Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween on the Piscat - October 31st

Had a fun day today at the MVP/AMC year-end paddle and BBQ on the Piscataquog in Goffstown, NH.  RICKA was well represented with eight boats - six kayaks (Tom Jr., Tom Sr., Paul, Bob, Andy and Steve) and two canoes (me and Jeff). We were the first group on the river, and the last group to reach the take-out.  The Piscat is an easy class II with a couple of nice surf waves. I was doing pretty well on this one until I got spun sideways with my paddle on the upstream side (end of video).

Halloween on the Piscat from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

I didn’t get to stay to enjoy the BBQ, but I did get home in time to give out candy for Halloween.

My pictures
My video
River description from American Whitewater

Monday, October 19, 2009

"Love the Rock" Part 2 - New Boston Run on the Farmington - October 18th

When I pulled into the small parking lot at the Bear’s Den Rapid Sunday morning, there were already two cars in the lot. It was 9:00 AM, and we had agreed to meet at 9:30 AM, so someone had arrived early.

Walking down to the river I could see Jeff Budz and Geoff (GMK from NPMB) hard at work releasing a canoe that had gotten pinned the day before. Before I could get my drysuit on to help, they had popped the canoe off the rock. Good work.

After Saturday’s poling trip, I was back at the Farmington River on Sunday to run the New Boston section in my whitewater canoe. The run is about 7 miles. The first and last couple of miles are class II with one class III rapid at the end. The middle is class III – a narrow creek-like run with lots of rocks and several 2 to 3 foot drops.

We pretty much had the river to ourselves. I guess the lousy weather and low release kept people away. We had 4 canoes (me, Matt, Aaron and Jeff) and 2 kayaks (Geoff and Jeff).

I had done this run with Matt two years ago at a level of 4 feet, and did pretty well. I swam going over the biggest drop at Decoration Rock, but otherwise ran it clean. No such luck yesterday. Yesterday’s level was 3.7 feet which made for a boney, technical run. I spent the day bouncing off, riding up on, and flipping over on rocks.

I swam twice in the middle section – once below the first big drop after the slalom course, and once just above Decoration Rock. Both times I rode up on unseen rocks, got spun sideways, and was unable to hold the upstream gunwale out of the water – a sure recipe for disaster in a fast moving river. At least I was able to self-rescue.

By the time we got to the last rapid – Bear’s Den - I was cold and tired. Temperatures had only been in the high 30’s, and it had rained and snowed on-and-off all day. I watched as Scott and Matt ran the rapid, but didn’t feel confident. Sure enough, I flipped about half way through. Thanks goodness for drysuits.

Bear's Den Rapid from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

I’d love to do this run again with a little more water – everyone said it would be easier. Maybe next year.

My pictures
Jeff's video of my run above Decoration Rock
River description from American Whitewater
New Boston Gage

Sunday, October 18, 2009

“Love the rock” - Farmington Poling – October 17th

“Love the rock”. That’s what they taught me in my first whitewater class. If you end up sideways in the current, broached against an obstruction, you need to lean into the obstructuction to keep the upstream gunwale out of the water. If you don’t, the boat will pin and you will never get it off.
That’s what happened to Joe.

I hooked up with Jeff, Matt and a few other polers for a fun day on the lower section of the Farmington in New Boston. We put-in around 11:00 and spent a couple of hours picking our way through the boulders as we worked our way up to the Bear’s Den Rapid. The river was not particularly high, but there were several class II sections with lots of rocks and ledge.

The last rapid below Bear’s Den is the most difficult. Marshall went first and took a swim. Aaron went next and almost made it, only to lose his pole. Joe went third. He got spun sideways and his boat quickly pinned on a large boulder. We worked for 20 minutes to get his boat off the rock to no avail. We finally decided to return today with more help. Then we will run the upper section in whiterwater boats.

More to come.

My pictures
Jeff's video of Matt and I poling
Jeff's video of Joe about to wrap his canoe

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Woonsocket Falls – October 10th

Its too bad that we teach kids in summer camp not to stand in canoes.  Canoe polers stand in the middle of 16 – 17 ft. tandem canoes and propel themselves forward using 10 –12 ft. poles. It’s a great way to move up shallow, fast moving water that would be difficult to ascend with a paddle – and it’s a lot of fun!

I am planning to do a couple of days at the New Boston release on the Farmington River next weekend. Saturday I’ll pole the lower Bear's Den section with ACA Canoe Poling group. Sunday I’ll break out the whitewater boat for an end-to-end run from the Otis Reservoir down to Bear's Den.

Its been a while since I’ve done any canoe poling, so I decided to do get a little practice yesterday down at River Island Park.  I poled upstream from the Bernon Street Bridge to the Woonsocket Falls Dam. The water level was low (2 ft, 400 cfs), but there were some nice features to practice on.

Compared to some of the more experienced polers, I am definitely a rookie. My first attempt going up this section was a little rocky (pun intended), but I did make it up eventually. My second attempt was a little smoother.  I took a break at the top to get some pictures of the Woonsocket Falls Dam through the arches of the South Main Street Bridge. That’s a perspective that you don’t see very often.

I’ll still be the rookie next weekend, but hopefully I’ll be able to get the boat up the easier rapids without too much walking.

My pictures of the Woonsocket Falls