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Sheldon Springs/Missisquoi Release

Saturday Nov 2, 2013
Kayak: John Atherton, Tom Rogers, Ben Schott, Catharine Hull, Connor Laird, Mike Mainer, Noah Pollock, Tom Neilson, Becca Austin, Clay Murphy, Andy Lockey, Ryan McCall
Organizer: Ryan McCall and Bob Nasdor
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: high
Gauge (cfs): 4200
Author: Ryan

The Missisquoi... Who would have thunk it! Well, our fore fathers did. A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, there were these guys that were the predecessors to the Vermont Paddlers Club. They were in Grumman Canoes and fiber glass kayaks, wearing real seal skin and wool for dry gear and they had names like Seamus and Tuktuk and Rich Larson and Eric Bishop....................I digress!

This section was looked at by boaters back in the 80s and they had the forethought to get the power company to agree to giving the boating community 6 recreational releases a year. The thing is the agreement sat dormant until this past Saturday. Fast forward 30 some odd years and AW is working with the VPC to secure recreational rivers all around the state. The Missisquoi was low hanging fruit, or so we thought, until we tried to get a bunch of weekends on the calendar. The interesting thing is the impoundment behind the dam is fairly small and won't provide a very long release, so the releases are dependent upon substantial natural flow in the river, something we just didn't have much of on weekends in 2013.

Enel Green, the power company that runs the facility, has been working with us to get these releases dialed in. So much so, that they were willing to forgo some power generation to get us water in the bypass for our study runs.

Fast forward to this past Saturday. Ring Ring Ring, I get the call from Bob Nasdor..."Just say'n, do you want a release at Sheldon Springs tomorrow?". My response is Uh yea, but it will be less than ideal with such short notice. Well, we scrambled and got the word out and we ended up with a dozen boaters, one coming down from Montreal even to get a go at this relatively new stretch of whitewater in VT.

Lets start with this - the run is AMAZING. Slightly short, but very lapable, and super high quality. Everyone that was on the river that day was impressed with what I'd call Vermont's big water run. The river bed is sort of a messy jumble of boulders from couch size to house size, and not overly friendly. However it drops a substantial amount of elevation from the put in to the take out making for a very continuous mile of river where one rapid pours into the next. The bed geomorphology helped to make the rapids less green and more turbulent and active.

At the flow we saw on Saturday (4200cfs), it was a solid class IV river and even the sneaks along the left shore were something that you needed to pay attention to. In the meat of the flow, the waves and holes were significant and would crash and swamp you in a hurry if you were snoozing

Our group had 3 swims over the course of 4 laps (two of those swims came in the first lap). The river is busy with places that are sieved out and there is just enough wood on the river that you really need to pay attention to where you are. This river is big enough too that a rescue in the event of a pin would be very hard to perform. Swims are long and abusive...not recommended.

Enel Green was a great host, they came up to chat with the boaters, gave us a pager to contact them if we needed more water or wanted it turned down some. They were excited for us to get in this initial release and seemed genuinely excited to get us a few more in 2013.

I know that everyone that was on the water Saturday will be back for the next release. Its not everyday you get to paddle big water in Vermont.

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