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Joe's Brook

Saturday Nov 1, 2003
Kayak: James Andrus, Damon Bungard, Chad Chamberlain, Jay Goss, Mike Henry, Matt Holmes, Linda Weiss
Open Canoe: Eric Bishop, Tony Shaw
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Tony Shaw

We are learning the hard way that the outflow from the Joe's Pond dam is feast or famine. Whenever rain begins to swell Joe's Pond, GMP is permitted to keep the dam bladder inflated unless the pond level hits 2.0 feet, at which point the state requires them to deflate it fully to curtail shoreline flooding on the pond. This inevitably creates dangerously high flows in the small steep creek below on its 10 mile tumble to the Passumpsic R.

Once things start drying out and the pond recedes to 1.9 feet, GMP gradually reinflates to bladder over the course of several hours, effectively dewatering the run. The 2 turbines turn out at most 124 cfs, so this contribution is never terribly significant.

There is no online gauge, but you can read the pond level by leaning over the railing at the wayside parking area in W. Danville or by calling GMP dispatch in Colchester. A level between 1.8 and 2.0 feet (rising) or 2.1 to 1.9 feet (falling) is most likely ideal, but these windows of opportunity can be brief.

The morning of Nov. 1 the Joe's Pond level was falling toward 1.8 feet, GMP was reinflating the bladder, and we endured a very scratchy run. There were roughly a dozen of us that arrived in 2 parties (a Joe's Brook record, I'm sure). The weather was pleasant, the setting idyllic, and everyone seemed happy to be out paddling. The covered bridge rapid in South Danville proved runnable at this level; likewise the short flume beneath the take-out bridge on Joe's Brook Hill Rd. This flume, however, IS undercut, so make sure you're not swimming!

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