Sunday, January 21, 2018

Quinebaug River - Putnam to Brooklyn - January 20, 2018

Earl heads downstream
One of the first trips that I did with Mike and Chuck was the Quinebaug River from Putnam to Dayville. It was the spring of 2006. I had just bought my solo canoe, and was pretty much a complete newbie. Little did I know that it would be the first of many trips that I would do with these fine paddlers. 

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. Since that first trip with Mike and Chuck, I have driven past the Quinebaug many times on my way to other rivers.  When I saw that Earl had posted a Quinebaug trip on the Flatwater Message Board, I decided it was time to go back.

Ice at the take out
We met at 10:00 at the canoe launch at Simonzi Park (80-82 Kennedy Drive, Putnam, CT 06260), and decided to extend the trip past Dayville to Riverside Park (18 Day Street, Brooklyn CT 06234) – a trip of about 11 miles. The river was a nice level – 700 cfs on Putnam gage, and the weather was warm – almost 50°. 

The run was uneventful from Putnam down to Dayville. About a mile past Route 101 is the Rogers Dam, which we portaged on the right. We played in the easy rapids below the dam before continuing downstream. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the boat launch at Riverside Park, so we ended up taking out below the power lines a little upstream, which involved a long carry back to the cars. Still a fun trip


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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Purgatory Chasm - January 14, 2018

On Devil's Pulpit at the Chasm
I was hoping to paddle today, but with the temp’s dropping, there didn’t seem to be a trip. Instead, I did a hike with Conrad, Bill and the Papa Joe hiking crew at the Purgatory Chasm State Reservation in Sutton.

I came showshoeing here five years ago (almost to the day – January 15, 2011) with the RICKA crew, and have come a couple of times since with Michelle (mostly to stop at West End Creamery). The Chasm was formed 14,000 years ago when a mile-high glacier let loose a gush of dammed-up water carving out the 70-foot-deep gorge.

We started with a loop around the Chasm on the Charlie Loop Trail.  From there we bushwacked through the woods down to Purgatory Brook, and saw a couple of pretty waterfalls before heading up the Forest Road Trail and Old Purgatory Trail into the Sutton State Forest. We finished up with lunch at Stephanie’s in Grafton. 

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High Water, but no Paddling - January 13, 2018

Last weekend, Bill and I were snowshoeing along the bike path in Ashton, and the Blackstone was frozen solid. This weekend after the rain and the big warm-up, the ice was gone, and the river was cranking at at 8 feet, 4000 cfs at the Woonsocket Falls and Manville. 

Woonsocket Falls and Manville Dam from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

With higher water levels, I decided to go check out the Branch River.  It was running at 7 feet, 1800 cfs, but I knew it would start to drop quickly. The ice was gone, and the big tree that had previously blocked the Glendale Rapid had floated downstream and is now below the Nasonville Dam. The trees and the big pile of debris that had blocked the middle channel below Atlas Pallet (where Chuck pinned his boat during the first PARI attempt) is also gone. 

Unfortunately, the chill is back today, and no one is interested in paddling, so I am off to hike at Purgatory Chasm with Bill and the Papa Joe crew.

(p.s. This video was done on Saturday. By Sunday the river had dropped to 900 cfs, and by Monday was 500 cfs. The highest I had run it in the past was 600 cfs two days after the first PARI attempt. Monday would have been the day, but I had other stuff to do.)

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Snowshoeing on the Bikepath in Ashton - January 5, 2018

It was an unbroken trail...
With 18’” of nice light powder on the ground, and all the rivers frozen, snowshoeing seemed to be the order of the day.  With a high temperature of 6°, gusty winds, and wind chills well below zero, the list of potential hiking partners was short.  Fortunately, Bill was game, so we met at noon at the Visitor Center on Route 295 in Lincoln. 

We headed down the bikepath until we reached the ridge above the Ashton Dan.  From there, we hiked down the ridge, and along the river to Route 295 before climbing back up the ridge on the way back to the visitor center.  We were out about an hour and a half, and hiked about mile – that was plenty. Lunch afterward at Jacky’s Galaxie in Cumberland was a nice reward.


