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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

2016...

NBL dressed in Whites.... Sunday Feb 28, 2016
Baker Valley Saturday Mar 12, 2016
Gihon & Trout Thursday Mar 17, 2016
Wells Laps... Saturday Mar 26, 2016
Green Release-IBEX Shoot Saturday Apr 2, 2016
Joes at Low Water Saturday Apr 9, 2016
North Branch Winooski after work Tuesday Apr 12, 2016
Browns River Saturday Apr 16, 2016
New Haven Ledges Race Saturday Apr 16, 2016
Hudson Gorge Saturday Apr 23, 2016
PA to VT Part 8 Friday-Monday Apr 29-May 2, 2016
Paddling the Laurentians - Doncaster, Du Nord & Noire Saturday-Sunday Apr 30-May 1, 2016
Midd Gorge Tuesday May 3, 2016
Mad River Wednesday May 4, 2016
Clarendon Gorge Sunday May 15, 2016
The Vermonter and the Spruce Saturday May 21, 2016
Reintroduction... Monday Jun 6, 2016
Ottawa River - Labor Day Weekend Friday-Monday Sep 2-5, 2016
North Br. Piscataquog, Weare, NH Saturday Oct 15, 2016
The Green was gold Saturday Nov 5, 2016
Missisquoi release Sunday Nov 6, 2016

2016...

NBL dressed in Whites....
Sunday Feb 28, 2016
Organizer: Ryan
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Ryan

Skiing is really stinky this year.  And that is after adjusting expectations many times over.  So when there is water in the river, the decision to head to the mountain or head to the river is just that much easier!!!!!

 

Henry picked up a new boat last week and is looking to jump back into the gene pool of boating after a couple year hiatus.  Good to have another boater on this side of the Greens with similar tastes in river.  I put out the call to arms to see whom would  be interested in getting on the classic NBL, even though it would be somewhat low.  We got the ever eager Mr Mainer to sign on.

 

We met at the take out to set shuttle.  Dang it was kind of cold out.  Montpelier was sporting close to 40 degrees and sunny.  It couldn't have been more than 25 up in Waterville.  No big deal, just needed to get a move on and start paddling to warm up.  The river was pretty low, but still seemed pretty fluid if you picked it apart.  We put in up off of Back Road at the covered bridge.  The initial few miles were pleasant and rather enjoyable...  Once in the gorge, the sun came out and the snowy caps on each of the rocks and boulders really added to the beauty of the first run down the gorge.  The level was about as low as I'd ever been on that run - but was good enough to make a fun run down through the gorge.  If you have not had a chance to run the NBL gorge, you should get out there and do it - it is very rhythmic and unlike many rivers in VT, there is always something going in to deal with.  Most rivers in VT are bedrock grade control and not boulder riffle.  Having a stretch of river in NVT that is boulder strewn is a nice change and it keeps you moving and maneuvering. 

 

At the take out Henry and I decided it was so good that we were going to hit up a 2nd lap.  Mainer needed to get back to Chittenden County (something about work).  So Mike was gracious enough to help run shuttle for us and dropped Henry and I at the School.  A nice hike across the field (was weird not to be punching post holes across the field..neither of us were complaining.  Once in the gorge it was evident that it the level had droped a couple of inches from our first lap.  It was definitely too low, but still manageable.  The sun was out in full force and the run was again beautiful...

 

We did a little eddy bobbing at the bottom to just float and enjoy the river...  Out of the river, I drained my old battle ship.  Not as much water had made it in as in run one, I was pretty happy about that and figured I had some sealing to do around the outfitting bolts.  Once the water was out of the drain bung, I kind of let the boat flop over...  It was cold but wasn't cold enough for what happened when my boat flopped.  Directly at the front of my seat a crack opened up transecting the entire bottom of my hull - HOLY SMOKES - the boat almost broke in half.  I've been told when the air is below 20 that the plastic gets pretty brittle, but this was nuts and it wasn't that cold.  Looks like it is back to the welder and some reinforcement on the inside.  Still not confident that it will hold.  Henry just chuckled and said good thing it is a beater boat....  He was right!

 

Pretty amazing how little snow pack there is for the 2016 spring run off.  Lets hope we see 10+" of rain in April..... on top of that 35-45" pf snow we should see in March.

Baker Valley
Saturday Mar 12, 2016
Organizer: Mainer
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium low
Author: McCall

Sunny Skies and clear clean water was on the agenda for our trip trip to NH.  With less than an alpine start, we met at the Montpelier Park and Ride to saunter to Barre where we snagged Henry and the 6 of us from VT headed over to NH to meet up with Brandon and Jamie at the put in for the SB Baker.  The level was at a flowy medium. 

 

All of us were happy to be on water and floating down the river.  Water temps reminded you that we were really still barely into spring.  All rapids went cleanly down to the entrance to the old mill.  There was a log that was easily moved.  At that point we all ran lines through to the last drop of varying degrees of cleanliness.  Below the Mill Drop we bopped on down to the confluence with Rocky Branch and Cannibal Falls.  No one nutted up to fire Cannibal on this trip, but it was definitely primed and ready to go. 

 

From Cannibal Falls on down, the group spread out and everyone picked apart the rapids and drops until we hit the last big slide, which everyone ran far right and cleanly.......  If you haven't had a chance to run the SB Baker and you are a budding creeker looking for a mix of bedrock and boulder rapids, this is a fun class 3/4 run with lots of action.

 

Next we headed to Pond Brook for a fun run on a quality bedrock run with fun slides and a whopper of a boof at the end!  Mega Slide served up a few tense moments but the folks that ran it ran it with their own personal panache....what a quality rapid.  What a great run and everyone was ear to ear smiles at the bottom....  Other than paddling past the take out (MAINER) I would say I like Pond a little more than SB Baker just because of the style of rapids and continuous manner with which it drops downward to the Baker. 

 

After the run we shared brews, stories and caught up with another group of boaters that included Tom and Becca driving over from Maine to sample the goods. 

 

Over all a great day of early season boating for all of us present.....

Gihon & Trout
Thursday Mar 17, 2016
Organizer: Jordan V
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: too high
Author: Jordan V

There was still some snow left in the mountains of Northern Vermont with a blast of rain overnight levels on the Gihon were at a nice medium (3ft on covered bridge).  Eric and I started with a full lap on the Gihon.  The upper section with nice flows on a sunny day is one of the best sections of Vermont white water.  The dam packed a punch at the bottom and the boof above "balls to the wall" was in for all its glory.  We met Ben at the takeout and decided to do a quick lower only Gihon before making plans with Billy and heading up to the Trout.  

