Desmond asked last week that we go back to the waterfall park. Waterfall Park would be Oliver Mill, with its old waterways, dams and waterfalls on the Nemasket River. We kayaked this section a few weeks back, but it's a good trip so I had no issue with going back. This time, Emma and TJ came along for the ride, and boy was it interesting.
The put in was simple, as always. The little beach area here is a great spot to slide in once you get the kayaks to that end of the park. Once at the beach, I could tell already that the water levels were seriously low. A few weeks ago we had a higher water level due to some storms we had a few days before. Today we didn't have that, and right from the start we were in about 4" of water. It was just deep enough to get us through the tunnel. Luckily as we went on the water was deeper.
Fall is settling in. The trees were really starting to change colors, and there was a noticeable drop in wildlife. The turtles that were everywhere a few weeks ago were in much smaller number this trip. The whole river looks different this time of year. Much of the grass in the flood plains are browning, the river is dotted with fallen leaves, and the river’s edge had a clear line showing us how much the water had dropped since the wet season.
We paddled downstream until we approached the Sketchy Bridge. We certainly didn’t have to worry this time about water levels being too high to get under the bridge. In fact it was quite the opposite. There was barely any water under the bridge, and what was flowing was really moving quickly. After passing under the bridge I had second thoughts of whether we should have done that. It was going to be a pain getting back under there, but little did I know the adventure that would turn into. But first, we headed further downstream for a bit before deciding to turn back. This section of the river, the water was really flowing quickly. The Sketchy Bridge was funneling the flow into its small channels and really giving the current a boost downstream. We fought up stream till we were back at the Sketchy Bridge, and this is when the fun began.
Now, I know there are stairs on this side of the bridge that we could have taken to go over the bridge rather than trying to get under. Getting back in the river on the upstream side though is what made me decide to not go that way. Last time, the way back on the river was through a huge poison ivy patch, which did me in for weeks after. I was going to take my chances this time with trying to get under the bridge, even with the quick flow.
At first I tried to paddle up stream back through the deeper sections of the bridge, but a combination of fast flowing water, and the rubble along the bridge that kept you from getting any speed, there was really no chance that it was going to happen that way. I ended up opting for the section with practically no water flow. I pulled my shoes and socks off and jumped out of the kayak. Sliding the kayak across the rocks, we were able to pull it through and put Des and my kayak up in the grass while Emma and I did the same for the second kayak. It took us a while and was quite a struggle, but we finally got ourselves back in the river and on our way.
After all that, paddling the rest of the way really took some deep digging. Emma and I were both pretty tired right now, and the kids were also starting to get anxious. Just had to keep it moving, and before you knew it, we were back that the tunnel and right around the corner from Oliver Mill.
As I packed up, the boys and Emma were having a great time running around the park, over the bridges and climbing around the mill walls. This spot is really beautiful, and no matter what time of the year, it had so much to look at and it is a great place for photos and video. Even though it was exhausting today, the feeling of accomplishment was more than enough to make it worth the struggle. Great trip, as always!