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Trip Reports

Find trips reports from 2001 and prior in the Bow & Stern Archive
All: by date By Title: A-Z By Author: A-Z Last 12 Months 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

Past 12 Months...

Ottawa River Friday-Monday Sep 1-4, 2017
Running late in Quebec Saturday-Sunday Aug 12-13, 2017
NBW with no one to share it with Tuesday Jun 6, 2017
Mill Brook Tuesday May 2, 2017
Saranac River to Redford (#1) Saturday Apr 29, 2017
Upper Pemi Saturday Apr 29, 2017
Mill Brook, Brownsville to Windsor Thursday Apr 27, 2017
Midd Gorge in the Sun Monday Apr 24, 2017
Spring Green Release Sunday Apr 23, 2017
Joe's Brook Saturday Apr 22, 2017
Paddling thru Middle Earth Friday Apr 21, 2017
White River - Stockbridge to Bethel Saturday Apr 15, 2017
Shepard Brook, on our day off Tuesday Apr 11, 2017
Cobb Brook Tuesday Apr 11, 2017
Lower Mad Sunday Apr 9, 2017
Ice Breaker "Season Opener" Saturday Feb 25, 2017
Missisquoi release Sunday Nov 6, 2016
The Green was gold Saturday Nov 5, 2016
North Br. Piscataquog, Weare, NH Saturday Oct 15, 2016

Past 12 Months...

Ottawa River
Friday-Monday Sep 1-4, 2017
Organizer: JimP
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: medium
Author: JimP

Seventeen hearty soles headed nord to the Ottawa whitewater region for a weekend of laughter, spills and chills.  The Ottawa never disappoints.

Well, we have always wanted to come earlier in the year to catch the Ottawa at a higher level than our normal zero feet or below.  This year the river gods helped us out and gave us a Labor Day weekend level of around 7 feet!  So, this meant a couple of things.  New lines on the Middle Channel (Little Trickle & Angel’s Kiss) and no run down the Main Channel.  On the positive side of the ledger, it was a pretty quiet river in terms of number of paddlers.  Most of the big play features (Baby Face, Garberator and Pushbutton) were underwater at these levels and this kept many boaters away.

 

Friday September 1

For most it was a travel day.  Some came after work, some spent the whole day traveling.  The Cheese Heads had already been in camp for a week!  I guess if you are going to drive that far, you should make the most of it!

Sarah and Brock drove directly to the put in for a burner Middle run.  When they encountered the higher level, they ran cautiously and walked around a few unknowns rather than take time for scouting (it was getting late in the day).  All in all, a successful first run.

 

Saturday, September 2

River level: 6.75 feet

The gangs all here!  The plan was to open with a Middle Channel run as we normally do.  After listening to harrowing stories from the Cheese Heads about the Main, we were reconsidering if a Main Channel run would be in our afternoon plans.  Didn’t really matter because with all the scouting we needed to do and all the play that had to be done, we didn’t get off the river until 4pm!

Saturday was our only sunny day.  It struggled to reach 70 degrees but it was a nice day.  The remainder of the weekend was intermittent showers and temps that stayed in the 50’s.  There were a few full dry suits sported by members of the group!  The river temperature was balmy as always.

 

Sunday, September 3

River level: 6.70 feet

The group again voted for a Middle Channel run.  Much less scouting but still plenty of play at the various locations – Corner Wave, (really baby) Baby Face, Angel’s Kiss, Butterfly and Little No Name.  At the end the Middle Channel, group tried to determine a walking path to the Coliseum viewing stand on the Main Channel.  With that resulting failure, we ended up paddling upstream to Black’s Rapid and walked along the shore to the platform.  For our efforts, we were treated to a high water Coli viewing!  Big Kahuna was in full form and very hungry.  We watched about a dozen raft attempt the run with about a 60% success rate.  At the bottom of Coli there were a couple of motorized rafts to pick up casualties before they flushed over Dog Leg. 

A right-down-the-middle run would have you hitting the huge Kahuna hole.  Surviving that would allow you to charge through multiple other holes, exploding waves and swirlies that eat kayaks for lunch.  There was a very doable far right sneak for those not wanting to get their heads ripped off.

There were rumors of our traditional Sunday Night Tequila Night happening.  And given there were many empty tequila bottles on Monday morning, I must believe that would be true.  But I don’t remember any of it.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 

Monday, September 4

River level: 6.60 feet

Morning camp was a bit chaotic as some wanted to get going (long drive) and others were just waking up.  But seven of us got on the river by 9:30.  Maybe it was three days of paddling, maybe it was the cold weather, maybe it was the pushier water, just maybe it was the tequila, but we had five swimmers out of our group of seven.  Yikes!  Plus an island paddle extraction that included two sets of ropes, a river fording and a rope return swim.  That was an event!

Back to camp by 12:30 to finish the packing, say our goodbyes and hit the long road home.

Until next year!

jimp

Running late in Quebec
Saturday-Sunday Aug 12-13, 2017
Organizer: Scattered thunderstorms
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Mike M

My normal summer paddling scheme is to spend every weekend (and a couple weekdays) in Quebec.  That never happens, but some summers I've still done pretty well.  This year a new job, moving and general life stuff had me occupied, and by the time I had a free weekend in July it looked like the water was gone - depressingly early.  A good shot of rain in early August fixed that and on the evening of Friday the 11th five New Englanders were headed north hoping to snag one last bit of summertime Quebec whitewater.  

 

On Saturday we did the Taureau.  It was at a lowish level (-7"), what felt like 400 on the New Haven.  The section down to the Launiere was a little bumpy but mostly fluid if you slowed down and picked clean lines, and all the main drops were great.  Below the Launiere things juiced up a little and it felt like good, classic Quebec whitewater.  Good fun but the low water definitely makes the lines tighter and opens up some real pinning hazards.