            I had walked short sections of the Trout when I was early in my boating career and a group had gone up last year raving about the unique boulder gardens so it had been on my mind for this spring.  We put in behind the Belfry restaurant on Jay branch scraping down (1 dash on the bridge gauge).  This was surprisingly clear of wood but too low to enjoy very much as we scraped down to the confluence of another tributary (wade brook?) after about a quarter mile.  Now we were officially on the Trout and the water level became a comfortable low.  Eddy hoping our way through many boulder gardens the walls steepened a bit and horizon lines began to appear.  A great wall ride on the right marked the start of the fun stuff!  A few drops later we came to a four stage rapid.  The first spout was clean but led into a sieved out middle boulder that looked less than favorable.  Third drop had a tree in it and the fourth slide was clean with an overhanging wall on the right.  Ben ran everything as the rest of us portaged on the left.    We paddled more boulder gardens feeling we were close to the end of the run we were on the lookout for the un-runnable waterfall.  We scouted on the right and sure enough this thing is as ugly looking as i remember.  We portaged on the right and were rewarded with the highlight of the run.  Two back to back 10 footers landing in a deep pool.  There is some curtain/pin possibility so we set good safety and fired it up, all of us had good lines.  We scrambled down some boogie with one or two more fun drops to the takeout at Montgomery Center.  Even though the Trout has been paddled many times by prior it felt like such an exploratory run for us.  All of us seasoned northeast boaters getting a personal first descent in Vermont was a great feeling.  

    Billy made his way home while Ben and I decided we were driving by the Gihon anyway might as well do a bomber (full) lap while Eric drove shuttle.  The lap was a great cap to an awesome day of Northern VT boating!  

 

Jordan V

             

 

Wells Laps...
Saturday Mar 26, 2016
Organizer: Henry Shepley
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Ryan

We saw substantial rain on Friday so figured it would be a good day to get after some goods on Saturday.  Perfect day for it.

Chan and Henry were in route and gave me a shout, so I headed out and met them at 1pm at the F&W access area.  The water was clear and cold. No one was anywhere around, which was surprising considering that nothing else was really running in VT at the time.

We put on and paddled up to a regularly unrun rapid above the normal put in.  Nice way to warm up and get the blood pumping...

On our first lap when we got to the second rapid Mike Lawlor wa on shore looking to join us but not in his gear yet.  We said we would rip out a quick lap and meet him at the take out.  A few rapids after seeing Mike we were at El Salto.  Right line went cleanly and we were off to the bottom with a few more fun rapids in there for good measure.  The bottom rapid, Tantra had a tree in it and we wasted some time trying to remove it...  Better left to the Dartmouth kids to trim. prior to the Wells River Rumble coming up on 4/24.

Lap 2 Mike joined us and we sessioned just about every rapid twice.  The sun was out and we had the river to our selves.

We rapped with a beer and headed to P&H truck stop.  I grabbed a pie to take home to the family and the boys scarfed some of the best home cooked truck stop food in the Upper Valley!

Green Release-IBEX Shoot
Saturday Apr 2, 2016
Organizer: Ryan
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Ryan

Low Green Release - lots written before of it.

Huge turn out 35-40 boaters, many making multiple laps.

Ibex showed up to do a product shoot.  They coordinated with Tom Sterns (land owner) to hike into Humble Pie and cover folks firing off the falls.

Good day on the river

Joes at Low Water
Saturday Apr 9, 2016
Organizer: Ryan
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Ryan

Joes...  10 miles, 1000 feet of vertical.  Best whitewater run in VT - Maybe?

 

I woke up early and called GMP to see what the gauge was reading at the dam and how much they were running through the penstock that morning.  The operator said the bladder was 1/3 deflated, the gauge was reading 5.2 and they were at full power generation.  That should correlate to a good amount of water in the river bed.  We rally 12 folks up there for a 10am put on and are all shocked at how low the water levels are.  NUTZ!

 

Well, we are here, so lets go slide down some lubed up rock.  The fact is it was too low, but still fun enough  to enjoy the rapids.  So 12 of us put in at the power house and got to it.  The first 3 or so miles is beautiful with ledges rapids here and there through a cedar swamp.  The only strainer that needed portaged is the same one that was there 2 years ago.  It's massive and you are best to eddy out on river right. 

 

As things start to pick up we came into the biggest slide on the regularly run stretch.  The only option was to run the meat of the current on river right.  All that ran it ran it cleanly and we were on our way to Greenbanks Hollow and the beginning of the Miracle Mile section of Joes.  Several of us ran the covered bridge rapid, most were clean, some not so much...but no swims.  From there it was slide after slide after slide....  Shallow slides, but they went.

 

Morse Mills section was up next and that was a pretty busy section of water too. Still too shallow to really get the feel for Joes, but fun, with some convoluted rapids to get after.

The only true gorge on the river was the next section of note, it was pretty mellow and clean this day due to the low flows - every one styled it....

Last up was the rapid at the bottom of the run under the green bridge.  It was the only rapid of the day that was fluid.  It was the only rapid of the day that produced a swim too. 

 

It was a sunny andd fun day on Joes - Everyone ended the run wanting more.  Hard to believe a 4 hour run didn't quench everyone's desire for the day....  Next time it will have to be with more water.

 

North Branch Winooski after work
Tuesday Apr 12, 2016
Organizer: Ryan
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium
Author: Ryan

NBW on a Tuesday night after work... Perfect way to cap a day long staff meeting at the office!!!!

 

Rains were plenty and the NBW had popped to a good fluid level.  Emails were flying back and forth for the afternoon.  We had two solid groups on the river, mine with two never-evers for the run.  Always fun to show a newbie down this river because of the progressiion with how it builds to the bigger drops.

 

Big Bouncy and the Final drop were a little low for them to be fluid, but they both went well enough.  Some of had cleaner lines than others at each of those signature drops - but they were all fun for sure!  The final drop is quickly becoming a high water only drop with the tree that is choking off the river left option which is a bummer because that may be one of the better lines on the river.

 

All in all a great evening on the river.  Some of the guys had so much fun that they ripped up to the put in for a second lap.

