Last winter I had bought some tractor inner tubes for snow sledding and had hoped to also use them for tubing on the river. After some research turned out that these tubes were too small for that. However I saw some river tubes for sale on the Walmart website, it was February. Thought they may come in handy, which they did.
The idea to get into river tubing came from the Deerfield river portage company. They organize trips to tube on the Deerfield river. I looked up their prices and they charge $65 for per person, they provide a tube and transportation to the launch and landing spots
You can also do it yourself then you need a tube off course, but also two cars (or a dedicated driver that does not tube) and some logistical skills to maneuver the cars. First you drive with both cars to the landing spot, leave your towels and clothing at that car. Then drive to the launch spot, park the second car, takes your tubes and cooler and go into the river.
Whether going with two, four or more people and you want to be social you tie all the tubes together. We typically bring an extra tube for the cooler with some refreshments. The cooler gets into the extra tube (I use one of the smaller inner tire tubes) and then tie all the other tubes with ropes around the middle tube. This way every one stays together.
Now the Deerfield river has a number of hydro dams upstream and with these dams they control the water flow. Waterflow is measured in cubic feet per minute (cfm). You can see the schedule of the flow on this website, where it shows the estimated flow during the day and the actual flow. The more flow the higher the water, which makes for a more faster more fun ride, and less chance of hitting rocks in the river. With less flow the rapids are a little less exciting but now you have watch to not hit your butt on a rock occasionaly.
The other things to think of is the weather. Since you are in the water for 1-3 hours you want it to be nice and hot, to benefit from the cooling water. Since we leave later in the day (after work) the sun is lower and the temperature already is already dropping. I had twice that I got cold at the end. Also at the end of the day on hot and humid days there is a chance of thunderstorms. Twice we had surprise visits by thunderstorms the last one we had lightning and thunder while still on the river which was worrying. Yesterday we double-checked the forecast and weather rader and we got the green light.
Earlier this week we had the tropical storm Henri come by which dropped about 4.5" of water in our area. When we went tubing on yesterday the river had the strongest flow we had been tubing so far and the water was also a little colder.
Pamela, Paula, John and I decided to do the longer run from the Bartwell's ferry bridge to Still water. This is a 3.5 mile stretch of river going through a beautiful wild area with steeps river banks and forests on both sides. Along the way were a few rapids but due to the higher water levels there were hardly on rocks to look out for. The rapids where definitely exciting and some squeals were heard.
At some point we came upon a section in the river where the cold water and the hot humid air created a beautiful fog layer just above the water. It was very pretty especially combines with the sunset. Since lot of section you are gorge, later in the afternoon you don't get much sun and with the last rapid making us all wet, some ended (me included) with goose bumps as it got a little cold.
We finished the 3.5 mile section in 1 hour and 40 minutes. With an average speed of 2.2mph, thanks to the waterflow of 1750 cfm. After getting out of the water we went to our car, deflated the tubes and drove back to the launch spot and picked up the other car. All and all it took about 2 hours and 45 minutes.