Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sure beats working - Clear and Branch Rivers – December 2, 2011

Paul below the Harrisville Dam
It’s been a beautiful week, and I have some vacation time that I need to use, so I sent an email to Paul to see if he would be interested in an afternoon paddle. We ended up on the Clear/Branch River yesterday.

The Clear/Branch is a fun run that I haven’t done in a couple of years. It’s about 7.5 miles with a little bit of everything – a lot of flatwater, some quickwater and a couple of easy rapids. It’s the only river in Rhode Island listed in American Whitewater.

Erik below the Whipple Drop
It was sunny and warm when we got on the river at around 1:00 in the afternoon. The river level was 3.5 feet, 300 cfs. on the Forestdale gage - OK, but another foot of water would have been better. We put in below the dam in Harrisville at the East Avenue Bridge (Route 107). The first rapid is directly below the bridge where two rows of boulders make for a difficult line through a small drop. We both took the bumpy route, but made it through fine, and headed downstream.

After about a short section of pleasant flatwater, we came to the next rapid – Whipple Drop. This is an old broken dam that creates about a 2-foot drop with a large rock just downstream. In high water, the current tends to sweep boats into this rock. At yesterday’s level it was an easy run just left of center. We played in the waves for a little while before continuing downstream.

Old Oakland Mill
After a couple miles of easy flatwater, we came to the first portage at the Oakland Dam. Remnants of the old Oakland Mill still stand on the left. We portaged on the right. Below the Oakland Dam, the river is mostly quickwater.

About a mile downstream we came to the Glendale Rapid. In high water, this is a rocky class II rapid. At yesterday’s level, it was boney, but not particularly difficult. I got hung up on a rock in the middle, got swung around, and finished the rest of the rapid backwards. Paul made a clean run down the middle.

Paul below Atlas Pallet
We played in the waves below the Glendale Rapid and enjoyed about a mile of quickwater before coming to the next rapid – the broken dam at Atlas Pallet. This is a short class II rapid with a couple of large boulders to avoid, and some easy surf waves at the bottom. We both ran the rapid clean, and after surfing in the waves, headed back downstream.

We portaged the Nasonville dam on the right and paddled the easy flatwater down to the take out off Nasonville Road. By this time, the sun was low in the sky, and both of us were starting to get cold. I blasted the heat as I shuttled Paul back to his car. Another great day.

My Pictures
River description from American Whitewater
Branch River Gage at Forestdale

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