Browns River
Saturday Apr 16, 2016
Organizer: Kris Barrowman
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: low boatable

Decided to run the Browns even with levels low as I haven't paddled this since my years with the Northern Vermont Canoe Cruisers some twenty-two years ago. The level was approximately 6" below the bridge abutment at the put-in. We scouted the dam and thought the left-side slide would result in just scraping and way too big a hit against the rock creating a small rooster-tail at the foot of the slide. We chose a center line which alas was slightly too far left. Both my son and I checked the fish count as our rear quarters were caught in the pour-over hydraulic from the slide and endered us with a twist. Kris wouldn't have this and Lief helped portage back upstream for a second go. This time Kris had it clean on a centerline drop into the dam's hole with good countering hip action and strokes to get past the multiple currents grabbing in the hole. S-turn rapid was smooth. We river scouted and discussed a dry-land scout for the 1st river-wide drop by the house on the left. Memory of a run 20 some odd years ago wasn't so clear. With some careful eddy-work to preview our line, we chose to drop it without a scout. It was in good shape and we took a line in the middle for the largest drop. Further downriver at the last drop by the island we stopped for a break and scouted for logs. The left channel was clogged with a lot of debris, starting with the remains of a beaver dam up top. On the far right of the island, the chute looked clean; but, didn't have nearly enough water to cover the exposed fanfare of rocks. The center lines had a birch log parallel to the current flow exposed just below the first drop. With the log present we thought making a narrow line in the center but tight right against the island possible with more water.  We chose river center, just right of the rock with trees, keeping just left of the birch log camped in the middle. Lief dropped the first ledge and with an extremely fast duffek was able to twist to the right below the log river center for good water over the final drop and to avoid a flat exposed rock on the left. Kris took a nice straight line with momentum through both drops and simply boofed off of the rock at the precipice of the larger lower drop. The remainder of the paddle to McNall road took good river-reading skills to stay off the rocks in the river-wide shallows and we each scraped a few times. Now with a refresher we'll take it on with more water the next times we have rains. Good time and a really fun paddle. Caution should be taken especially if higher waters move the birch log to broach the center line by the island drop.

New Haven Ledges Race
Saturday Apr 16, 2016
Organizer: Ryan, WIll and Ben
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Ryan

The 8th Annual New Haven Ledges Race  

 

To be or not to be, that was the question... Vermont had its worst winter in history and our spring runoff didn’t exist this year. In spite of no watery goodness from our standard snow pack, we were getting weekly deluges that would spike our rivers to fun flows and beyond, only to flush out in a day or two. This was the cycle for late March and early April.  

 

During the week leading up to the 2016 Ledges Race we began to get lots of inquiries about the race. As social media was buzzing about levels being too low for the event, we got one of our weekly drubbings of rain the Tuesday before the race. I think every creek boat in VT was on a car roof the afternoon of that storm headed with its owner to a favorite creek for a lap or two. By the next morning most of the rivers had dropped out and were unrunnable, but the New Haven Ledges was at a low but raceable level. The Race Committee needed to make a call, hold tight or bump the race out a week. The long range forecast wasn’t looking any better if we made a decision to bump the race out a week hoping for more rain. The call was made to stand fast and race on 4/16 and hold our breath. We headed to the Ledges the day before the race to set up the start ramp. Myself and Will Seegers, fellow co-organizer, and Ben Schott put in a lap at the lowest we had ever run it to see what race lines would be in or out. All of the drops were boatable, but definitely not raceable.

 

Time to improvise…. We decided it was best to cut the race course in half. This required some creative thinking for the ramp placement. Ultimately we put the ramp in just above the Ledges section of the run. The ramp installation made for a long and steep angle to the kicker that landed you feet from the entry rapid to the Ledges section. We were very happy with the location and installation. Now we just needed to have the water hold for another 24 hours.  

 

Saturday came bright and cold with the mercury predicted to head upwards of 65 degrees. At 7:30 when I arrived the levels looked to have held. Game On!!! Will and I got to it setting up the registration table and sipping some nice hot coffee as racers began to trickle in. The standard comment was, “Man, it seems a little on the low side” and “Are you sure we can race this at that level.” Both Will and I sort of grinned and said “Get suited up and take a practice lap”.  

 

As the registration numbers rose above 20, Will and I were pleasantly surprised because we didn’t expect any more than 20 due to low water levels. Ultimately we had 48 racers signed up by 10am, ready for the pre-race meeting. 48 racers is our highest number of registrants since 2011. The low flows didn’t seem to deter the racers from donning a race bib and getting on the start ramp.   

 

The lower levels and shorter race course this year brought the intensity down some for the day. This is probably part of what was behind the number of participants as well. The boating was relaxed -instead of charging each hole to punch it, folks adopted a more fluid style, looking for the deep pools where they could dig and stayed light and fast where they had to bump and grind through the shallows. Folks with a slalom background were prevailing. There were a few bone-zoners that were holding their own in the rankings as well.  

 

What was obvious from the beginning of the day was that everyone was on board with having a good time, enjoying the sunshine and what flow we actually had to boat on. I’m pretty sure that there wasn’t a single person without a smile on their face by the time the last racer crossed the finish line.  

 

Something of note for the 2016 Race was that we had 7 women race this year. We have never had more than 3, ever! It was awesome seeing these women on the course and hammering it out as fast if not faster than a number of the “dudes”. I also think they were smiling bigger than any of the guys.   

 

Our sponsorship was once again top notch, we had our usual suspects that have been long time supporters and we picked up a new one. Our sponsors really make the event legitimate with the prizes that they so generously provide. Our original two sponsors Mountain Khaki and Shred Ready were once again happy to step up and provide us with schwag for our local race. Werner Paddles, Five Ten, Astral Buoyancy, Liquid Logic, Stohlquist Waterwear, NPMB, Watershed Zipdry, Immersion Research and Otter Creek Brewing all have been helping us with the race the last two to three years and the racers are always excited to see them on board as sponsors. Also, we had a new comer this year with Darn Tough Socks. It was very cool to have another local VT sponsor. We rewarded online registrants with a free pair of Darn Tough socks. Lastly, our local club, the Vermont Paddlers Club sponsors the race every year in a number of ways. Without the VPC’s support this race wouldn’t be nearly as smoothly run as it has over the last 8 years. Thank you to all of our sponsors!  

 

Winners – Anyone that shows up to race is a winner. I am pretty sure we had enough schwag and prizes on hand that even with 48 racers everyone went home with something, even if it was just a Beer Coozie or two. Interestingly enough, it seems that if you have a background in Nordic ski racing you are on the podium. This year, Culley Brown, a Nordic ski racer, was blistering fast on his 2nd lap posting a 2:23. Justin Beckwith (another Nordic ski racer) is a three time winner but couldn’t find the extra 3 seconds to out run Culley, posting a time of 2:25. In third, we had a tie between Cody Wasuta and Cameron Fearey at 2:28. The women were in the mix with Becca Austin ripping a 2:46 as the fastest female, bringing her in ahead of a vast majority of the men that entered the race.   There were other awards handed out at the race including best carnage, youngest racer, oldest racer, longest drive, etc... We had a lot of fun with the awards!  

 

The future of the New Haven Ledges Race…. Look for it in 2017. We once again were light on our feet and made the race happen in spite of challenging conditions with flows. A lot of the racers liked the shortened course, the longer and steeper starting ramp and even some prefer the lower flows. We, the organizers, appreciate that folks keep showing up and keep having fun. Without the racers we have no race, DUH! We want to keep the racers having fun so they can give us feedback about what they want to see in the race, keeping it fresh and relevant.  

