Friday, December 31, 2010

Year-end Paddle on the Blackstone – December 31st

Well, as 2010 came to a close, I got out for one last run on the Blackstone. It seems appropriate that my year-end trip should be a solo run at River Island Park. The level was low (2’, 450 cfs), but it was fine for solo paddling.

As I was paddling under the P&W Railroad Bridge, I noticed this statue of Mary set up down by the river. I’m not sure how it got there, or who set it up (access would only be available by boat), but it was nice to see it there.

For me, 2010 was another great year for paddling. I try to do at least one big trip each month, and here are some of the more significant ones:

January – Crystal Section of the Farmington
February – Upper Shepaug
March – Lower Natchaug
April – Knightville section of the Westfield and the Upper Millers
May – Lower Otter Brook
June – RICKA Flatwater Training
July – RICKA Whitewater Training and the Wood/Pawcatuck
August – Fife Brook and a RICKA Flatwater trip on the Lower Deerfield
September – West
October – Lower Ashuelot and the Big River
November – Contoocook - Peterborough to Bennington
December – Pawcatuck from Shannock to Richmond

I also did a lot of solo trips on the Blackstone, many of which I captured on video. Overall it was a great year, and there are still plenty of rivers I would like to paddle.

New Year’s Resolutions for 2011 – I have a few:
  • Practice rolling the C1 - who knows, maybe I’ll get it down eventually
  • Do at least one camping trip - I’ve got a bunch of options up in ME or on the NFCT
  • Get more trashy - and arrange a trip with the Trash Paddler.
Happy New Year everyone.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Pawcatuck – Shannock to Richmond – December 26th

We were originally talking about going to T’ville yesterday, but with a snowstorm approaching, we decided to stay local instead. At Jim’s suggestion, we ended up padding the Pawcatuck River from Shannock to Richmond. This is a section that I hadn’t done before, so it sounded good to me.

I met Jeff and Jim at the Richmond Fishing Area around 9:00 and we ran the shuttle up to Shannock. The run is about 4 miles long and has a little bit of everything – flatwater, quickwater and a few easy rapids. The level was low but fluid – 100 cfs, 2’ on the Wood River Junction gage; 75 cfs, 1’ on the Kenyon gage. Snow was just starting to fall as we reached the put in.

Just downstream from the put-in in the Shannock Village are the rapids of the reconstructed lower Shannock Falls. A 2’ drop at the end of the rapids would be fun if it wasn't for a large boulder placed in the middle of the river just downstream. This boulder was supposedly placed there to provide a rest eddy for the fish, but I suspect more than a few boats will get pinned on it. Due to the low water, and the mid-stream boulder, we decided to line this section.

The next mile is flatwater leading to the Route 122 bridge and the easy rapids in the old Carolina Mill Raceway. We did two runs through the raceway, and then began picking our way through the blow downs until we reached the Carolina Canoe Campsite. As we took a break, Jim lit a small fireplace – a nice treat on a snowy day. Its amazing how much heat a small fire can produce.

The snow was falling heavily by the time we got back on the river. We headed down to the Richmond Fishing Area where we ran the dam and did a little surfing in the playspot. By this time, the roads were starting to look bad, so we loaded up the boats and headed home to sit out the storm.


Links:
My Pictures
Trip Description from Rhode Island Blueways
Richmond Fishing Area from Google Maps
Kenyon Gage
Wood River Junction Gage

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Christmas Story – and its true, honest

You’re probably not going to believe this, but its true. I saw Santa Claus, and he was not in a sleigh being pulled by reindeer. He was in a canoe - a red canoe.

Here’s what happened. It was Christmas Eve a couple of years ago. I had finished all my shopping, so I decided to take my canoe out for a short trip.  As I was unloading my gear, I looked downstream and saw what appeared to be a man in a red suit poling up the river.


I ducked out of sight as he approached, and watched him push up a small drop...


... and head upstream.


I decided to follow him.  Eventually, he pulled off the river where a small group had already gathered. Curiosity got the best of me, so I pulled my boat up on to shore, and walked over to talk to them. I learned that the man in the red suit was Santa Claus, and the small group that had gather by the river were his elves. 


