Monday, May 10, 2021

River Island Park - May 9, 2021

Michelle went to church. I went to river church. I did a quick run at River Island Park. Medium level – 2.7 feet, 850 cfs; all the scenery you’d expect, but no pictures.

Monday, May 3, 2021

White River - Hancock to Stockbridge – May 2, 2021

Warm and dry to start
It always happens when you least suspect it, and that is why you need to live by the Boy Scout motto – be prepared. Yesterday I wasn’t.

I was joining a group to paddle the White River from Hancock to Stockbridge in VT – (all canoes - 2 tandem, 3 poling and 3 solo). It’s a beautiful, 11-mile quickwater trip through the hills and cow fields of central VT. It’s also a three-hour drive for me, and I was running late. I was the last to arrive at the put-in, and I could tell by the looks when I drove in that the rest of the group was ready to go.

Cold and wet in the middle
As far as I knew the forecast for the day was sunny and warm, but I hadn’t checked in a few days. I didn’t want to hold the group up any longer so I grabbed my boundary boots, left my hat, drysuit and spare cloths in the car, and headed out. It would be fine. Its just quickwater, and the river was at a nice level – 6.5 feet, 3,500 cfs.

About a mile downstream I was navigating through a boney section of quickwater and it happened. I hit a rock and over I went. The recovery was quick, but the damage was done. I was sopping wet. I got my boat to shore, put on my splash top (the only spare cloths that I had) and hoped for the best. I’d be fine when sun came out.

Wet but warm at the end
Unfortunately, the sun didn’t come out. Instead, it started to rain. The clouds increased and we had a torrential downpour. Everyone pulled out their raingear, but I just got colder and wetter. I was able to borrow a hat from Bob, and that helped for a while. When my teeth started to chatter I knew I needed to get some dry cloths. I borrowed a fleece from Jonathan, and replaced the wet shirt under my splash top. That felt much better, and I started to warm up.

Fortunately, the rain eventually stopped, and the sun did come out. By the time we reached the take out it was sunny and warm, but it is still a lesson learned (or an important reminder) – BE PREPARED! Fortunately for me this time, my paddling friends were.

Blue sky at the take out

If nothing else, at least I earned another poem from Tom on p-net:

Whatever doesn’t kill us,
just might make us stronger.
But some so-called friends dip in their dry bags
to address undry bagless so much wronger.

Twas good the hat and fleece of canoe’s companions
was there to unsaturate your fish-count way,
else baggy plaid pants and bridesmaid chiffon you dance,
such friendly fashion sense of ole Mike McCrea.
(Whyyy, he wouldn’t ease yer shiverin’ any other way!)

Just don’t wet-exit a second time, because you don’t want to see what’s inside that purple drybag Sharpied, “Victoria Shoulda Kept It a Secret/Dammit Eric!”


Otter Brook – May 1, 2021

It is always nice to do a tandem run with Jonathan. This time we paddled the the class II section of Otter Brook with Conrad and the Boston AMC, and then continued downstream to the race take out at the Sawyers Crossing Covered Bridge on the Ashuelot River in Swanzey. The river was at it's usual release level of 300 cfs. There are a couple of nice rapids below the usual take out. We portaged the dam about a mile downstream on the right – there was at least one tree down in the channel on the right. The last 3 - 4 miles is flatwater. Nice trip.


Friday, April 30, 2021

Planning for Spring Camping – Lake Umbagog - June 7 - 10 , 2021

I really want to get out to do some spring camping, but nothing was coming together, so I booked some sites on Lake Umbagog for June 7 - 10.  

Umbagog Lake is located along the border of NH and ME near Errol, NH. The lake runs almost 11 miles north to south and is fed by the Magalloway River, the Rapid River, and the Dead Cambridge River. It is the source of the Androscoggin River. The lake is part of the Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge and Umbagog Lake State Park.  

Umbagog Lake State Park includes a base camp with 27 sites at the southernmost end of the lake that can be accessed from NH Rt. 26. There are 33 wilderness campsites located around the lake that are accessible only by boat. Firewood must be purchased at the base camp. 

I crossed the upper end of Lake Umbagog when we did the Magalloway, Rapid and Androscoggin Rivers last fall.  Here is the trip I was thinking of for this spring:

Day 1 – put-in at Errol Dam.  Paddle up the Androscoggin to Lake Umbagog.  Paddle down the west shore of Umbagog to Big Island.  Camp at site R-12 - 7 miles.

Day 2 – paddle south along Big Island and cross over to the east shore.  Paddle north past Pine Tree Point and east to the mouth of the Rapid River. Camp at site R-16 – 10 miles.

Day 3 – paddle up the Rapid River to the whitewater section - hike up the trail if we want.  Paddle back along the north shore to the mouth of the Androscoggin. Camp at site R-28.  7 miles.

Day 4 – paddle back down the Androscoggin to the dam.  4 miles.

Bill is in, and we can have up to 4 people at the site if we want to invite someone else. We can cut the third night if we want. We could also start at the base camp and take out at Errol, which might make it easier to explore the southern end of the lake - about 6-miles if we go to the Dead Cambridge River.  We need to stop there anyway to pick up firewood.

Lake Umbagog from the Magalloway River

Monday, April 12, 2021

Pemi – Thornton to Campton - April 12, 2021

At the put-in
The second weekend in April is usually reserved for a run on the Upper Millers. This year, I wasn’t sure about the shuttle, and my whitewater skills are a little rusty, so I decided to join Jonathan’s trip on the South Branch of the Piscataquog. When water levels on the Piscat dropped, the trip got moved to the Pemi instead.

The Pemigewasset originates in Franconia Notch and flows south through the White Mountains to merge with the Winnipesaukee River in Franklin where it forms the Merrimack. It is a huge watershed that can be a very flashy. In fact, we stopped at an island where Matt and Doug (Scooter and Hal) were forced to send the night in a tree when the river came up 18-feet overnight.

View upstream from the put-in
We would be running the section from Thornton to Campton. I had done this section with Jonathan and Doug once before. With snowmelt on the mountains, the river was at a nice level - 4.5 feet, 1,400 cfs on the Woodstock gage. It was cloudy as I left RI, but the skies got brighter as I headed north into New Hampshire. I met Tommy at the take out at Blair Bridge in Campton for the shuttle up to the put-in at Robins Nest Road in Thornton.

We had 8 boats and 10 paddlers (Jonathan/Chris, Bob/Richard, Tommy, Marshal, Matt, Jean, Cathy and me) – all canoes. The river was running well – 9-miles of quickwater with a few easy rapids. Other than a headwind blowing from the south, it was just about the perfect day.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Saturday, April 3, 2021

River Bend Farm - April 2, 2021

River Bend Farm Visitor Center
It’s always tough to get out on Easter weekend. This year I had Thursday and Friday off from work, so I was able to sneak out for an early morning run at River Bend Farm. It was a brisk 29° when I put my boat in the water at the Visitor Center. The level was OK – around 3.7 feet on the Northbridge gage. There are a few tricky strainers on the river, but a nice run just the same.