birchbark oldie     Keswick River

The Keswick is one of the rivers closest to my home, one hill west of the Nashwaak. I always knew the river in the upper valley was run by canoeists, but I had never hooked up with anyone else to run it all this time.

ken1 (49K)
An April run on the Keswick.

I imagined it to be small and wood-choked, and rocky, especially as it flows between Narrows Mountain and Crabbe Mountain, two hills at the southernmost end of the Appalachian Range that runs through New Brunswick. But it was not quite like that.

The water was deep at the put-in where the abandoned rail-bed crosses the stream at Barton, and the river was wide. The current was quick but not rock-choked. Instead, rocky turns followed one after another, prompting us to rudder gently between rounded boulders. Downstream vistas loomed brightly, blue skies with puffy white clouds over gray hills just beginning to green up in the afternoon sunshine of early May in New Brunswick.

The nicest aspect of the Keswick is the complete lack of habitation in its first 20 kilometers or so. Sure, there's an abandoned railway line that runs along its length, but it is invisible from the stream. Although it is an important link in the province's ATV trail network, I heard no gasoline-powered engines all afternoon long.

I enjoyed the company of my two brothers Paul (Calgary), and Laurie (local). We met up with my friend Mark, who had already enjoyed his fifth run of the Keswick a week earlier, and several other keen canoeists.

Nuff said. Here are some pictures.

Keswick River
We enjoyed deep water, warm air and sunshine. Here are my brothers Paul and Laurie beside me near the put-in.

Keswick River
This is a side channel off the main stream I chose to follow.

Keswick River
At two locations, log-jams prompted us to come to shore and discuss options.

Keswick River
Mike and Elizabeth enjoy the quick water of the Keswick. Pic by Mark Visbach.

Keswick River
Paul slips over a ledge into the pool, Laurie and Ken are close behind. Pic by Mark Visbach.

Keswick River
Laurie and Ken. Pic by Mark Visbach.

Keswick River
The Stone Ridge covered bridge marked the return to residential Zealand. Since this trip, vandals have burnt it.

At one turn, I was seated in the bow, taking pictures and not minding the rocks. My paddle was on the floor of the boat, and as we neared one rock in mid-stream, I couldn't let go of my camera and grab the paddle quickly enough to skirt the rock. Over we went. Fortunately, I found my footing right away and man-handled our water-filled boat to shore. It would have been a long trek to recover our craft. The water was cool, but not icy, on this warm day in early May.

Keswick River
Looking upstream at the tail run of the first main rapid.

Keswick River
The trees have not yet leafed out.

Keswick River
The sky loomed blue and fluffy white all afternoon.

When we reloaded our boats at Burtt's Corner for the drive home, I recognized the spot where I launched my first canoe, a Coleman tank, on its maiden voyage long ago downriver to the Saint John. I have also put in farther upstream on the Keswick, at Haystack Rock Bridge.

Keswick River
The Keswick River gang in Burtt's Corner.

The level of the closest Environment Canada guage when I took this trip in early May was 18.52 at Durham Bridge, Nashwaak River. At Narrows Mountain Brook, 5.49.

Random image, Keswick River

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