 

It’s a tradition to be the first Creek Race of the season, its family and friends that look to knock the cobwebs off on the Ledges and get their season started proper in VT. We like that and we’ll keep it coming if you keep coming…..

Hudson Gorge
Saturday Apr 23, 2016
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium
Author: Tony Shaw

If a sun-splashed, day-long, 15+ mile trip down NY's Indian River and Hudson Gorge with 5 good friends can be called uneventful, then this scheduled VPC trip was indeed uneventful. There were a few delays getting to the put-in, but once we got on the river we managed to stay on the bubble all the way to the North River take-out. For Jim, who has done the Gorge as high as a burly 10 feet, today's 4.1 > 4.2 foot level surely felt tame.

On the Indian, Ken (on his first ever NYS whitewater trip) remained in close proximity to Jim's stern, trusting Jim to vet (and wet) a line through the long series of cross-currents and haystacks which make up Indian Head Rapid and similarly down through the Gooley Steps. The other kayakers, aside from Mike, were not far behind Ken, and this string of kayakers reminded me of a mother duck and her well-behaved ducklings, all in a row.

Mike seemed content to look for more meaty lines, play waves, and caves inhabited by really big spiders. After a while, he figured out that in the heavier rapids he would have ample time to spin, ferry, surf, and play, because inevitably I would need two minutes to get to shore and empty out my canoe in the calmer water below. I had one harrowing moment in Harris Rift, where I got spun around and went over one of the center ledges in reverse, but there were no swims all day, by anyone.

By the afternoon, mother duck Jim had pushed his (her?) ducklings out of the proverbial nest, or maybe more accurately the ducklings simply flew the coop, because they all seem to have left Jim in the dust and were all picking their own lines merrily down through the rapids that come in quick succession below Staircase (a.k.a. the Blue Ledge Narrows). At 4.2 there are multiple lines from which to choose, once you reach the Hudson.

For a run dubbed "one of the great river trip of the East" by Alec Proskine (in Adirondack Canoe Waters), the Indian and Hudson were all but deserted on this day. Perhaps this was the silver lining of our later-than-intended launch, but we encountered only one 3-man raft all day, plus 3 other kayakers, and a couple of folks on shore, fishin'.

PA to VT Part 8
Friday-Monday Apr 29-May 2, 2016
Organizer: Ryan
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Ryan

It was another year of the PA crew coming up to hit some VT Creeks. This year was the latest it had ever been for the trip.  We paid for it in low water and plastic shards left on the river bottoms.

 

To start off the trip - Dan and Jason made a leisurely drive up from South Central PA to meet me for a late afternoon lap at the Ledges.  It was stupid low.... like 140cfs low.  Although we were all smiling and laughing about how damn low it was and how bad we were banging our way down the river, it was fun to be out in the evening sun and on water again with each other.  Living close to 500 miles away from each other, all dads, and in busy careers - doesn't leave much time these days to make road trips to get together for random weekends of boating.  After the suffer fest on the ledges, we decided on lap of boat abuse was enough and beat feet over App Gap for some BBQ at the local smoke house.

 

Next up was the Hudson.  We entertained heading up to QC with another crew, but ultimately headed over to NY for some fun on a classic none of us had ever paddled.  To round out the group, Jamie D and Paul C met us in Addison for the rip over to the put in on the Indian.  When we got to the put in a random Toyota Prius came skidding in beside us and out popped this crazily energetic little old "dude" that quickly introduced himself to all of us and then asked to join our group since we were the only kayakers on the river that day.....  Mind you, after he introduced himself, I started to put some recognition to his name.  Pete Skinner... Where the hell did I hear that name before????  Then it just popped - this squirly old guy that was bouncing of the ground with each step, was the famous Pete Skinner that has paddled the Niagara Gorge not once but twice!!!  He also has had first descents all over North America and is responsible for a number of our whitewater releases here in the north east!  So quickly my day turned from just a paddle on the Hudson to, Holy Shit, I'm Paddling with the "Sam Snead" of kayaking today!

The run went with out much incident - we all had a blast, dodging big holes and moving around a big water river, something we don't need to do much of in VT.  The PA fellas, were loving the sunshine and the scenery is absolutely gorgeous down the river!!!  I personally was trying my best not to get munched on too much in some of the holes, and was loving the big water all the while listening to story after story from Pete.  What an ambassador for kayaking!  I could be mis-quoting this, but I believe he said he was 69 years old and with out a doubt was paddling way the hell better than any of us.  On the way home we scouted Putnam Creek and managed to hit a great spot in Vergennes for Dinner.

 

Day 3 we woke to rain and I had to coach a soccer game for my Daughters team.  So we made plans to head to the Wells after the game and get in a few laps there.  I believe it was flowing around 160 cfs, low but not the lowest.  We fired off two laps and made the most of it by sessioning El Salto and trying to perfect the middle line off the flake.  We all hit it cleanly a number of times, but there were some really ugly lines that were too close to the shelf as well....ouch.

 

A run home and the weekend of festivities had come to an end for me - my 7 year old was sick and I'd be hanging with her the next day as Dan and Jason headed back to PA.  Visions of hitting up the Midd dissolved as we all said we can't wait to do it all over again next year....albeit, with more water!

Paddling the Laurentians - Doncaster, Du Nord & Noire
Saturday-Sunday Apr 30-May 1, 2016
Organizer: Carleton & Culley
Difficulty: flatwater
Level: medium
Author: Mike M

There's some good whitewater in the Laurentides north of Montreal.  For some reason a lot of folks think you have to go somewhere far away and exotic to find good whitewater - and promptly tell you about their $3000 trip to Norway or Chile.  Meanwhile us Vermonters scoff and then head an hour north to the border.  Why?  Because of the Quebec whitewaters.

 

The first river we did was the Doncaster.  I don't know exactly what the level was (there's some gauge rock somewhere), but if felt like a Quebec medium-low.  It's pretty similar to Joe's Brook in VT - long-ish slides and ledges, with easier boogie between - though it's shorter but a little steeper.  It even has a multi-part rapid halfway down you'll probably want to scout.  There were tons of Quebeckers around and of course they were all ridiculously friendly.  So friendly we just had to head up for another lap with about 20 of them.  It was crowded and a lot of French was spoken, but we did our best to blend in.  Will even roped a swimmer out.

 

The crowd sort of dissipated after that, but the two local A-teamers, Alex and Loic were game to hit the nearby Du Nord.  This is only about 20 minutes away, is a little harder and holds water a little better than the Doncaster.  Anyways, we got to the takeout bridge, looked at the poorly-conceived gauge and our two new friends called the level high.  Then they chattered in unintelligible French, pronounced the level medium and off we went to the put-in.

