Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Narrow River - July 31, 2013

Pettaquamscutt Cove
The sun rose bright and clear as I headed out to paddle the Narrow River and Pettaquamscutt Cove.

It was low tide as I put in at the Sprague Bridge and headed up the Narrow River into the Pettaquamscutt Cove.  The osprey were in their nest at the bridge, and other birds were everywhere - egrets, herons, cormorants, terns, and of course seagulls.  Like Point Judith Pond, this section of the Narrow River is a tidal estuary, and Pettaquamscutt Cove is also a National Wildlife Refuge.  At low tide, all the birds were looking for breakfast.

I then paddled down the Narrow River to the Narrows - the rocky outcropping where the Narrow River meets the sea.  It looked like it would be easy to break through the 1 to 2 foot waves breaking at the shore, but instead I decided to check out the view from the rocks.  The day was clear, and you could see all the way down the coast to the Point Judith Light.

The Narrows
My Pictures
Lower Pettaquamscutt River and Cove from the Narrow River Preservation Association
Upper Pettaquamscutt River and Cove from the Narrow River Preservation Association

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Harbor of Refuge - July 30, 2013

East jetty of the Harbor of Refuge
The day was bright and sunny, so I decided to go paddle the Harbor of Refuge just outside the Breechway at the mouth of Point Judith Pond.

Construction of the Harbor of Refuge, which protects the Breachway and the Port of Galilee, began in 1890 with the construction of the east and west jetties.  The breakwater was not completed until 1910 with the completion of the center jetty.

When I arrived at Camp Cronin, I was surprised how much damage had been done by Superstorm Sandy.  Most of the parking lot had been washed away, and the sand dunes had been replaced by steep cliffs.  I put-in inside the east jetty.  Even there, with the strong wind and 1 to 2 foot waves, it was tough to make progress.  I paddled as far as Sand Hill Cove, and then headed back.

Point Judith Light and Coast Guard Station
My Pictures

Monday, July 29, 2013

Lower Point Judith Pond - July 29, 2013

Snug Harbor
After a quick cup of coffee, I put my boat in the water at the dock near the cottage and decided to paddle south along Great Island to the Port of Galilee.  The sun came out briefly as I was heading out, and then dark clouds rolled back in.

Great Island is about 2 miles long and 1/2 mile wide, and full of summer cottages.  I headed south and stopped along Snug Harbor to watch the the boats heading down to the Breachway in Galilee.

The Breachway connects the Harbor of Refuge with the Point Judith Pond.  The Breachway was completed in 1910, and the harbor at the mouth of the pond was dredged and a dock constructed in 1935 to create a port for Rhode Island's fishing industry.  After snapping a few pictures and enjoying the scenery, I paddled back to the cottage.

Fishing boats in the Port of Galilee
My Pictures
Point Judith Pond from

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Upper Point Judith Pond - July 28, 2013

Our cottage at Horseshoe Point
It was cold and grey for the first morning of our vacation, but the still water of Point Judith Pond drew me out.  

Our cottage is located at Horseshoe Point at the northern tip of Great Island in Point Judith Pond, or the Great Salt Pond as it is also known. Point Judith Pond is 4 miles long, 1 mile wide, and about 20 miles in circumference.  Across the water we looked out at Ram Island.

I decided to head north along Ram Island and into the Upper Pond.  The water was perfectly still except for the occasional motorboat.  Birds were plentiful - comerants, herons, egrets, seagulls and even a pair of osprey.  Other than a couple of fishing boats pulling out of the marina, I was the only one around. 

Sea gulls in the Upper Point Judith Pond
My Pictures

Monday, July 22, 2013

Riverton section of the Farmington - July 21, 2013

We had a nice group for a rare summer run on the Riverton section of the Farmington.  We had 2 canoes (me and Matt) and 5 kayaks (Scott, Tim, Al, Norma and Robin) - an interesting assortment of boats. 

