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Bow and Stern - June 1, 1997

Bow and Stern - - June 1997

Bow and Stern

June 1997

Officers of Vermont Paddlers Club

                            President: Eric Bishop
                       Vice President: Can't Believe This is Still Vacant
                            Secretary: Peter Briggs
                            Treasurer: Rich Larsen
                             At Large: Ricky Battistoni
                             At Large: Tony Shaw
                             At Large: John Wolfe

A Note From the President

Hello VPC members,

I don't have the time or energy to get this little message word processed, so here it is longhand. A few items on my mind.

  • the paddling clinic is this month. Teri Ames will be looking for help. Thanks to Mark Willett for his efforts in years past.

  • T-shirts are available in XL-L-M-S for $12.00/shirt (I think). The shirt is white with VPC on front and club logo in 3 colors on back.

  • increased costs for club phone, web site, mailing, postage, etc. will force a dues increase next year, to about $10.00/family.

  • how do you feel about making March meeting potluck? We've lost a bit of money in recent years because attendance is so erratic.

  • elelction meeting coming this November. We'll need candidates.

  • spring paddling season went well. Miserable weather spread the runoff out over a long period and many rivers were paddled repeatedly. Both scheduled and imprompty trips were, in general, well attended. Find summer schedule enclosed.

Eric Bishop

Trips Schedule - summer/fall 1997

WW = whitewater /// FW = flatwater /// message phone: 899-1872 PIN 95 /// see schedule notes(below)

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  • Contact the trip organizer for information about each trip. Listed trips may be changed or cancelled as water, weather, or interest dictates.
  • Plans for impromptu trips can be relayed through the trip organizer listed and/or the VPC message phone, 899-1972 PIN 95. Many fall trips (in particular) coalesce this way.
  • We need a dozen or more experienced paddlers to make the June canoe and kayak school a success. Call Teri Ames (899-2078) to volunteer. Pre-clinic Instructors Workshops are planned for June 12 or June 22.
  • Please give 1-2 weeks notice for overnight trips to have a say in tentsite/ menu pre-planning, etc. Car-pooling on long (and short) trips is encouraged!
  • Tag along on one or more impromptu evening trip to play at Sumner Falls (Hartland VT) or below Middlesex Dam. John Wolfe (244-8673) , Rod Wentworth (229-5054), + others know these spots well.
  • Fish Creek NY (remote class III) is on a shoestring for the fall weekend when runoff is prime. Give Eric Bishop notice in advance (899-1865) if youre tempted to go, and hell take care of the rest.
  • Randy Allens the guy to keep you company on the Mad R. or Winooski R. where theyre steepest. Call him any time theyre up, 223-3771.
  • Mike Fullerton (456-8701) has a summer Deerfield (MA) Dryway schedule and might be prodded to use it.
  • Call Susan and Peter Alden around Labor Day to learn of their plans for the annual Adirondack foliage overnight, and tag along. 863-6585.
  • Mike Russom might coordinate additional Adirondack wilderness overnights (Cedar R., Raquette R., etc) if folks are interested. Call Mike at 985-9383.
  • The AROUND VERMONT IN 30 RIVERS promotion is underway!!! Call a VPC officer for details.
  • Schedule posted now on the WWW (
  • Rapid R. (NH) release dates are ???.

Dead River Release Schedule 1997

7000 cfs | 5500 cfs | 3500 cfs | 2400 cfs | 1800 cfs | 1000-1300 cfs

Sat. 3 Sat. 7 Fri. 4 Sat. 9 Mon. 1 Sun. 5 - full open
Sat. 10 Sun. 8 Sat. 5 Sun. 10 Sat. 13  
Sun. 25 Sat. 21 Sun. 6 Sat. 16    
  Sat. 28 Sat. 12 Sat. 30    
  Sun. 29 Sun. 13 Sun. 31

Deerfield (MA) and Kennebec (ME) River Releases 1997

Fife Brook:June 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 21, 22, 25, 26, 28, 29
July 2, 3, 5, 6, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 24, 25, 26
Monroe Bridge:June 13, 14, 15, 21, 22, 27
July 4, 5, 12, 19, 20, 25
Kennebec:July 7 (Monday) 8000 cfs turbine test!

Trip Reports

HUNTINGTON RIVER : February 22, 1997

Participants: K-1: Paul Carlile; OC-1: Andy Meilleur, Tony Shaw.

We looked at the Little River, which had no ice but was too short and easy for our taste. Went to the Huntington, where doghouse sized ice chunks were worrisome, but we launched anyway. Unbeknownst to us the bigger peril was ice shelves in many of the eddies and backwaters, submerged about 12 inches below the turbid surface. The discovery was unnerving, as these backwaters are the only refuge for swimmers in frigid water. Still, we proceeded cautiously and got off the river without incident. I don't recommend it!

