Monday, November 29, 2010

Ipswich River Kayaking

The Ipswich River is one place that I do not mind kayaking over and over. I like trying new things, but when you kayak on the Ipswich, you do not always get the same conditions or experience the same things. I have kayaked the Ipswich River multiple times in sections of varying length, and have experienced different conditions and wildlife each time. For this Ipswich River entry, I will share some of my select moments to date while on the Ipswich River.

In 2010, me, a colleague of mine, and his son, went on an after-work 3 hour paddle between Middleton and Topsfield. We had two encounters with wildlife that made that trip memorable. Leading the way around a tranquil corner, I noticed something weird it looked like a stump, or a huge beaver or animal sitting on a stump. As I drifted closer, it moved suddenly, and I then realized that it was an enormous owl. It flew up into the tree, and all three of us were able to get a glimpse of this beautiful and large owl.

After that encounter, we continued, and not too much further down the river, I came across a deer about 100 yards away. It tranced right and I was able to see it that it had gone into the river to cross and exit the other side into a swampy meadow type area. Lo and behold, my camera was rolling for both encounters. I am glad that I was just able to get the owl taking off in there. You can not see the owl, but you can see the leaves move as it took off.

Fall reflections on the Ipswich River
The Ipswich River provides a great opportunity to take in fall foliage. Here is one my favorite photos, which was taken in November of 2009. I have had two opportunities to paddle at night on the Ipswich River. In 2009, my brother and I explored from the South Middleton dam upstream to towards the Peabody line. As were were finished, we decided to hang tight and wait until it got dark. We were about 1/4 mile from the road, but could see it. It was pretty cool to see the birds and bats flying about, and beavers splashing in the distance. It also gave us a chance to test out some fabricated flashlights on our kayaks. During a second paddle in the same area that we prolonged into darkness, we fought mad swarms of millions of bugs that covered our kayaks. This was something I wish I had photos of, but we did not expect anything of this magnitude in terms of bug annoyance. We were certainly unprepared for that, but luckily, we were not far from our destination at that time. During a longer section paddle where we were planning to get picked up when we stopped, we were actually forced to make a decision to pull out because we could not see anymore, even with our headlights! During this trip, my brother and I had been paddling for most of the day, trying to make it as far as we could. It was about an hour after darkness had fallen, and we were getting closer to Ipswich; we made the decision to pull out. It became a damp and foggy evening, and we realized our flashlights were now rendered useless. We could not see anything beyond a few feet. We could hear water ahead, and knew that there were natural dams all over from downed trees. We had to pull out given the amount of noise ahead. We must have walked along the side of the river for a good 1/2 mile, pulling our kayaks, before we got to a road and picked up. It was a fairly intense end to our paddle, as we knew there was something rather significant ahead, and we likely avoided going over some rapids in pitch blackness.

My brother Bill captures a photo of wildlife 
While paddling the Ipswich River, you can not predict what you will see for wildlife, and you can not predict how many fallen trees and created rapids you will encounter. From the headwaters near Wilmington, under the Choate, and down the rapids to the ocean in Ipswich, and then out to sea, I've paddled it.

To view my selected photos from my Ipswich River Trips, click here. And...don't forget to bring your camera!


  1. Just kayaked the Ipswich for the first time this past weekend. What a beattiful river. Hope to explore much more of it soon.

  2. Hi Steve, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the comment.