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

1 comment:

  1. You sure picked a great weekend, weatherwise, for camping!
    Congratulations on your photo being selected as photo of the week on paddling.net.