 

Still, the setting was unchanged from last year, or last century or last millenia, especially the deep canyons, massive wilderness and the thick black boreal forest that completely blocks out the outside world and leaves you with nothing but a river to paddle.  The whitewater here is definitely good, but the setting is what will make me go back for as long as I can.  

 

On Sunday we did the Valin.  This is another hour-plus north of the Taureau.  It always has water, even during a drought, and was at a good low-side-of-medium, about 20 cms or 700 cfs.  The first half is like the Bottom Moose with big bedrock rapids and a bit of flatwater, plus one fantastic 25-footer (class III).  Then there is a portage and then a great canyon with steep whitewater the rest of the way.  This lower section is about as good as it gets and ends in a huge, half-mile-long boulder garden.  It's not difficult but it's big - take a big one from the Big Branch and scale it up by three - and you'll have the last half-mile of the Valin.  

 

This in turn dumps you onto the Saguenay fjord, where we looked in vain for whales but settled for (much better) poutine.  Still haven't found tourtiere there yet - I think you have to go farther north up towards the Mistassibi, which we should do next year!

 

Here's to many more great weekends of Quebec paddling.

Stony Brook - Dave's Back Yard Babe
Monday Jul 17, 2017
Organizer: Ryan
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium
Author: Ryan

Dog river goes from 140 cfs to 2000 cfs.  Grab boat and get there....  E'nuff said!

 

Warm water, good company, only two strainers, low consequences, miles of rapids and fun drops....  VT micro creeking at its finest.

 

More please!!!!

NBW with no one to share it with
Tuesday Jun 6, 2017
Organizer: Ryan
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium high
Author: Ryan

On my way home from work site visits up in Calais, the skies opened up and it rained like no body's business for 2 hours.  By the time it had ended nothing but the headwater streams were barely budging.  I knew that in about an hour all local runs were going to be in the boatable range.  Sending out a flurry of emails and texts to get folks to join me, I ultimately headed out by myself as is par for the course when you live on the east side of the Green Mountains.  It was about 5:30 and we had ample day light so I knew I was in no hurry to get down the river.....what river did I want to ply this evening.  Skies were breaking, a rainbow had popped out and it was 75 degrees.  Dumb question - go straight to the NBW, Pass go and don't even wait to collect $200...

 

As I drove up Route 12 the levels still looked low down around the village of Worcester, but boatable.  Once up close to the Elmore line, the water pouring off of the rocks was pretty heavy and I knew that levels would rise while I was on the river.  I took my time getting suited up and on the river.  Once on the river I noticed right away that the levels were stout and likely higher than I had ever run the river solo. 

 

Working my way down to Broken Falls the warm up ledges were fun and I was trying to get my head dialed in to what would be a pretty committing solo run.  Broken falls was surging and the lines were undefined, but clean and padded.  I just ran into it and kept on a right brace to the lip with a late boof.  OK - I was skipping across the pool at the bottom and feeling as right as rain.  Here we go.

 

The three sisters were up next and disappoint.  The turtle boof was huge and fluffy and the flair was clean and deep.  The third sister was fine and dandy as well and lead into the narrows which had a bunch of holes through it that aren't usually there.  All good.

 

Fine Line - the first big vertical drops on the river was pushing pretty good and I decided to eddy out at the lip, great for getting a look not so great for setting up a fun line.  All looked clean and I dropped into the trough on river right.  That set me up for a huge auto boof.  For a change I didn't rocket into the wall and it went well.  Off to Manky Mank.  I ran left lines on both of them and they were fairly padded out with out the usually crunch and smash that usually accompanies that rapid.

 

OK - Big Bouncy.  I walked up and down it looking at the lines and how much the water was pushing.  I seriously considered walking it a number of times because the level was high, but logically looking that the moves, I knew if I focused and made correct strokes I'd clean it and avoid the nightmare of the portage.  I also thought of running it last fall on my head and how lucky I was not to get injured.  There is a small window to hit at the lip that sets you up for the final 20 feet and if you miss it you are going to get hosed.  Getting to that window means cleanly navigating two 5 foot ledges with holes and a slide into a cross current before stroking hard to get left off of the prow and the final portion of BB.  The ledges were fine and I actually hit them pretty hard to boof over the holes.  The slide I was a little too far right and went deep but was able to crank my self left and hit the prow cleanly and make the bottom in fine shape.  WHEW and WOO HOO!

 

On down to Flat Falls.  At this level it is a fun and awesome boof off left center.  8 feet of airborne into fluff.  Then around the bend on Sliding board (Stay Left!!!!) and eddy out and get a look at Double Drop...  The whole sequence was clean and man was it pumping!  Uh - the pillow fight was oh so good!  Thinking about this rapid may need a rename.  How may frigging named "Double Drops" are there on rivers around here.  From now on I am officially calling Double Drop "Pillow Fight"!

 


Next up - Cave Falls.  What an amazing rapid this is.  Maybe the most picturesque on the river.  The entry offers up to options.  The committing boof over the cave and hole or the slide on river right.  Both land you in a mini chasm that you need to build up some speed to bust our of the hole at the bottom.  AS big and fluffy as it has ever been and the slide to boof into the chasm was lubed up and super smooth.  The 4 foot drop just beyond the exit hole was fun and the lip was clean.

