Sunday, July 14, 2019

Merrimack River – Franklin to Boscawen – July 13, 2019

Put-in behind Franklin High School
Our original plan was a low level run on the Lower Winni. Joe said that its good down to 350 cfs, but it dropped below 300 cfs. After that, there was talk of a Pemi Woodstock run, but that's a long drive for me and it also dropped down into the boney range at around 800 cfs. In the end, we decided on the quickwater section of the Merrimack River from Franklin to Boscawen. 

The Merrimack River arises at the confluence of the Pemigewasset and Winnipesaukee Rivers in Franklin and flows south and then east for a 117-miles to before emptying into the Gulf of Maine at Newburyport. Its watershed is one of the largest in New England with major tributaries that include PemigewassetWinnipesaukee, Contoocook, Nashua and the SUASCO (Sudbury, Assabet and Concord) Rivers.

Some say that the Industrial Revolution started on the banks of the Merrimack River in Lowell, and other major industrial cities like Concord, Manchester, Lawrence, and Haverhill grew up along its banks. In honor of its industrial past, several U.S. naval ships have been named USS Merrimack, including the hull that would be raised by the Confederates to build their ironclad. The changes on the river were also detailed in the early American literary classic A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers by Henry David Thoreau.

We decided to do the 6.5-mile section from Franklin to Boscawen. I met Joe at the take-out at the Boscawen Boat Launch for the shuttle up to the put-in behind the Franklin High School. Patty was waiting at the put-in when we arrived. The river was at a nice level - 7.5 feet, 5300 cfs on Franklin Junction Gage. The day was beautiful – sunny and warm.

The Merrimack starts out big and wide, and only gets bigger as it heads downstream. This section includes a series of easy riffles interspersed with quickwater. The usual lunch spot was occupied by a group of sunbathers, so we stopped at a hay field a little further downstream. I pulled my boat into the shade, and Patty and I sat in the boat to avoid the ticks.  

It took about 3 hours for the run at a leisurely pace. Below Boscawen, the river flattens out and there are more sand bars – it was busy with tubers.  


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Monday, July 8, 2019

Pawcatuck – Bradford to Potter Hill – July 7, 2019

Putting in at Bradford
I got up early and headed out to scout a RICKA trip on the Pawcatuck River from Bradford to Potter Hill - Rhode Island’s new Wild and Scenic River. Originally, our plan was to paddle downstream to meet the Paddle Across Rhode Island (PARI) crew as they came upstream on a “sea-to source” trip, but with higher water levels they decided to paddle downstream instead. As we were paddling down from Bradford, the PARI crew was paddling down the Chipuxet River and across Worden Pond.  

It has been a while since I had done this trip, so I wanted to check out the take out and parking at Potter Hill. The take out is on the Westerly side of the river just above the Potter Hill Road Bridge at a small Westerly Land Trust property. Parking is available at the Post Office Landing – a DEM boat launch across the street.  It looks like someone’s driveway, but it is a public access point.

Running the Bradford Dam
We meet at Bradford Landing at 10:00 to run the shuttle, and we were on the water around 10:30. The river was at a nice level – 2.5 feet, 125 cfs. on the Wood River Junction gage.   We paddled under the Route 91 Bridge, and pulled over on the right to portage the new fish weirs at the old Bradford Dam.  

The old Bradford Dam was a 19th century stone and timber structure that provided power to the Bradford textile mills. Built on top of a natural falls, the 6-foot dam spanned the entire width of the river.  Since removing the dam would drop the water level upstream by about 5 feet and negatively impact wetlands, the decision was made to replace the existing dam with the new rock ramp structure.

Polly Coon Footbridge
The new dam is made up of 6 gradually ascending stone weirs, which serve like terraced steps. Pools between the steps give fish a place to rest on their way upstream. Gaps in the weirs create channels for water to flow and fish to swim, including the main current down the middle that forms a nice channel for paddlers. We had about 6 paddlers run the dam, and 2 swims.  

From Bradford to the Route 3 Bridge, the river twists and turns trough the woodlands of the Grills Preserve owned by the Westerly Land Trust and Hopkinton Land Trust. We passed under the Polly Coon Footbridge and continued downstream stopping at the beach off Narragansett Way for lunch. Below the Route 3 Bridge there is more development as the river meanders though open marshland to the Potter Hill Dam.

Lunch at the Beach

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Lincoln Woods - July 6, 2019

It's been a while since I had my whitewater boat out, so I took it down to Lincoln Woods for some flatwater practice.  I'm not as good as I use to be at carving circles - more practice needed!

Olney Pond at Lincoln Woods

Friday, July 5, 2019

Slatersville Reservoir - July 2, 2019

Had a nice night with the Blackstone Valley Paddle Club at the Slatersville Reservoir. We put in at the State Boat Ramp off Route 102, and paddled up the Branch River to the Route 7 Bridge. 

My Pictures
Slatersville Reservoir from RI Blueways

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Lower Deerfield – June 29, 2019

I posted RICKA’s annual “Easy Whitewater” trip on the Lower Deerfield, but a crazy weather forecast seemed to keep all the RICKA paddlers away. Instead, Bill and I did the trip with Jonathan, Conrad and Janet. We didn’t get the heavy rain, wind or hail that was in the forecast – just a few clouds to start, a few sprinkles around lunch time, and blue sky for the end of the trip. The river was at a nice level - 3 feet, 1000 cfs. on the Charlemont gage. The BBQ on the way home is always good.