We put in below the Goodwin Dam off Hogback Road and took out at the Satan’s Kingdom parking lot.  The river was running at 600 cfs (525 cfs from Goodwin, 75 cfs from the Still) – low but still fluid. It’s about a 12-mile run with some flatwater, some quickwater, and a few easy rapids. I brought my Yellowstone and it was great, but this also would have been a nice level for poling.

I forgot how much I like this river.  

Tim and Matt do some surfing

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Lincoln Woods - July 20, 2013

I wanted to paddle today, but it was so hot that I also wanted to be able to go swimming.  That meant that most of my usual haunts were out.  I decided to go down to Lincoln Woods to paddle Olney Pond.

I thought it would be quiet there today, but it was actually pretty busy.  Red and yellow rental boats dotted the pond.  As I pulled into the boat launch, a group of canoe racers with 5-man canoes was pulling in as well.  These boats came in pieces, and you could add or remove pieces depending on how many paddlers you had.

I paddled around the pond exploring the shoreline and the small coves and islands.  There was a small flock of cormorants, a heron, and lots of seagulls.  I forgot how different it was to paddle on a lake, even with a small breeze.

I took a swim at the start of the paddle, and at the end of the paddle – it felt good.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hot day, cool paddle – Stump Pond – July 17, 2013

Heading toward the bridge
It’s been a crazy summer at work, but things are starting to settle down, so I was able to make it to my first Blackstone Valley Paddle Club trip at Stump Pond.

At 300 acres and 2.3 miles long, Stump Pond in Smithfield (also know as the Woonasquatucket Reservoir) is the largest pond in the Woonasquatucket River watershed. The wooded shores, islands, and scenic hills make it a great place for a paddle. Like any large pond, you do need to be careful of the waves when the wind picks up.

Cooling off - wet exit and recovery
Woonasquatucket Reservoir was built in 1910 to provide a reliable water supply through the summer for the mills down river. It was never a drinking water reservoir. The local name “Stump Pond” came from the many tree trunks that remained standing in the water after the dam was built.

We put in at the Stump Pond Fishing Area and paddled across to the Pleasant Avenue Bridge.  It’s always fun to do limbo under the pipes at the bridge. This southern arm beyond the bridge is a bit more suburban with houses lining the eastern shore.

We then headed north to the dam.  From here, the Woonasquatucket River heads east to Stillwater Pond.  If you continue north, you will come to the place where the Woonasquatucket River enters the pond. We didn’t make it that far, but we did enjoy a beautiful sunset.  I also took the opportunity to cool off with a wet exit and recovery.  Nice night.

Paddling into the sunset

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I went to Chocolateville today - July 14, 2013

I was actually suppose to go there with Chuck, Tommy and Jim during the Paddle Across Rhode Island, but that got washed out, so I went by myself today. I put-in at the River Island Campground in Valley Falls, and paddled down to the Chocolate Mill Landing in Central Falls - about a mile. 

Until today I didn’t know that the first chocolate mill in the country was located in Central Falls. The Chocolate Mill Landing is actually pretty nice. It’s at the corner of Roosevelt Avenue and Charles Street in Central Falls just upstream from the Elizabeth Webbing Dam. The put-in is down a step hill, but there is a nice set of stairs.

This section of the Blackstone is rarely paddled since there hasn’t been good access. There has been access up in Valley Falls for a while (off High Street in Central Falls at the new River Island Campground), but the parking is a problem there, and it’s a long carry to the river. This will work out much better. 

