Sunday, March 7, 2010

Is it spring - Blackstone Canal/River Loop - March 6th

I needed to stay close to home yesterday, but it was such a nice day with temp's in the mid-50's, that I wanted to paddle somewhere. I decided on a late afternoon paddle on the Blackstone Canal and River from Lonsdale up to Ashton and back.

I headed down to the bike path in Lonsdale so I could check out the take-out at the Pratt Dam before getting on the river (always a good idea if you are going to paddle this section of river). The water was roaring through the tubes, but wasn’t flowing over the dam. If I stayed far right I could still get to the take-out.

I put-in on the canal and paddled up stream. Considering how high the river was (4ft, 1500 cfs. on the gauge in Woonsocket), the water in the canal was pretty low – in a couple of spots no more than 6 to 8 inches. Still, it was a relaxing paddle. There were lots of people on the bike path, but I think I was alone on the water. I was glad to see that the canal is still in great shape. Someone cleared out all the strainers last fall, and nothing new came down over the winter.

I took out of the canal and put in on the river just below the Ashton Dam. I tried playing in the rapids below the dam, but everything was pretty much washed out – nothing but fast moving water. It was a quick run from Ashton back down to Lonsdale. Surprisingly, I didn’t see much in the way of wildlife – a couple of Canadian Geese - that’s about it. When I saw the warning sign for the Pratt Dam, I pulled over to the right and got over to the take out with no problem. I was also glad to see that the buoys installed last fall by the Blackstone River Watershed Council/Friends of the Blackstone in front of the tubes are still in place.

At this point I probably should have headed home, but the run down the river was so quick that I decided to do a little paddling below the Pratt Dam. The standing waves below the tubes were HUGE, but there were some smaller waves a little further downstream that looked promising. I carried my boat down the bike path and put in on the river below the dam. I found a couple of easy waves and played around for a while. When I looked up and saw a crowd gathering on the Pratt Dam to watch, I decided that I had pushed my luck long enough. The last thing I wanted to do was take a swim in front of a crowd. I headed back to the take out and began the long carry up the bike path back to my car.

Unfortunately, no pictures this time – I forgot to bring my camera. Today I hope to meet up with Paul to pull some stainers out of the Glendale Rapid on the Branch River.  Its hard to believe that we were paddling in the snow last weekend. 

Links:
Canal Loop - Sept. 2009
Canal Loop - August 2009

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