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Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Year End Review

Thursday Night Tville
2017 started off with a New Year’s Day run on the Housatonic, and ended with an early December trip to the Slatersville ReservoirIn between, it was another great year for paddling.  

I did 56 trips this year, which is a little below my 7-year average of 58 trips. I did a few new trips including the Housatonic, the White, and Great SwampAs always, I did a lot of RICKA trips, and helped to organize the Flatwater Training at Stump Pond and the SUP Night at Lincoln Woods. I also did several trips with the CTAMC including the Upper MillersWestfest, and several Thursday night runs at Tville; and one with the NHAMC - the WhiteHere are some of the year's more significant trips:

JanuaryNew Year’s Day on the HousatonicAssabet – Maynard
FebruaryFife Brook
MarchBranch Rive IcebreakerAssabet – Acton to Concord
AprilUpper MillersOtter Brook
MayWhite – Granville to StockbridgeTvilleGreat Swamp
June - Thursday Night Tville, and more Thursday Night Tville
JulyLower DeerfieldPawcatuck – Shannock to RichmondPoint Judith PondWickford
AugustRiver Bend FarmLower Deerfield
SeptemberPawcatuck – Alton to BradfordSeekonkWestfest
October Lower PawtuxetPiscat Drawdown
November - Upper MillersAssabet – Acton to Concord
December - Slatersville

Here are some of my favorite trips from 2017 from RICKA Movie Night.

RICKA Movie Night - Erik Eckilson from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

I got to paddle almost every day of my summer vacation in Narragansett


Scenes from a South County Vacation from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

In  addition to the RICKA Wilderness Overnight, I also did a great Columbus Day Weekend camping trip on the Upper Connecticut River with Bill, Tommy and Mena.  


Camping on the Upper Connecticut from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

I did a little more hiking this year, mostly with the Papa Joe Hiking group:

Mass Central Rail - Holden, MA
Nonet Woods - Dover, MA
Bearsden Conservation Area - Athol, MA
Mount Pisgah - Berlin/Northborough, MA
Noon Hill - Midfield, MA

In terms of my resolutions from last yearI didn’t do so well on rolling practice, but I did get some camping in. Resolutions for next year;

Practice rolling – I’ll keep including it until I do it.
Do at least one camping trip – hopefully two with one in the spring and one in the fall

Overall it was another great year, and there are still plenty of rivers to paddle, plenty of trails to hike, and plenty of places to go camping. Bring it on! 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Noon Hill - December 30, 2017

At the top of Noon Hill
I was off this week, but due to the cold weather I didn’t do any hiking or paddling. After a week in the house, I was looking forward to getting outside for a little exercise. When Hiker Joe cancelled the Noon Hill hike due to frozen pipes, Bill, Jonathan, Conrad and I decided to go anyway. Noon Hill and the adjacent Shattuck Reservation are Trustees of Reservations properties in Medfield  MA. 

Temps were in the single digits as we headed west out of the parking lot toward Noon Hill.  At 370 feet, Noon Hill rises gently over the surrounding landscape with views south over Walpole and Norfolk. From there we headed south and then west across Causeway Street to the Shuttuck Reservation and a trail along the Charles River. Nice trip - not paddling, but still a nice way to end the year.

The Crew - Bill, Conrad, Jonathan and Erik
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Monday, December 25, 2017

Too Many Boats - December 25, 2017

I don’t know that too many boats is my problem. I have 8 boats, and regularly paddle 5 of them.  I do tend to hoard pictures though. They end up on my desktop or in the download file, and I just can’t seem to delete them, even after I have copied them into a trip file somewhere else. It drives my wife crazy and slows down the computer, so yesterday I started to clean things up, but I ended up making a video instead. 


The pictures are still on my hard drive - haven't deleted one of them. Thanks to Cheryl, Bill, Chuck, Jonathan, JoAnn, Ed, Steve, Denise, Doug, Paul, Tommy, Mena, Mike, Joe and others for taking them.  Great song by Jerry Vandiver, even if it isn’t true in my case.

Merry Christmas everyone.