My pictures
River Island Campground - Central Falls

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Manville Dam – the new park is finally finished - July 13, 2013

Well, it has been a long time coming, but they finally took down the fence at the Manville Dam.  The new park is is finished and it has plenty of parking, some picnic tables overlooking the river, and a new fishing dock.  They also did a nice job incorporating some of the features from the old mill trench into the landscape.  It was nice to be able to paddle there again. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Dead - Spencer Stream to West Forks – July 6, 2013

At the bottom of Spencer Rips
(Photo by Tommy Taylor)
The Dead has been on my list of places to paddle for a long time.  I remember my first canoe trip with my father on the Androscoggin way back in 1990.  The Boston Chapter of the AMC ran that trip, and many of those members talked about running the Dead.  It’s apropos that our small group (Mike, Earl, Tommy and me) hooked-up with the Boston Chapter (Donna Jean, Rod, Deb, Barbara, Ken and Scott) to do the run. 

We arrived at Riverdrivers around 8:30 and loaded up the boats for the shuttle.  With all the rain, we were concerned that the level might be significantly higher than the scheduled release of 1,800 cfs.  Andy at Riverdrivers told us that the dam release would be “an honest 1,800 cfs”.  With another 550 cfs coming from Spencer Stream, we estimate that the total flow was 2,350 cfs – a solid class III. At lower levels (1,200 cfs to 1,800 cfs) it is primarily class II except for the very first, and last couple of rapids.  At medium levels (2,000 cfs to 3,500 cfs) it is class III.  At higher levels (4,500 cfs to–8,000 cfs) it is class IV (and well beyond my skill level).

Running the slot at Elephant Rock
(Photo by Tommy Taylor)
The Dead is one of the longest continuous whitewater runs in the Northeast with approximately thirty rapids along a fourteen-mile stretch.  The river is mostly boulder type rapids with lots of holes and pour-overs. The shoreline has thick vegetation that grows right up to the river's edge that can make it difficult to rescue swimmers or bail out an open boat.  The major named rapids are: 
  • Spencer Rips – deep water is right, big eddy below on left to stop and regroup.
  • Minefield (2 miles) – long boulder garden with big waves and lots of holes – difficulty increases where the river turns left.
  • Hyden’s – also know as Humpty Dumpty (3 miles) – run in middle, stay out of holes.
  • Gravel Pit (4.5 miles)
  • Enchanted Stream (7 miles) – good lunch spot.
  • Elephant Rock – (7.5 miles) immediately below Enchanted Stream is a river wide ledge – blends into Enchanted Stream.  Can run the ledge, but usually run on right between Elephant Rock and the rock wall.
  • Mile Long (8.5 miles) – another long boulder garden with big waves and lots of holes – filled up my boat here – twice!
  • Upper Spruce Ledge (10.5 miles) – stay out of hole bottom left
  • Lower Spruce Ledge.
  • Upper Poplar Falls (11.5 miles) – Stay  away from holes upper right and lower left – stop in big eddy bottom right.
  • Lower Poplar Falls (12 miles) – left is hero line with lots of dangerous holes.  The right line through the boulder garden can be boney, but much easier - I took the right.
We made it through without too much trouble.  We had just one major swim in the Mile Long Rapid – and it wasn’t me! 

Mike running Minefield
(Photo by Tommy Taylor)

Seboomook – West Branch of the Penobscot – July 5, 2013

Running one of the ledges
Photo by Tommy Taylor
It's remote - accessed by driving a 37-mile dirt road, but Seboomook on the West Branch of the Penobscot is worth the trip.

Seboomook lies in what is known as the North Maine Woods - a consortium of private landowners (mostly paper companies) encompassing 3.5 million acres of working forest. The scenery is beautiful, and on this day, the black flies and mosquitoes were vicious. Fortunately, the bugs are not problem on the river, and we did see a bald eagle swoop down and catch a fish. 

The river was at a great level – 800 cfs, which I am told is a medium level.  We had five boats – Rod, Deb, Harland, Tommy and me.  The run consists of 11 ledges that at this level were probably class III.  The drop and pool nature of this river is unlike most other New England rivers, which have long boulder strewn rapids.  The drops are intense but very short with a large slow recovery pool below. It’s a great place to practice running drops and punching holes.

I swam once, on the third drop trying to eddy out on river right behind a rock.  Otherwise I ran the drops clean.