I decided to head back to Shingle Island River over in Dartmouth MA today after about a year since my last trip there. I had forgotten how much I enjoy this river, though paddling it in the 14 footer made it a little more difficult.
We ended up parking in a different spot than last time which is something I recommend to everyone. I will note on the trip map the spot I parked in. In general it is a much safer spot than parking directly on the busy Reed Rd, and the put in was actually very smooth and had easy river access.
The initial portion of the river contains loads of lily pads and watermilfoil with a clear cut path leading you through the tangled mess. Be sure to stay on the path, or your paddle will be so tangled with plants that you won't move very far. The clear waterway will lead you directly to the tunnel under route 195 where the river deepens and the milfoil isn't such a nightmare.
Going through the tunnel is always a fun time. This one is pretty long, passing under 6 lanes of highway and a pretty lengthy median in between. The tunnel is so wide that you have no trouble getting through with the long paddle, even at full extension. Once exiting from the far end, you find yourself in a maze of off shooting flood plains that can be quite confusing if you don't know the route. Luckily most of the off shoots are rather short, so if you make your way up one, you'll know pretty quickly.
The river was quite shallow in areas but we didn't have any trouble even with the low water levels this time of the season. The turtles were in their element, basking in the hot sun and watching us pass by with little care. I noticed a few landmarks I remembered from last year; the downed limbs, the railroad bridge, the random giant birdhouse in the middle of nowhere, and finally the big tree that still blocks us from passing further up the river. So at this point, for now, we had to turn around. Someday I'll remember some clippers so I can clear a path through the branches.
The area just before the turn around is where the river gets quite narrow and it’s a tight squeeze to make it through the bushes that lean over the channel. But the bushes are just an above water nuisance. The river itself remains clear so this tight section is passable. On the way back, going down stream makes it a little easier to get through this section with the current nudging you along. Convenient, since there is no room to paddle.
Heading back was a nice smooth paddle ride, with little to cause a challenge. The river does make some pretty swift turns that when paddling down river at a higher rate of speed may cause you to have to plan a little more ahead when approaching them. Desmond and I were practicing our hard leaning turns, which he really enjoys and are crucial when paddling with a longer kayak down here.
The railroad bridge quickly flies by, and before you know it your back at the tunnel under the highway. There was a great breeze from this point here to our truck, which helped to cool us down on the last few minutes of the trip. The new parking spot again made for a simple pull out, and using my kayak cart it was a smooth transition to the truck. Des said it best today, "This isn't just the best, it's awesome".