I also learned that much of what I thought I knew about Santa was wrong.
  • First, Santa doesn’t live at the North Pole - he lives in Rhode Island.
  • Second, Santa doesn’t deliver toys in a sleigh pulled by reindeer - he delivers them in a red canoe that he poles up to the rooftops.
  • Third, Santa’s favorite drink isn’t hot cocoa - its Sailor Jerry. He says that it does a better job of keeping him warm on those cold December nights.
When he was ready to leave, he offered us some Sailor Jerry.


Then he headed off to begin his night’s work.


I know its amazing, but its true. Pictures don’t lie.  ;-)

Links:
Ware River - December 6, 2009
Ware River - December 2, 2013

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Retrofitting the Impulse – December 18th

I spent some time yesterday getting my old Impulse ready to paddle. At some point, I’d like to replace the pedestal and straps, but that’s a big job, so it will have to wait.  For now, I spent $8 on tie-downs and $6 on para cord and re-rigged the bag cages. It came out OK. I would have preferred black para cord, but all I could find locally was blue - maybe it will grow on me.


I took the boat out this afternoon for some flatwater paddling down at Rivers Edge.  It doesn't turn like the Encore, or carve as tight a circle, but I'm starting to get use to it again.  I'll have lots of time off for the holidays, so hopefully I’ll be able to get some paddling in.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What to do in Winter - December 12th

The Woonsocket Police called this week, but there has been no sign of my old Encore.  I did take my Impulse out for a couple of hours yesterday to see if I could still paddle it - definitely a disappointment. Compared to the Encore, the Impulse won't turn, won't surf, and is a bit of a barge. Oh well, I guess I'll get use to it.

It was too cold and rainy to paddle today (even for me), so I put some old winter paddling clips together into a video.


What to do in Winter from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

It looks like fun.  I'm definitely looking forward to some winter paddling - even without my Encore.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Someone stole my canoe - December 4th

Can you believe it? I was paddling yesterday at my usual park and play spot at River Island Park with my Dagger Encore. Usually, I just carry the boat back to my car, but yesterday I had plenty of time, so I went a little further downstream. When I was done, I left my boat near the Main Street Bypass and walked about a quarter mile back to my car. By the time I got back, the boat was gone – it couldn’t have been more than 10 minutes.

I checked the river thinking that kids might have pushed it in – no sign of it. It walked along the bank thinking someone may have stashed it so that they could come back for it later – nope. Someone must have picked it up and carried it off. The police station is literally a couple of hundred yards away, so I walked over and reported it missing in the unlikely event it shows up somewhere.

In hindsight, leaving the boat unattended was a stupid thing to do, but why would anyone in Woonsocket steal a 20-year-old whitewater canoe – its not exactly a fishing boat. I’m guessing it will end up for sale online.


Fortunately, I also have an old Dagger Impulse, so I do have a boat to paddle. Still, I really liked that Encore. I guess I’m going to be in the market for a new (used) boat. If anyone sees an Encore for sale, let me know.

Links:
Pictures of my old Encore

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sideslips and Ferries

There’s a good thread on freestyle paddling running on P.net. After reading the section on sideslips, I went back to some video that I made before Thanksgiving below the Martin Street Bridge. I thought I would see lots of examples of sideslips and cross sideslips. To my surprise - not so many. Here's the video:


Practicing Ferries from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

Its interesting to go back and watch this video after the fact. I realized that I do a lot more paddling when I do ferries than I would have thought, although it is good practice for the cross forward. I also use the bow draw a lot more often than I would have thought.  It works here, but I'm not sure it would in bigger water. I definitely don't use sideslips as much as I would have thought – I’ll have to work on that.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Exploring the old Manville Mill - November 27th

With the holiday, things were pretty busy last weekend, but I was able to get out for a couple of hours of paddling on Saturday.

I thought I would do a little park and play in the rapids below the Manville Dam, but I got bored and decided to explore the foundation of the old Manville Mill instead. The Manville Mill was built in 1878 and was one of the largest mills of its day. In this side view, you can see the flywheels and raceways built into the foundation.


Here’s a picture of the Manville Mill complex as it appeared in the early 1950’s. You can see the Manville Dam in the foreground, and a large section of the mill extending over the river. By this time, the Manville Mill was the largest textile mill in the US with over 5,00 employees.


This is a picture of the Manville Mill during the massive flooding caused by Hurricane Diane in 1955. The first floor of the mill is under water, and the center span over the river has collapsed.


Two weeks later, repairs were underway when a fire started in the 1878 section of the mill. With the sprinkler system disabled due to flood damage, the fire spread quickly.


