Sunday, August 19, 2018

Upper Millers - August 18, 2018

August has been a month that only a paddler could love. It seems like it has rained continuously for the past two weeks. The heaviest rains were localized, but still brought up many rivers that are usually high and dry up this time of year. When I saw the post from John Kaz that “a small posse of older, but plucky OC paddlers will be meeting” to paddle the Upper Millers, I knew that was the trip for me!    

The Millers River arises in north-central MA and flows generally west for 52 miles to converge with the Connecticut River at Millers Falls.  There are two sections that are popular for whitewater boating – the Upper Millers from Royalston to Athol (class II/III), and the Lower Millers from Erving to Millers Falls (class II/IV).  

The day started with an early morning stop at McDonald’s to meet Paul for the drive up to the river. After dropping Paul with our boats at the put in on Blossom Street in Royalston, I headed down to meet the crew at the take out on Crescent Street in Athol. The open boaters out numbered the kayakers on this trip with 6 canoes and 5 kayaks. The level was around 1,000 cfs, after peaking at over 2,000 cfs. earlier in the week.  It’s a fun, 7-mile run.

The trip alternates between class II and III rapids, with some quiet water in between. The first class III rapid starts at the island below the put in and continues down to the first railroad bridge. After a bit of quiet water, the second class III rapid – Mile Long - begins at a sharp left turn.  The third class III rapid begins after some class II rapids after the second railroad bridge.  At this level, they are an easy class III, but it is still fun. It was a great day, and a rare treat to paddle this river in August. 


Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Soggy Day on the Sudbury – August 11, 2018

Conrad heads out
The forecast called for rain, and rain is what we got, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of four intrepid paddlers (2 kayaks – Conrad and Al, 1 Canoe – Erik and Bill) who explored the Sudbury River as it meanders though the towns of Wayland and Sudbury.  

The Sudbury - a National Wild and Scenic River - arises in Westborough and flows generally northeast for 37 miles to its convergence with the Assabet River at Egg Rock in Lowell to form the Concord River. The smaller but faster moving Assabet takes priority as water flows into the Concord River at Egg Rock. The larger but slower moving Sudbury patiently waits its turn, and water backs up to form the huge wetlands in Sudbury and Wayland that are part of the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

SuAsCo Al
We met at 9:00 at the put-in at Sherman’s Bridge Road in Wayland. Our original plan was to run a shuttle down to Lowell Road in Concord, but with rain and the threat of thunderstorms, we decided to skip the shuttle and stay close to the cars in case we needed to get off the river. We launched our boats at around 9:30 and headed south through the marshes toward Route 27.  

Al explained that one of the major battles of King Philip’s War – the Sudbury Fight – was fought here in April 1676. As Native American warriors moved east after devastating attacks in the town of Marlborough, residents of Sudbury evacuated to the nearby Haynes Garrison House - a fortified structure where they successfully repelled several attacks. 

Erik, Bill, Conrad and Al at
the Sudbury Fight Monument
The largest battle occurred when hundreds of Native American warriors ambushed a combined force of roughly fifty militiamen from Boston and Watertown coming to support the Sudbury residents. As we approached the Route 27 (Old Sudbury Road) Bridge, we pulled over and hiked a short way down old Route 27 and across the Old Town Bridge to a historical monument marking the burial site of some of these militiamen.  

We returned to our boats and paddled under the historic Old Town Bridge. This stone arch bridge was built in 1848 on the site where the earliest bridge across the Sudbury River had been built in the 1640’s. For many years, this was a major east-west passage connecting Boston to points west and south. 

Old Town Bridge
With higher water, we were able to paddle under the Old Town Bridge and through the swamp grass and bushes that are slowly filling in the “Oxbow” – the original course of the Sudbury River. As we headed back to Sherman's Bridge Road a steady rain began to fall, but with rain gear it was still comfortable.  

With 5 miles under our belt, we continued downstream past our put-in at Sherman’s Bridge Road and into the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge – a 3,800 acre protected wetland and bird sanctuary along the Sudbury and Concord Rivers. The rain got heavier as we approached Lee's Bridge at Route 117 (South Great Road). We took a break under the bridge to let the worst of the rain pass before heading back. We arrived back at the put-in at around 1:30 after an 11-mile trip. In spite of the rain, it was another fun day on the water, and it is alway great to get a guided tour from SuAsCo Al!

Erik and Bill with Conrad in the background

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Manville Dam Again – August 4, 2018.

No traveling for me this weekend, so my first thought was to do some surfing below the Manville Dam. Then the rain rolled in, and I worked on a RICKA brochure instead. The rain stopped in the late afternoon and I did make it down to the Manville Dam, but I decided to do some flatwater practice carving circles above the dam instead. It’s been a long time, and I was a little rusty - especially on the off-side circles.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Manville Dam - August 1, 2018

I was debating going out to Tville, but the river dropped and it seemed like a long drive – in other words I wimped out.  Instead I did the Blackstone Valley Paddle Club trip at the Manville Dam – can’t get much closer to home than that.  Nice night, good group, pretty sunset...

My Pictures

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Narrow River – July 29, 2018

What do you do after spending two weeks at the beach in South County? Go back to the beach in South County! I could gone to trips at the Pemi/Woodstock in NH (too far to drive), or Tville in CT (do it all the time), but I decided to stay close to home and paddle the RICKA trip at the Narrow River instead.  We put in at the Pollock Avenue boat ramp and paddled down to the beach at the Narrows.  I surfed a couple of waves, and did a pretty good job of staying upright and leaning into the waves when I got turned sideways, but the boat still filled with water making it impossible to paddle.


Friday, July 27, 2018

Pea Soup Fog - No Paddling for Me - July 27, 2018

Pea soup fog this morning (even thicker than the usual pea soup fog that we have had), so no paddling for me this morning. That’s OK, it has been a great couple of weeks. Thanks to Jerry Vandiver for another great paddling song.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Wickford Harbor – July 26, 2018

Smith's Castle (c. 1678)
The morning was cloudy, but the water was calm as I put-in to Wickford Harbor at Wilson Park. Wickford is located on the West Passage of Narragansett Bay, and is built around a large, well-protected harbor.

Wickford was established in the early 17th century when Roger William purchased land from the Narragansett Indians and established a trading post. In 1637, Williams sold the land to Richard Smith who constructed a large fortified house on the site, giving the house its nickname the “Castle”. That house was burned during King Philip's War, and the structure that can be seen from the put-in today was built in1678.

Wickford Cove with St. Paul's Church
While the backwaters around Rabbit Island and Cornelius Island looked interesting to explore, I headed out into Wickford Harbor as far as the breakwater, and then into Wickford Cove. With the exception of a couple of fishing boats, the marinas were quiet.

I continued down the cove toward the Boston Neck Road (Route 1A) Bridge. Wickford grew to become a major port and shipbuilding center, and today contains a large collection of 17th and 18th century homes that can be seen along the Cove. 

Cormorant at Poplar Point