After the difficult kayaking through Medway, the open expanse of Populatic Pond was a welcome relief. It gave us the opportunity to drift lazily in the breeze and fill our bellies with snacks.
The downstream exit from the pond was just a few hundred yards along the North coast. The Charles River then winds wide through a marsh, actually an extension of the pond itself. The river languishes peacefully with just a gentle current to urge us downstream.
Then there is a sharp turn as we passed under the Myrtle Street bridge. In our high water, there was a set of rapids ahead, giving us a fun, quick ride downstream. But towards a treacherous island in the center over the river. A few quick strokes pushed us around the obstacle. There was a temporary slack as we passed under the power lines, then another big push as the river squeezed through the abandoned railroad abutments of the Medway Branch Railroad bridge.
We hit calm water for a bit more, then we saw an old house straight ahead on the left bank of the river, as the river takes a sharp turn right.
Around the bend is the Pleasant Street bridge. And a nasty set of rapids. According to Ron McAdow’s guide to The Charles River, it’s best to stay on the left during high water. At medium water, the right side is better. And in low water you may need to portage over the obstacles.
Since we had high water, we went left. First we hit an off camber drop that spun us right, I dug in hard to turn us straight downstream and to skitter through the bumps and troughs of water.
But I missed one near the end and we high-centered on top of a rock with the river rushing past us. Fortunately, it only took me a hop up and down out of my seat to catch some water under the boat to free us.
We quickly reached the Route 115 bridge, then the riverbanks became wild once again. At least relatively wild. The right bank is plastered with warnings that it is used as shooting reserve and not to trespass. The left bank is largely undeveloped and eventually yields to the Cedariver, a Trustees of the Reservation property.
You end up with about 1.5 miles of calm, scenic river to paddle.
The last obstacle is the Forest Road bridge.
The bridge sits low over the river. We were riding high water and there was only about a foot and a half of clearance. We were not sure if the bow of the kayak would fit under. Even if it did, we were even less sure that the two of us and the kayak would fit.
There was only one way to find out.
It was snug. We didn’t have room to paddle, but we could reach up and push ourselves using the underside of the bridge.
Just past the bridge is a small parking lot that is often under water. The water level had dropped about foot since we were here last weekend paddling through Area F, but the lot was still deep under water.