 

As soon as we left the put-in I noticed the amount of water in the riverbed and the way it boiled off ledges on the side.  By the time we made it past the massive holes in the first few rapids, I realized this was not un niveau moyenne (a medium level)... it was un niveau moyenne-sportif.  Nevertheless, our guides did a good job of running us through the half-dozen or so slides and ledges in the first half of the run (minus the waterfall, which our hosts ran, but not us) before we hopped out for a portage around a very marginal section that has everything wrong with it and could kill you in at least a dozen ways (yet apparently has been run).  Back on the water there were more rapids - another half-dozen or so primarily boulder gardens with fun juicy boofy moves.  This turned out to be a great run and 25 cms was a great solid medium level.  This runs a lot I'm told, and is sort of the Montreal version of the New Haven.

 

That evening we headed a little farther northeast to the Riviere Noire.  This area was surprisingly wild and it seemed like the vast semi-boreal spruce forest belonged up north of Quebec City, not 45 minutes outside of the second largest city in the northeast.  We found a great stealth campsite right at the Noire takeout and enjoyed a cold starry night's sleep.

 

The Noire the next morning was a lot of fun.  10 or 11 cms is a nice level - medium, maybe low side of medium.  It's only 2 or 3 miles long, I think, but there's a good-sized bedrock rapid every one or two tenths of a mile or so.  There was a pretty nice variety too - some ledges, small slides, a pinch with a bad hole we carried around, a big cascade we ran that probably broke my boat and some more good-sized ledges.  All of this was tough enough to be interesting but never that scary.  The last section was the best - the granite got really smooth (a rarity in Quebec) and a three great bedrock drops came back to back.

 

At the takeout there were yet more Quebec boaters - friendly as ever - wanting us to join them for our second lap.  Unfortunately we had to head home but that's not that far away.  From the Noire it was only 3 hours back to Burlington.

Midd Gorge
Tuesday May 3, 2016
Organizer: Jordan Vickers
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: low boatable

The day before the New Haven Ledges was at a medium flow which generally means the Middlebury Gorge will be good the next day.  We met at 4pm the following day for a typical low water Midd Gorge run.  We quickly loaded boats in Justin's truck and were at the put in in no time.  It was a beautiful spring day with warm temps and sunshine.  We scraped down from the regular put in and were able to get under two logs that are river wide just below the put in.  As you go deeper into the gorge things start getting more constricted and fluid.  Justin had cut a sneak around the first log portage and him and Mooney wheel chaired over the second one keeping it a no portage run.  Arriving at the entrance to the Birth Canal Ryan got out to take some photos and Justin and I were providing beta for Pat as it was his first time there.  I went first and had a less than good boof off fallopian but landed upright and waited for the rest of the group.  Pat came next and had no seperation, melting the falls.  He disappeared for a few seconds going very deep, finally resurfacing upside down toward the river left room.  He pulled his skirt and groaned in pain (shoulder).  I quickly paddled up to the room where he grabbed my boat getting him away from the undercut walls and safely downstream.  Justin and Ryan quickly were there to help assist Pat and get his gear still in the same spot he swam.  Amidst the rescue I managed to look upstream and catch a glimpse of Beckwith with an amazing boof off Fallopian (still not sure how).  After several minutes we were able to get Pat's shoulder back in place and Justin volunteered to walk him out of the Gorge on river right.  Meanwhile Ryan and I had to get both their boats and paddles to river left by Cunnilingus so they could easily get them later.  Catching a micro eddy mid Cunnilingus is not an easy task.  Ryan and I made quick work of getting the gear across the river and turned our focus back to getting downstream.  A quick scout at Rebirth for wood and were were on our way.  Racing down the river to get to the car we came across a couple in a "romantic situation" on a flat rock just upstream and out of sight of "Your Mom."  We gave a hoot and a holler and kept on charging.   We made it to the takeout in twelve minutes from exiting the Birth Canal.  I got in my car to go get Justin and Ryan and as I pulled out they rounded the corner.  Getting Pat to the car we cut his wrist gasket on his drytop and were able to get his gear off.  Ryan made a sling from some plastic (poncho maybe) and duct tape.  Having Pat comfortable I ran Ryan and Justin back up to get the boats we left upstream and I made my way home.  It was a very eventful day on the Middlebury.  I was impressed how quickly Justin and Pat made it up out of the gorge and down to the car.  We had quality gear transferring in the gorge.  Mooney made quite the sling and I am thankful my wife (Kristen) taught me how to reset shoulders.   

Mad River
Wednesday May 4, 2016
Organizer: Jim Poulin
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Jim Poulin

Two sure signs of spring: 1. fisherpersons are now on the river and play boats are starting to make an appearance after a long winter's nap.

And so it was as we met on the lower Mad river on a cool and cloudy day in early May.  No sun to be had and temps lingered around 50.

We had some rain just as we were changing into our paddling gear, making sure that our "dry" clothes were really not that dry.  And then it rained again right as we took off so we needed to change into our semi-dry clothes, again in the rain.  Of course it did not rain while we were on the river and there was not enough rain to give us a juicier ride.

Once on the river we meandered downstream stopping for an occasional play wave or interesting eddy.  But in general at this level, there is not much going on other than dodging rocks. 

Everyone had a great time (measured in smiles) and stories were told in the flat water sections.  There were no interesting events at Horseshoe with clean lines all around.

There was one swim at the last rapid (Old Schoolers like me call it Commotion) but we quickly recovered from that and moved on to the takeout.

The takeout proved to be the most difficult thing we did all day.  In good weather the Winooski takeout is difficult.  Throw in a receding river that exposes some nice mud and a bit of rain to make it even more slick and you've got yourself some fun.  There were grunts and groans and some contortionist moves to get out of still floating boats.  And that was just me!  But no one ended up in the drink so I am claiming success!

Bottom line, a good group of folks running a familiar river in early May at low water.  Nothing to complain about here!  

jimp

Clarendon Gorge
Sunday May 15, 2016
Organizer: Jamie Dolan
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Jamie

It’s not often enough that I can get on the Mill River / Clarendon Gorge. With the buds coming out and limited rainfall, we were fortunate to be able to get on this gem, albeit at a low level. We were evenly divided between those that had done the river before and those for whom it was a first. The opening rapids only give a hint as to how steep and tight the coming gorges are. A couple of the guys were a little wide eyed, especially after the opening rapid caused a couple of rolls. Nothing like not having any warm up on a cool day to jump into IV. That was the only real excitement on the water for the day. A few of the rapids gave a little pause (particularly the next to last one). Overall fairly straight forward at this level. The covered Bridge rapid had me turned around a bit but without consequence. The others that ran it were much cleaner. Once again, the owners of the house at the covered bridge came out for some sharing . And we learned Chandler is apparently going to be a diplomat. Noah will hopefully write a short summary of the (overall positive) interaction and post it on the message board. The devil’s gorge rapid had most throwing in their boats and then following. Once again, Chandler was the man as he showed us all how to do a proper back flip. With a few scouts we managed to do the trip in a couple three hours at a very relaxed pace. Everyone managed to leave with a smile.