-- Tony Shaw

WINOOSKI RIVER : March 3, 1997

Participants: K-1: Ricky Battistoni; OC-1: Eric Bishop, Mike Fullerton, Tony Shaw.

The 60 degree forecast from Friday never materialized, so we settled for the 40s and rain. The flow was ample; the ice was minimal; and the chemistry was just right. Drinks and sandwiches afterwards at McGillicutty's in Montpelier made it special.

-- Tony Shaw

OTTER BROOK (Keene, NH) Release : March 23, 1997

Participants: K-1: James Raboin; OC-1: Jeff Fletterick, Tony Shaw.

The temperature peaked out this sunny Sunday at 22 degrees, which explains a lot of things. Like why we quit after one run, why ice formed on my paddle blade while I rested in eddies, and why the AMC contingent disbanded at the put-in without going anywhere near the water! The only real mystery is how I let James and Jeff talk me into actually going ahead with this scheduled trip. Suffice to say, when releasing, this narrow class II run (reminiscent of the Lamoille approaching E. Hardwick) deserves a look.

-- Tony Shaw

WHITE RIVER : March 29, 1997

Participants: C-1: Tony Shaw; K-1: Byron Unger; OC-1: Randy Allen, Peter Downey, Mike Fullerton, Andy Meilleur.
Time: 10:45am - 2:15pm

The White was clear of ice but there was still a lot of snow along the banks. Indeed, a group of cross-country skiers followed us on the left bank for a mile or so. There were a few short swims', resulting from side surfing to a slight case of Spring River Fever, which may have deflated egos and air bags for awhile. There is no misprint on the boats above: Tony Shaw borrowed a C-1 which he rolled.

-- Andy Meilleur

HUNTINGTON RIVER : March 30, 1997

Participants: K-1: Dave Diederich, James Raboin; OC-1: Andy Meilleur.
Time: 11:00am - 1:30pm

Because temps were staying close to 40 with some rivers rising to high levels due to rain the night before, I got conservative and chose the Huntington for this trip and found it at a medium level. I could see some disappointment in my fellow paddlers after scouting the river, and there was some discussion towards running the more challenging Lower Mad instead. We struck a deal where we would play the last three miles of the Huntington before the gorge after which, if more paddling was desired, we would go look at the lower Mad. As the elapsed time indicates, the two kayaks played the river thoroughly and a trip to the Mad became unnecessary.

-- Andy Meilleur

SARANAC RIVER (NY) Above Clayburg : April 3, 1997

Participants: OC-1: Eric Bishop, Tony Shaw.
Water: 5.0 feet (USGS online gauge, Plattsburgh)

The two of us enjoyed a balmy run at this medium level. The float through Tefft Pond ends abruptly at an impressive falls, after which the class II-III and III+ rapids continue uninterrupted to the take-out. Look for this trip on the VPC schedule in 1998!

-- Tony Shaw

GREEN RIVER (VT-MA) : April 4, 1997

Participants: OC-1: Eric Bishop, Jeff Fletterick, Tony Shaw.

We needed our all-wheel drive vehicles to get to the put-in in the remote hamlet of Green River, VT (accessible ONLY by dirt roads.) The AMC Guide (1989 revision) down-rated the Green to class II-III, but the class Ill rating arguably pertains only to the shuttle. DELIVERANCE came to mind on several occasions.

Some were still without phone or power from the heavy Massachusetts snowstorm April 1st, and Eric counted more than 100 trees in the river on this 8 mile run. It was a bit on the low side and much tamer than we expected (the shuttle notwithstanding!)

-- Tony Shaw

LOWER WHITE RIVER : April 5, 1997

Participants: K-1: Kevin Eaton; OC-1: Mike Fullerton, Randy Allen, Fred Glanzberg.

Paddled the White from the Royalton/Sharon town line to the West Hartford bridge because the First Branch was too low for the scheduled trip. Put in at 10:30 just south of the yellow farm on Route 14 (Sharon River Access), ate lunch at the Sharon dam, and took out at 2:30. River was at moderate to high play mode -- about 2 1/4 feet on the 1-89 overpass in Sharon. Good water level and temperature was refreshing.

-- Kevin Eaton

AMMONOOSUC RIVER : April 6, 1997

Participants: C-1: Tom Jones; K-1: Ricky Battistoni, Jamie Dolan, George McIntosh; OC-1: Randy Allen, Eric Bishop, Mike Fullerton, Andy Meilleur.
Time: 12:45pm - 4:30pm

The scheduled river was the Moose and 13 paddlers showed in North Concord to find the area still in the grips of winter. The Moose had dangerous ice shelves along both sides and fields looked to have over a foot of settled snow. This was the time to begin applying the back-up plans of which everyone had been advised during inquiries made previously.

