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Joe's Brook

Sunday Apr 18, 2004
Kayak: Jamie Dolan, Tad Martin
Open Canoe: Eric Bishop, Tony Shaw
C1: Alden Bird
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium low
Gauge (cfs): 250-300
Author: Tony Shaw

Old Joe, "the Friendly Indian Guide", wandered out into the Newbury VT woods after a winter storm in 1819 and froze to death. For eight decades he lived an illustrious life, at one point being summoned by George Washington so that the General could express his gratitude for Joe's assistance to the revolutionary cause.

At six years of age, in his hometown of Louisburg, Nova Scotia, Joe was orphaned during a bloody British invasion of his hometown. His life-long hatred for the Brits (sorry, Simon) led him to fight in the French and Indian war, making several raids into Vermont before the American Revolution. When left behind by his retreating indian raid party, badly wounded, he was taken in by a Newbury area family that nursed him back to health and invited him to stay on.

Joe eventually made Vermont his permanent home, but not before wooing a squaw (Molly) to become his wife. They had no permanent home, living sometimes on their Joe's Pond island in West Danville, sometimes in a cave near the Newbury/Ryegate line, and sometimes in a Peacham wigwam. Joe was a scout for General Jacob Bayley, commander of the Yankee's northern frontier forces, and helped map out the historic Bayley-Hazen Road. After the revolution, Joe and Molly continued to wander up and down the valleys of Vermont helping out when they could and making new friends. Joe was always proud of his audience with George Washington, having made the trip with Molly to the General's Newburgh, NY encampment by canoe and on foot.

The Micmac believed in reincarnation, and although we did not see Joe & Molly in their canoe on this trip, we think perhaps they were the two deer we startled standing in the brook near the put-in. Their spirit seemed to infuse our group, urging us on and keeping danger at bay. They sustained our level at 1.9 throughout the day, arguably the ideal low boatable level (with the bladder partially down). A formidable glacial ice bridge in the gorge below Morse's Mills prevented our party from running this stretch, but three in our group portaged by car and ran the stretch from Brook Hill Rd. to the Passumpsic for the first time. Here we found some stillwater, some II, and two more boat-scoutable ledge drops.

Amid the day's "white noise" and serene hush we could just make out Joe whistering our Micmac names:

"Can Spot Sneak Route Through Any Drop - Why Bother?" (Alden)

"A Stretch We Haven't Run - Let's Go!" (Eric)

"One Chin Laceration Is Enough - Thank You" (Jamie)

"Content & Smiling Below Each Big Drop" (Tad)

"Runs Big Drops Backwards - Oh ________!" (Tony)

We also clearly heard him shout the Micmac translation for the brook that bears his name:

"Sipu Nenaqe'g Iapjiw" (Relentless River).

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