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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 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

Past 12 Months...

Dog River Saturday Apr 18, 2020
Huntington River Saturday Apr 4, 2020
Lower Mad (open for business)! Tuesday Mar 10, 2020
Chase Brook scouting (solo) Saturday Oct 26, 2019
Lower New Haven: we have water! Saturday Oct 19, 2019
Ottawa River Friday-Monday Aug 30-Sep 2, 2019

Past 12 Months...

Dog River
Saturday Apr 18, 2020
Organizer: Alden Bird
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Alden Bird

I realize this was in no way an official VPC trip, but I wanted to record this information on a lesser-run river in case it proves helpful for future boaters.  What a treat last night -- as I scoured the Internet to find any information about paddling the Dog River -- to stumble onto Eric Bishop's trip report from Saturday, April 17th, 2004 -- almost 16 years ago to the day.  And what a treat to realize, by looking at other trip reports on the VPC site, that Eric and I had run Joe's Brook a day later -- my first trip down Joe's and a wonderful memory from my senior year in college. Eric's write-up was helpful today, and in that spirit, I wanted to provide an update.

I put in just upstream of the town of Northfield.  The dam just downstream of the Route 12 bridge was the best rapid of the day, a 5-6 foot sloping ledge.  Light rapids to a portage around the big dam behind the Nantanna Mill on river left. Easy water to the shallow rapid just above the next Route 12 bridge, by the town offices.  A decent ledge just below the first covered bridge. Then the huge, impressive 25’ Northfield Falls alongside the abandoned mill just downstream of the Cox Brook Road covered bridge.  Is it runnable? Back in 2004, with safety set, maybe . . . But in 2020, solo, definitely not!

More easy water to the “Jacuzzi” drop at the head of the last gorge.  Easy water to the Riverton take out.

Partway through the run, I paddled past a man running his chainsaw in his backyard.  This man was, interestingly enough, a dead-ringer for Eric Bishop, circa 2004.  He put his chainsaw down for a moment to talk. This is Week 5 of the Coronavirus social distancing period, and both of us were eager for conversation, even a few brief words  When I arrived at the take out, I saw he’d driven down to talk some more.  We chatted for a few more minutes at the bridge, six feet apart. I biked the shuttle and drove home.

Huntington River
Saturday Apr 4, 2020
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: novice WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Tony Shaw

I didn't invent the internet, but I sure could have used the internet back in the day, when I was new to Vermont with no paddling pals. I would drive all over kingdom come after it rained a bit toting my bike and my canoe, looking for a boatable stretch of river. When finally I found something I could (perhaps) make it down, the bike would go inside the canoe (yep, the 17' Grumman could hold me as well as my bike) and I would paddle until I'd had enough paddling before biking back to the get the car. I logged hundreds of river miles (and many more road miles) through the early years before I discovered the VPC - then called the NVCC. Paddling alone is frowned upon for safety reasons, but necessity is the mother of invention. Plus I have to admit, paddling solo still holds for me a certain quiet, nostalgic, and earth-child appeal.

Where the Huntington is concerned, there is no USGS gauge, so the internet wouldn't have been much help Saturday morning when I couldn't resist the urge to go paddle it. I waited until the temperature topped 50 degrees, figuring it's a rare 50 degree day in early April when the Huntington is too low to paddle. My plan - to start all the way up in Hanksville and run all the way to Huntington Gorge - was thwarted by a lower-than-usual-for-early-April water level and by my late start, so I put in at Horseshoe Bend above the Audubon Center. It was lovely to be out!

Those early days in the 1980's - road scouting until I found water - were bad for my carbon footprint but great for my low water river-reading skills, and negotiating thinly covered boulder fields is like riding a bike - you never forget. It helps that the river when it's running low is also running clear, making the gravel bars and pillow rocks easier to identify, and avoid.

There were only a handful of decent surfing waves at Saturday's level, and I made the most of them. Novices should be forewarned that the Halloween storm of 2019 - a conveyor belt of Canada-bound moisture propelled by a mid/upper level trough that dumped 3-4 inches of rain here over a 6 hour period - took a toll on the banks of the Huntington, leaving scars that will last for decades and dropping at least 3 large trees across the river in foreboding places. Knowing how to spot deadly strainers and how to avoid them is definitely necessary on the lower Huntington - until further notice. The Linda Weiss memorial venue at the Audobon was mercifully unaffected - as pretty as ever.