 

 

The Last Drop - Visually the most committing with a 50 foot slide to a 12 foot lip.  The drop is river wide and a bad line could mean a nasty piton at the bottom of the drop.  My favorite line on river left has been closed out for 3 years with a huge tree and gnarly stump in it.  Down the gut and get a huge stroke to clear the bottom ledge.  On a high from just running the entire river on a beautiful night, I made the most of the remaining light and get back in the river above the drop and made a few strokes and envisioned the moves needed to get on the correct stream down the slide to hit my boof.  Off I went, slid into the pillow and then let the current take me down the slide toward the lip, a hard reach for my toes, grab of the lip with the paddle blade and a vertical tug and pull knees to my ears.  I was mid air wheelie'ng off the lip and on my way to a soft splash down in the pool

 

 

A clean run and a beautiful sky to hike back up Route 12 by myself in the dark.  Not a single car passed me in either direction giving me the walk to soak in the experience, night and life.  Man "it" can be so good some times!
Mill Brook
Tuesday May 2, 2017
Organizer: Jamie
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Jamie Dolan

A few years back I had the chance to paddle the upper part of this creek. While a good time, particularly the scenery, it was fairly tame with a fair share of portaging over strainers.  We stopped that evening when night fell and had a bit of a hike back to the cars.  Today’s run would be a bit different but some of the same. Will said he had run this section tons while in college and had a fairly good idea of the lines (even after college parties and 10 or so years). Turns out, he did remember the lines pretty well.  From the take out at Rte 2, the level looked to be low-boatable.  And it was low boatable.  A nice level for an introductory run. We started out, following Dick Cheney’s lead  to an undisclosed location, about 1 ½  miles up Tarbox Road. It was a pull off on UVM land that had a path leading to 10 minute walk to the creek.  We put in just after the first, of  what would prove a half dozen or so blow downs.  For the first 10 minutes of paddling it was more of bog with a swift moving stream through it.  And blow downs.  We came to the first legitimate rapid /  drop, an easy III but midway down we had to portage over a strainer.  We quickly came up to the next drop and hey another blow down.  This one was potentially doable but neither of us felt like this might be the best of ideas.  From there down we pretty much only got out of the boat to scout.  The next drop had a nice flake and small pool to drop into Will was very clear to stay center or left…yup, I ended up right. But no big deal.  The wall was forgiving (Yeah).  We quickly came up to the old dam, which we scouted.  This IV drop is followed by boggie II.  IN the middle of the boggie II there was another blow down.  We had plenty of time to get out and avoid the blow down. As it was low, it was hard to get up speed to get a good boof off the rooster tail on the dam. But once again, it was forgiving.  As we went along there was plenty of blow downs which were manageable as they were in slack water where you could find alternatives (which generally involved pushing off with your hands).  The remnants of Irene were still highly visible with at least two massive landslides still evident.  The next to last drop was probably the most fun.   A fairly clean 8-10 ft water fall into a nice pool.  The last drop was a bit manky but doable even at low water.  You kind of drop onto a ledge (well almost) nose first.  There was enough water that we both managed to sort of slide, without damage, pretty much over it.  After that we had a short paddle to the takeout and then we were done! Not a river that runs much but one I would definitely get back on given the opportunity.  I should note that historically, some of the landowners were not too pleased with boaters about.  We did not meet any and so can not comment.

Saranac River to Redford (#1)
Saturday Apr 29, 2017
Organizer: Chris Weed
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium
Author: Chris Weed

With the Adirondack snowmelt largely over, we did a first run of the season on this section of the Saranac at a medium to medium low level. A weather transition was under way as we traveled to Redford late on Saturday morning. By the time we reached the takeout at about 1:00 pm, it was sunny, windy, and warm (~72 F).

With 7 paddlers the logistics and shuttle took a while. In the middle of the process Max arrived at the put-in on Casey Road from an unexpected direction at just the right time, having traveled through New York from well to the south of Burlington. We ended up together on the riverbank at the end of the 150 yard put-in trail at about 3:00 pm.

4 of the 7 participants were new to the run (excluding Chris W., John, and Tony), and the level was perfect for it. As usual, things got really interesting at Tefft Pond Falls. At levels above 5.5 feet this had always been considered a mandatory portage, but Max and Noel scouted it and Max decided to run it left of center. He did it without mishap, reproducing Jamie Dolan's 4/17/2016 run of the falls, which is the only previous run I'm aware of.

A variety of lines were chosen on the big staircase rapid that comes up a few hundred yards downstream of the falls. There was one roll and one swim, the latter with a quick recovery. At 4.9 feet this succession of drops is much less intimidating than at 5.75 feet or above.

After that we had an extended period of enjoyable class 2/3 boogie water paddling, until we came to the last really significant drop, where the river splits around a small island (big enough to support a few small trees). Chris W. chose to just boat scout and run it, having done it 4 times since 2011. That wasn't the most prudent decision, with several others in the group unfamiliar with the drop. Tony brought some sobriety to the proceedings, and guided the shore scouting for Ken and Chris F., while Max, Noel, and John followed Chris W.'s lead. All ran it successfully, and Chris F. even punched the final hole against the right bank that we customarily avoid.

We were completing the final shuttle at dinnertime, with dusk not too far off. It's good to start this run by 2:00 pm if possible, even well after the switch to Daylight Savings Time.

It was a great day. As I write this I'm hoping for a reprise on Saturday, May 27, with warmer water and leaves on the trees. We'll need rain for that, and it looks like we might get it.

Upper Pemi
Saturday Apr 29, 2017
Organizer: Ryan M
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium low
Author: Ryan McCall

Lots of snow was still left up high in the Whites and a sunny warm Saturday made a run to the Western slopes of the White Mountains a no brainer.  The Upper Pemi was said to be in good shape with and it had been a hell of a long time since I had been on it.  None of the other guys had ever been on it.  We met in North Woodstock, grabbed an extra coffee and headed up Route 3 to set shuttle and suit up in the Hiking trail parking lot.  Once we were up at the Basin the questions started from the tourists.  Are you going to run that?  What's it like down stream?  Can you roll? Is there enough water? 

