Saturday, June 29, 2013

Green canal and fast moving river - River Bend Farm - June 29, 2013

Duck weed on the canal at River Bend Farm
We’ve had a lot of rain this week, so rivers are running all over.  I’m planning to run the Dead next weekend up in Maine, so I wanted to stay local today.  I decided to do the canal/river loop at River Bend Farm.

I usually leave my car at the broken dam across from the Stanley Woolen Mill and carry my boat across the street to the canal.  This allows me to run the broken dam at the end.  Unfortunately, there is a strainer blocking the main channel through the dam, so I decided not to run it.  Instead, I put in at River Bend Farm and ran the loop from there.

Taking a break 
At this time of year, the lower section of the canal is usually covered with green duckweed.  Today, all the duckweed was at the upstream end near River Bend Farm.  The wind must have blown it there. 

The river was flowing nice (about 3.5 feet on the Northbridge gage) with enough water to allow you to go straight through many of the turns that are tricky at lower water.  Just above the take out to cross back over to the canal there is a river wide strainer across the river.  Hopefully the Rangers will get in there to clear it out.

Visitor Center at River Bend Farm

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Albion to Manville - June 22, 2013

Today I got a little bit of an idea how the upstream sections of the Paddle Across Rhode Island might have been when I paddled up the Blackstone from Albion to Manville. It's just under 2 miles each way, but it took 1 1/2 hours on the way up, and less than a 1/2 hour on the way back down. Lots of water, but nothing compared to what we had that week. It would have been a long portage around the Pawtuxet River.

Manville Dam

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Salmon River - June 15, 2013

Paul and I had a good time running the Salmon River with Matt, Scott and the crew from Connecticut.  We had 7 boats – 2 canoes (me and Matt), and 5 kayaks (Sharon, Paul, Paul G., Ed and Scott). The river was a nice level – around 5 feet, 1,200 cfs on the East Hampton gage. 

The Comstock Covered Bridge
We met at the covered bridge on Comstock Bridge Road in East Hampton to run the shuttle.  The original Comstock's Bridge was built in 1840 and is one of only three remaining covered bridges in Connecticut.  We decided to put in on the Blackledge to avoid the portage on the Jeremy. The put-in for the Blackledge is the Blackledge Fishing Area off South Main Street near the intersection with Jerry Daniels Road in Marlborough.  The put-in for the Jeremy is at the commuter lot at the intersection of Routes 2 and 149.

The Salmon River is formed at the confluence of the Blackledge and Jeremy rivers and runs about 10 miles to flow into the Connecticut River.  It’s a pretty river that cuts a steep valley through the hills.  This section is about 3 miles long and runs through the Salmon River State Forest – a popular area for hiking, biking and fishing. The banks are lined with hemlock trees and mountain laurel, and small water falls tumbled down the banks into the river. 

A pretty section of the Salmon
The Blackledge is mostly quickwater, so it is little less exciting than the Jeremy, but I think it is more scenic.  After a couple of strainers, it opened up nicely.  At this level, the Salmon is a nice class II run - mostly easy wave trains with some nice surf spots.  We enjoyed the waves as we worked out way down to the largest rapid on the river – the broken dam.

The broken dam looked intimidating at first, but we all decided that the usual run through the slot on the right was the way to go.  The large standing waves below the slot made for a fun ride, so we hiked back up and ran it a couple of times before continuing downstream. Some videos from the broken dam runs here:

The best surf wave on the river is just below the broken dam.  We all took a turn, and I couple of us took a swim.   Matt described my swim this way:
Erik was looping, and when he went into a stern surf, the hole pulled him back at what had to be 10 was the coolest move I ever saw from my open boating play partner.
Thanks Matt.  


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

North Branch of the Pawtuxet – June 12, 2013

Hope Furnace Dam
I have a new favorite river – the North Branch of the Pawtuxet.  It reminds me a little of the Shepaug, and runs about as frequently.

We put in at the Hope Furnace Dam just downstream from the popular flatwater paddling spot and fishing area.  The water here is the cleanest in the state coming directly from the Scituate Reservoir.  We had four boats – three kayaks (Duke, Pat and Mike) and one canoe (guess who).  The river level was…?  That’s actually a good question since there are no gages on this section of the river.  I guess it’s safe to say that when the Pawtuxet  is in flood, this section will be running. 

Duke at the put-in
This is a short run - about 1.5 miles.  The river is pretty much continuous class II with lots of long wave trains.  The banks are overgrown, so there are not a lot of shore eddies – you need to catch surf waves on the fly. 

The most difficult rapid on the river is about a mile down where the river takes a sharp left turn.  The best route is to catch the big eddy on the right after the turn, and then ferry left to avoid the ledge, and then enjoy the long wave train.  A little further downstream is Mamba Eater – a nasty lowhead dam.  Stay left close to the wall to avoid the hole.

We took out at the Lavelee Street Bridge just above the Arkwright Dam.  Except for that low head dam, it was a great run.  I can tell because I didn’t take many pictures.

The Mamba Eater - stay left to avoid the hole

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

It was a two-boat day – June 10, 2013

Pulling Chuck's boat free
The Paddle Across Rhode Island ended badly for everyone, but especially for Chuck whose boat got pinned below the Atlas Pallet Rapid.  With nothing to do but go back to work, I jumped at the opportunity to help Chuck get his boat unpinned on Monday morning. 

We met at 10:00 at the Burrillville Middle School and hiked up the trail to the Atlas Pallet Rapid.  Jim paddled his boat up, and was able to climb up on the pile of debris that Chuck’s boat was pinned against.  I threw him a rope, he tied it onto the boat, and we started to pull.  Within minutes we pulled the boat free.  All boats should come free that easy.

The second boat is unpinned
With the river at great level and Chuck's boat free, Paul and I decided to do run down the Branch River.  We put in at the new boat launch below the Stillwater Mill.  The river was at a nice level – around 4 feet, 600 cfs.

Just below the Oakland Dam we found another pinned canoe that we were able to release. A cell phone in an otter box attached to the thwart still worked, so Paul was able to track down the owners. It seems they put in just above the Oakland Dam and promptly swamped in the flooded river. The canoe went over the dam and got pinned against the trees where we found it – along with two life jackets. Fortunately, the owners were able to get to shore safely.

Glendale rapid was fun – ran it just left of center.  Atlas Pallet was nice as well – ran it nice down the middle.  Good time.  

Surfing at Atlas Pallet
Freeing Chuck's Boat
Running the Branch
Branch River Gage