Surfing Wave-o-Saurus

In beautiful western MA, along the banks of the Connecticut river, flat sheets of sandstone slope down into the water. 190 million years ago, dinosaurs roamed this land and their footprints are preserved in the ancient rock. The site is now the Dinosaur Footprints Reservation, managed by the Trustees of Reservations.

Somewhat more recently, dams were built upstream on the river and the amount of flowing water is now controlled. The average flow on the river is about 16,000 cfs (cubic feet of water per second) or 450 cms (cubic meters per second). During spring runoff, when the river drains its substantial watershed reaching through the mountains of New Hampshire and up into Canada, or after exceptionally large rain events, the dams open and flows reach up to 60-100,000 cfs. By comparison, the typical combined flow over both the American and Canadian falls at Niagara Falls is about 93,000 cfs. Your local creek probably has springtime flows of 100-200 cfs and a good-sized local river may reach 2,000 cfs.

During these high-water events, a happy coincidence occurs. The same sandstone sheets holding the dinosaur footprints slice into the water and, at once particular location in the shadow of Mt. Tom in Holyoke, MA, cause a large standing wave to occur. Thanks to the Dinosaur Footprints reservation, a parking lot is conveniently located a short walk away. The result is Wave-o-Saurus, perhaps the largest, best, and most popular kayaking play wave in southern New England. It only runs a few days a year but, when it does, you can always count on a crowd to be there having a blast.

April 12, 2008 was one such day, and this video shows what I like to do when I'm not sitting in front of a computer. :-)