The Vermonter and the Spruce
Saturday May 21, 2016
Organizer: Jordan & Culley
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium low
Author: Mike M

"Scott, Welcome to the A team"

-Jordan V

 

"Hah, I'll remind you of that tomorrow when you're sweating yours *$s off thrashing through dense Quebec forest portages.  I'm still game, ***k 10k, I can portage the whole ***m thing if I have to..."

-Scott G

 

The paddling scene in Quebec has grown a lot the past couple years, from the number of paddlers, to the number of known runs, to how much of a paddling destination Quebec has become.  Of course there's something to be said of the skill of local paddlers - mainly that runs up there will always be harder than you expect.

 

A long shuttle brought us far up a drainage I had heard of, but never explored.  Yet our goal was not in this watershed, but the one next door - a creek dropping 1400 vertical feet.  It was first paddled a few years ago, and had only seen a few runs each year, but was rumored to be on of the best in Quebec.  Culley and Jordan wanted something new and challenging, and this seemed like a good opportunity.

 

The hike in started with a mile or so up a logging road - steep but not unbearable.  Then we took a right on an ATV trail and followed this a half mile to a small, very quiet lake.  This was a pristine, beautiful spot - perfect for an afternoon spent napping and fishing.  We paddled across the lake and then thrashed and post-holed through rotten, brushy, surprisingly deep snow for an hour or so.  We got the route just right and hit the put-in lake, had a quick snack, and then paddled across.  There was really no question of where to go - one end of the lake wandered off between mountains, while the other end led to a huge horizon line.  Not the sort of horizon line you get at the top of just a single big rapid.

 

We made a quick portage around an old crib dam, then routed through a few nice boat-scoutable rapids.  There was a bigger drop - good to go, then a canyon rapid that ended in a bad hole - also good to go although we decided we couldn't spend the time doing a full scout and safety with so much river left.  There was more good stuff below here - reasonable class IV-IV+ boulder and bedrock stuff.  We followed this into a sketchy eddy above something larger - another canyon rapid - doable but terminating just above something truly huge.  I didn't even look at the big one before being sure we wouldn't run it.

 

The portage was classic Quebec.  Steep, very brushy and somehow extremely hot despite the late-May snowpack.  We dropped down a gulley to the bottom of the massive rapid, which turned out to be a big slide with real gnar above and below it.  I'd guess it drops at least a hundred vertical feet in about the same horizontal distance, and it's hardly clean.  Remarkably, it's been run twice by crazy locals - they call it "Gandalf the White".  This is probably the biggest rapid I've ever personally seen that's been run.

 

Below this things dropped into what looked like a deep canyon.  Worried about portage/exit options and not wanting to spend time with a thorough scout, we carried another quarter-mile downstream.  At this point we saw enough of the gorge to regret our decision - it looked like big but manageable quality stuff with plenty of space on the banks.

 

There wasn't much time for regret - back on the water we got into a section of fast, jumbled boulder gardens that would have made most Taureau rapids blush, then more great bedrock stuff.  This went on for a long time - miles - and it was just great.  Things weren't too stacked, but every couple hundred feet there was a nice, good-sized bedrock rapid - mostly slides or ledge sequences but with some great pinches, boulder gardens and small falls as well, with shallow but pleasant class III between.  It wasn't glacially-polished Pemiqewasset granite, but was pretty smooth for Quebec and made for a lot of really fun boating.  This took many 1-person scouts and plenty of full scouts and every tenth of a mile we hit something bigger that got our attention - I think we carried two more rapids in here.

 

Of course planting so many awesome boof strokes is tiring and as the afternoon wore on energy levels dropped.  We didn't really know how much more we had left so kept moving.  I had gotten enough of a glimpse at the valley during shuttle to know it did have a steep section near the end.  I think it was around 5 pm that things started narrowing and dropping again.  I was ready to be done at this point and felt like I was tired enough to be an accident waiting to happen, but if anyone else was in the same position they didn't show it.  

 

This last section was incredible.  Definitely the best of the run and perhaps one of the nicest riverbeds I've boated in.  Nothing big, but constant, engaging, quality whitewater, continuous enough to be exciting but with plenty of eddies and a wide variety of rapids to keep it interesting.  The group did a great job of working downstream with coordinated, efficient, judicious shore scouting and boat scouting.  This was steep too - I think the gradient was close to 300 feet per mile and it went on for probably close to two miles.

 

At some point Jordan gave some hand signals and I ran down through a blind notch that turned out to be a great angled slide.  A few eddies and boofs later and I was emptying my cracked boat while the rest of the crew came down and then kept moving.  I hopped back in and spent the final 10 minutes fighting with exhaustion with my eyes glued to the stern in front of me.  All of a sudden we came out of a boulder garden and a few islands appeared in the middle and things got shallow - we were on an alluvial fan!  Another couple hundred yards of pin-spot and wood-infested boulder crud and we hit a little flatwater and then out onto the very large Jacques-Cartier at full spring flow.  A quick ferry across the big river and we were at the takeout after about 10 hours of quality boating and Quebec spruce-thrashing.  We were all pretty beat but still had time to grab beers with a couple friendly Quebec raft guides who were hanging around.  This was after I completed the wretched task of taking my socks off - not the most pleasant or sanitary thing to do after spending a full day in a leaky drysuit.  We reversed the 1.5-hour shuttle and were snoozing next to a random logging road deep in the Quebec woods well before midnight.

 

So I guess the five of us are one more incredible creek run into what's shaping up to be an fantastic Quebec season.  Here's to many more awesome days up there.

 

 

 

A pleasant surprise on the Tourilli
Sunday May 22, 2016
Organizer: Late-season Quebec snowmelt
Difficulty: flatwater
Level: medium
Author: Mike M

On Sunday morning we awoke high up in the Sainte-Anne watershed.  We were pretty beat from the previous day's adventure, but we were in the middle of the Quebec whitewater vortex and it appeared everything was at a perfect level and we had all day to paddle.  Did I mention the previous day's adventure had us kinda beat?

 

The most appealing option seemed to be the Neilson - a classic run that was at a great juicy medium level.  But as it turned out, we were really close to the Tourilli, none of us had run it, and the whole purpose of the trip was to run some new things.  So we grudgingly sacrificed a great Neilson day in the name of exploration on a run that was described as "less steep than the Dryway".  Oh well... at least days like that strengthen your resolve to get back up there and run something good.

