Sunday, April 25, 2010

River Island Park - April 24th

Had a good time yesterday at River Island Park with Jeff, Andy and Eric. Flow was somewhere between 800 and 850 cfs, around 2.5 feet – a nice relaxed level.

We put in behind the museum and didn’t bother carrying up to the dam. With the hydro plant now running, it’s a long carry for a couple of small waves. There were plenty of other small waves around that were easier to get to.

I brought my Dagger Cascade C1 for Jeff to try, and he took to it immediately. I met him early and he stayed at the put in with the boats while I went down to the take out to meet Andy and Eric. When we returned, Jeff already had the C1 on the water – and he looked real comfortable.

Nothing tough here – at yesterday’s level it was quickwater/easy class I. Here’s how the run goes:

Directly below the bandstand put in is short section of quickwater with a couple of pour-overs at the top. It’s a good place to get warmed up.

On the other side of river (far river right) is a boulder that creates a good size hole, followed by some standing waves. At higher water levels, this hole usually kicks me out. At yesterday’s level, it was an easy surf. There’s a nice eddy there, so we played for a little while.

Underneath the Bernon Street Bridge are the remnants of the old Bernon Dam. In higher water a couple of nice surf holes develop, but yesterday it was just random waves. There is a small eddy on river left just after the bridge. There are also a few small ledges that create surf spots below the bridge.

Beneath the Court Street Bridge is the biggest wave on this section of the river. There are a couple of small pour overs immediately above the bridge. After catching those, you can pull into the eddy behind a large rock in the middle of the river. From there you can surf the pour over created by a ledge between the rock and the bridge abutment on river left. The ledge is angled slightly downstream and toward the bridge abutment, so you will tend to travel down the wave toward an eddy next to the bridge abutment. From there, its an easy ferry back across to the eddy behind the rock, so you can surf the ledge again.

Downstream from the Court Street Bridge, but before the railroad bridge, are a couple of other ledges that create nice waves. The best is on river right about half way down. Since there is no eddy servicing this wave, you have to catch it on the fly at higher water levels. Yesterday, you could paddle right up, so we spent quite a while there. There is also a large ledge in the middle of the river just above the railroad bridge. At most water levels, it just creates a big eddy in the middle of the river.

Below the railroad bridge is mostly quickwater with a couple surf spots. The best one yesterday was created by a pipe running across the river. In higher water, the pour over created by this pipe gets washed out. In lower water, a nice long wave develops. We spent a long time here shredding back and forth across this wave.

The only other feature of consequence below the railroad bridge is a short run of waves created by an old dam below some power lines. You may find some surf spots, you may not depending on the water level. There wasn’t much there yesterday.

Take out is at the boat ramp at Rivers Edge Recreational Complex. Its about a mile from start to finish. If you point your nose downstream and go, you can run it in about 5 to 10 minutes. We spent a couple of hours.

Here's the run from Google Maps

In mid-summer, it also a great place to pole.

Andy's pictures and videos

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Westfield River Whitwater Race - April 17th

I knew if I was going to paddle this weekend that it would have to be today, and it would have to be early. I didn’t think it would happen since the weather was supposed to be terrible, and my usual paddling buds aren’t early risers. Then I saw a post on one of our local paddling boards that the group that does safety at the Westfield River Whitewater Race was doing an early run on the Westfield - perfect.

I got up at that crack of dawn and headed out for the two-hour drive to the river.  I got to the put-in around 7:30, and we were paddling by 8:00. Since I was the only open boater in the group, I figured that I better try of make a good first impression. I ferry out into the river, but didn't get 20' from shore when I hit a rock and took a swim. I was in the water before half the group even launched. Fortunately, it got better from there – it was my only swim of the day.

This was my first run on the Westfield, and I have to say that its beautiful river. The section that we did - Knightville Dam to Huntington - was mostly class II with a couple of class III rapids. There’s only one drop of any consequence – about 3’ with a couple of HUGE standing waves below it. On that rapid, I came down through the drop and bounced off the first wave right into a big eddy on river left – just like I knew what I was doing. The rest of the river is mostly waves trains and rock gardens – good time.

Unfortunately, I forgot my camera in the car, so the only pictures that I got were of the racers coming through the Hill and Dale Rapid after our paddle. Most of the racers were pretty good – not as many yahoos as I expected.  The gage at Knightville was 5 ft., 1,000 cfs.

My Pictures of Racers at the Hill and Dale Rapid
River description from Amarican Whitewater

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Spring Day on the Upper Millers - April 11th

It started off like many RICKA Whitewater trips with an early morning stop at the McDonald’s off Route 146 in Uxbridge. I wanted to get a sausage biscuit, but settled for milk to go with the cereal that I brought from home – a little healthier start to a busy day.

I was one of six RICKA boaters that were meeting at the McDonald’s before heading up to the Millers River in north central Massachusetts. The Millers arises in southern New Hampshire and flows southward, and then westward through Massachusetts before emptying into the Connecticut River.

There are two sections of the Millers that are popular for whitewater boating – the upper section from South Royalston to Athol (class II - III), and the lower section from Erving to Millers Falls (class II - IV). On this day, RICKA had groups running both sections. I was in the group paddling the upper section.

Mike, Jeff, Eric and I arrived at the put in on the upper section of the Millers around 10:00 to find Andy, Steve and the two Tommy’s waiting for us. After a few quick hellos, we unloaded our boats and ran the shuttle. Everyone knew that there would be plenty of time to get acquainted (or re-acquainted) on the river.

The Upper Millers is a beautiful section of river that alternates between rock gardens and long wave trains. With the exception of a couple of railroad bridges, there is nothing to break the wilderness feeling of the river. The day started off overcast and windy, but the sun came out as we moved downstream.  River was about 1,500 cfs. on the South Royalston gage.

We put in around 10:30 and the fun began immediately with a long class III rapid. I followed Mike into the rapid and bobbed through the 2 to 3 foot waves. About half way through the rapid I pulled into an eddy to get some pictures of the others coming downstream.

As I turned, I could see Andy approaching a nasty pour-over on river right. He paddled hard to avoid it, but didn’t quite make it and got sucked back into the hydraulic. He side-surfed for a while, but eventually flipped. I saw him set up for a roll, but go back over again. There wasn’t a second attempt. Within a few seconds, Andy was out of his boat and working his way to shore with the help of Tommy and Steve. He was quickly reunited with his gear and we heading back downstream.

We continued riding the waves and playing in the rock gardens for another couple of miles when we decided it was time for a break. We found a spot with a beach large enough to pull all the boats on shore and decided to have our lunch. As we were eating, a group from the RiverRunners Yahoo group pulled up to share our spot. Soon we were all talking and sharing paddling stories.

After lunch, we loaded up the boats and continued our trip downstream. Occasional sections of quickwater were interspersed with long wave trains and fun rock gardens. By the time we reached the take out in Athol, we were all pretty tired. Unfortunately, it was a long carry up a steep hill to get back to our cars. Everyone pitched in to get the gear up the hill, and then we pitched in to help the RiverRunners group that pulled in behind us.

I got home in time for dinner – tired, but excited about a great trip, and looking forward to the next.

My Pictures
Jeff Budz's Video
River description from American Whitewater
Millers River Gage at Birch Hill Dam, South Royalston
My Pictures from the Upper Millers (April 2007)