Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pawcatuck River Overnight - September 27-28, 2014

Heading out from Bradford Landing
There is something therapeutic about canoe camping.  You paddle in, set up camp, have dinner, and then settle in for a long relaxing evening around the campfire. 

I did my first canoe camping trip with the RICKA Wilderness Group a couple of years ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since.  Since then I’ve done short overnight trips, and multi-day excursions.  This summer I had the good fortune to spend a night camping with the Paddle Across Rhode Island crew on the Pawcatuck River, and decided that I wanted to do it again.  I posted the idea on the Flatwater Message Board and this trip was born. 

Arriving at the campsites
We are fortunate to have a couple of very nice paddle-in campsites on the Pawcatuck River in Rhode Island.  There is the Carolina Canoe Campsite in the Carolina Management Area just upstream from the Richmond Landing.  It’s a small site, but very nice.  Then there are the Burlingame Canoe Campsites in the Burlingame Management Area upstream from the Bradford Landing.  At Burlingame there is a large open field suitable for groups, and five smaller wooded sites.  All these sites are available on a first come first serve basis, and can get crowded in the warm summer months.

We would be doing a short overnight trip at the Burlingame Canoe Campsites with the RICKA Flatwater Group.  Our original plan was to paddle down from Richmond Landing, but with low water levels in the river, we decided to paddle up from Bradford instead.  We met at the Bradford Landing at 2:00 for the trip up to the campsites. 

Setting up camp
One of the challenges of canoe/kayak camping is that everything that you bring needs to fit in your boat.  While you can carry more in a canoe or kayak than you can in a backpack, space is still limited, and drybags are needed to keep your gear dry.  Everyone carried their own gear, and we divided up the group gear as best we could.  With our gear packed and our boats loaded we headed off the campsite. 

We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day.  It was sunny and warm, and the leaves were just beginning to turn.  It’s a short paddle from Bradford up to the Burlingame Canoe Campsites.  When we arrived, we found that a family had already pitched their tents in the big site at the field, so we scouted out the smaller wooded sites. We chose a grass-covered site with a nice fire ring, and everyone spread out to pitch their tents.  Some found space near the river where they could hear the running water.  Others stayed closer to the fire ring. 

Settling in around the campfire
Jim had dropped off some firewood earlier in the day, so we were able to enjoy snacks and dinner around the campfire.  Everything tastes better when you cook it outside, and this trip was no exception.  Tom was our grill master.  He turned out great hamburgers, hot dogs and marinated vegetable skewers from Lindsay.  Dinner was followed by Henry’s delicious Blueberry Dump Cake from the Dutch oven.  With dinner complete, there was nothing left to do but sit back and enjoy the fire.  We talked, napped (at least some of us) and enjoyed the great outdoors. 

At around 10:30, I finally turned in for the night.  Before I knew it, the morning light was streaming through my tent, and I could hear someone out by the fire ring.  Even without looking I knew it was Jim because he is always the first one up.  Before long, we soon had a nice fire going and a pot of coffee perking on the stove. 

Dutch oven cooking
Slowly the group emerged from their tents for a cup of coffee, and a piece of apple or blueberry pie from Mike.  After a few cups of coffee, I was ambitious enough try a Blueberry Breakfast Bake in the Dutch oven.  It turned out great.  When we had all eaten our fill and had way too much coffee, we decided it was time to pack up and head for home.  Everyone packed up their own gear, and then helped out with the group gear.  With our boats packed, we took one group picture before heading back to Bradford. 

The trip back to Bradford was slow and leisurely – no one was in a rush.  By 11:00 our cars were packed and we were saying our goodbyes, but not before agreeing to do this again next year.

Packed up at the end of a great trip

1 comment:

  1. Hi Erik, I love your blog! I'm trying to plan a canoeing overnighter in or around RI this summer. We're looking for something easily handled for beginners - Would this pawcatuck trip fit the bill? Also do you need permits for Carolina Management camping? thanks in advance.