

Sunset at the Blackstone Gorge
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Sunday, May 7, 2017

White River - Granville to Stockbridge - May 6, 2017

Clouds and rain on the trip to the put-in
“Is it worth it?” my wife asked as we talked about the 3.5-hour drive and likely rain for Saturday’s trip on the White River in Vermont.  “Is it really worth it?”

“Yes” I said, “it definitely is”.

It was cold and wet when I left my house at 6:00 a.m. for the drive up to the White River.  The drive to a new trip usually includes a mixture of excitement and apprehension, especially when it involves crossing four states. This trip was no exception. It rained as I crossed into MA, and continued raining as I crossed NH and entered VT. The clouds were hanging low in the valleys of the Green Mountains when I met the crew from the NHAMC at the Hancock Overlook on VT-100 in Hancock just south of the Granville town line

At the put-in
The White River arises in the Green Mountains and flows south and then east across the state to empty into the Connecticut River at White River Junction. There are two sections of the White River that are popular for spring trips – the lower Gaysville section from Stockbridge to Bethel, and the upper section from Granville to Stockbridge. Our original plan was the paddle the lower Gaysville section, which has a few more exciting rapids. Due to high water levels, though, the trip was changed to the upper section.

This would be my first trip on the White River, so it really didn’t matter to me which section we paddled. I met the group at the put-in at 10:00, and began to unload my gear. I’d be paddling tandem with my friend Jonathan. The group included one other tandem, four polers, and four solos – all canoes. The river was at a nice level – 7 feet, 4,000 cfs on the West Hartford gage. We ran the shuttle and got on the river at around 11:00.

Paddling tandem with Jonathan
The trip was around 14 miles and wound through pretty farms and fields in Vermont's dairy country. The run was mostly quickwater with a couple of easy class II rapids. We worked our way downstream enjoying the rapids when we found them. It rained on and off until around 2:00, but that didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits. At around 2:00, the clouds finally lifted, and we even saw some blue sky. We made it to the take-out in Stockbridge at around 4:00.

With a long drive home ahead of me, I packed my gear quickly, said my goodbyes, and got on my way. The rain started up again when I was half way home, but at that point, I didn’t care.

And yes – the trip was definitely worth it!

Mutt and Jeff take a break for lunch
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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Otter Brook - April 29, 2017

It’s funny how trips come together. Usually by Thursday afternoon someone has posted a trip that I am interested in. This week, it didn’t happen, so I posted it myself – Otter Book in southern NH. And just to make sure it happened, I posted it at three places – Where’s the Whitewater at, Merrimack Valley Paddlers and a local email list. It worked. We ended up with about 20 people in three groups, including 6 canoes.

Otter Brook is an easy class II that runs through Keene, NH on it’s way to the Ashuelot River and ultimately the Connecticut River. From the Otter Brook Dam, the river twists and turns though the woods down to Otter Ledge – a 2-foot drop that is usually run through the shoot on the right. Shortly after that, Otter Brook merges with Miniwawa Brook, which adds to its flow and provides some nice wave trains for the remainder of the run along Route 101. The river was at its typical dam release level - 7.5 feet, 300 cfs.  Paul and I ended up doing two runs – great day.

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Lonsdale Ashton Loop – April 22, 2017

It was gray and rainy, but the water levels were great, and we are starting to see some green on the trees.

Blackstone Canal in Ashton
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Monday, April 10, 2017

It’s Miller Time - April 9, 2017

Doane's Falls

The day started with an early morning stop at McDonald’s to meet Paul for the drive up to the Upper Millers in north central MA. As we approached the put-in, we took a short diversion to check out Doane’s Falls on nearby Lawrence Brook in the Tully Lake Recreation Area.  If the water flowing down this waterfall was any indication, it was going to be a great day.

I first ran the Upper Millers with Mike and Tommy back in 2007, and it has been a favorite ever since.  The water on this section of the river is controlled by releases from the Birch Hill Dam. With the exception of a couple of railroad bridges, there is nothing to break the wilderness feeling of the river.

Above the first railroad bridge
We met up with a group from the CT AMC – 16 boats with 14 kayaks and 2 canoes. The day was sunny and warm, and the water level was perfect (4.5 feet,1.500 cfs).  In fact, the Ranger that controls the flow from the Birch Hill Dam stopped by to tell us that he had increased the flow for the day – nice!

The fun began immediately with a long wave train just below the put-in. From there, the river alternates between quickwater, rock gardens and long wave trains.  At this level, most of the rocks were buried just below the surface. I came close on a couple, but made it through. We worked our way downstream running waves, catching eddies, and generally having a good time. By the time we reached the take-out I was pretty tired, but it was great to get changed and pack up our gear in the warm sunshine for the trip home. 

Smiling on the Upper Millers

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Assabet - Acton to Concord - March 26, 2017

Running the Damondale Dam
I got a nice surprise on Friday – an email from Jonathan looking to do some paddling.  I couldn’t paddle on Saturday, but Sunday was open, so I sent an email off to Suasco Al, Tommy and Bill, and we set up a trip on the Assabet. Tommy brought Mena, and Lora and Pat joined from Facebook, so we had a nice group.

We would be running the section of the Assabet from Acton to Concord.  It’s a pretty section that is mostly flatwater except for the broken dam at Damondale.  The river was at a nice level – 2.5 feet, 200 cfs.  We had quite a mixture of boats – Bill and I paddled tandem in my Mohawk; Tommy in his Osprey and Jonathan in his Courier paddled solo; Mena was poling in Tommy’s Souhegan; Lora and Pat were in whitewater kayaks; and Al had his long boat.

Through the blow-downs
We put in at around 10:30 at the Acton Canoe Launch.  The morning started off sunny and warm, but gradually clouded over and got chilly.  We spent a little time playing at the broken dam at Damondale before heading downstream. 

There were quite a few blowdowns below the dam, including the river wide strainer that gave us trouble last time we were here.  The canoes had better luck getting over than the kayaks, so I got out into waist-deep water to help - drysuits are wonderful things! We stopped for lunch in West Concord, and it started to rain just as we pulled into the take out at Lowell Road in Concord at around 2:00.  Nice trip.

Taking a break at Leaning Hemlocks
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