 

Truth be told, Alden describes the Tourilli as recommended... but somehow the description is just not that inspiring.  Maybe it's because it's accompanied by a story about a hideous waterfall beating.  Or maybe it's that the picture shows riffly class II-III leading up to a drop that looks a little to scary to be fun.  Regardless, it was warm and sunny - perfect for napping and drying gear at the put-in while shuttle is being set.  And there sure were a lot of locals around and they all seemed pretty stoked about the run and the level.  Once on the water we saw why.

 

Juicy class III started just out of sight of the road, and quickly built into fun, very continuous class III+.  This went on a ways, and in a few spots pinched down or steepened into a little class IV.  There were a few holes or rocks to dodge, but nothing particularly worrisome - just continuous and big enough that I didn't want to swim.  It was classic Quebec whitewater too:  juicy boat-scoutable rapids, impeccable water quality, clear blue sky above and the river twisting between steep spruce-covered valley walls a long way from civilization.  This is why Quebec whitewater is awesome

 

There was a group right in front of us that we followed so we knew we weren't going to accidentally drop into something nasty.  After about 3 miles things widened out into the aforementioned riffly class II-III for a couple hundred feet and we hopped out to portage the U-Hole.  One of the locals said he ran it earlier that week, but everyone seemed pretty wary, so we followed them off a great seal launch into some solid class IV with a couple real holes to avoid.  Another mile or so and we got out to portage the waterfall.

 

With all due respect to Alden, no wonder he got a beating in there.  It looks like while it wouldn't hold you forever, it would happily rip off your skirt, shorts, eyelids or shoulder connective tissues and probably fill your stomache with uncomfortable amounts of river water.  Just below here was a great final stretch with some friendly but very rowdy class IV.

 

At the take-out we seriously considered another run, but enough soreness was creeping back into our muscles to hold us back from a second run on this Quebec classic.

 

The Tourilli is one of the finest sections of class III-IV whitewater in the northeast.  It usually runs into June, is just 4 hours from Burlington and has a ton of other great stuff around.  Do it!

Short Sleeves and Green Leaves...A solo NBW.
Monday Jun 6, 2016
Organizer: Ryan
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium low
Author: Ryan

Yup - a solo run of the NBW....  I was shocked that I couldn't rally anyone that was able to lap it with me.  But sometimes its just better to have all to yourself.

 

We got one hell of a rain storm Sunday and then Sunday night.  I was up before 5am to my phone pinging off texts from Mainer about the NH Ledges...  Awesome run but over an hour away.  I looked at the gauges and then at Wunderground Weather maps and saw that Worcester saw and additional 1.7 inches after midnight that other places didn't.  I send out a flury of emails and texts and then loaded up.  I only got casual responses other than Chris Ingram, who was tied up for the early part of the morning with family but wanted to meet up later.

 

Off I went up route 12 toward the boarder of Elmore and Worcester and the put in for the NBW.  While I was gearing up a fellow kayaker honked at me on his way by to his office.  I was lucky - I wasn't at any office that day, I was in paradise.

 

Sliding into the river solo, even a river you know intimately is a special feeling and provides an electricity that you don't always get in a group.  All I could hear was moving water, down the channel, off of my boat and paddle and birds getting their day going.  There was still fog in the air after the storm but it was a sunny morning that was cutting through the trees dripping off the last of the showers.  It is pretty dang magical to get to have that to yourself.

 

I needed to focus though - a solo run on the NBW (at least for me) is not something to take casually.  So the warm up rapids early on should be used to dial in moves and mentality.  I had a great first run, even cleaning up some of my sloppy lines from earlier in the spring.  My second run I cut short because the river had dropped out so fast and lines were becoming more and more bouncy and less fluid.  I told myself I was making a good choice cutting run 2 in half and sparing myself an extended welding session later to repair my cracked and battered boat if I had completed the run.  there was no need to be greedy. I just had the NBW all to myself on a Monday morning, while co-workers were pounding their keyboards and drinking coffee to get their day started....  Paradise - Green leaves and short sleeves on the NBW.

 

As a side note - there are two new pieces of incidental wood.  One is early on in the run that needs portaged, the other is after the tube and it needs portaged. 

Reintroduction...
Monday Jun 6, 2016
Organizer: Chris Ingram
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Ryan

Mission Accomplished....

 

Mellow whitewater, with enough features not to get bored, but make moves, and get comfortable in a boat again...  Chris had been eyeing this stretch forever, and the lower section has seen action for years.  We made a long trip out of it and brought along an old friend that the boating community has sorely missed.

 

Packie was back on water for the first time in over 3 years...  We had a long stretch of class 2 in front of us to get a lot of strokes in to make it from Greensboro Bend to Hardwick on the upper Lamoille.  The water was a little two low, but the company was top notch, and the weather was idyllic.  

 

I'd highly recommend this stretch of river to any beginner looking for fun eddy hopping and easy rapids.  Some of the corner pockets have wood and the MASSIVE drop in East Hardwick should be looked at carefully pending the level, but its a pretty stretch that a beginner should check out.  It was also a perfect reintroduction piece for Dave.

 

Now lets start doing some rain dances and get the flow back in our rivers!

 

Welcome back to the fold JD.....

Ottawa River - Labor Day Weekend
Friday-Monday Sep 2-5, 2016
Organizer: Jim Poulin
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium low
Author: Jim Poulin

Twenty five folks and a dog named Kala made the annual journey to the Ottawa River in Forester Falls Ontario to test their mettle against these might rapids. As usual, there were some interesting stories but the vast majority of the weekend was spent with good friends enjoying whitewater as well as non-whitewater time together.

But you, my trusty reader, do not want to read about how Boater Bill made a clean run down Death & Destruction Rapid. You want the fun and interesting details. So I will provide both!

So let’s start with a description of our more illustrious dirt bag boaters this year. For this edition we had two unemployed boaters (world traveler Sarah and recently retired John) and one homeless boater (soon to be Connecticut resident Brock).

Then some new milestones for 2016. First off, the largest crowd ever! 25 strong! Plus on either end of the spectrum, we had our oldest participant – Barb at 85, and our youngest – Cooper at 8! Then we had that person with boater identity issues, Tony ran with both a kayak and a canoe over the course of the weekend. Finally, we are starting to look like a real paddling club when John showed up with a boat trailer hauling 6 or 9 boats!

Friday, September 2nd

River Level: -1.25

Weather: Sunny and 70

The early arrivers (Brock, Ken, John, Sarah and Jim) took in an afternoon run on the Middle Channel. While McCoy’s rapid did get everyone’s heart beating a bit faster, the Middle provided a good opportunity for a warm up.

