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


Another Winooski Falls Wednesday Wednesday Mar 27, 2019
New Haven Sunday Mar 31, 2019
A Joe's Brook Trip That Wasn't Saturday Apr 20, 2019
Upper New Haven Sunday Apr 21, 2019
Taming the East Branch Pemi Saturday May 25, 2019
Hudson River Gorge Sunday Jun 16, 2019
Ottawa River Friday-Monday Aug 30-Sep 2, 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.



A Joe's Brook Trip That Wasn't
Saturday Apr 20, 2019
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: high
Author: Tony Shaw

All three rivers that flow west through the spine of the Green Mountains to Lake Champlain were at flood stage by the end of 4/20 on account of a soaking rain Friday night on the heels of a warm and windy Thursday/Friday that set the stubborn snowpack in the deep woods up the feeder valleys a-melting. North Williston Road and Rt. 15 in Cambridge were under water by day's end. And although I never laid eyes on Joe's Brook I'm positive it was too high for any of us to want to run it. So instead I spent the morning driving around up north looking for something that seemed reasonable when virtually everything was too high. Call me weird, but I have to say road scouting 8 or 10 raging rivers with coffee and doughnuts on board was almost as much fun for me as actually paddling one. By 11 am, after looking at Mill Brook (in Jericho), the Lee R., the Browns R.(in Underhill), the Seymour R., the Brewster R. (all probably reasonable), followed by the NBL @ ~4 feet, the Gihon, and the Green R. @ 4.5 feet (none of them reasonable), I drove up the Mountain Road in Stowe (VT108) as far us Notch Brook Road, and shared my plan to run the West Branch of the Little River (WBL) in a group text.

More rain arrived as we were suiting up to paddle, but once you're in your drysuit it really doesn't matter. There is a convenient put-in eddy under the VT 108 bridge on river right, upstream from the Matterhorn Restaurant and Bar, at the confluence of Ranch Brook and the West Branch, with a place to park vehicles at the foot of Ranch Brook Rd. At high water the paddle from this confluence down to Taylor Park (the "Stowe Peace Park") is 2.5 miles of non-stop, FUN boogie water. FU rocks and strainers were a non-issue, except for one obvious river-wide (large) tree trunk a few inches above the waterline, where the river and rec path converged.

The main stem of the Little River in Stowe Village had crested just over 3000 cfs at 9am, pretty big for such a little (get it?) river. The one WBL feeder stream with a real-time USGS gauge - Ranch Brook at Ranch Camp - had crested overnight at 360 cfs (dropping to 240 cfs when we met at 1pm). The WBL only dropped 1" during our run (according to my rudimentary stick-in-the-mud gauge at our Rusty Nail/W Br Sculpture Garden take-out).

We ran into Ben and a crew of hair boaters as we were changing back into our street clothes after our run. They were setting shuttle to do the same thing, except they were going to start even higher up, on Ranch Brook. Prior to our run, I walked up to look at Bingham Falls, which was quite impressive.

It was a fun day!

Upper New Haven
Sunday Apr 21, 2019
Organizer: Tony Shaw/Eric Bishop
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium low
Author: Eric Bishop

Tony, Jamie and Jim showed up on Easter Sunday and we had an enjoyable paddle. This is a 4 to 5 mile stretch of the New Haven above the Ledges section, with lots of class II and three pretty challenging Class III drops.  This would be a good section for someone ready to move up to Class III as all three of the challenges can be carried and/or scouted.

Taming the East Branch Pemi
Saturday May 25, 2019
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium low
Author: Tony Shaw

We got home from our day of boating - and bike shuttling - last night at dusk as the next (umpteenth???) overnight rainstorm approached New England, and I see online this morning the EBP real-time gauge has doubled to 1500 cfs... and climbing. The East Branch of the Pemigewasset River (or EBP) along NH's Kangamagus Highway near Loon Mountain is a quintessential New England whitewater run, and we were surprised that we couldn't interest anyone else in this trip.

This gem is an exuberant mountain stream with clear flowing water, littered with clean, smooth, rounded boulders of all sizes that are mercifully not slippery underfoot. You can't help noticing the 4000 foot mountains rising on the horizon in almost every direction. Likewise, the many vacation homes and condos near Loon Mountain are hard to ignore, but parts of the run still feel remote and pristine.

I don't recall ever running the EBP as low as is was yesterday (750->700 cfs), but it was plenty challenging, dropping - as it does - 70 feet per mile for 6 miles, with innumerable small and medium sized holes to toy around with, and a handful of large holes to try and avoid. In Eric's honor I paddled the Outrage (OC1), and only truly once had a boatful of water (no swims). I wish I could say the same for Eric, but he still had a good time and would do it all over again, I'm sure. Early in the day I commented that the inflatable kayak with Eric at the helm seemed like a perfect match for the EBP, but as the day progressed its penchant for sticking to rocks, wrapping around rocks, and getting sucked into retentive holes helped Eric justify his audacious ice cream cone (a "small") at Big Cones in Wells River. Order a large at your own peril!

Hudson River Gorge
Sunday Jun 16, 2019
Organizer: JimP
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium low
Author: James Poulin

Being that it was Father’s day, I was thinking that attendance would be sparse.  Far from accurate.  14 folks came out for this classic run.  We even had a couple of fathers with offspring in tow.  Paul & Rita and Jonathan & Josiah made it a true Father’s day run!


The level at 4.7 with the bubble was low-ish but still provided for an active day dodging holes and rocks.  And the Indian never fails to excite.


The weather was a bit gloomy – temps in the upper 50’s with spitty rain all day.  Still I managed to get a sunburn on the back of my neck.. How’d that happen?!?


We put on a bit later than normal and were rewarded by not being in the middle of the rafting traffic jam.  It was like we had the river all to ourselves.  And we kinda did as there were no other private trips this fine day.


As for the juicy deets.  Well, those that read these trip reports for the carnage will be sorely disappointed.  There were no swims or unusual lines.  Plus we had four Hudson Gorge “rookies” and they all styled it!  Yes, Sarah had to apply her best hole escape techniques at one point and ChrisW caught the edge of a hole that flipped him and bonked him on the head for good measure (he rolled right back up), but that was about it.  Even the flatware paddle out wasn’t as hellacious as I remember it.  So all in all, a great day on the river with good friends.


On the ride home I was pondering how tired I was and the fact that 14 miles of river would be a just about an average daily length of river on our upcoming Grand Canyon trip.  And we will be doing 18 days in a row!  Time to get in paddling shape this winter!


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.



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