 

All of us took some time looking at the move to get into the Basin.  I knew I was going to run it before looking at it, knowing it is deep and is a one trick pony.  Flop off with a huge sweep.  To attempt to stay upright....Flipping is almost guaranteed and a quick roll in the slack water is easy.  Of course that is exactly what happened to me and I was upright and paddling away.  Neal did the same thing.  Both Chris and Noah walked thinking it was looking a little too manky.

 

Next up was Mini Flume which required a look at the line.  It also went cleanly off of the lead in tongue.  Below that there was a few boulder rapids leading up to North Pole.  We all walked it due to how much water was actually flowing under the boulders and of course the wood lodged just below it.  Below the wood there is a fantastic slide that has a few entries that make it fun and mix up how you finish it.  All ran it cleanly. 

 

From there we had a lot of fun constricted bedrock rapids with potholes and ledges where you could really get into a rhythm.  About the time we were leapfrogging each other and really syncing up, the Sentinel Bridge came into view and we could tell the river was dropping off into oblivion.  I knew we had a few more progressions and then needed to eddy out on river right to avoid being sucked into "Wham Bam Thank you Mam".  Wham is a lethal sieve that claimed one of us in 2011.  That sieve was still present and as ugly as ever.  Putting in below the sieve is an option so you can run the rest of the rapid into the gorge below.  The portage is a royal PIA, but we all did it.  After we had put in below, we all said we should have just run the bottom of the rapid.

 

Below Sentinel, the river really picks up steam and is pretty much continuous to the take out with a ton of beautiful pink bedrock slides and ledges.  This may be the best stretch of whitewater in New England, aesthetically and quality.  We had one mis-hap that resulted in a head shot and a swim, but all turned out well and we were back on the river floating toward the take out and beers.

 

We capped the day with Beers at the Woodstock Inn and Brewery.  A great place to wrap up the day.

Mill Brook, Brownsville to Windsor
Thursday Apr 27, 2017
Organizer: Allan Berggren
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: low boatable

Caught Mill Brook at a minimal but manageable level. Starts with a 15 foot slide/falls, then a very pitchy 3-plus first quarter mile that evens out to long 2-plus staircases, with an overall 150 ft/mile descent into Windsor.  No impassable trees.  Lovely aquamarine (duh) water, interesting geological features, ferns, and moss.  Obvious damage from Hurricane Irene: Washed out road, debris islands.

Runs only a few days per year, but well worth keeping an eye on for western NH, eastern VT paddlers.

[Also see this report from 6 years ago.]

Midd Gorge in the Sun
Monday Apr 24, 2017
Organizer: Ryan
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Ryan McCall

It was the end of the 9th annual PA to VT creeking extravaganza.  Jason and Dan were on their way back home to PA so the standard is that I head south and snag a river with them on their way back.  A lot of rivers had dropped out so we figured that the Middlebury Gorge would be a good option with the levels being reasonable. 

 

We were right and once we got a look at the river we knew it was going to just be one of those amazing runs in an amazing place.  For me it was the first time back in the Gorge since 2009 on an adventure with Packie, Russ Kelly and Marshall Pahl (two of those three don't even paddle anymore).  The Sun was out, the temps were in the 70s and we had the river all to our selves.

 

We opted for the non-committal route by lowering our boats in below Rebirth and running the lower rapids.  They all went, but at this level we had some route finding to accomplish for clean passage.  With as low as the water was, Tester was the only one that was REALLY hard to run cleanly and all three of us came super close to smashing our faces off of the sloper on river right.  Your Mom was a mess and the lead in had a lot of FU rocks that would jostle your line, but it went as well.  The last rapid was fun and channelized and if you picked the correct channel, you were in like Flynn.

 

All and all it was a befitting end to the weekend of boating (Flint, Joes, Green and Midd) and the 9th annual PA to VT event.  Jason and Dan headed south and I did my best imatation of Steve McQueen up Route 100 to get back in time to coach the first soccer practice of the spring season...I was 5 minutes late!

Spring Green Release
Sunday Apr 23, 2017
Organizer: The Tubes
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium
Author: Mike M

For our first Green release of 2017 we had uncharacteristically nice weather and a solid 1.3 tubes of water to play in.  There wasn't a massive turnout - the Wells race was the same day - but we still had a few dozen folks and everyone who showed up got a really nice day on the water.

 

I hung around the takeout for awhile getting folks set with parking (a huge thanks to Morrisville Auto for letting us park there, and for having an array of nicely-fixed-up 1980's-era sedans and mid-range muscle cars for us to consider purchasing).  After awhile a particular group of troublemakers showed up and I decided to head up for a lap with them.

 

There was not much excitement our first lap.  A few folks were here there first time, which is always fun since the river starts off steep and challenging, but quickly becomes very manageable.  So it's fun to watch folks start off a little gripped and then relax and really start to enjoy things.  Things are in great shape wood-wise.  The big flows back at the end of February must have pushed a lot of the log-jams up and out.  But some wood moved out of Young Buck, and the last drop isn't really as ponded up and is actually pretty nasty - we all walked but heard reports of one very sketchy run.

 

We got to the takeout and found Ryan and his PA buddies getting ready for a lap.  We went back up and had another awesome lap.  There was one minor incident at Lumberyard that actually turned into some great swiftwater rescue practice.  And of course it was nice to actually paddle with the PA guys, being that they are basically legends in the VT boating scene.

 

So that was a nice Sunday on this classic river.  The day finished with beers and good company in Morrisville.  More please!

