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

1 comment:

  1. This is an interesting boat? Is it perhaps a jon boat?