Archive for April, 2011

There are plenty of places to explore on the Oxbow. Easy to get to with a nice boat ramp right off Route 5 between Holyoke and Northampton.  I’m been here probably over a dozen times. You have to get here early on summer weekends and parking gets a little tight. I remember the first few times in the thrill we had exploring the area.  Take a left under the bridge and your out on the Connecticut River.  We have made a trip or two on this section of the Connecticut but that’s for another blog.

Turning left into the Oxbow I can remember one trip being amazed just sitting in my kayak watching a very tall Great Blue Heron standing straight up on a floating log in the marsh area.  Another morning Don and I happened on another heron standing on the edge of the bank in the same area. Getting close to these big birds never looses its thrill for me.  This area just a short way from the launch can take your breath away when you happen there on a foggy morning.  Being on any river in the fog changes everything.  It’s like looking at a completely different picture. It’s a different season all to itself.

Taking a left paddling under the massive Route 91 Bridge you’re conscious that you’re in the shipping lane!  The boats going in and out do slow down to the posted 5 MPH but you still don’t want to be in the way.  Under the bridge there’s plenty of graffiti on the rocks and concrete bridge abutments. It’s not the normal gang graffiti; it’s the proud signoffs touting the past several years of the Northampton Crew teams.  Their launch area is just ahead in the Oxbow.   Boats follow the channel to the left going in following the markers… “Red, Right , Returning” … I’ll have to remember that!  Well I’m in a kayak; I’ll just cut across that marsh as long as I have 6 inches or water.

The best area to explore while you’re in the Oxbow is going into the Manhan River, well that’s for another blog too…  There is a nice little beach area right there where the Manhan empties into the Oxbow. I’ve often thought that I should bring a beach chair to sit and enjoy for an hour or two… One of these days I’ll bring that chair and a good book.  Continuing into the Oxbow it’s fairly open, you’ll need to decide left or right or in the middle…. I prefer the left. I’ve been down all the way to the Oxbow Marina only once.  I much prefer the rivers that empty into it.  The next one is the Mill River; I’ll get to that in another blog as well.  There is a nice little inlet to the left of the Mill’s entrance.  One Sunday morning I really enjoyed sitting in my kayak under a tree watching a couple of hawks, there was a Red-Tail and a Coopers Hawk.  Really something to see!

On many other Sunday morning trips we get to watch the water shows put on by the marina.  Water skiers here do some pretty good acts.  We’ve seen them going over the ski jump! Here is a short little clip with about ten skiers riding together. Sorry that it’s a little choppy but you’ll have to remember I was in my kayak.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GROAt69oasI



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Hampton Ponds is nice because it’s so close to home and there is a nice boat ramp that makes it easy in and out. We have been here several times with different friends. It’s nice paddling around looking at the camps along the shore.

Sunset on Hmpton Ponds

It was nice one evening when we went after supper to watch the sun go down,,, only problem was there was still a few speedboats out and well,,, we felt like we were in their sights!!! Our little kayaks needed neon running lights.   I think any future trips will be during daylight.  Over the years we found that early morning kayaking was always the best. Speedboats don’t get up early for some reason.

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Here is another of my top ten spots. Otis Reservoir is quite large and in the summer there are always a lot of speedboats and waverunners.  KAYAKERS BEWARE!!!  The first trip was with Megan, Don and the Croteau’s (Don, Renee, and Matt)  on a hot June morning. Don Croteau knew about Dismal Bay at the southern tip so we followed him there. It was quite a long paddle and by the time we arrived the sun was quite strong.  It was hot and we found some welcome shade behind a small island. It turned out to be quite a magical place, just sitting in the shade looking at the beauty of the spot.  The southern tip of the bay is called Dismal Bay. We found it dismal but superb at the same time. It’s dismal because of all the old rotted tree stumps giving you the feeling that you’re in a graveyard.  This might look like a graveyard to boaters that get caught up in the low water and roots of the rotted trees, but for a kayaker this is a wonderland!  The roots of the stumps are exposed in the shallow water.  What a maze! I still wonder why the soil eroded from under the tree stumps.  The Croteau’s went off fishing for Bass while Meg, Don and I sat enjoying the scene.  The tree stumps above water were fascinating as well.  Moss and molds of many earthy colors and quite amazing the grow of little sprigs growing out of the dead stumps.

We have been back here many times.  One exceptional trip was when the water as drained a few feet below it’s normal level.  When the tree stumps and roots that have previously been underwater have dried in the hot summer sun the driftwood effect is quite striking.  I could spend hours looking at the textures and moving slowly around the island and stumps.

After two trips to Dismal Bay launching form the public boat launch I found a good map the DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer and found there was a dirt back road right to the bay.  So now we go strait to the best part of the reservoir… Dismal Bay.  To get there turn left off Rt. 23 at sign for Camp Overflow.  Follow past sign for Camp to sign for Tolland State Forest instead of turning into the State Forest where the boat launch is, go straight on to the dirt road follow it about a mile and turn Left onto Belden Rd. About a third of a mile is the spot.  Enjoy!!!

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