 

Joe's Brook
Saturday Apr 22, 2017
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium high
Author: Tony Shaw

On days like this one, Joe's Brook deserves (and gets) your full attention. The level was medium pushing medium-high. A smaller party hankering to run Joe's 4 days earlier met in West Danville and agreed the level that day was too stout, so we continued driving east to run the (easier) Moose River from Victory Bog to Concord. High water on Joe's is not for the faint-hearted, and I'm aware that Matt Young, Alden Bird, Scott Gilbert, and possibly others had survived high water runs earlier in April. Scott had warned of the occasional tree trunk or limb in the current to avoid, which is business as usual on seldom run steep creeks.

Though we were a big group - perhaps the biggest group ever to run Joe's - there were eddies (and routes) aplenty. The big slide above the covered bridge at Greenbank's Hollow was run successfully by everyone, but we all walked the long and merciless covered bridge drop, given that the river-right "sneak" route has a tree trunk in it near the top. The two mile long covered bridge section was well-padded and tempestuous. The one river-wide strainer Scott reported in the first big drop below the Morse's Mills bridge had (to our relief) flushed downstream enough to no longer require a portage. Gone too was the impassible ice bridge in the lower "mini" gorge, opening that exciting stretch to the first descents of 2017. Those who ran the serpentine sluiceway of a rapid under the Brook Hill Rd. bridge put on an acrobatic show for those of us living vicariously on the banks, and no one got re-circ'ed in the river-left whirlpool at the bottom. Still, not a bad idea to have your throw bags ready here. I lost count of my swims at about 6, none of which were long or harrowing. Mainly I was getting upended when I'd crash into the big wall of water formed by holes below the steeper slides - always thankfully flushing gently out.

Ten miles, five hours, and 1000 vertical feet later we all washed up on shore at the VT 5 bridge wearing big grins - where cold beers were waiting. There was talk at one point of a Joe's weekend double-header, but 10 more miles on Joe's before Monday sounded overly ambitious. On top of which, a release on the Green River in Hyde Park VT was scheduled for Sunday.

The minutia: 118 cfs through the generator, 30 more cfs through the sluiceway, some ice still on the pond at a height of 5.2 feet, and the bladder partially deflated at 1.5 psi (spilling moderately). The 2 gauge rocks in the water upstream of the powerhouse at the put-in were covered, but a boat going over them would probably scrape. Noah Pollock took lots of cool pictures.

Paddling thru Middle Earth
Friday Apr 21, 2017
Organizer: Ryan
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Ryan McCall

Doesn't it always start with the question of where to go????  I know I feel like I never get it right when its early season and I have no idea how do dial back my expectations and wide-eyed excitement.  By 3pm though in April, you had better have a plan or you are going to run out of day light.  So after scouting every damn tributary between Patterson (The White) and Shepherd Brook in the Mad Valley, Dave and I decided to go somewhere that the geology made sense instead of following the USGS gauges.  If it was gorged in then what little rain we got would make sense.  Off we went to Flint.  For an early season run it wouldn't hurt that it may be on the low side anyways.

 

We got over the Whoopty-Doos on Roxbury Gap from the frost heaves and found Flint to be fully boatable from up high on down to the hard right hand turn w/o any portages. Winning!

 

Putting on up high have a few short rapids and eddy hopping to get us geared up for a pretty complex boulder/bedrock rapid.  The water was medium low, so the pushiness was on the low side and you were able to link moves together.

This gorge is on par with being down in the Midd in places although not as committing, with higher water it definitely will stack up quickly and push you around corners.  The run is almost exclusively bedrock slides and ledges in the same vein as Patterson only steeper and more continuous. 

 

The biggest hazard on the river is the potential for wood off of the high walls and then at the end of the last straight away is a large multi drop waterfall that thus far has not been run and looks relatively terminal.  You would really want to know where to take out above that so not to get flushed into it.

 

We wrapped up the run in the dark shy of the final straight away but plan to get back in there again in 2017 with some saws and boats to really get after it.  Totally worth the effort if you are in Roxbury....

White River - Stockbridge to Bethel
Saturday Apr 15, 2017
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: novice WW
Level: medium
Author: Tony Shaw

One of the reasons I lead an early April Upper White River trip, year after year, is because this class II whitewater reach is a perennial favorite. This year, besides a few of the usual suspects, we had 2 Dans with whom I had never paddled, both in open canoes and both jovial. And Max was along for the first time - to entertain us by leaving his mark on virtually ever splat rock he could find.

There was enough sunscreen to go around, and the brisk wind that blew was at our backs most of the way down the river, so we ended up making great time. We stopped at Dean's Corner above Gaysville for a lunch break - liquid and otherwise. I almost put Max's eye out when he peeled off a surf wave unaware that I was accelerating into the main channel just below him from a side chute after lunch. Aside from that one close call there were no mishaps or swims.

CJ recently moved to Bethel, so the White is very much his home river these days. He claims that since tropical storm Irene the couple of miles above Gaysville are so channelized that they can be run in the summer at much lower levels than would have been possible before that storm ravaged the river (and valley).

Chris Weed and I did a little road scouting up Locust Creek before the drive home that afternoon. The last couple miles of this creek look continuous, intermediate, and runnable, with the ledges beneath the Rt. 107 bridge being perhaps the most technical.

Shepard Brook, on our day off
Tuesday Apr 11, 2017
Organizer: Tony Shaw / Chris Weed
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium high
Author: Chris Weed

On April 6, one of us (Chris Weed) had been browsing the Mad River Valley on Google Maps, and noticed a stream that comes down along North Fayston Road, called Shepard Brook. In an email exchange that day it was discovered that Jim Fecteau had run it many years ago. When Jim was included, he replied with one sentence:  "Yes, boulder garden and somewhat steep in spots with a smattering of waterfalls on the upper side of the run."