Here is the mill after the fire. The remaining structures were later demolished leaving only the foundation.


I paddled down to the far end of the foundation, and checked out one of the old raceways that still runs under the foundation.  There are six in total, but most of them are hided behind weeds and bushes.


I climbed up these back stairs into what was the old mill.


At this level, I am actually on the old mill floor.  You can see one of the old turbine shafts ahead.


Another shot of the old turbine shaft with a tree growing up from the raceway below. Concrete construction indicates that this was a later addition.


One of the original granite-lined flywheel shafts from the 1878 mill. Don’t fall in there – it’s a good 20 feet to the bottom.


Another view of the raceway below the foundation.

Links:
Historic pictures from the Woonsocket Harris Public Library

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ashton to Lonsdale - November 23rd

I had the day off yesterday, and was able to spend a couple of hours doing the run from Ashton down to Lonsdale.  The river was low (2 ft., 500 cfs on the Woonsocket gage), but it was still fun. 


Blackstone River - Ashton to Lonsdale from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Contoocook - Peterborough to Bennington - November 13th

Its interesting to watch a trip come together. It usually starts off as chatter on the web and by email. Eventually a consensus starts to form, a location is picked, and people sign on. Before you know it, you’re out on the river for a great day of paddling. That’s how it worked with yesterday’s trip to the Contoocook River.

The Contoocook, a tributary of the Merrimack River, is located in south/central NH and has some nice flatwater and whitewater paddling. The most popular whitewater section runs from Hillsboro to Henniker - I’d like to try it sometime. There’s also a nice flatwater section from Covered Bridge in Contoocook down to Broad Cove, and another 6-7 mile poling section between Jaffrey and Peterborough.

On this trip, we decided to pole the section from Peterborough to Bennington. Our original plan was to put in at the library in Peterborough center, and paddle down to the covered bridge over the Powder Mill Pond. After looking at the original put in site in Peterborough, we decided to move the put in a couple of miles downstream to the North Village Dam. The run would still be about 7 miles.

Our trip up was slightly delayed because of car troubles, but we still met Tommy and Jim at the put in around 9:30. We ran the shuttle, and were on the river by 10:00. We had 6 boats (Mike, Chuck, Tommy, Jeff, Jim and me). Level was perfect – 2 ft, 100 cfs on the Peterborough gage. After playing around at the dam, we headed downstream. Not a lot of features on this section of the river, but that was OK. We knew we would be taking it easy.

For the first half of the trip, the river twisted and turned through woods and fields. A nice current and gravel bottom made it easy to pole. For the second half of the trip, the river opened up.  The current slowed and the water deepened as we approached the Powder Mill Pond.

We got off the river about 4:00, got everyone back to their cars, and found our way to Harlow’s Pub in Peterborough Center for a couple of beers and something too eat. Another great day on the river.


Links:
My Pictures
Peterborough Gage
Powder Mill Pond from Trails.com

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween on the Piscat - October 30th

Had a good time Saturday on the Piscataquog in Goffstown, NH. We had a group of 7 (2 canoes – Erik and Jeff, and 5 kayaks – Andy, Tom Jr., Tom Sr., Bob and Paul). I think the river was a little lower than last year – 5.5’ on the Goffstown gage. It was definitely crowded – anyone who stopped to surf ran the risk of getting run over by downstream paddlers. I ran over Tom Sr., and got run over trying to surf at the Toilet Bowl. No swims for me this year – or anyone else. We obviously weren’t trying hard enough.

Links:
My Pictures
Last Year’s Video
River Description form American Whitewater

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Concord and Sudbury Rivers

I've been saving this description of the Concord and Sudbury Rivers from Tommy T. 
The Concord and Sudbury Rivers have very slow current from Framingham to North Billerica. It's pretty easy to paddle both upstream and down. They tend to be open with lots of Buttonbush marsh.

Fairhaven Bay is a pretty pond in the Sudbury with wooded shores and the section just down stream of the Old North Bridge in Concord is wooded and more protected.

I've put on the Sudbury where it crosses Rt 20 in Wayland, at the Lincoln Canoe Launch on Rt 117 just above Fairhaven Bay and in on Lowell Road in Concord where the Sudbury and Assabet meet to form the Concord. If you put in there and head downstream on the Concord you will soon come to the Old North Bridge and then the wooded section I mentioned.

