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Find trips reports from 2001 and prior in the Bow & Stern Archive
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Another Winooski Falls Wednesday Wednesday Mar 27, 2019
New Haven Sunday Mar 31, 2019


Winooski Falls, first time out in 2019
Wednesday Mar 20, 2019
Organizer: Chris Weed
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium
Author: Chris Weed

It was a beautiful early spring day in Burlington, and I wanted to paddle something, after road scouting some of our favorite runs the previous Sunday to see how much the ice had cleared. My message board post elicited no responses, so I headed to the Chace Mill to put on above Winooski Falls. By that time it was after 3:30 pm, and the air temperature was up to about 50 F.

After an embarrassing period of fumbling with my gear, I was ready to put on. My plan was to paddle upstream first. A bystander pointed out a large beaver sitting on the ice 50 yards upstream, and warned me that it might follow me for a while. In fact, it mostly minded its own business, and I got a good conditioning paddle before turning around and heading back to the falls.

At about 1,400 cfs, the falls was at a reasonably juicy but not nerve-wracking level for a solo season opener. I worked my way through the entry rapid above the main drops, doing several ferries for practice, and then ran the falls before my nerves got the better of me. After that came more ferry practice and upstream workout paddling. It became clear that a workout was needed. Long, intense runs will have to wait for later in the season.

All in all, it was a perfect day for a first paddle of the season. There was ice at the takeout by the Chace Mill, but it's almost at water level and easy to pull up onto. I was able to do that and step out of my boat onto crunchy snow, avoiding dunking my dry-suited feet in the ice-cold water. It doesn't get much better at this time of year!

Another Winooski Falls Wednesday
Wednesday Mar 27, 2019
Organizer: Chris Weed
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium
Author: Chris Weed

I was running home from the Chace Mill to get my boat and other gear at about 2:30, and passed an SUV loaded with boats coming from UVM. A signaled and asked the driver (Conner) if they were headed to the falls; he indicated yes.

By the time I arrived at the Chace Mill's back parking lot (~3:00 pm) Matt was about to put on and everyone else was on the river. I launched at ~3:30 and headed down the falls to join them. We spent the next 1.5 hours doing repeated runs of the Horseshoe or practicing attainment in the rapids below the falls. After everyone else left I hiked back to the put-in and did a conditioning paddle up to the Lime Kiln Dam and back, and after that ran the falls again on the far right side.

The weather was cool (mid-40s) but the sky was cloudless. There were some broken ice floes coming down the falls around 4:30 or so, continuing until after 5:00, but very little ice on the river overall. A later visual check from Riverside Park confirmed that Salmon Hole below the dam is completely free of ice. It was a perfect day to be on the river.

Upper White River - Stockbridge to Bethel
Saturday Mar 30, 2019
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: novice WW
Level: medium low
Author: Tony Shaw

I return to the White River around this time, year after year, partly out of nostalgia. My first ever bank loan (1982, for $300) was to buy my first canoe, a used 17 foot aluminum Grumman with a keel. It was a downriver boat to be sure, wide enough to put my 10-speed inside for shuttling at the end of a solo outing, well-suited to the wide, lovely, and mostly gentle reaches of the White. That said, my nascent self-rescue skills were called upon regularly as well (though I never ever lost the bike)! I always brought along a change of dry clothes in a knotted garbage bag, just in case. This was all before I beat that Grumman mercilessly - coaxing her (tandem or solo) down the Saco, the Ammo, the upper Lamoille, the Mad (upper and lower), the Huntington (including the lower gorge), the West, the Dead, and even the New Haven through Bristol.

But I digress. The White from Stockbridge to Bethel is less lovely since its wooded banks and meanders were ravaged by tropical storm Irene in 2011, but I still like it. This year it was fun having first-timers Sarah and Rooz on the trip, along with three upper White River veterans. The afternoon temperature topped out at 41°, a full 10° or more below the forecast, but at least it didn't rain (and no one needed their dry change of clothes). The upstream USGS gauge on Ayers Brook in Randolph came up nicely the night before our trip (100 CFS late Friday - and falling slowly to the mid-80's by noon Saturday). All the ice had come off the river a few weeks earlier in a late-winter flush. Still plenty of dense snow left up in the headwaters, I'm sure.

