Saturday, May 4, 2019


I put in from the hidden access off of Biscuit City Road, which doesn't really exist anymore, but such disappearances seem appropriate for going into the Great Swamp. 

It is an overcast day, one where there is enough light, but no hint of where the sun might be.  So, there is no clue about direction without pulling out my compass.   And, this is a place that I've never been to.  The other Great Swamp, the one I've been in several times a year is in New York.  This place is in the bottoms of Rhode Island.
Everywhere looks like this
I put in and paddle under the railroad finding one of the neighbors near the water.  We have a quick chat and I head off.  I follow the current and the river gradually broadens.  Traffic sound from a nearby road confuses me.  I don't remember a nearby road on the map.  At about 20 minutes I here water rushing, the sound of a dam or small cascade.  I find a small rapids formed by three shelves.  This was not in the description of the river.  I climb up on shore and take a look around.  The town I am in was also not on the map.  I am in the wrong river (this is the Pawtucket).  I return the way I came.

About a 100 yards from my start I find another route upstream...I don't know why I forgot that I should be going upstream, but I did.  I follow the current.  It quickly becomes apparent that this is a much greater swamp than the East Branch of the Croton.  It has few landmarks and most of it looks devilishly the same as the rest of it.  There are a good number of forks as I ascend the flow, but I note that the the stream rarely splits as it descends, so the way out will not be difficult to follow. 

Beaver Lodge
I paddle a good half hour or more before having to cut my way through a downfall.  I don't get much farther, just a couple hundred yards, before the passage peters out.  This is not a route to my goal,  Worden Pond, so I return.  I explore the other possible streams as I descend, but they don't go, and fortunately they "don't go" within a hundred yards of heading into them.

I get back to within about 15 minutes of my put-in and find another stream, with slower current and give it a try.  Sawed off downfalls appear regularly, so this is a good chance of being the correct route.  It meanders tightly, often only a few canoe lengths before bends.  But, this is a spirit swamp, heavily forested and dark with short sight lines and no indication of ending, and most of it is out of earshot of civilized sounds. 

Once again, I get to some downed trees blocking the route, but I have come a good long way and managed to find some landmarks that will let me determine an approximate location on the map. Looking through the brush I notice a dike and manage to get up on it to take a look around.

It is time to return, well short of the plan, but now having a feel for the lay of the land.  2/3's of my time today was spent paddling off route.

1 comment:

Gary Wood said...

It's fun exploring a new place, when you get to feel a little bit like it's unexplored.