Sunday, February 27, 2011

Blackstone Gorge - February 27th

I would have liked to paddle this weekend, but I’ve been fighting a cold, so I didn’t think that would be good idea. Instead, I decided to hike the trail along the Blackstone Gorge – with today's new snow I thought it would be pretty, and it was. It also has the only class III/VI rapids on the river.

Blackstone Gorge from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

In higher water, there is supposedly a sneak route through the first ledge on river left. The second and third ledges wash out. The route through the big drop at the end is just left of the big rock in the middle. Its supposedly a straight shot down the middle. I’d like to try it sometime. At today's level it looked a little low - maybe around 1,500.

My Pictures @ 8', 1,000 cfs
My Pictures @ 6.5', 130 cfs
Andy's Pictures @ 12.3', 2,300 cfs

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

River Island Park - February 21st

I had the day off yesterday, so I went down to River Island Park for a couple of hours.  It was cold (high 20’s), but the level was OK (3ft, 1,000 cfs). 

Blackstone - River Island Park from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Crystal Section of the Farmington - February 19th

There was good new, and there was bad news…

The good news was that there was more water than I expected (the gage was frozen, but probably 6', 700cfs). It was still low, but at least we weren’t bouncing off rocks. The bad news was that it was much colder and windier than I expected (temp's in the low 30's with 50 mph gusts). By the time I reached the take out, my boat was covered in a thin layer of ice. The wind was unbelievable – it sounded like a train coming down the tracks, and often blew us downstream sideways - at least it was a tail wind.

I missed Matt’s launch down the bank, but here’s a video of Tim, Scott and I:

Seal Launches from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

It was definitely good to see Matt again – it had been too long. I had to avoid a couple of blown-down trees on the way home (yes, it was very windy), but I still made it in time to go Family Weekend at my daughter’s college - another great day.

My Pictures
Matt's Pictures

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Didn’t Need My Snowshoes – Diamond Hill – February 13th

The RICKA crew is doing a hike today at Bowdish Lake in the Washington Management Area. Unfortunately, I have stuff to do and won’t be able to make it, but I was able to get out yesterday for a hike around the Diamond Hill Park in Cumberland. The Blackstone Valley Outfitters did a hike there last week, and sounded like fun.

Diamond Hill is basically a huge hunk of quartz about a mile long, a quarter of a mile wide and 350’ high. At one time, two ski areas occupied opposite sides of the hill – Diamond Hill State Park on the west, and Ski Valley in the east. Ski Valley has now been turned into condos, and the Town of Cumberland owns the Diamond Hill Park. Its only a mile from my house, but I hadn’t been there in years.

I arrived at the park just after sunrise – around 6:45. Temperatures were in the mid 20’s, and the snow was frozen solid. It took me a while to find the trail, but eventually I found it at the end of a row of pine trees in back of the bandstand. The trail follows a small brook behind some ball fields though woods covered in oak, birch and white pine. It was well packed, so I didn’t need my snowshoes.

The trail leads to the base of a huge cliff that was once part of an old quarry. At one time, you could climb the southern side of this cliff to access the ridge at the top of Diamond Hill. Today, a house sits at the top, so the trail cuts back along the bottom of the ledge and accesses the ridge line a little further to the north. I climbed up the southern side of the ledge anyway to get some pictures, and then worked my way back down.

I then followed the switchback trail below the ledge up to the rocky crest overlooking Diamond Hill Road. From here, the trail runs about a mile to the north along the ridge of Diamond Hill. The views from the top are great – to the west is Tower Hill, to the east is the Diamond Hill Reservoir, and the north are the hill of Wrentham, MA. I took a break on the concrete footing of an abandoned chair lift before working my way back down through the woods.

I’d estimate that the loop is a couple of miles. It took me about an hour and a half to complete. I’ll definitely be back again.

My Pictures