Dugway Rd. below Huntington Gorge is closed to through traffic because a section of it - in the same storm - collapsed into the river. I can only imagine what the toll on the river was from that calamity. And that final stretch of the Huntington had always been - for me - so gorge-eous, so alluring.

I can no longer fit a bike in my canoe, but I had the road almost entirely to myself on the bike shuttle back to Horseshoe Bend (thanks to covid-19).

Lower Mad (open for business)!
Tuesday Mar 10, 2020
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: medium
Author: Tony Shaw

As the day began, the Mad R. USGS real-time online gauge was showing "ice", but the New Haven gauge was barely over 500 cfs, so we were surprised to find the Mad with, as Jamie put it: "a lot more water than I was expecting". The put-in trail was still snow-covered, but the river was open from top to bottom, and fun! We had sunshine and rain showers - sometimes simultaneously - during our run, and temps close to 50 degrees. Quite pleasant for March 10th. Chris had to pull his skirt and swim below the horseshoe (river left), after capsizing above the lip, but he was unfazed. The water where he is going later this month (Costa Rica) will be warmer, if he happens to have another swim!

Chase Brook scouting (solo)
Saturday Oct 26, 2019
Organizer: Chris Weed
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: too low
Author: Chris Weed

Saturday, October 26 offered a beautiful, crisp afternoon, and I needed to get out of Burlington, so I headed east and south to German Flats Road in Fayston. My original plan was to check and see if a couple of river-wide logs on Mill Brook were still present, but when arrived I recalled my interest in exploring the tributary along German Flats Road.

I arrived about 2:20 pm, and I spent the next 2.5 hours exploring the brook on foot. My hope was that it offered an interesting extension of the usual run on Mill Brook along Route 17 (Mill Brook Road). My main concern was that it might be too wood-choked to be worthwhile.

My initial hike upstream from near Route 17 revealed a continuous Class 2/3 stretch with a number of logs to avoid, but with easy ways to walk around them. The brook flows through some lovely woods, much of which turn out to be part of Fayston's Chase Brook Town Forest, which connects to extensive network of mountain biking trails.

At a certain point I was blocked by private land, which could have been circumvented by fording the brook and continuing on the river-right bank. I didn't want to drench my hiking shoes, so I headed back to my car, and drove up further up German Flats Road to look for additional access points.

Fortunately, I came upon the trailhead and parking area for the Chase Brook Town Forest trail, which is almost directly across from the Fayston Elementary School. A recently constructed foot bridge connects the parking area to the trail on the river-right bank. I parked, crossed the bridge, and headed downstream along the brook. The Town Forest trail quickly heads uphill into the forest, but there is an older trail (no longer in use) that follows the brook. That allowed me to scout the section that I had previously missed. I found more wood, but the river gradient remained steady, with interesting features in the riverbed, including an apparently natural log dam that impounds a shelf of gravel and cobblestones, forming a 3.5 or 4 foot drop. (There is a narrow bypass on river-left.)

A check later on Google Maps showed that the total length from the trailhead down to Mill Brook is about 0.71 miles or maybe a bit more (accounting for bends not shown on the map). This is a substantial addition to the run from the culvert at the Mill Brook Road intersection, making a total of 2.35 miles down to the takeout just above the final bridge before Route 100. I think this is well worth some effort to clean up some or all of the obstructions, several of which are small diameter logs. I hope to recruit a small crew to do the work this fall.

Lower New Haven: we have water!
Saturday Oct 19, 2019
Organizer: Chris Weed
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium low
Author: Chris Weed

The week ending October 19 brought north central Vermont a lot of water. The New Haven watershed apparently received 2-3 inches of rain, and at about 3:30 pm on Thursday (the 17th) the New Haven crested well over flood stage on the USGS gauge, at a reported flow of 9,900 cfs. I was curious to see what that flow might have done to the riverbed up in Bristol.

I touched base with Paul Bicknell on Saturday morning, and we agreed to meet at the church (the put-in) at 12:00 pm. It was to be Paul's first time down the LNH, and the water level and weather were perfect for it — a crisp, clear October day. (It was also ideal because Paul now lives in Bridport, and can get to Bristol in less than 35 minutes.) I posted on the message board, and Chris Frost saw the post and met us in Bristol.