Further down the Concord there is a boat launch on Rt 225 in Bedford and a somewhat rougher launch at a small park on Rt 3A in Billerica. You may find fishermen in powerboats anywhere in there though I've never seen more than a few.

My favorite parts are between Rt 225 and Lowell Road on the Concord and Fairhaven Bay.

You might also consider the Assabet between Pine Street in West Concord and Lowell Road. That is more wooded and the trees would give you some protection from the rain. There are other nice paddles on the Assabet with somewhat trickier conditions or access. Give a yell if you want to hear about them.

~Tommy
One of these days, I'm going to get up there and do some paddling. I thought I'd be able to do it this month, but it hasn't worked out that way.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Big River – October 23rd

I was looking for some foliage this morning, and I wanted to paddle someplace different, so I grabbed Jim Cole’s book and headed down to the Big River in Coventry.  Chuck said it is as close as you can get to Maine scenery in Rhode Island, and he was right.

I put in at Zeke's Bridge (Harkney Hill Road) and paddle upstream into Reynolds Pond. The water was very low (2’ on the Harkney Hill Road gage), but recent frosts had killed back the weeds, and the foliage was spectacular – reds, yellows and oranges everywhere I looked. I paddled under Route 95 and up to Route 3 before I turned back. Well worth the trip.


Big River from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

Links:
My Pictures

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Contoocook River in NH

Tommy's pictures got me thinking that this is another NH river that I would like to paddle sometime. The "Took" is a tributary of the Merrimack River that has some nice flatwater and whitewater sections.

Tommy did the flatwater section from Covered Bridge in Contoocook down to Broad Cove.  Above the dam in Bennington is another flatwater section through Powder Mill Pond, up under the Covered Bridge and into the Contoocook River. Descriptions are in the AMC River Guide – Peterborough to Bennington and the AMC Quietwater Guide (NH) – Powder Mill Pond. 

The most popular whitewater section runs from Hillsboro to Henniker. The gage needs to be at least 7’ to run this section. Below 8’, it is mostly class III except Freight Train which is class IV. Above 8’, I should probably stay away. Tommy’s pictures are at 7.3’ and they don't look too bad - last three pictures are Freight Train.  He described the rapids as mellow, but that's probably an exaggeration.  This is another one of those "stretch" rivers that I would like to try sometime at the right level.

Links:
Ken's Video
Tommy’s Pictures
Powder Mill Pond from Trails.com
Contoocook - Hillsborough to Henniker (Freight Train Section) from American Whitewater
Contoocook River Gage - near Henniker

Sunday, October 17, 2010

River Island Park - October 16th

The Woonsocket Falls gage was over 900 cfs yesterday, so I headed down to River Island Park for a couple of hours. The steep banks of the river kept me out of the wind, and I worked up a pretty good sweat.


River Island Park from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

For good or bad, this section of the Blackstone was in the news a couple of times this week - first because the Army Corps of Engineers is beginning a $1.5M project to remove trees and other vegetation from the two miles of flood control levees which line the banks of the river in this area, and second because work has begun on a plan to extend the Blackstone River Bikeway from Davidson Street up to Market Square in Woonsocket.

I must admit, I have mixed emotions about the flood control work. While I understand the devastation that floods can cause, I’m not looking forward to the to having the trees removed from the banks of the river. There are two nice runs in Woonsocket – Cold Spring Park and River Island Park – and both will look dramatically different. Whether we like it or not, the Army Corps of Engineers now controls the flood control system, and they seem determined to move forward.

Talk of extending the Blackstone River Bikeway up to River Island Park left me a little more encouraged – especially the talk of improving river access and parking along what is now the Truman Bypass.

This is a fun section of the river, but access is problematic.  Extending the Bikeway into downtown Woonsocket is a big project with some difficult challenges to overcome – I need to find out how I can get involved.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dams on the Lower Blackstone River

I was sorting through some old pictures yesterday, and was able to put together pictures of all the dams on the lower Blackstone River from Blackstone, MA down to Pawtucket, RI.

Rolling Dam - Blackstone Gorge

Waterford Dam - Blackstone

Woonsocket Falls Dam
(seen through the South Main Street Bridge)

Manville Dam

Albion Dam

Ashton Dam

Pratt Dam - Lonsdale

Valley Falls Dam

Elizabeth Webbing Mills Dam - Central Falls

Slater Mill Dam - Pawtucket
Pawtucket Falls Dam
(Photo  by Cheryl Thompson Cameron)
All can be portaged, although some are much more difficult than others.  The dams along the Blackstone River Bikeway from Woonsocket to Valley Falls (Manville, Albion, Ashton and Lonsdale) can be portaged relatively easily.

