The Vermont Paddlers Club

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WB Deerfield/Cold (MA)

Sunday Dec 26, 2004
Kayak: Doug Piatt
C1: Alden Bird
Organizer: Alden Bird
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Alden Bird

Life is different when you have a tradition to uphold.

So it is with Doug and me. It is our tradition to descend the West Branch the day or two after Christmas.

First we ran the Cold River, just over the southern border in the state that, in the words of Bill Clinton "once gave us John Kennedy and now gives us John Kerry." Like winter and kayaking, such connections are perhaps tenuous.

Doug wanted to run the remote upper section that flaps around the back of the mountain. We checked it out, driving my minivan through the snow, but found the water too low at the high elevation.

Soon we found ourselves skating down the regular run. The best rapid was the quite frozen Cold River Falls. The Cold certainly lived up to its name.

We then drove up past the Fife Brook and Dryway sections, past some local ice climbers, to Readsboro. It was getting dark by then and the river was low and starting to get frozen in. We noted a sketchy move to avoid an ice chunk at Low Chair rapid.

Unfortunately the famous Tunnel Vision rapid was too frozen, so we decided to start below the tunnel. From there we boogied down and suitably recalled why this river is an old favorite. After jumping the ledge at High Chair and making the tight slalom move at Low Chair, we took out and found ourselves crackling with ice. It took minutes of thawing in the car to unsling my waist throwbag.

I am afraid that this might be the final day of Vermont creeking, at least for me, for a while. The locals who man the Readsboro General and looked concerned for my safety are perhaps less afraid.

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