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Archive for February, 2011

Willows on the Oxford MarshThis section of the river is accessed from Taylor St in Chicopee Falls.   This has always been one of my top ten spots over the years.  It’s really wonderful!   For many years I lived in Chicopee Falls on Wildermere St.  Every time I drove anywhere I could see the marsh at the stop sign going into East Main Street. For years I would see boats on the water fishing or the ice fishermen in winter.  Secretly I longed to be down on the water.  Again back in the 80’s the water was polluted so the urge only started once the water was cleaned up.

In 2002 my dream was finally realized.  We found that the access was at the end of Taylor St, where my brother-in-law Jean lives.  There was a gate that was actually open back then and we could drive down to the water on the old fire road.  That didn’t last long and now we have to carry the kayaks down to the water’s edge about a quarter-mile.   Fairly long carry but well worth it. My girls bought me kayak wheels for my birthday and that turned out to be a real blessing.

The marsh is one of the most peaceful and beautiful spots I know of.  When your here it’s hard to imagine you’re in the middle of a city!

First Trip with DadBecause I’m from Chicopee and have been around long enough to remember how bad the river was and have witnessed it’s transformation it has special meaning.  I love to show it off. For that reason it’s always been a favorite spot to bring friends and relatives.  The list would go on  and on as I’ve been back here over twenty-five times.  It’s really great when you bring someone kayaking for the first time and they fall in love with it so much they run out and buy kayaks of their own.  Right Jim and Dee 🙂 ???

While here you’ll enjoy painted turtles, cormorants, swans, ducks, great blue herons, green heron, great egrets. red-winged blackbirds, swallows, sandpipers, etc. etc. etc…

The flora along the river can also be very beautiful.  green and lush in summer.   Sometimes we paddle down river and sit just above the Chicopee Falls dam while we have our morning coffee and donuts watching the traffic on the bridge.  We saw the old singing bridge go and the new no name bridge take it’s place.

This year one Sunday in June I was kayaking with Tim Langlois and Don Samson, when Tim spotted what he thought was a bow of a boat under water.  We all paddled over to it to check it out. Sure enough we could see it about two feet under water.    We thought, how hard it would be to pull it out?  We wondered, who’s it was and how did it sink?  If we pulled it out, could we keep it?  We prodded and poked for some time. Finally we were able to read the registration  numbers, maybe we could find the owner? That was it… for the next two weeks the wheels were turning.  We had the registration number check by both the Chicopee PD and the Environmental Police and both had no record.  I asked Tim if we pulled it up would it be OK to give it to Andrea and Jeff who had just bought a house on the beautiful Lake Massasoit also known as Watershops Pond, more to come on that in a later blog.  Tim thought that was a great idea and said yes.

Thank you Tim!!!!

The plan was we would go back with a crew of four or five guys to work at pulling it out.  But as it turned out the Sunday morning Don and I were shooting for no one could go. It was just us. We decided to bring the equipment down to scope it out. Even if it turned out to be a dry run.   We had a come-along, shovel,  three lengths of kryponite cable and a lock. We were able to lock on to the bow of the boat and tie off the come-along on a fallen tree on the bank. This was WORK! I started to crank it and to our surprise the first real tight pull we saw bubbles come up from under the boat!  We knew it was going to move!!! We cut off an anchor on the bow. We pulled for a few hours,,, one slow click at a time.  As we got it closer to shore we saw how much mud was in the boat.  Each click of the come-along took everything we had. We figured there was about 800 pounds of mud in the boat.

While we shoveled out the mud we found other treasures; Bear cans, tackle box, fishing pole, cell phone, battery and all weather radio! And more mud…  Maybe there was 1,600 pounds of mud?  Yeah right,,, wouldn’t you know, after we got the back of the boat up high enough we found there was another anchor tied to the back. We were pulling the boat, mud, and anchor!!! IT FLOATS!!! Oh but what a thrill when the last of the mud and water was bailed out and it was once again sea worthy!   We were two happy brothers!  The Samson Brothers Salvage Company was in business!!!  We floated it and pulled it up river to a pre-arranged drop off point and turned over the abandon property a few days later.

Success!!!

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It all started here… June of 2002.  I had read an article in the Springfield paper the year before about the Chicopee River Basin.   I was captured by the descriptions of each part of this river especially how scenic the river was.  This was the river that I grew up near that as a teenager I remember more the stench more than beauty.  Anyway, a year later I finally asked my brother Ray to take me kayaking on the river.  He took me along with my brother Don to Red Bridge in Ludlow.

Ray had been kayaking for years. He had always said he’d take me some day,,, now I could only ask why did he wait so long! It was love at first sight! I knew I’d be back here many times.

And return we did! Many time this year and ever year since. Here is a great shot of my nephew Matt! This spot of standing water is in a little inlet behind on of the old dams above the launch at Red Bridge.  This was a nice little stream for a kayak to explore!  How far up can you go!

We have been here with neighbors and relatives.  I went out and bought a two person kayak very soon after this trip. I choose a two person because I hoped  that my daughter Megan was also going to fall in love with kayaking and be my Kayaking Partner.  She did!  And it didn’t stop there, my brother Don bought one and my brother-in-law Don bought four!  One of his was a three person kayak. So very soon these along with Ray’s two kayaks we were a Kayaking Troop!  We went everywhere together. We could go on trips with up to eleven paddlers.

On this stretch of river we returned may times.

Megan and Matt

Stopping at different spots on the trip up the river one of our favorites was the stop at Fort Giggles! (Actually we didn’t deface the rock) This spot has a nice little stream that water falls down to the river and an old rail trail to walk along the river.

The put in at the dam is a large concrete ramp. so there is easy access for a kayak.  On one trip we were happy to find an inlet across the river to explore.

We have been all the way up to Three Rivers close to where the Swift, the Quaboag, and the Ware rivers come together and form the Chicopee River.  Could only go as far as an old Mill that dams the river with a nice concrete spillway that you can almost make up in your kayak,,, it’s fun trying!!!

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