August 3, 2010. Talked to someone who ran this section over the weekend. Water was still very high, as we have had 9+ inches of rain in July, compared to 3.5 average. Portaging is hard, since stepping out of a kayak can put you in deep water and the water next to the banks can be an extra foot deeper. Plus all the extra water has brought MANY mosquitoes.
July 18, 2010. Water was at nearly 5 feet, which is very high indeed. Found three deadfalls. I think I usually fit underneath one of them, but that wasn’t possible with the high water, so I had to portage. When I got out, I found I almost could have paddled through the weeds on the bank, as the water was that high. The other two, which looked like fresh falls, I was about to push myself over. There was so much current that I made the trip in under 2 hours, even though I didn’t bring my faster boat. My Prodigy usually runs 15 minutes faster than the inaptly named Swifty, but the Swifty is easier to pack, since it fits in the trunk of the Civic. The Prodigy has to go on the roof. In most cases, I take about 2 1/2 hours for this run, depending upon the company.
Some general comments: The river does not usually have a lot of water, but check the depth gauge (link on front page). Anything more than 3 is runnable, 3.5 is nice and more than 4 means that the banks will be at least partially flooded. Sadly, this depth gauge seems to have fallen victim to budget cuts, so one is reduced to checking the water at Iverson and using the bricks on the bank as a metric. The river has a sandy bottom with almost no rocks. It does have a lot of wood, because it wanders through a forest and is constantly dropping trees. High water means more trees falling. They get cleared out on a regular basis, but high water means the deadfalls appear faster than they get cleaned up. Wander is a relative term. You can run through 3/4 of the compass in 100 yards. The river is in the process of creating oxbows and shortcuts, but beware of shortcuts, since they are often blocked up as the stream grows. The forest also spreads over the river in many places, so low branches can be a problem. I don’t want to over emphasize this, because I often run this section without getting my feet wet. Just be aware of the danger that sweepers and strainers present and don’t be afraid to get out and portage if you see something you don’t like. Deer, hawks, GB herons, kingfishers, and large turtles are common and I have seen eagles, ospreys, otters, beavers. This is not a hard river to paddle and is suitable for families and novices at most times.
Use the Google Map, but here is a narrative of the trip. When you head out 66 towards Rosholt, the main Jordan Pond park is on the left, but the turn for the trip is on the right and about 100 yards before the junction. Drive into the park and take the right into the parking lot. Tables, pit toilets, but no water. There is water in the park upstream from the dam. yes, that is a working power plant visible from the satellite. No, don’t try to run from the dam, no matter how high the water, unless you like leaving plastic on every rock you see.
Down the path to a bridge over the river, where there is a simple gravel launch site. The first 1/4 mile has a few riffles, about the only excitement on this stretch. After that, the gradient is not really visible, though the current is steady. Oddly, the water is often deeper further up the river. Here it is often shallow and sandy.
You will see a few houses, and then a tall sandy bank where the Boy Scouts camp. In an emergency, you can get to a road from here. The Green Circle appears (right) and you are near both the airport and the police target range, so you will hear planes and gun shots.
You will see the Circle again and then a marshy area on the left with houses behind it on a bluff. About an hour to go from there. By this point you will hear I-39 ahead (and to both sides as the river wanders). A red house on the right and increasing traffic sounds mean you are approaching I-39. before you get there, you will see an abandoned channel on the left. This can usually be followed 1/4 mile back.
At the I-39 bridges, you have less than 30 minutes left. The river opens up into marshland and is clearer. Geese and ducks are common here. An amazing number of curves and you go under Hwy 66 (depth gauge on your right after the bridge). The park can be a bit of a problem, since the banks are built up with layers of rocks.
I will be adding photos of much of this to the Google Map above, but didn’t want to take my good camera out in the high water.