Monday, May 26, 2014

River Church - May 25, 2014

Quickwater on the upper section
On Sunday mornings I usually go Saint Joseph’s Church, but Paul and Jeff tell me that it is good for the soul to go to “river church”, so yesterday I decided to hook up with a group that was paddling the Scantic River in Connecticut.

The Scantic arises near Springfield, MA, and flows generally southwest for 40 miles before emptying into the Connecticut River near South Winsor, CT. We would be paddling the 4-mile section from Somersville (Somers) to Hazardville (Enfield).  

Ed Y. running Stokers
In the 1800’s, this section of the Scantic was the home to the Hazard Powder Company, which supplied the Union army with much of its gunpowder during the Civil War. The company disappeared in a mighty blast in 1913; however, some of the foundations are still intact. The State of Connecticut is building a “linear” park along this section of the river with several miles of walking trails in an area now known as “Powder Hollow”.

We had eight boats – seven kayaks (Ed W, Ed Y, Scott, Paul, Roy, Kimberly and Denise), and one canoe (me).  There is no gage on the Scantic, but the Broad Brook gage is a good substitute.  If Broad Brook is above 30, the Scantic should be runable. It's a downstream gage, so it’s not perfect.  Yesterday the Broad Brook gage was around 50, and the Scantic was at a perfect level. 

Ed W. running Chimney
We put-in near the water treatment plant off Quality Avenue in Somersville (Somers). For the first 2 miles the river meanders though a pretty hemlock forest.  It’s mostly quickwater with a couple of easy class I rapids.  After the Route 191 Bridge and a railroad bridge, we portaged the dam at the Springborn Mill on river left. 

Just downstream from the dam is the first of three major rapids – Stokers.  This is a ledge with a 3-foot drop and a rocky shoot 6 to 10 feet from the left bank.  When I ran this rapid last spring I swam it twice.  I didn’t do much better this time.  I lined up on the shoot, made it through the first big drop, only to swim a little downstream.  I did do a nice self-rescue though.

Kimberly running Staircase
Just upstream from Chimney is a nice surf wave that was perfect for an open boat at this level.  I was able to do some back surfing and side surfing, and still got out in one piece   Chimney itself is an “S” turn rapid that starts off as a series of small ledges with a larger drop at the end.  I made it through Chimney fine.

The final rapid is Staircase, which is exactly what you’d expect - a series of ledges that look like a staircase.  The largest ledge at the bottom has a nice wide shoot on river left.  It turned out to be a fun run with a great group – I recommend that everyone go to river church.

A view of the Staircase Rapid from the bidge

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