The following Sunday (4/9), Chris and Jim talked about it at the Lower Mad takeout. Later that afternoon, Chris drove up North Fayston Road to explore. When Tony proposed that I paddle something with him on his day off (Tuesday, 4/11) I got to thinking about Shepard and Mill Brook, which comes down along Route 17 (and is better known).

Chris, Tony, and Eric carpooled early from Richmond to allow time for scoping out Shepard and possible put-in and takeout locations. It quickly became clear that the creek had plenty of water in it. It also became clear that the chances of encountering strainers was high. Exactly how high would soon become evident.

The takeout selected was a small bridge adjacent to a house just up from Route 100. The put-in options were by a bridge where Center Fayston Road crosses the brook, and farther up the mountain at the Hedgehog Trailhead (Big Basin Road). We tentatively chose the Center Fayston Road bridge to propose to the full group. It is 4.6 miles upstream of the takeout. The trailhead parking area is another 1.1 miles upstream.

With that assessment we headed back to Route 100 and up Route 17 to look at Mill Brook. We then headed back to the junction to meet the rest of the group at the Valero convenience store. The conclusion of the discussion was that Shepard Brook was too interesting to bypass, and might not be runnable after that week, whereas Mill Brook would be benefiting from ski trail runoff for some time. We organized the shuttle and headed for North Fayston Road.

After leaving vehicles on the shoulder near the takeout bridge we headed up to Center Fayston Road, which peels off where North Fayston Road ends. At the bridge we discussed whether to put in there or farther downstream at another bridge, where Airport Road crosses the stream. There was real trepidation about the speed of the flow and the lack of eddies, with the possibility of river-wide strainers on everyone's mind, but we decided to stick with the initial choice.

Within minutes after heading downstream, we encountered our first river-wide strainer (2 closely spaced logs) and had our first swim. By the time the situation was resolved, two members of the group (Steve and Eric) had elected to get off the river, head down to the next bridge, and assess what was to come. The remainder of us started a somewhat difficult hike in calf-deep snow on river-right, on what seemed to be an old logging road. Another river-wide log was visible downstream, followed by another. Most of didn't consider putting on again until Jamie gave us the all-clear, after probing some distance downstream.

The brook at this point was little more than class 1, but was moving at a good pace. We were all on edge in anticipation of more strainers, but encountered none that forced us out of our boats until we arrived at the Airport Road bridge. By that time the gradient had markedly increased, and the whitewater was continuous class 2, shading into class 3.

Approaching the bridge, Steve and Eric signaled from shore that we need to pull out and do some scouting. The reason was another river-wide log, followed by a much bigger and more complicated assemblage of big logs farther downstream around the next bend, on the river right side of a long boulder/gravel bar. On river left was a yellow house. Its occupant came out to cheer us on. (We later discovered that he was the son of the owner, and the house was the former home of Rob and Kay Henry, founders of Mad River Canoe.)

It was becoming clear that the flow was increasing. This worked in our favor, because it produced a runnable flow on the river left side of the boulder bar that allowed us to sneak by the jumble of logs. Otherwise a portage would have been unavoidable.

At this point the gradient increased more. We were now in fast-moving class 3, with the same ever-present concern about wood. The next example was a large log suspended above a right-to-left bend, with a pourover on river left formed by another log mostly buried in gravel and cobblestones. The big log was high enough to run underneath, as long as one didn't get too far right. Behind the pourover was an eddy, where we gathered our wits for what would prove to be the most intense whitewater of the run—solid class 3 shading into class 4, with a flow of at least 700 cfs. During this sequence we had two more swims, which prompted the swimmers to end their runs. (One of them had taken a hard shot to the head in the initial capsize.) The rest of us (the kayakers) finished out the run at the takeout bridge. It should be mentioned that near the finish was yet another river-wide tree with attached branches, mostly submerged, that provided a reasonably safe slot to pass through towards river-right. At lower water this might not have been an option.

Later examination of Shepard Brook's course on Google's terrain map indicated that it drops about 360 feet from the Center Fayston Road put-in, i.e., over a distance of 4.6 miles. Only about 60 of those feet occur in the first 1.75 miles or so, so the gradient in the remainder of the run is about 100 feet per mile.

TO BE CONTINUED...

Cobb Brook
Tuesday Apr 11, 2017
Organizer: Mike M
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium
Author: Mike M

The second week of April brought our first good round of true spring snowmelt.  On the afternoon of the 11th folks were planning to hit Ridley.  I wasn't too bitter about being stuck at work since I was pretty sure it'd be too high.  But that means Cobb would be good and Scott was game to meet me there for an evening run.  Of course this had me a little nervous - I think Cobb is sweet and all, but it's short - and Scott has run a lot of creeks in Vermont and had high standards.  So I hoped he'd think the drive was worth it and headed for the takeout.

 

You can drop into Cobb from up top on Trapp Road, but I usually hike up river left from the bottom.  The first few ledges you'll see aren't especially stacked but they look good, and Scott indicated he agreed.  Then the gradient really takes off and by then I think Scott was pretty much sold.  I think all total the creek drops around 200 feet in about a half mile.

 

I usually put in just a little ways below the primary confluence.  You can go higher up but it gets pretty small pretty quick and is fairly dechannelized up there.  Below the confluence, you get a few hundred feet of warm-up before the gradient really starts.  It's all steep bedrock, pretty clean and well channelized, with enough (but just barely enough) eddies.  

 

There is one marginal rapid here where you have to drive right across a shallow slide to avoid falling into a menacing crack.  It looks like you'd still go through if you missed the line, but let's just say the Republican health care plan wouldn't pay to have your arms screwed back onto your shoulders.

