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The West River Release - Fall 2012

Saturday Sep 29, 2012
Participants:
Kayak: Paul C, Jamie D, Jim P, Chris W, Justin W, Rob Church, Silas, Ryan M
Organizer: Ryan and Paul
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium
Gauge (cfs): 2000
Author: Ryan

And they said it would be a light turnout because of manky weather.

The park officials said they sold 563 day passes - over 200 more than they had anticipated. Long live the West Release!!!!!!!

So Justin and I got moving by 5:30 from Montpelier that morning to get down to Jamaica in time for a front parking spot and so I could get back up to the entry gate and start passing out trash bags for volunteers to snag garbage along the their way while floating down the river....it wasn't but 10 days ealier that a pillar in the boating community and our very own Northeast Stewardship Director for American Whitewater had perished in a paddling accident on the upper Pemi. Alan Panebaker had planned to be at the West to organize a river clean up. But a higher power had other plans for him. To our north there was a memorial service along the banks of the New Haven in his memory...We were making our own peace with it by wrapping up some of his work with American Whitewater. Not much trash was collected but then that is good because this stretch of river is in a state park and there shouldn't be much trash along it.

After the bags were passed out, I joined the crew of VPC boaters and got out after it for a perfect day of three laps. Jamie was the photo boater for the day, I think Chris Weed played sweep most of the day. Jim Poulin was paddle retriever, Paul was boat chaser, Brock and Silas counted ALL of the fish in the river and I am pretty sure Justin enjoyed taking in the shit-show that seemed to take place on each lap....I sure has hell know I did. Here's the thing....There wasn't a single person in the group that couldn't tell you they didn't have a good time, worked on their boating, built a stronger bond between themselves and their paddling compadres......and were bummed when the day came to an end.

The West Fest (is it really a fest?) is such a fun time in such a beautiful setting that brings boaters from all over the northeast to our little slice of paradise in New England. I try to get to it every year, but don't....but it always amazes me when I get there that everyone looks familiar - young, old, new and experienced. Maybe they are familiar, maybe it is just a familiar expression that you see on fellow boaters, maybe it is a little bit of both. But I do know this - it is a shame that it is only a one day event and only once a year. We need to do something about that...

Long live West Fest!

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