Friday, May 18, 2012

Drawn into the Nissitissit River

I've been looking forward to seeing the confluence of the Nashua and Nissitissit Rivers for quite a while.  Today, I finally managed to visit the spot, shown in the photo at left, and the Nissitissit would end up drawing me in (quite literally).
However, I first needed to launch my boat into the Nashua River, in Pepperell, just downstream of the covered bridge.  Because the Nashua was flowing at a very good clip, I decided to paddle upriver a bit, and get a preview of just how difficult paddling against the current would be on my return trip.  After some steady paddling, I found myself looking at the power generating station which is fed with river water taken from above the dam and delivered via a large diameter wooden pipe...

Here a quick turnaround brought me into the Nashua's downstream flow and under the recently rebuilt covered bridge...

A quarter mile below the bridge were the wood piers that once carried trains over the river in order to reach the many mills in Pepperell.  Today, the remaining pier stubs serve only to snag tree limbs and unsuspecting paddlers.
Another quarter mile brought me to the Nashua's confluence with the Nissitissit and I found myself looking into the exceptionally clean river with one of the more enchanting Native American names...
that no one seems to know the real meaning of.

Going ashore at the confluence allowed me the opportunity to enjoy this view and think about how many other river travelers have gazed out from this spot over the eons...



The Nissitissit begins its journey in nearby Brookline, NH upon exiting Potanipo Pond and its waters are crystal clear.  The bottom alternates between stony and sandy.  The little river beckoned me further in and as I headed upstream, it became shallower and swifter.  Perhaps a quarter mile up, the river split into two sections and after failing to find a clear path on the left side,...

I decided to try the route on the right.  After disembarking to pull my boat over a small gravel bar, I re-entered my boat and suddenly found myself sideways across the stream and stuck.  Attempting to exit, the current swept the boat out from under me and an unexpected and unceremonious baptism took place.  Suppose I was due for a bath, and very glad it happened in one of the region's cleanest rivers.
My ascent of the Nissitissit came to an end just a little further up at this small rapid...

Returning to the Nashua, I continued downriver to where power lines cross and seeing some quickwater ahead, opted to continue my drying process by returning upriver to the takeout with my modest trash haul...


There were 15 recyclable containers (9 redeemable) and 12 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as styrofoam cups, a bait tub, and several sheets of black polyethylene.   YTD = 2556 

Nissitissit might mean "shallow and swift clean water, good for taking refreshing bath in."




7 comments:

Erik Eckilson said...

Hi Al - it's nice that there is water to fall into. Glad you are OK. I'll be back up your way on June 2nd doing a RICKA trip on the Assabet from Acton to Concord. Hopefully the water will last.

warriormom said...

Last summer we put in at the covered bridge. A little precarious scrambling down the embankment. When we headed out, the water was slow and shallow. We paddled to the airport and watched skydivers for about an hour! The paddle back to the bridge caught us by surprise with more water and current. Apparently the power plant was releasing water at that point and we were not expecting that!

Suasco Al said...

Thanks Erik, In order to get soaked head to toes, I had to be horizontal in the less than knee-deep water. Glad no one with a camera was around:)
Looks like you have great weather for your river camping trip!
If the RICKA group has room for one more, I'd like to join you all.

Suasco Al said...

Warriormom, Precarious is the right word for the launch site. With a fair amount of poison ivy to boot.
I located a path on the upstream side of the bridge which led to an eddy near where the photo of the power plant was taken. Wasn't sure if parking was allowed on that side of the road, though.
Seems like this part of the Nashua is best suited to a float-down and shuttle back.

Anonymous said...

Twenty years ago, the Nissitissit was where I learned to paddle a canoe solo and in true 'trial by fire' I took a dumping on a chilly spring morning myself. We used to put in up at Bohannon's Bridge in Brookline and float down. Is that not still possible?

Suasco Al said...

Anonymous, According to the Nashua River Canoe and Kayak Guide by the Nashua River Watershed Association the section you mention is still navigable (though best in the spring when water levels are higher).
I was trying to proceed upriver rather than down. The direction you chose works better.

mark newell said...

As a 6th generation lifer from Pepperell, I grew up canoeing and fishing the Nissitissit, much has changed over the last couple of years. With Millie Turners dam removed the river depths from that point up stream hAve dropped 8ft in some places, the 1st and 2nd motes are drained, witch is sad if you ever tackled a pickerel in those spots as I have. I will always have great memories of my youth swimming fishing and canoeing the Nissitissit.