New Haven
Sunday Mar 31, 2019
Organizer: Jamie
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium high
Author: Jamie Dolan

What a fun and exciting day! The LNH was at a nice mediumish level to start (2 ft on Gilbert Gauge) and it was raining lightly but still around 50 degrees. There were 7 thinking about running it and two opted out immediately. Not a bad choice as it was pretty much the first run of the season for both of them. Mike, Will and I had done this run the day before at a much lower level. Jim P and John G were both doing their first run of the season. A lot to be said for the first and second and …well just about any run of the season.

The water was moving at a good clip and getting splashed proved bracing. There were floaters in the river but not too many and they weren’t really a concern. And the rivers’ edge was fairly clear of ice, in case there was a swim. The opening rapid on the LNH is always an eye opener. What a way to start the paddling day. The run proved uneventful from a swim / roll perspective but what a hoot! When we got to South St Bridge Jim P decided his fun quotient was filled and got off. John G decided to keep him company. Meanwhile, as I pulled into the current to start down the rapid I began to hear people yelling my name. Good thing I’m hard of hearing and only heard them just before it was too late. Apparently, just as I entered the flow a large tree came in behind me. When I looked back to the guys yelling at me, I saw the log hitting my stern, Yikes! It turned out, both the log and I had good lines. I scooted far left, the sneak route at this level, with out issue. The log took the center line and ended up rolling a few times but always came up OK. We ended at Lover’s Lane bridge pretty happy with the level. Mike observed that the lower New Haven will undoubtedly become extremely popular in short order as there is a new micro brewery (Hogback Mountain) on its banks. Here's hoping that growlers are available there.

John G unfortunately left his boat a little too close to the river. During our run the river came up to 2 ½ ft. When he went to collect it at the South Street Bridge, boat and paddle were gone. After about 1 ½ hours he and Jim P were able to find and collect the boat. The paddle remains missing in action.

Onto the second half of the outing. Chris W and Chris F both had done this section before though maybe not at these levels. We started out at 2 ½ ft and ended at 3 ft. Our take out would be Eagle Park (the ledges put in). On our way to the put (just before the corner of Ripton Rd and S Lincoln Rd.) we scouted for both dangerous ice ledges (there really weren’t any), river wide strainers (none) and drops (three). On our scout of the ledge drop there was an easish line down river right. At lower water this line could be IV. But at this level it would be straight forward (HAH!). And due to the river side ice and water level, there was no stopping and scouting. You either ran it from the start or walked it.   We also checked out a few other drops. Once we put on, which was downstream of the normal spot due to snow / ice, we had an easy warm up to the first III rapid at Garland’s Bridge. We got out and looked at and each chose a different line. I took hard right, Chris W took hard left, Chris F took the dry way. Each line worked out okay though the first two had a little bit more excitement then expected (read that as we screwed up a bit). The next rapid is where the river splits due to an island. The left line was open and it usually isn’t. So we opted for the left This line involves getting by strainers on the river left bank (which you are beiing pushed into by the water), pushing past the flow which is driving right at this point(you want to go left) and lastly ensuring you don't broach on the rock that is at the head of the island (or the rock that is just past that as well), We all managed with varying degrees of non-finesse. But we were upright. After this we had relatively flat water until the ledge drop that we had scouted earlier. We were all set for our easy river right line but little did we know that due to the increase in river volume the rapid changed. No longer was it the easy tongue with small curlers. But we were in it and, wow, suddenly there are some big irregular waves, some noticeable curlers / holes and nary a tongue. I was able to watch Chris F come through the meat of it looking very stable. After this we were treated to some nice wave trains and hole avoidance through to the take out. Chris W gave us some excitement right at the end when he wet exited a bit prematurely but no harm, no foul. The run is officially recorded as no swims / no rolls.



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