Wednesday, June 30, 2010

“Beaver Dam Land” – Nipmuc River – June 29th

Spent on few hours in “beaver dam land” last night with the Blackstone Valley Paddle Club on the Nipmuc River.

The Nipmuc forms in Burrillville where Round Top Brook joins the Chockalog River, and flows south to the village of Harrisville where it becomes the Clear River below the Harrisville Dam. In the spring we frequently paddle the Clear (and Branch) River(s) which is an easy whitewater run. Above the Harrisville Dam, the Nipmuc is one of my favorite flatwater paddles with crystal clear water that winds through pleasant woods and fields.

The river is narrow, but thanks to the good work of Paul L., it is clear of overgrown brush.  Beavers have been very active in the area. There were five beaver dams - a couple we had to lift over on the way up, but all were runnable on the way back down. Gage was 3.4 cfs, 2.9 ft. A good time.

Nipmuc River from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

Cheryl's Pictures
AJ's Pictures

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Blackstone Gorge – June 27th

I didn’t do any paddling today, but I did take a hike down through the Blackstone Gorge. There is a nice path up on the ridge, but I hiked down along the bank so I could get a good look at the river.

I parked on County Street and headed down the path past the Rolling Dam. The river was low (Rt. 122 gage 6.8 ft/130 cfs) and full of rocks. In spots, you could literally walk across without getting your feet wet by stepping from rock to rock. Its only a half mile through the gorge - three ledges stretch from bank to bank followed by a chute with some nasty undercut rocks.  The AMC guide describes it as a short but intense class IV - I'll bet it is when there's more water.

I stepped on rocks and waded through the shallow water as I worked my way downstream. Eventually I came to a nice take out which can be reached from an access road behind the High Rock Condominiums. A little further downstream, there is another take out at Tupper Park.  The gate to the parking lot was open, but a fence blocked off access to the river. I still want to check for a take out further downstream near Bridge Street in Blackstone. Another possibility is to put in on the Branch River off Route 146A and paddle down to the Blackstone.

I was thinking of trying to pole up the Gorge. It can be done, but it wouldn’t be easy. I think I’ll stick to my usual poling run below the Woonsocket Falls.

My Pictures (Rt. 122 gage  6.8 ft/130 cfs)
Andy's Blackstone Gorge pictures (Rt. 122 gage 12.3 ft/2,300 cfs)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Manville Dam again – June 26th

I was hoping to do the RICKA Flatwater trip today from River Island Park down to Albion, but after a week on vacation, I couldn’t get to River Island Park in time for the 10:30 shuttle. Instead, I headed down to the Manville Dam where I knew the RICKA crew would be stopping for lunch. The river is very low (200 cfs, 1.25 ft on the Woonsocket gage) so I knew that there would be some easy waves to play on. At this level you can paddle right up to the face of the dam, and the best play spot is in the chute between the dam and the bridge. 

Manville Dam again from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

By 1:00, I was just about ready to head home when Don, Karen and the rest of the RICKA crew showed up. We had a nice chat and I helped them get their boats from the bike path down to the river. They finished their trip down to Albion, and I headed on home.

RICKA trip - River Island Park to Albion
Manville dam video at 500 cfs.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

St. Paul Street to the Dam at Canal Street - June 19th

I’ve been doing a lot of local paddling lately – working my way through different sections of the Blackstone River. Since I never put my tandem boat away after last Tuesday’s Paddle Club trip, I decided to do some poling yesterday. The river was low - 200 cfs, 7 ft. on the Rt. 122 gage – a perfect level for poling.

I decided to try a section in Blackstone, MA from St. Paul Street up to the dam at Canal Street. Its short – less than a mile – but there are lots of rocks and a few small drops to make it interesting. I parked at the baseball field behind the Blackstone Municipal Center, and carried my boat over the flood control levy to put in just below the St. Paul Street Bridge.

Starting at the St. Paul Street Bridge and continuing up to the dam, there are a series of 5 or 6 small drops – some easy, some a little more challenging. I worked my way through the drops up to the dam, and then enjoyed the ride back down.

Poling - St. Paul Street to the Dam at Bridge Street from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

Its too bad that there isn’t better access to this section - in higher water there would be a couple of fun play spots.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Can’t beat a Tuesday night on the water - June 15th

I made it to my first Blackstone Valley Paddle Club trip last night – what a good time. I paddled with Don H. in my Mohawk Whitewater 16.  The trip was on the Blackstone from the Gorge up to the shallows below the Millville Rapid. It was nice to see all the Paddle Club Leaders, my whitewater buddy Andy, and so many regular members. It was also nice to see some of the paddlers from last Sunday’s training class. I must have been having a good time because I didn’t take a single picture – very unlike me. Fortunately, Cheryl and AJ were capturing the trip. Gage at the Route 122 Bridge in Uxbridge was around 7.5 ft., 350 cfs. 

Cheryl's Pictures
AJ's Pictures
My Blackstone Gorge Video from 2008
Blackstone Valley Paddle Club Website

Monday, June 14, 2010

RICKA Flatwater Traning - June 13th

The day was overcast, windy and a little cold, but 15 paddlers (all kayaks) took part in the RICKA flatwater training at Stump Pond. It was a good turnout considering the weather. In addition to basic equipment and strokes, the training included wet exits and deep-water recoveries.  About half the group took advantage of this opportunity to practice these important skills. I took a swim and practiced getting back in my boat, and then assisted someone else.   Too bad more canoeists don't show up.

My Pictures
AJ's Pictures

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Manville Dam - June 12th

Would have liked to join Jeff on the Deerfield today, but it wasn't in the cards. Instead, I paddled down at the Manville Dam for a couple of hours. This dam originally provided power for the huge Manville Mill which was destroyed by fire in the 1950's. At one time, the Manville Mill was one of the largest mill complexes on the Blackstone River employing over 5,000 workers.  Woonsocket gage was about 2', 460 cfs. Just about right.

Manville Dam from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.