The next dam upstream in MA is Rice City in Uxbridge.  I would have had a picture of that dam if I hadn't lost my camera on SaturdayAbove Plummers Landing is the dam at Riverdale, followed by the Depot Street Dam in Grafton. I'm not familiar with the dams further upstream in MA, but I want to get up there sometime. The section from Riverlin Street in Millbury down to Grafton is on my list of places to paddle.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Riverbend Farm - Blackstone River/Canal Loop - October 9th

It was a beautiful morning, so I skipped the gym headed up to River Bend Farm in Uxbridge to run the Blackstone River/Canal Loop. The Northbridge gage was at 3.5 feet, so I figured the river would be at a good level.

I put in on the Blackstone Canal just upstream from the old Stanley Woolen Mill (Rt. 16). For the first mile, the canal was covered with a thick layer of green duckweed. It was like paddling through pea soup, but it cleared up before I reached River Bend Farm.

The river was fun with fast moving water and lots of twists and turns. There were a couple of tricky spots where the current pushes you into strainers and low hanging branches.  It would have been a great run except that I lost another camera when it got caught on the branch of a low hanging tree. I waded out into the river to see if I could recover it, but the water was well over my head.  I hate to admit it, but that's the second camera that I lost this year.

I’ll bet there would have been enough water for a run down from Plummers Landing. There was definitely enough water for a run down to the Blackstone Gorge. The foliage was great – and there are pictures in my camera sitting on the bottom of the river to prove it. If you find a blue Optio in your travels down the Blackstone, its mine.

Links:
River Description from the BRVNHC
Paul Hutch's Pictures from Pummers Landing and River Bend Fam

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The river I didn’t paddle last weekend - Knightville and Pork Barrel on the Westfield

Last Saturday I paddled the Lower Ash, but the Westfield was also on my list of places to go. I had done the Knightville section of the Westfield with Robin and Scott last spring at a release level (1,000 cfs. on the Knightville gage). Robin ran it again Saturday at 1,700 cfs. She said it was a lot of fun and that the gorge drop was easier at that higher level. According to Rob, 700 is low, but doable.   Its OK at 1,000 to 1,500.

On Friday, the Pork Barrel section was also running, and Ed “Brewbeer” was able to catch it . Here’s how he described it:

The river was described by someone on NPMB as “high medium”, but let me tell you, it was big and full to the banks. It was fast, pushy, continuous, and once the Swift River came in, huge. Enormous wave trains, very much like the West. No exposed rocks in the river, no eddies except an occasional one at the side of the river, also like the West. There were pourovers into big holes just about everywhere. It ran through an isolated, roadless, and undeveloped valley. There were frequent waterfalls along the sides. I managed to keep the open end up and me in the boat for the whole run, but I had to run the pump frequently - almost as much as on the West. All in all, it was an awesome run. I'm really looking forward to doing it again.
Pork Barrel is tough to catch. One guy said that Pork Barrel is at a medium level when New Boston is above 5’.  The INFLOW at Knightville Dam is probably a better indicator. When its above 1,500 its runnable; when its 2,000 to 2,500 its fun. Ed ran it at 3,300. The link is below:

http://nae-rrs2.usace.army.mil:7777/pls/cwmsweb/cwms_realtime.ProjectPage?gagecode=KVD

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Lower Ashuelot - October 2nd

I had a good time today with Paul, Tom and Andy on the Lower Ashuelot in New Hampshire. The river was low but runnable - 5’, 1000 cfs on the Hinsdale gage.

The river is broken up into three sections - each separated by a dam that must be portaged. The put in is just upstream from the Ashuelot covered bridge. The first section is an easy class II. Take out on river left to portage the first dam.

The second section is shorter, but a bit more challenging – class II+. The best rapid is just above the dam. You can portage the second dam on either the right or the left, but the right is easier.

The third section has the most difficult rapids. Just below the factory bridge is the Papermill rapid - class III/IV depending on water level. I ran it straight through the center and made it through fine – except for a boat full of water.  The rest of the river was class III rock dodging. 

