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. 

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.

Valley Falls from
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.

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!