This was a burner run that included no scouting (other than McCoys) and no mishaps on any of the major Middle Channel rapids. There was one incident of note. After Big No Name and technically the end of rapids for the day, there were some adult beverages cracked open. Brock decided that his run through Black Velvet didn’t require a spray skirt to be attached or his beverage to be stowed. This combination caused his boat to fill with water and Brock was unable to brace appropriately while hanging on to the can. So Brock had the good fortune to swim a rapid he had never swum before! And the beverage was not lost so Brock has his priorities straight!

Back at camp others started to filter in and dinner was prepared in the waning Ontario light. The clear dark night put on a stellar show!

Saturday, September 3rd

River Level: -1.25

Weather: Sunny and 75

Morning Run

The gang’s all here!

Since it is easier to list who wasn’t on the water, I’ll do that. Mark, who had not yet joined the group, was the only one missing from the morning run. So we have 17 paddlers on this run!

We opted for the Middle Channel for a warmup for the entire team.

There were a few newbies and we spent a good amount of time reviewing McCoys rapid and all its various features for them (Satlers, Phils, Corner Wave, Left & Right Horseshoe, Baby Face). Some ran the meat while others decided the Zoom Flume might be the most prudent first rapid of the weekend.

After that, it was a glorious run down the Middle with fun and play had by all.

Got back to camp for lunch and naps. Then it was time to head back out!

Afternoon Run

There were twelve hearty souls ready for round 2!

We shortened the run by bypassing the long flat water slog from McCoys to Upper Lauren (Garburator wave). A few jumped on Garb, which is in at this level. Mark jumped on Garb and then ended up swimming off and downstream. His wife, Cindy had hiked in to take in the action. Mark mentioned later on down the river that he was sure Cindy was on the phone with the Canadian 9-1-1 folks as the last she saw of him he was swimming for his life. I countered that Cindy was on the phone alright – with their life insurance agent – and was already planning that Caribbean island purchase!

A few of our team more took turns at Push Button and then we were off to run the rest of the river – Butcher’s Knife, Normans, Coliseum, Dog Leg and Blacks.

All had great lines and a wonderful time. OK, maybe a certain paddler did spend a bit more time in the river left eddy in Coliseum. But who’s counting!

And to make the evening even more complete, we were greeting at the takeout beach by many of our non-paddling contingent.

Another beautiful Canadian night with bright stars and inflated stories around the campfire.

Did I mention campfire? Staying in Pet Haven afforded us the ability to do some “trail maintenance” and gather almost all the firewood one would need. So we had fires not only in the evening, but in the morning too to ward off the chill! (or the effect of the evening before? Either way)

Sunday, September 4th

Water Level: -1.25

Weather: Sunny and 80

Morning Run

Someone had the great idea of getting going early for a quick Park & Play (Park & Watch?) at Baby Face before breakfast. Eight of us rose to the challenge. We were on the water about 8:30am with a foggy mist leading us to McCoys. It was quiet and beautiful. Then all heck broke out.

Jamie flipped in Baby Face and his camera (which is secured to his life vest for easy access) came lose and bonked him in head. He rolled up all bloodied from a small head wound near his eye. Sarah, our resident river nurse, advised she and Jamie should head back to camp to clean up the cut and get it closed.

The rest of us hung out a bit longer, but once the rafts starting coming around the bend we knew our time was up.

Back at camp Jamie got patched up and we all tucked into some breakfast. Then some serious lounging was starting to happen!

Afternoon Run

There did not seem to be heightened energy levels so the group opted for an easier Middle Channel run. Chris was not feeling well so sat this one out. This meant we had 17 paddlers as Mark was now at camp.

But we had a group of “non-paddlers” paddle down to the island by McCoys so they could see what all the fuss was about. This included Deb, Cooper, Tina and Christine in various water crafts. They watch us run through McCoys and stuck around to see a few surfs on Baby Face before they paddled the flat water back to the put in.

Another great afternoon on the Ottawa in warm water and sunny skies. The group made its way down all the Middle Channel rapids. Brock managed to keep his skirt on for a successful run of the mighty Black Velvet rapid. Again, there was a continent of folks who were waiting at the takeout to greet their heroes.

The Sunday night tequila tradition ensued and stories were exaggerated and maybe even some stuff was made up. But it was a great night with good friends in the wilds of the Canadian woods.

Sunday, September 5th

Water Level: -1.35

Weather: 85 and sunny

Some folks had a long drive, some folks left the night before and, I am sure, some folks had just had enough. Enough of the Vermonter’s shenanigans, whitewater, tequila, I am just not sure. So not as many participants for the Monday morning run.

There is a saying that a trip leader that ends with the same number of paddlers that he/she started with had a successful trip. So by that measure I did great! Now there is that one little detail that the 9 paddlers that started were not the same 9 paddlers that finished…

We picked up a new paddler at the campsite, Brian from Wisconsin, to run the Main today. He had never done the Main Channel and I was up for showing him the lines. We were in the staging eddy discussing the line at McCoys (no scouting on this trip!) when something caught my eye. There was a beaver swimming down the rapid. No wait, that’s not a beaver, that’s a helmet. Hold on, that’s one of our group! Hey, that’s John!

So three things to point out here.

1. I have been coming to the Ottawa for 30 years now and have never seen someone swim the entire McCoys Rapid. Most folks at least make it to Phil’s Hole upright before heading into the drink!

2. We all know (or have heard) about the infamous Phil’s Hole. Well John floated right into the meat of Phil’s Hole. While John didn’t stay long, Phil did manage to suck the spray skirt right off John!

3. This was a new First Swim Descent at least as far as I know. This caused Brock a bit of a concern as he likes to be the first one to swim certain portions of a rapid. For a moment I thought Brock was going to jump out of his boat and swim McCoys top to bottom in solidarity with John. But he came to his senses and instead, nail it!

So by now you are wondering how John managed to get into this predicament. He was trying a few practice rolls at the top of the rapid. Hind sight tells him he was too close to the flow as when he missed a practice roll and needed to swim, he was already committed to the rapid. There is some cruel irony in there somewhere.

We then did the flat water paddle down from McCoys. Everyone made it through Upper Lauren without issue. John had a bit of difficulty after the Upper and before Lower Lauren and decided he had enough for today and took out. Fortunately another one of our Pet Haven neighbors, Pasqual (sp?) joined us. She had walked into Push Button with her husband and baby. They were taking turns playing on the wave and watching their son. But the plan was for her to join us for the remainder of the run. So as trip leader I was still able to count to 9!

We ran all the rest of the rapids without scouting or issue. Fun was had by all!

Then it was back to camp to pack up and head back home. Sad, but we were all filled with a wonderful weekend memories.

So who’s in for next year!

jimp

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.

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!

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!

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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