 

There are a few other big drops down here too - one big chunky ledge where I landed in a pothole sideways and Scott briefly disappeared into a boat-width bedrock trough, another one that has a flake that could be a piton or could be a boof (hint - it's a great boof), and one final double drop with a surprisingly strong hole for a creek this small.  Other than that there are a whole bunch of great small slides, ledge staircases and even one or two boulder gardens. Most of the drops aren't more than 5 feet tall, but most of them aren't more than 5 or 10 feet apart!

 

We hit the takeout right before it got too dark to paddle.  I love timing a run like that!

Lower Mad
Sunday Apr 9, 2017
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium
Author: Tony Shaw

This trip was scheduled for the Upper Mad, and trip reports from years past have us on the Upper Mad at flows as low as 750 cfs, though 1100 cfs is more of a medium level for the Warren to Waitsfield stretch. Not to be deterred, the Lower Mad is a nice consolation prize when the Upper Mad is off the table.

We let the day warm up, meeting at noon for a ~3 hour paddle - out long enough to get a sunburned nose if you (like me) forgot about sunscreen. When the day dawns below 20 degrees it is easy to forget the sun on April 9th is as hot and high overhead as it is on Labor Day.

The level dipped below 700 cfs ever so briefly before turning upward again with melting snows higher up, and the mercury in Middlesex had reached 60 degrees by the time we took out.

There were too few women on the trip - zero in fact - but otherwise it was an upbeat and handsome bunch. No one ran Horseshoe river-right, but the throw bags saw some action anyway, there and further down as well. In all, a very pleasurable knock-the-cobwebs-off season opener.

Ice Breaker "Season Opener"
Saturday Feb 25, 2017
Organizer: Ryan M
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium high
Author: Ryan McCall

The snow is 4 feet deep and we should all be earning backcountry lines in the Mountains...  But then everything goes soggy and rivers start popping ice and at 70 degrees, you know that the rivers are just going to be fun.  What do you do....?  Get in a boat on a good warm up river and get after it. 

 

Dave Called and said he was ready to get in his boat to start the season properly.  However there was the caveat that he didn't want to do anything hard or serious because he hadn't creeked in close to 4 years.  I suggested Stony Brook but there was too many ice bridges.  So we aimed at a run we drive by regularly to get to other runs.  Cox brook has a nice collection of ledges and rapids and seems we always say so but are headed elsewhere.  So we centered on Cox and picked up Will Seegers while we were at it. 

 

Cox is one of the lower tributaries in the Dog River Drainage and for a good put in we thought just below the confluence with Devils Washbowl would make sense.  On the scout to the put in, we noticed that there were a few cows and a Bull at the farm midway through the run, but the Bull was tied up out front.  We also made sure to get an eye on the bridge that is usually slung across the brook at this farm.  It had been pulled for spring high water events.  All clear other than the barbed wire we couldn't confirm was up or down...

 

At the put in we all slid in to the brook off of 3-4' high snow banks.  The river was clear and flowing at a nice pace but not pushy (This would change by the end of the run).  The ledges drops in the upper section of this run are clean and straight forward.  You could usually drift up to the edge and then pick a line.  We came across one river wide strainer that requred a portage, but overall the brook was clean and fun up high and a good class II/III micro creek.

 

The last of the upper drops was slightly larger but dropped into the flatwater section that spanned the farm.  We could see pretty far down stream that it was clear of barbed wire and as early observed the bridge was pulled for spring flows.  As we were drifting through this section we all noticed a heard of cattle up next to the barn, but were chatting and enjoying the float.  At some point Dave stated that the cows were showing interest in us floating through their pasture and leading the charge was a very LARGE bull (ring in nose and snot flying) has he was trotting toward us.  Dave  stated "That bull is VERY interested in us" and we started to really paddle away with some urgency.  Dave then stated that I had better get a move on (even though I was in front) because I was in a red helmet, PFD and drysuit.  I started to really churn away from the Bull and Dave and Will, knowing that at any moment if that Bull was really interested in taking me down, his 1000 lbs frame would plow through the little creek with out a problem and he would have me stomped and gored in a second.  Luckily, I think the bull was young and was not interested in trifling with the creek.  He relented and we were floating away safely laughing nervously at each other.  It couldn't have been more than 2 seconds later and Dave screamed "Barbed Wire".  I didn't even have a moment to think, it was at my back and I instinctually flipped hoping that there wasn't an additional strand under water.  There wasn't and I rolled up with a brain freeze.  Sheesh - talking about turning a class II run into Class V.

 

Another 100 yards and one of the neighbors was on the bank yelling at us that there was a dangerous waterfall around the bend.  We knew there was a gorged in section of river below us, but none of us had ever seen it.  Dave got out to scout and gave hand directions to Will and I and we ran a really fun 6' ledge into the gorge.  It was clean just left of center and a blast. 

 

From there down it was more swift water to a friends house that has a deck overlooking the brook.  We got out and had some food and a beer.  Below Ben's home, the river picks up in action and holds it on down to the Cox brook falls (an old removed dam).  This section is pretty fun and has bigger drops than the upper section.  It is also stacked up a little more continuous.  Other than one strainer which we could get over, it was clean too.  The rapids directly in front of the old dam site looked like fun but they lead directly into a chocolate brown churning mess that dropped about 15 feet in stages and had numerous holes.  It didn't look like any of it would be retentive, but a flip would be highly abusive!  All three of us decided to walk the dam due to the increasing flow and manky looking rapid at the dam/falls.  We put in below hoping to run the rapid below the RR bridge.  Unluckily it had wood in both sides so we walked that too. 

