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Boreas River / Adirondacks

Sunday May 22, 2011
Kayak: Paul Carlile, John Guerriere, Jim Poulin
Open Canoe: Tony Shaw
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: low boatable
Gauge (ft): 6.70
Gauge (cfs): 6700
Author: Tony Shaw

If there is a whitewater park in heaven, I hope it is like the Boreas in NYS!

A day before this trip I had sheepishly pulled the plug on the Hudson Gorge trip because it had been raining all week (heck, all month) in the central Adirondacks and the Hudson was running more than a foot and a half higher than I had ever run it in my OC1 (6.7 feet). But the trees over there were all budding out and getting their summer leaves, so the Boreas was actually on the low side by Sunday am.

Running the Boreas is something everyone should do at some point or other. It doesn't take all that long to drive there from Burlington and it is 7 miles of wilderness boating. We saw no big game but no people either - except one family camped at the take-out, where there are several marked campsites ready for use.

The Boreas would be pretty intimidating if not dangerous in high water, but for us it was 2 inches below the lowest painted marking on the bridge footing at the take-out (the Northwoods Club Rd. off 28N) - reading just under -0.5 feet. The rain held off and it was in the 60's - very pleasant with just enough blackflies to make you glad you weren't that family...camping.

It was a new river for both Paul and Jim. As for John, he was evasive on this point.

Below the 28N put-in there are a couple of cool features in the first half mile that led to one flip/hole-roll (nice recovery BTW, Paul) and one short carry for 1/2 our group (river right). Then a series of straight-forward easy rapids brought us to one long stretch of flatwater where we enjoyed the solitude and green grandeur of the Adirondacks in late May. Once sufficiently bored on Hewitt Eddy the river started dropping again, through easy rapids for a while and finally culminating in continuous Deerfield Dryway size features for the last 2.2 miles, with noone else around to compromise the wilderness feeling. The low water conditions made each of the rapids "busy", but the boulders in the streambed are mostly all rounded and there always seemed to be one+ good clean route through. Everyone was grinning ear to ear when we reached the take-out bridge.

While Jim and John ran shuttle, Paul and I walked up the defunct rail line that parallels the steepest part of the river on the right bank, and contemplated how we might someday utilize the tracks and a homemade "handcar/shuttle vehicle" to run carbon-neutral laps on the tumultuous middle/lower Boreas. This could be a really fun camping/paddling/fishing weekend, when the water is up and the blackflies die off (fall 2011??).

We spent about 3 hours total to complete a leisurely run, wishing we had had found it with a bit more water. The trip can be lengthened, too, by A) starting higher on the road to Newcomb and/or B) paddling to the Hudson River confluence and down the runout to North Creek.

A few pictures were uploaded to Paddle Pix ( ) and our new FaceBook page ( ).

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