After Paul and Chris set shuttle we put on about 12:30. The second rapid after the put-in is now a straight shot down to the Baldwin Creek confluence. Some large boulders that used to be under the log pile that we have previously passed on the left have apparently been moved downstream, close to the end of the rapid, before the river turns left to head into the next drop. Such changes were already somewhat evident in prior runs this year, but Thursday's blowout flow enhanced the transformation.

Various other sections from there down to the island rapid (next to the Lathrop lumber yard) seem to have changed in subtle ways. At the island rapid itself, we took the middle channel, even though the flow on the gauge at that point was below 700 cfs. It turned out to be quite fluid. I recommended that choice out of concern about possible wood in the right channel. We eddied out at the bottom of the middle channel and walked across the big island to look at the right channel, and found it completely open. However the bottom of it appeared quite different from what I remembered, and looked difficult to get through at that flow. At higher flows I suspect that staying left all the way through (doing less of an S turn) will be the best line.

The remainder of our run went cleanly, despite the low flow through a section strewn with large boulders, which tends to be the most demanding part of the run.

I drove up to Eagle Park after we were done and checked the Gilbert gauge. It was reading about 1.0 feet. I'm guessing it was at 1.2 when we put on.

While I was at Eagle Park a guy named Eric (from up near Johnson) showed up to do a solo run, with shuttle help by Will Parini. He examined the upstream corner of the fishing platform from his boat before heading downstream and saw signs of damage. The river had clearly come over the platform on Thursday, and there was quite a bit of debris on the upstream and downstream sides, with fresh sawdust on the platform itself. Apparently some logs had been cut and removed in the past two days. A Bristol resident who was instrumental in bringing about the construction of the platform in 2012 was also there when I arrived. He was there to assess any  damage that might have occurred during the flood.

The New Haven watershed is primed for a rapid rise and sustained flow with subsequent rainfall this fall. That is what we are getting as I write this (Sunday, October 27) for which 0.75 inches have been forecast. Let's get on it!

Ottawa River
Friday-Monday Aug 30-Sep 2, 2019
Organizer: Jim Poulin
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium low
Author: James Poulin

Friday, August 30, 2019

Level: -2.50

Weather: 70 and sunny

Camp this year is at Owl Rafting as our normal location, River Run Rafting, is closed for the season for renovations. From our observations driving by and Sarah’s bike ride through the facility, we didn’t see much renovating. Rumors abound that River Run will be closed next year as well since there have been permitting issues with the provincial government.

Between Ottawa traffic (when has that town become so busy?!?) and border crossing snafus, the various groups made it into camp a bit later than expected.

We opted for a park & play at McCoy’s versus the anticipated burner run down the Middle Channel given the late start (almost 6pm).

The sun was setting, the water was warm and not another paddler in sight. It was a beautiful evening to be on the river.

There were 7 paddlers: John, Paul, Chris F, Chris W, Sarah, Mark and Jim.

Rather than take the normal run out back to the put-in we marched over the island and paddled back to the put-in.

Got back to the car and it was just about dark. Back to camp for a late dinner and an early bed. Long day on the road but at least we got to get wet! 

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Level: -2.50

Weather: 70 and sunny

Morning Run

After a semi-leisurely morning we headed out of camp for a Middle Channel run. Being at Owl meant we needed to set shuttle as Owl is about 6 miles downstream of the normal River Run takeout. And that would be 6 miles of pretty much flatwater.

We had 12 paddlers for the morning run: John, Paul, Chris F, Chris W, Mark, Ryan, Sue, Rita, Boris, Dani, Philly Paul and Jim. Philly Paul came up to paddle for the weekend and was hanging out at the put-in looking for accomplices. I guess the VPC crew fit the bill as he paddled with us for the rest of the weekend.

As is often the case, there was much excitement at Phil’s Hole. While a few paddlers took on the Zoom Flume, there others were ready to face Phil. Most did well. John found the playboat tongue through Phil’s and lived to tell about it. Chris F found the left hand side of Phil’s to be quite sticky. But he hung on for what seemed like an eternity (from his perspective) before bailing out. The resulting swim through left side of Horseshoe left him a bit battered.

