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May 2013; There was water on the Moose

Saturday-Sunday May 11-12, 2013
Participants:
Kayak: Tom, Rogan, Will, Scott, Erik, Clay, Dylan, Jordan, Danny
Organizer: Mike Mainer
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium low
Author: Mike M

On May 6, I posted the following to the VPC message board

This coming weekend (May 11 & 12) is spring Moosefest. A couple of us head over religiously every year, but I am hoping to see a larger-than-usual crew of Vermonters enjoying the remarkably fun Bottom Moose. It's quality pool-drop and by picking different lines and channels you can create anything from a friendly class IV to challenging class V sort of day, and it is otherwise basically New York's response to the New Haven Ledges. It will probably be between low-runnable and medium, depending on how much rain we see later this week. Often times there are some other fun creeks over there that we can hit as well, though given the dryness that may not happen. Plan would be to leave after work on Friday, camp near the put-in, paddle Saturday and Sunday, and be back at a reasonable hour on Sunday evening.

and then I eagerly awaited a flood of emails from excited VPC'ers eager to get some quality NY boating in during an otherwise very dry month. Friday afternoon rolled around and I had heard from no one. Fortunately, my standby UVM friends were heading over (as we always do). The level looked like it would hold around 2.7, which, while lower than I had run it, was way better than anything in Vermont at the time.

And on that note, we left Burlington on Friday evening at the reasonable hour of 8 PM, planning on a 4.5 hour drive to the campsite near the put-in, arriving to steady rain at 2 AM. The following morning included both Danny's arrival from New York City, and heavier rain which soaked us while we put our gear on. Despite receiving significant rainfall overnight, the gauges had not budged and it looked like the Moose would be on the low side for the weekend, and our hopes of nearby creeks would not be realized. On a positive note, the dam operator told us he was shutting down the turbines for the weekend, meaning that the entire river would be ours (the dam normally releases only 2.5 feet into the second half of the run, a very scrapy but essentially low-boatable level).

As it turns out, 2.7 is a fine level for the Moose. I was pleased to find that many of the rapids remained fluid while at the same time having a more technical, creeky feel. Funnel in particular feels more like a rapid from the New Haven Ledges than the juicy New York ledge-slide it normally is. By the time we made it halfway through the run, the skies were clearing.

The added water made for a friendly level on the second half of the run. This was a great chance to explore other, less commonly run lines through many of the rapids. I was pleased to learn how fun and manageable the left lines at Sureform and Crystal are, making this one of my favorite runs of the year so far.

After finishing up the Moose, we checked the gauges again and saw that Woodhull Creek, about 30 minutes south, had come up to a low-boatable level. We drove down and spent the remainder of the afternoon lapping it's fun clean slides and ledges. This is a relatively unknown run but it's actually really fun. That evening I procured a half-pound burger with all of the fixings for $6.

Sunday morning we awoke to much chillier temperatures, occaisional sleet and a brisk, motivation-sapping wind. The rain must have done something, because the river was at 3.7 and rising... with the dam off-line, 3.5-4.0 feet is a great level for the "free-flowing" Moose - enough to make it really fun, but the steeper, dam-controlled second half of the run is not yet beefy. The only incident of note on this day was a heavily pig-nosed boat at Crystal and a timely and accurate rope thrown by Taylor. Also, Rogan made a ridiculously tricky attainment between two eddies in the run out - it happened so fast I didn't see exactly how he did it, and I wouldn't believe it possible had it not happened in front of me.

We leisurely packed at the take-out and hit the road by mid-afternoon, and made it back to Vermont at a very reasonable hour.

All of the dam-release runs in New York (including the Beaver as well) are a lot of fun and something of a god-send during dry spring and fall weather. It would be great to see more Vermonters taking advantage of the plethora of classics in the western Adirondacks.

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