I received the Swim Award with 2 swims on the lower section. The first was relatively close to shore, and I was able to self-rescue quickly. The second was in the middle of the river at the top of a long, rocky rapid. I finally made it out about halfway down, but my boat didn’t feel like stopping and ran the entire rapid. Fortunately, Tom grabbed it just before it was about to enter the next rapid, or I would have had a long walk back to the car.


Lower Ashuelot from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

In spite of the swims, it was a good time on a fun river. I think I’d like to try it again with a little more water. The waves and holes in the Papermill Rapid would be huge, but there would be less rock dodging below that.

Links:
My Pictures
My Video
River Description from Americna Whitewater

Sunday, September 26, 2010

West River - September 25th

Its been a while since I had my whitewater boat out, so it was nice to do a couple of runs on the West River in Jamaica, VT.

The West is a pretty river located in southern VT with popular whitewater releases in the spring and fall. This year, the spring release got cancelled, so it was more crowded than usual yesterday. There were long lines for the shuttle operated by the Jamaica State Park, and it seemed like an endless stream of kayaks flowed though the Dumplings. Still, it was a beautiful day – 65 degrees and sunny - and the leaves were just beginning to turn. The release was scheduled for 1,500 cfs, and it appears that’s what we got (West River Gage). The river was definitely crowded, but everyone was having a good time.

There are two sections on the West. The upper section from the Ball Mountain Dam to Salmon’s Hole in the Jamaica State Park is class III. The lower section from Jamaica State Park to the Route 100 Bridge is a pleasant class II. We did two runs on the upper section. To avoid the long lines for the park shuttle, we ran our own shuttle and carried down the face of the Ball Mountain Dam.

The upper section is about 2 1/2 miles long – nothing technical, just lots of 2’ to 3’ standing waves with an occasional rock to avoid. Some of the biggest waves are right at the start in a rapid called Initiation. The preferred route starts in the center, and then moves left to avoid a large collection of boulders on river right. For there, the waves continue to the take out at the Jamaica State Park.

The most technical rapid on the river is called the Dumplings – a collection of large granite boulders plopped down in the middle of the river. There are two routes through the Dumplings – run the three foot ledge on river right, or perform a more technical but less dramatic “S” turn through boulders from river left. I opted for the “S” turn, and had two clean runs, although I did get spun around backwards on my second attempt. It wasn’t pretty, but I made it through.


Running the Dumpling from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

I did have one swim in the rapid just below the put in for the shuttle.  I was bouncing downstream sideways on my second run, not really paying attention, and I flipped on a rock. It was a long swim even though I was kicking like crazy to try to push my boat toward shore. The kyakers would paddle up, take one look at that 13' boat filled with water, and wish me luck.  Good thing us open boaters are self-sufficient. 

Links:
My Pictures
My Video - Running the Dumplings
Gregg Koenig's Pictures
Upper Section from American Whitewater
Lower Section From American Whitewater

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Summer Project

Over the course of the summer, I started making short videos with the intention of covering the entire Blackstone River. I didn’t quite make it, but I was able to cover Pawtucket all the way up to Route 16 in Uxbridge. If we get some rain, maybe I’ll be able to get the upper reaches of the Blackstone this fall. Anyway, here they are:

Valley Falls to the Slater Mill
Cumberland, Central Falls and Pawtucket

Valley Falls to Lonsdale
Cumberland and Lincoln

Lonsdale to Manville
Cumberland and Lincoln through Ashton and Albion

Manville Dam
Cumberland and Lincoln

River Island Park and the Woonsocket Falls
Woonsocket - Poling

Saint Paul Street to Canal Street
Blackstone - Poling

Canal Street to the Blackstone Gorge
Blackstone and North Smithfield – includes the Branch River

Route 16 to the Blackstone Gorge
Uxbridge, Millville and Blackstone – mostly the Millville Rapid

Its hard to believe that summer is over, but fall is also a great time to paddle.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Valley Falls to Lonsdale - September 19th

I hadn't been able to paddle for the last few weekends, so it was nice to get out for a couple of hours yesterday.  I went down to Valley Falls and paddled up to the Pratt Dam.   The river was busy - saw a few kayaks, a couple of fishermen, and the Blackstone Valley Explorer running tours.

 
Valley Falls to Lonsdale from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

Links:
Valley Falls from Woonsocket.org
Trip description from the BVNHC

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The run that could have been…poling Upper New Boston - September 18th

In spite of a busy weekend, I was going to try to get out and do some paddling yesterday - it didn’t work out that way.

