By Caleb Estabrooks, Hanover

I found it hard to believe that a group of Boy Scouts once decided to paddle from the North River in Scituate, through inland water ways to the town of Dighton on the Taunton River. I saw pictures and heard stories, and still found it difficult to fathom, so I decided to give it a shot. Peter Kelly-Detwiler has been putting together a group of paddlers every couple years to make this trip happen, and this year I joined in. In all, six people committed to the three day 2019 Wampanoag Paddle: Cabby Tennis, Clay Tennis, Coulter Loft, John (Sandy) Pike, Peter K-D and myself.

We started off on Saturday morning, June 1, scheduled to be at the Driftway in Scituate at 8:00am. The paddlers arrived a few minutes late to find a small but hardy crowd of supporters to see us on our way. The midges assured a short lived farewell, so we were off by 8:30am! For the first 15 miles we had an easy paddle with the current helping us along. The last mile or so the trip got interesting as we made our way to the Herring Run in Pembroke. The brush got thick, with plenty of dead trees and poison ivy to push through, all punctuated by the smell of the herring that died on their way back to the ocean after their romantic trip upstream. It soon became clear that this is not your summer camp paddle along the lake, the Wampanoag Paddle is a trip through mud, brush and poison ivy, over train tracks, under culverts, over fallen trees, under fallen trees and you spend as much time up to your knees in mud and dragging your canoe full of gear through marsh as you do paddling. Brooks led to ponds, led to streams which led to rivers. We saw a few rapids; some fast water brought us under an old factory in Bridgewater on the Satucket River. The Satucket took us to the winding Matfield River which became the Taunton River at it’s confluence with the Town River. We paddled the Taunton River to Shaw’s Boat Yard in Dighton, where we concluded the journey.

We made this trip to celebrate our waterways, the beauty and the complexity of them. For the majority of three days we enjoyed seldom traveled water that gave us a unique perspective of a familiar landscape. We spent hours in remote wilderness, then found ourselves paddling under I-495 and pulling up to a McDonalds for lunch. We witnessed wild habitats abounding with native flora and fauna: a result of the efforts of the NSRWA and other local environmental groups to restore and protect our wetlands. We also observed how poor planning and development are still choking parts of the streams and rivers that should be flowing free, and the refuse of our civilization that runs off and collects at the water’s edge (we could have easily filled several dumpsters if we had them with us). The Wampanoag Paddle gave me an opportunity to appreciate how much we have to celebrate, but it also highlighted how much work is left to do. ~  Caleb Estabrooks

To protect our local waters, make a gift to the NSRWA today. Our programs are made possible by the support of donors like you. Your generosity propels NSRWA’s efforts for clean waters and healthy rivers. Right now, your gift will be matched dollar for dollar by Geoff Gordon of Gordon Atlantic Insurance! Geoff has challenged us to raise $1 per mile traversed—that’s 72 miles for each of the six paddlers (up to $2,160). Please be as generous as you can and see the impact of your gift multiplied!  Help us meet this challenge with your gift today. With your donation, you will receive an invitation to join us at the wrap-up party at PKD’s in July for great dancing, food, and libations—Don’t miss out on the fun while doing good. Thanks!

To see photos of their adventure, go to our Facebook page.