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Trip Report: Whitewater Paddling on the Quaboag River

Trip Date: Sunday, March 31st, 2019

Initially the trip was scheduled for the Porkbarrel section of the Westfield, which is totally dependent on natural flow. During the week, the level would rise and then fall, as if to tease us. By Saturday afternoon, it was obvious that we had to change plans.

The Quaboag is always a good choice. Although the scenery is not as splendid as the Porkbarrel, the paddling is a half-step up. Moreover, whereas all in the group had run the Porkbarrel not all had run the Quaboag. Variety is a good thing.

The group consisted of Stephen Ferder (OC1), who drove 3-plus hours from Long Island, local Mary Therese Durr (K1), Bill Warren (K1), Stephen Allison (OC1), and Charlie Murray (OC1), trip leader. Both Stephens and Mary were first timers.

Mary had seen a warning on social media about a log in the “mouse hole,” which we scouted on the drive to the put–in. The Quabog is infamous for strainers. When we got on the water, it was cloudy with temps in the mid-50s, and the river had reached 4.4 feet, which is considered a medium level.

The upper section is a couple miles of class 2 down to the mouse hole, and provided a chance to warm up and chat. Having known about the hazard and already scouted it, we ran the mouse hole without incident.

Next was Trestle, which we breezed, then the broken dam and down to the portage and lunch. The guidebook rates the portage as “class IV.” While boats or paddlers may have sustained a scratch or two, no one sustained any broken bones. Bill Turner, sans boat, made and appearance to say hi at the factory. He also brought rain.

The section below the portage is a step-up from the upper section. (Many paddlers just run the lower section.) Regardless, everybody was feeling good and paddling well. We ran yet another broken dam, this one the hardest, then Angel’s Field, and then Devil’s Gorge, which contains three rapids, including an abrupt 4-foot drop. Wahoo!

We all agreed that, all-in-all, despite the cold and the rain, it was a splendid day.

Charles Murray
AMC-Berkshire Paddle Leader
April 2, 2019

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