 

We took out at the Falls General Store and had some beer.  Will realized he left his keys up in my truck so we didn't have a shuttle vehicle and I thumbed my way back up to the truck.

 

All in all it was a great season opener on a new creek.  If you are just beginning to creek, this is a solid starter run other than the barbed wire and ornery Bull!

Missisquoi release
Sunday Nov 6, 2016
Organizer: Bob
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Mike M

Never one to be happy with the weather, all week I had been looking at the forecast and surprisingly, there was a solid 1+ inches of rain forecast for Friday morning.  I say surprisingly because most of VT was in a severe drought and we'd only seen appreciable rainfall once since April.  We had a Green release Saturday which got me thinking... we could have a Missisquoi release on Sunday!

 

Bob got in touch with Enel and they were on board and even willing to drop to minimum generation to get us enough water.

 

I showed up around 9:00 and found a decent minimum boatable level already going over the dam.  The dam operator, Travis, showed up a little later and gave us a little extra water.  Enel has a lot of this automated and I think they can do this all remotely, but they always send someone up just to make sure everything is good with us.  Good customer service and we aren't even customers of the normal sort!

 

There were about 15 of us and per Missisquoi tradition we did laps as a giant group.  The level was on the lower end, but that's fun because you can go for a lot of different moves that might be a little to exciting for higher levels.  I think we did 4 or 5 laps.

 

As an FYI, this was our first release up there this year (largely due to the drought, which has meant this was the first weekend there was enough water for a release).  Still, we don't nearly use up our allotment of release days in a given year, so if you want a release up here, let us know!

The Green was gold
Saturday Nov 5, 2016
Organizer: MWL
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium low
Author: Mike M

There's been a lot of talk about the Green and our ongoing appeal on the river.  This trip report is not about that.

 

This trip report is about a whole bunch of boaters having a great time on a great river.

 

So MWL was kind enough to get us a release day this fall, and even better, they said they'd probably get both tubes running.  Up until now, we've pretty much only gotten one tube (140 cfs) for a release - which is fun, but pretty low.  I got to the put-in early and was happy to see the gauge around 2'10" - about 1-1/3 tubes, so a little bit less than we thought but still plenty of water.  I skipped the first lap to say hi to folks, make sure they didn't mess up the parking and get donations/AW memberships.  There were tons of folks up here - some folks said nearly 100 but I think it was closer to 70 or 80.  Regardless, folks came from far and wide.  It was actually fun to see folks coming off the river - a lot of folks were sorta wide-eyed and pretty surprised at how good the run is.

 

I hopped in with the usual group for the second lap.  Nothing much to say other than that the added water was just great - it's a really high-quality IV+ creek at that level and it reminded me why I was so excited 5 years earlier during my first runs here.  With the low-volume, schist ledge-drops and mossy woods around, it really is a classic VT run with a classic VT feel that you just won't find anywhere else.

 

At the take-out folks hung around socializing for awhile then headed for Morrisville for a beer and some food.  I got a little lost finding Lost Nation, but as I drove around town I was pleasantly surprised to see cars with boats on the roof all over the place.  Downtown Morrisville establishments were literally full of boaters enjoying some classic VT wining and dining after enjoying some class VT creeking.

 

Now that is how to have a scheduled release.  A sign of things to come?  I hope so!

North Br. Piscataquog, Weare, NH
Saturday Oct 15, 2016
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Tony Shaw

The sky above was robin's egg blue, the trees enshrouding the diminutive NB P'Cat were all decked out in their fall finery, and their leaves were falling by the bushel like multi-colored snowflakes, piling up on nearly every horizontal surface, including our spray skirts. For a tiny river with a scheduled release at the end of one of the driest New England summers on record, the P'Cat was surprisingly uncrowded. It was the inaugural trip here for all 6 of us who met up for the trip, and we were a little disappointed to discover that the release would not be as generous as in years past (though for obvious reasons). Honestly, I would be surprised if we were getting more than 150 cfs out of the Lake Horace dam tailrace. Still, it was adequately fluid for our morning and our afternoon runs (and never particularly threatening).

We got some not-so-great advice on where to take-out, and as a result we missed a few features that grace the river in the last 2-3 miles to the Lake Everett dam impoundment. The 4 mile stretch we did run (twice) was plenty of fun, with a gradient averaging 50 feet per mile including lots of continuous class II punctuated by several steeper pitches. Self-rescue, when needed, is quite a lot easier in such low-boatable conditions, but then, too, the rocks aren't nearly so well covered if you do happen to swim!

The good folks from the Merrimack Valley Paddlers had been to Weare mid-week and spent a solid day or two opening up channels where river-wide strainers had taken up residence, which made the whole day more enjoyable for all. One full-size tree trunk did somehow manage to strand itself (pointing upstream like a shish kabob skewer) in the hole at the bottom of the first drop, "Slab City", between our first and second run. And because of the horizon line as you approach (and the clean line we enjoyed there that morning) we didn't know about (or anticipate) it's presence until it was too late. It flipped Eric, and I think maybe Brock as well, but Brock got his revenge - wading right out beside the hole with his long legs, roping the log like a feed lot steer, and liberating it from the hole before it could upend any more unsuspecting boaters.

It is an easy ~2.5 hour drive to Weare NH from Richmond VT. I would certainly be game to run the P'Cat again when it is releasing next fall, getting to know it at a somewhat higher level next time, Mother Nature willing.

VPC trip reports can provide an important historical basis for 'current use', a legal doctrine that can affect the regulatory process - dam relicensing, new dam construction projects, etc. But only (obviously) if we (WE) write them! So, be sure to share and preserve the memories of your latest paddling adventures by submitting a trip report.
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