Sunday, April 27, 2014

Paddling in the Rain - Plummers Landing to Route 16 - April 26, 2014

Bob heads downstream
The forecast called for rain, but Bob and I decided to paddle anyway, so we met at 8:30 to run the section of the Blackstone River from Plummers Landing in Northbridge to Route 16 in Uxbridge. In additional to some nice paddling, there is a lot of history along this section of the Blackstone River including the Goat Hill Lock of the Blackstone Canal (1827), the stone arch bridge on Hartford Avenue (1867) that is part of one of the longest colonial highways in the area (1739), the Stanley Woolen Mill (1853), and Lookout Rock – a frequent meeting place of the Wampanoag Indians during King Philip’s War (1675-1678).

It was poring rain when we arrived at the Plummers Landing put-in on Church Street to run the shuttle. In spite of the rain, or more likely because of it, the river looked to be at a nice level – 4 feet, 600 cfs. on the Northbridge gage.

Entering Rice City Pond
This section of the Blackstone is in a considerable state of flux with the river constantly eroding its banks and creating new channels. About a mile downstream, the river has breached the old Blackstone Canal on the right, and much of the water now flows down the old canal trench.  Unfortunately, the canal is blocked with trees, so we stayed left to continue down the river.

When there is enough water, this is a fun section to paddle.  The river twists and turns, and it is a challenge to maneuver around the s-turns and through the strainers.   There was evidence of considerable flooding as we paddled downstream.  Blow-downs were stacked in large piles, the riverbank was stripped of last year’s foliage, and clumps of debris were hanging from trees and bushes along the banks as high as 4 feet in the air. 

Surfing at the broken dam on Route 16
The rain continued as we entered the calm water of Rice City Pond.  We stayed right and paddled down a flooded section of the old Blackstone Canal.  After paddling under the old Hartford Avenue Bridge, we crossed over into the river for the run through River Bend Farm down to the Stanley Woolen Mill and Route 16. 

Like the section below Plummers Landing, the section of the river through River Bend Farm twists and turns around s-turns and through low-hanging trees.  We ran the broken dam at Route 16, and did a little surfing before calling it a day.  Of course, the rain stopped just as we pulled off the river.  I wasn’t too interested in history on this trip. but I did enjoy a rainy paddle down a pretty section of my favorite local river. 

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