From there it was on to tackle the Middle Channel. Which at these levels included Iron Ring, S-Turn, Butterfly, a walk over Garvin’s Chute, Little No Name, Big No Name and Black Velvet.

It was the first time for Chris F and Ryan so some explanation was needed and we did scout Big No Name so they could get a sense of the line. Sue graciously agreed to lead the group through Big No Name.

Everyone enjoyed the sunny Canadian wilderness as we were among only a few paddlers on the river this fine morning. We took out at the Wilderness Tours takeout since River Run is closed. The Wilderness Tours takeout can be accessed about 100 yards north of River Run. On the river, it is about ½ mile upstream of the River Run takeout and can be easily found.

We made it back to camp around 1:00 pm for a quick lunch.

Afternoon Run

For various reasons we dropped a few paddlers for the afternoon run having 10 in total: John, Paul, Sarah, Chris W, Mark, Ryan, Boris, Dani, Philly Paul and Jim.

We put in at Upper Lorne to miss the flatwater paddle after McCoy’s. No one seemed to mind.

All was going swimmingly (OK, bad choice of words) until Coliseum. While hitting the main hole on the river left move, Boris dug hard on his paddle only to find there was no blade on one end. Snapped right off! The resulting confusion, not to mention all the squirrelly water over on the left, left him no choice but to abandon ship. Maybe in a moment of clarity he could have mimicked a C-1 boater and finished the rapid with a single blade. But today was not that day.

John happened to have a breakdown paddle in his boat. Yay John!

After that, Paul tried his luck on the Dog Leg slot to find a pretty good sized hole waiting for him. Most of the rest of us saw that and decided the far right line at Dog Leg would suit us just fine.

Made it back to camp well before dark and had plenty of time to enjoy happy hour.

We bid farewell to Mark as he needed to get home. It was his anniversary on Sunday so we did not give him too much crap for leaving early.

There was a live band at the pavilion this evening. We listened from camp, which was fine. A few strolled down for a better view and found this music was best enjoyed from a distance to help muffle the rough edges. But you must give Owl points for trying to keep us entertained (as if the river does not provide enough excitement!). 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Level: -2.75

Weather: 70 and sunny

We had 10 paddlers for today’s run: John, Sarah, Paul, Chris F, Ryan, Rita, Boris, Dani, Philly Paul and Jim

The plan was to run the Main Channel. But after three watery runs and two walks we licked our wounds and decided the energy level of the group favored a run down the Middle Channel. Dani and Philly Paul stuck with the Main Plan and the rest of us ventured down the Middle. Dani mentioned later that the Jackson Team was at Push Button putting on quite the show.

It was a very enjoyable run and we barely saw any paddlers. We did see a number of spectators along the way — at Garvin’s and Black Velvet — that made us wonder how they got there.

We made it back to camp before happy hour. We bid adieu to Sue, Rita and Chris W as they headed back to Vermont this evening.

Speaking of happy hour, it was Tequila Night. I am sure something of note happened over the next few hours, but I am not at liberty to say what those things might have been. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!) 

Monday, September 2, 2019

Level: -2.75

Weather: 70 and sunny

By the time any of us woke up, Boris had already hit the road — an earlier departure to miss the metro New York holiday traffic.

Ryan and his family were also planning to take off later in the morning and he would not be dipping a paddle today either. But not before he helped us set shuttle!

We set off on the Main Channel from the top with 5 paddlers: John, Sarah, Paul, Chris F and Jim.

John and Chris Zoom Flumed and the rest took the standard “thread the needle” line through McCoy’s. At this time of day, 9:30 am, there were no other paddlers or rafts on the river. It was quite nice.

When we got to Upper Lorne there were three paddlers in Garb. As we went around the corner to Pushbutton we came across a bunch of early morning play hounds maybe 25 boaters! and they boated like locals.

We left them behind and for the rest of the run had a wilderness run without other paddlers or rafts.

We had one swim at Norman's but we regrouped and all of us cleaned Coliseum. It was just Dog Leg and Black’s between us and the end of the weekend. All were sad that the weekend was truly ending but we pushed on.

We made it back to camp in record time (12:30!) and everyone was on the road before 2:00 pm.

Another Ottawa trip is in the books! See you again next year.



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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