Saturday, January 28, 2012

Six Bridges – the Assabet River through Maynard – January 28, 2012

It was an absolutely beautiful day, so Andy and I decided to check out the class I/II section of the Assabet that runs through the old mill town of Maynard. We put-in off Taft Road just below the Ben Smith Dam. The river was as a nice level – 4', 600 cfs on Maynard gage.

We surfed the waves below the dam before heading downstream. Six bridges cross this 1½ mile section of the Assabet as it flows through downtown Maynard.
  • Great Road Bridge – ran to the right through a 2’ drop
  • Mill Street Bridge – ran through the center, but the right arch is also an option
  • Florida Road Bridge – flatwater under the bridge, but there are some nice waves just downstream
  • Main Street Bridge – some easy waves leading up to it, but it can be run anywhere
  • Walnut Street Bridge – fast moving current under the bridges pushes right, some nice wave below the bridge
  • Waltham Street Bridge – ran in the middle since the left and right arches were blocked by construction steel
The river also runs by a collection of restored mill buildings now known as Clock Tower Place.  At one time, this was the world headquarters of computer pioneer Digital Equipment Corporation

We took out at the Elks Hall on Route 62 and shuttled back to Taft Road for another run. Good time, but I wouldn’t want to run it any lower.

Andy running the drop below the Great Road Bridge
My Pictures

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Lonsdale Drive-in Part 2 – Muskrats on the Blackstone - January 14, 2012

The Muskrats - Erik, Cheryl, Frank, Jim and Kent
I was back at the Lonsdale Drive-in today to paddle with a small group from RICKA - Jim called us the Muskrats. The day was bright and sunny and the temperature was around 33°, but it seemed colder because of the wind.

When I arrived at the put-in, Cheryl, Kent, Frank and Jim were already there. I got my gear on quickly and we headed down to the river. Last week I noticed a lot of trash in the area, so today I brought a trash bag and picked it all up. Suasco Al – the Trash Paddler – has become a good influence on me.

Frank breaks the ice
Last week, I paddled upstream to the Pratt Dam. Today we decided to paddle downstream into the Valley Falls Pond. It was a pleasant trip down with the wind to our backs. I knew it would be a different story on the way back up.

We paddled across the Valley Falls Pond to explore some of the coves on the far side. Frank was our icebreaker as we entered the first cove on the Valley Falls side. The ice was about ¼ inch thick.

Cheryl, Jim and the swans
We headed back out and paddled over to a cove on the Cumberland side. Once again, Frank led the way through the ice. This time we ended up in a small ice-free pond along with two mute swans. They weren’t very happy to see us, but we left them alone, and they did the same.

We headed back out and began to paddle back to the put-in. With the wind and current against us, it was a tougher trip. We stopped about half way up for a warm drink, and then paddled on. We had talked about paddling a little further up stream, but everyone decided to call it a day while we were still warm.

Heading back - Cadillac Mill and Cumberland City Hall in the background
My Pictures

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Blackstone - Lonsdale Drive-in to the Pratt Dam - January 7, 2011

We almost hit a record yesterday.  The high was 61° in Providence - just 1°off the record high for the day of 62°.  I had a bunch of stuff to do, but I was able to get out for a couple of hours in the late afternoon. I did the section of the Blackstone from the Lonsdale Drive-in to the Pratt Dam. The water was really moving, but there were no signs of ice.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Willimantic – January 2, 2012

Heading downstream
I started off 2012 on a river that I haven’t paddled in several years – the Willimantic. I pass this river frequently on my way out to the Farmington, but the last time I ran it was with RICKA in April 2007. It was great to paddle it again today.

The Willimantic River is located in northeast CT and flows south along Rt. 32 from Stafford Springs to Willimantic where it joins the Natchaug River to form the Shetucket River. It takes its name from a section just upstream from its confluence with the Natchaug where the river drops of ninety feet in a mile. This section was named "Wilimentuck" (land of swiftly moving waters) by the Native Americans who fished there. Almost the entire river (24 miles) can be paddled, except for the dammed section in the city of Willimantic, which has been proposed as a future whitewater park.

A typical section of quickwater
We had a nice group of paddlers - two canoes (Erik and Tommy) and five kayaks (Earl, Frank, Al, Brian and Natalie). We met and Nye-Holman State Park at 10:00 to run the section from Plains Road to Merrow Road - about 8 miles. After running the shuttle, we got on the river around 11:00. The level was OK – 4.2’, 400 cfs on the Coventry gage. This is a fun level, but just about the minimum for a fluid run.  We had to be careful not to get hung up on the many rocks lurking just below the surface. It would have been a great level for poling.

The river starts off narrow and rocky as it twists and turns through a pretty hemlock forest. Small riffles and easy rapids alternate with quickwater for most of the run. Below the Nye-Holman State Park (where we stopped for lunch) the river widens out, but is still shallow. There are a couple of easy surf waves below the Route 195 Bridge, and we did our best to take advantage of them. We arrived at the take out at Merrow Road at around 3:00. Nice run – great way to start off the new year.

Surfing a wave below the Route 195 Bridge

Paddling on the Willimantic from the Willimantic River Alliance
Coventry Gage