Sunday, November 30, 2014

Satan's Kingdom - November 30, 2014

Poling up Rooster Tail
There wasn’t much running around here, and we hadn’t done our annual Farmington River poling trip, so I got out with Matt yesterday to do some poling on the “Tuber’s Run" through Satan’s Kingdom. 

I hadn’t been on this section of the Farmington River in years.  We use to do a couple of trips a year here to play below the Gorge and at Rooster Tail.  This time, we would be poling up from the “Tubers Take-out” on Route 44 just above the intersection with Routes 179 and 202. The river was a nice level for poling (300 cfs. on the Riverton gage with another 100 cfs.from the Still). 

Scott running the Gorge
There are a couple of easy drops to push up before you get to Rooster Tail.  Matt was able to move up Rooster Tail easily.  I got stuck at the last drop, and finally gave up and dragged my boat up the last few feet.  It’s an easy push the rest of the way up to the Gorge. 

While Mat and I were pushing up, Tim and Scott did a first run in their kayaks.  We met up with them at Rooster Tail on their first run, and at the Gorge on their second run.  It was nice to be able to do the downstream run with them.

Matt does some surfing
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Monday, November 24, 2014

Quinnebaug - Sturbridge to Southbridge - November 23, 2014

Heading down from the put in
I had a couple of paddling options yesterday, but decided to join Tim and Al on the section of the Quinnebaug River from Sturbridge to Southebridge. 

There are a number of good sections of the Quinnebaug River.  I have done the sections from Holland Pond to East Brimfield Lake, and from Putnam to Dayville.  Henry always runs a trip from Fabyan Dam to West Thompson Dam – I’d like to do that sometime.  This section is the racecourse for the Sturbridge Lions All American Canoe Race,which runs each spring in late April.

The farm at Old Sturbridge Village
We put in at Turners Field on Route 20 in Sturbridge and took out at Westville Lake in Southbridge - about 6 miles. The river was definitely low (3.5 feet, 200 cfs on the West Brimfield gage).  I wouldn't run it any lower than this. According to Tim, 300 cfs is a good level.  

The first mile is quickwater as the river twists and turns it’s way down to the Mill Pond at Old Sturbridge Village.  We portaged the Mill Pond Dam on the left and continued downstream. Just downstream of Old Sturbridge Village you can see the extensive damage caused by a tornado that touched down in this area on June 1, 2011. The path of the tornado is clearly evident with dead and fallen trees in a wide swath along the river. 

Tim running the low head dam
At Sturbridge Village begins a 3 mile section of flatwater down to a low head dam above the bridge at Old Mashapaug Road.  At higher water, the next mile is an easy Class II rapid.  At yesterday’s level, it was a rock field. There is one large drop at the end that we ran left to right. 

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

River Bend Farm to Millville with Mike B. - November 15, 2014

Mike running the broken dam at Route 16
I had a good time yesterday paddling with one of my oldest paddling buddies – Mike B. I started paddling seriously in 2005, and I think I did my first trip with Mike in 2006. I was a newbie; he had been paddling for years. I did my fist poling trip with Mike, did some of my first whitewater trips with Mike, and did my first extended overnight camping trip with Mike.

Yesterday, Mike, Frank and I got out to paddle the Blackstone from River Bend Farm to the Millville Rapid – about 9 miles. It was a very leisurely trip. We put in at around 10:30 and got off the river at around 2:00.

Franks running the Millville Rapid
Considering how low all the rivers are around here, the Blackstone was at a decent level - 3.5 feet, 500 cfs on the Northbridge gage. Nothing tough, but there were enough twists, turns and blowdowns to keep things interesting.

About half way through the trip we broke one of the cardinal rules of paddling – staying together. As we approached a fork in the river, Mike took the left channel, and Frank and I took the right. I thought that we would reconnect just downstream, but it was probably more like a mile. Just as we were both starting to wonder what happened to the other, we hooked back up.

Temp’s were in the mid 30’s yesterday, and by the end of the trip my feet were starting to get pretty cold. Winter paddling is here! Other than that, it was a great day all around.

Running the broken dam at Route 16
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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It’s all brown and grey – Millville Rapid - November 9, 2014

Triad Bridge
The pretty fall foliage is gone, and all that remains are shades of brown and grey.  

I headed over to Millville and put my boat in the water on the Blackstone off Route 122 just above the Triad Bridge.  This allowed me to skip the long section of flatwater above the Blackstone Gorge.  I paddled up past the Millville Lock, portaged the Millville Rapid, and continued upstream towards Uxbridge.  

There was more water in the river than I expected, so I quickly got bored with paddling upstream, and headed back for a little fun in the Millville Rapid.

Millville Rapid

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Down the river without a paddle - River Island Park - November 2, 2014

I’ve been getting really lazy lately about bringing an extra paddle, and today it caught up to me. 

I decided to take my whitewater boat out to River Island Park - a short class I/II section of the Blackstone River near my house.  The level was about 2 feet, 450 cfs.  I was floating downstream after playing on one of the waves, and I dropped my paddle. The paddle ended up in an eddy, but I continued to float downstream.  I started hand paddling frantically, and eventually worked my way over to the tail of the eddy where I was able to grab the paddle.

Lesson learned - no more being lazy.  I need to start bringing an extra paddle.