Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pemigewasset – Woodstock – April 27, 2013

View from the put-in -
 Loon Mountain in the distance
The Pemi is one of the rivers that I have wanted to run for a long time, but it just never seemed to work out.  When I could run it, there was no water.  When there was water, I couldn’t run it.  That finally changed yesterday when I ran the Woodstock section with the NHAMC.

Pemigewasset originates at Profile Lake in Franconia Notch and flows south through the White Mountains until it merges with the Winnipesaukee River to form the Merrimack River.  There are several sections of the Pemi that are paddled regularly – some of them are well above my skills.  The Woodstock section is an easy class II the runs from North Woodstock to Woodstock.  I’d also like to run the class I section from Woodstock to Campton – it’s on my list.  I have been to the Bristol section to do safety training, but I have never run it – it’s also on my list. 

Running the Gravel Pit Bypass
We put in at a small park behind the Woodstock Fire Station on Rt. 3.  The river was at a medium level – 4 feet, 1,000 cfs.  We had about 20 paddlers, maybe half were open boaters.  The day was sunny and warm.

After a few riffles at the put in, we approached the first major rapid – the Woodstock Squeeze.  The river narrows and takes a hard left turn at a large rock wall.  Next comes the Powerline Rapid - a gradual drop which can be shallow at the top and bottom.  Next comes Tree Fall Alley – a fast moving shoot which terminates in a nasty strainer.  This shoot can easily be avoided, but I flipped on some shallow rocks at the top and got sucked in.  Fortunately, I was able to swim around it, and my boat was easily recovered. 

Next comes the Gravel Pit Bypass – a fast moving shoot which terminates at another rock wall.  The final rapid is the Ledges – a short series of drops right at the take out.  Our day ended with burgers by the river cooked by Dan – can’t beat that.

Surfing in the Ledges

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Blast from the Past – Sugar River – April 21, 2013

At the put-in
I visited my alma mater yesterday.  No, it was not high school, or even college.  It was whitewater school.  I paddled with the OC1 group at the NHAMC Whitewater School on the Sugar River in Newport, NH.

My father was an active NHAMC member, so when I first got into paddling in 2005, I signed up for their whitewater school.  Just like the RICKA program today, it is a two-day class with the fist day spent mostly on flatwater, and the second day spent on the river.  I am fortunate that my teacher from that 2005 class is now a frequent paddling companion – Tommy Taylor.  I was looking for a place to paddle on Sunday, and he was looking for some safety boaters, so it worked out great.

Heading downstream
We would be paddling the section from Corbin Road to Route 103 that I last paddled as a student in 2005.  The river was at a nice level – 3.3 ft, 1200 cfs on the West Claremont gage.  It’s a fun class II river with one class III drop – Sweet Tooth.  We had a nice group – 5 students, 3 safety boats, and Tommy.

As we put in at the covered bridge, the students looked a little tentative.  On flatwater, most of them said that they found their whitewater boats to be difficult to control.  Things seemed to get easier for them as they got into moving water.  With each rapid their eddy turns, peal outs and ferries got more confident.  About two thirds of the way down the river we approached Sweet Tooth – the largest rapid on the river. 

Running Sweet Tooth
Sweet Tooth is a jumble of large and small rocks.  The rapid takes it’s name from two large boulders just left of center.  Smaller boulders also block the left side, so the route is just to the right of the large Sweet Tooth rocks.  At lower levels, submerged rocks at the bottom of the rapid can be a problem, but at yesterday’s level these rocks were buried.  It was pretty much a straight shot down the right side. 

Tommy went through the rapid first and eddied out to the left behind Sweet Tooth.  The rest of the group followed, most taking the line down the middle.  With the big rapid behind them, everyone’s confidence seemed to surge. 

The crew at the take-out
The last third of the river is pretty much continuous class II, and it was amazing to see the change in the students.  A couple of times I looked back up stream and saw the entire group ferrying across the river looking for waves to surf.  The eddy turns weren’t always crisp and pretty, but that will come with time and practice. 

It’s amazing what good instruction and a little practice can do.  It brought me back…

Running Sweet Tooth as a student in 2005 - photo by Tommy Taylor

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Blackstone Canal/River Loop - April 20, 2013

I was suppose to go up to NH to run the class II section of the Ammo with the NHAMC, but the trip got cancelled.  Instead I did an early morning loop on the Blackstone Canal/River from Lonsdale to Ashton and back.

Blackstone Canal/River Loop from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Quick Run at River Island Park - April 14, 2013

With spring comes yard work - lots of yard work - but I found some time yesterday to head down to River Island Park yesterday for a run down to the power line.  River was at about 1,000 cfs – nice level, maybe even a little washed out.  I practiced ferries and back ferries, did some surfing, and wheeled the boat back to my car.  Planning to go up to NH next weekend and the weekend after to run the Ammo and the Pemi – hope the water holds.