Monday, May 28, 2012

Assabet - Acton to Concord - May 28, 2012

I met up with Al today to scout the Assabet from Acton to Concord for next weekend’s flatwater trip. This section is mostly flatwater, but has enough quickwater to keep things interesting.  Level was 2' on the Maynard gage - much less and it would start to get scratchy.  Here is Al running the broken dam.
My pictures
Al's blog
Maynard gage

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wood/Pawcatuck Camping - May 19 - 20, 2012

Heading downstream
It only takes me a few minutes to pack for a business trip – throw a few cloths in the overnight bag and hope for the best. That was not the case as I prepared for my first canoe camping trip. I spent a couple of weeks getting my gear together.

The trip took place on a pleasant section of the Wood/Pawcatuck Rivers between Hopkinton and Bradford. The plan was to camp at the paddle-in campsites at the Burlingame Management Area. After running the shuttle, we put-in on the Wood River behind Dow Field. The river starts off narrow and we immediately had two large blow-downs to negotiate.

Lee running the first dam
Our first portage was also just downstream at the dam for the old Hope Valley Mill. We portaged on the left and put into the quickwater below the dam. Below the Hope Valley Mill is another low dam at the gauging station. Fortunately at this level (2.5 ft, 180 cfs at Hope Valley; 3.5 ft, 100 cfs at Arcadia), the river was high enough to run this dam.

By this time, we had been on the river for a couple of hours, but had only travelled a mile downstream. We stopped for lunch at the Switch Road Landing before continuing our trip.  Below Switch Road, the river is wooded and scenic. The river turned more marsh-like as it approached the second portage at the Woodville Dam. Below the Woodville Dam is river is deeper with good current.

Setting up camp
As we approached the final portage at the Alton Dam, we could see that a large group of boy scouts was already gathered at the take-out. We carried through the group, along the way learning that they also planned to stay at the Burlingame camp sites. We put-in down the steep bank at the bottom of the dam, and once we got back on the water, regrouped to discuss our plans for the night.

Knowing that the Burlingame camp sites would be crowded, we decided to change our plans and camp a little further upstream at the Woods Fishing Access. Up a steep hill from the river, we found a large fire ring and a pleasant pine grove. There was plenty of room for three tents and two hammocks. We set up camp, cooked supper and sat back to enjoy the evening campfire.

Running the broken dam
On Sunday, we broke camp early and began our trip down to Bradford Landing. We ran the broken dam at Burdickville and stopped to check out the Burlingame campsites. While there were some open sites, we all agreed that we made the right decision to camp upstream.

We continued downstream to Bradford which was the official end of our trip. Jim and I decided to extend the trip a little longer and continue down the Pawcatuck to check out the campsites at the Grills Preserve of the Westerly Land Trust just downstream. It was pleasant paddle down, but a little more work paddling back up against the current to our cars. I arrived home by 1:00 after a great weekend trip.

Wood River gage near Hope Valley
Wood River gage near Arcadia

Friday, May 18, 2012

Gear is packed and I’m ready to go...

I have my gear together and I’m ready to go on my first overnight canoe trip on the Wood/Pawcatuck Rivers. We will put-in at Dow Field in Hope Valley and portage 3 dams on the Wood River (Old Switch Road, Woodville and Alton). We will then paddle down the Pawcatuck, running the broken dam at Burdickville before setting up camp at the canoe site in Buringame State Park. Take-out is at Bradford Landing. Should be fun.
Gear is packed and ready to go

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Upper Wood River - May 6, 2012

After several weekends filled with yard work, I was looking forward to getting out on the water, but there weren’t a lot of options. I was thinking about Fife Brook, or maybe Otter Brook, until I saw a post for the upper Wood River on the RICKA Flatwater Message Board.

The Wood River flows 25 miles from its source near Sterling, CT to the Village of Alton where it merges with the Pawcatuck. There are two sections of the Wood River which are populare with paddlers – the upper Wood River from Route 165 in Exeter to the Wyoming Dam with a portage at the Barberville Dam, and the lower Wood River from Hope Valley Landing to Alton with a portage at the Woodville Dam. I had done the lower section a couple of times in the past, but had never paddled the upper section, so the upper Wood River it would be.

I arrived at the put-in on Route 165 at 10:00 and was surprised to see that most of the paddlers had already arrived. I was also surprised at the number of canoes on this trip. In total there were 13 boats – 9 canoes and 4 kayaks. Maybe we should rename the club the Rhode Island Canoe Association.

We ran the shuttle and were on the water by 11:00. The river starts off shallow (2.5 ft, 118 cfs at Hope Valley; 3 ft, 50 cfs at Arcadia) and twists and turns through the woodlands of the Arcadia Management Area. After a couple of miles, the river openned up as we paddled into Frying Pan Pond. A Bald Eagle soared overhead – the first I had seen in Rhode Island.

We stopped for lunch at the Barberville Dam which is also the headquarters for the Wood Pawcatuck Watershead Association. There are two portages around the Barberville Dam. The right portage allows paddlers to avoid the quickwater below the dam. Chuck and I took the left portage and ran the short rapid below the Barbarville Dam.

The quickwater continued below the dam untill Skunk Hill Road where the impoundment for the Wyoming Dam begins. We paddled into a strong headwind until we reached the Wyomingt Dam. I had a beer with Chuck and Jim before heading home. Another great day.

My pictures
Wood River gage near Hope Valley
Wood River gage near Arcadia