I had scheduled a RICKA class II trip for the upper and lower sections of the Farmington in New Boston. Unfortunately, the release got cancelled due to construction. Well, it didn’t actually get cancelled, but it did get significantly reduced – 100 cfs, 3 ft on the New Boston gauge. It was definitely not enough to paddle, but would have been a good level for some poling. Matt was looking for some poling buddies, but with Justin home for his birthday, I decided to take a pass on the 4-hour drive so we could do his party in the early afternoon.

We usually pole the section below Bear’s Den, but it can be boney in low water. The scenery isn’t the best either. Instead, Matt decided to pole the upper section from the slalom course up to Fall Creek. He said it was a nice run at 3’, but got technical through the rapids. It sure looked nice from his pictures.

I’m glad I stayed home for Justin’s party, but I sure would have liked to going poling with Matt. Just goes to show you, rivers can be good at any level.

Links:
Matt's Pictures of the upper New Boston Section at 3'
My pictures poling below Bears Den last year

Friday, September 10, 2010

Trash Paddler makes it into the Boston Globe

Suasco Al - the Trash Paddler -  was recently featured in a Boston Globe article for his great work on the Sudbury, Assabet, and Concord Rivers. Its recognition that is well deserved. Congratulations Al!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

RICKA Flatwater Training - August 29th

I had a fun afternoon helping out with the RICKA flatwater training at Stump Pond – 14 boats, 10 intentional swims, 8 successful deep-water recoveries.


Links:
My Pictures
Cheryl's Pictures
Susan's Pictures

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rivers Edge to Bernon – August 21st

I was back at Rivers Edge Park yesterday to do some poling on the Blackstone. I was there last Tuesday with the Blackstone Valley Paddle Club paddling downstream to the Manville Dam. Yesterday, I brought my poling boat and poled up to the Bernon Bridge. The water was as low as I have ever seen it - 1/2 ft, 78 cfs - almost too low for pushing up the drops, but nice on the flats. I played tag with a Cormorant most of the way back downstream. He would dive under as I approached, and reappear 30-40 feet downstream. This went on for at least a half mile before he finally flew away – its amazing how those birds can swim. Opening clip is a little blurry, but here is the video.


Rivers Edge Park to Bernon - Aug. 21st from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

Links:
May 30, 2010 Poling Trip on the same Section
Detailed Description of this Run at Spring Levels

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rivers Edge to Manville – August 17th

I paddled the Blackstone from the Rivers Edge Recreation Complex down to the Manville Dam last night with the Blackstone Valley Paddle Club. The turnout was great (probably 30 boats), but the condition of the river was not so good - there were way too many soccer balls, water bottles and Dunkin Donut’s cups floating in the water. I picked up as many as I could, and got a few others to do the same - Suasco Al would have been proud.  We added our trash to a collection of old bikes and other assorted trash that someone else had pulled from the river and piled by the put in.  After a trip on the crystal clear, fast moving water of the Deerfield, the Blackstone is a poor cousin by comparison.  Lesson learned - don't do a Paddle Club trip on the lower Blackstone in the late summer when the water is low.  Still, can't beat the sunsets.


Links:
My Pictures with Cheryl's Camera

Sunday, August 15, 2010

There were rubber duckies everywhere – August 14th

Not the bath toys, but the inflatable kayaks. Crab Apple Whitewater was in the process of launching a huge group of duckies just as we were getting on the water yesterday. In hindsight, it was a good sign since it meant our timing was probably good.

We had 12 boats (3 canoes, 9 kayaks) running the section of the Deerfield River just below the Zoar Gap. The water in this section is controlled by the Fife Brook Dam, and timing is everything with this trip. Launch too early and you will out run the water. Launch too late and the water will out run you. Either way, you will end up high and dry. We launched 3 hours after the scheduled release and hit it just right.

We put in at the Zoar Picnic Area around 3:00 - much later than any of us wanted due to the late release. This section of the Deerfield pretty much has it all. There is a little flatwater so you can take in the scenery, a lot of quickwater to keep you moving, and a couple of easy class I/II rapids to make it interesting. The rapids come early in the trip with three easy rapids in quick succession just downstream from the put in. After that, its mostly quickwater with an occasional riffle.


Deerfield River from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

It took us three hours to reach the take out about 7 miles downstream near the Charlemont Academy on Rt. 2. Great day with a great group of paddlers.

Links:
Mike V's Pictures