Monday, April 27, 2009
Charles River - Dedham to Brighton in Run of the Charles
As trash patrols go, yesterday's wasn't much more than a symbolic gesture. While I did help this one lone piece of flotsam complete its journey from floating in the river to a warm recycling bin in Acton, my main objective was paddling and portaging the 19 miles of Charles River between Riverdale Park in Dedham and Artesani Park in Brighton. The event, known as the 'Run of the Charles', is hosted by the Charles River Watershed Association and provides numerous ways for both canoeists, kayakers, and volunteers to celebrate a day both on and alongside a Charles River steadily regaining its former glory. The event consists of races that run the gamut from a 26-mile $ 5,000 Professional Flatwater Canoe Race to a 'bragging rights only' 24-mile Canoe Relay Race. For solo paddlers, like myself, there are three options: a 6-mile race without any portages; a 9-mile race having 3 portages; and a 19-mile race having 6 portages. The 19-mile event offers the non-professional paddler the longest journey through a wide variety of riverine environments but extracts a toll, of sorts, at the 6 portage locations. At these spots paddlers are required to exit and lift boats out of the water and up the riverbank where they begin carrying, wheeling, or dragging their boats the length of the portage. Then, it's lift again, place boat back into river and re-enter before resuming the journey. These maneuvers can be performed with athletic grace or comedic disaster. More often than not, it's a combination of the two! This year, I was lucky (unless, of course, a photograph surfaces showing otherwise) and was able to maintain some semblance of dignity. The very warm air temperatures limbered up my muscles and for a while I almost felt like I was 18 years old again. Of course that ended when, that night, I tried to sleep with a throbbing right shoulder!
Actually, however, I found the conditions to be fantastic: sunny and warm; ideal water levels; a headwind that provided some relief for the first half; many portages allowing for brief wading in the middle; and a nice tailwind to the finish line. It will probably be many years before those conditions are seen again at the 'Run of the Charles'!