The Upper Lamoille was at 3.25 feet and rising, while the Ammo was at 2.6 feet and rising. Which river to run was a personal decision and I could see some in the group tossing coins in their minds. For me it was easy to choose the Amino -- I had missed it the last two seasons but had run the Upper Lamoille four times last spring.

The mood was somber as eight of us started down the Ammo through sprinkles of rain and river fog. As we passed the gauge at Pierce Bridge the reading had risen to 2.9 feet. We reached Power House Rapid in 1.5 hours, where action picked up and the weather improved. At this level Power House and Alderbrook were class III. As Mike Fullerton said, "There lies a class IV rapid -- just add water." The gauge read 3.3 feet by the end of our trip.

-- Andy Meilleur

MASCOMA RIVER : April 12, 1997

Participants: OC-1: Mike Fullerton, Andy Meilleur, Eric Bishop, Fred Glanzberg, Mike Smorgans, Randy Allen.

The 1-3 inches of snow predicted never materialized and the skies even brightened in the afternoon. With the gauge reading 4 1/2 feet the river has some punch and makes for a lively and fun run. Excelsior rapid is a treat. The only negative note to report is a smashed finger (7 stitches) that Eric suffered against a ledge while trying to avoid an encounter with a kayaker in the slalom race.

-- Randy Allen

LOWER MAD RIVER : April 13, 1997

Participants: OC-1: Mike Fullerton, Andy Meilleur, Fred Glanzberg, Kevin Eaton, Mike Smorgans, Randy Allen.

The Lower Mad has to be one of the most fun rivers around. To play for three hours on a mile and a half of river says a lot for its features. All six boats ran the straight side of the falls -- yahoo.

-- Randy Allen

BLACK RIVER : April 19, 1997

Participants: OC-1: Mike Fullerton, Mike Smorgans, Andy Meilleur, Randy Allen; C-1: Tom Jones; K-1: Ricky Battistoni.

This report might be called Black River Massacre II - the Sequel. At 2.75' the river was cranking but not intimidating for the group, yet we did get thrashed by it. On the first run we had two boats over at the pourover on the left at the end of the gorge section, resulting in a runaway kayak paddle which ultimately turned up just below the takeout.

But the real fun started when a boat upset near the top of the gorge. It got away and in the ensuing chase through the gorge we had two more tipovers, one swim short and another more intense in a recirculating eddy -- with Ricky finally rescuing a very tired swimmer. The runaway Encore was finally retrieved by Tom another half mile down the river.

The only boat not involved in all this was back up at the initial tipover trying to get Mike back across the river, and also discovering that one of his airbags was blown and completely deflated. Three of us did make another run. What a river.

-- Randy Allen


I have a suspicion that there are many terrific rivers in the White Mountain state, although I have only limited direct knowledge and experience paddling them. I want to change that this season. The plan for this particular VT Paddlers trip was to paddle a moderately difficult river that the group in general had little experience with, and to select one that is hard to "catch" except in spring conditions. The rivers I had in mind included the Mad River out of Waterville Valley, the Wild Ammonoosuc near Swiftwater, and the Gale River below Franconia.

So much for plans. Heavy rain the day before augmented powerful spring melting, and all New Hampshire rivers were forecast to be in flood. As much as five inches of rain fell near Conway. All potential VT Paddlers dropped out, citing no need to drive long distance just to look at rivers. However, my friend Jim Bohlman was still game to drive up from Boston, on the probability that something somewhere had to be manageable.

I left Barre early Saturday, and noted terrific but acceptable water levels on the Wild Ammonoosuc.

I also stopped by the East Branch of the Pernigewasset where the Kancamangus Highway crosses. The river is very wide here -- which means that small changes in water level here are intensely magnified in areas downstream where the river narrows. I understand that 0.3' is paddleable; up to 1.5' is class IV; up to 2.0' is class V in stretches; and everything above 2.0' is faintly absurd. On Saturday morning the gauge at the Kane was reading 3. V, and nobody watching from the bridge was putting in.

Next stop: Campton to meet Jim, and the Mad River. And what a site that was! The Mad is a beautiful boulder bed river for its entire run down a gorgeous valley, dropping steadily nearly 900 feet in the 12 miles from Waterville Valley. The beauty of this run, however, lies in the fact that although the river is dropping steeply, at normal water levels nowhere does the difficulty rise to more than a moderate class IV. On Saturday however, it looked an order of magnitude more intense than a West River darn release. A hand-painted gauge on a rock at Six Mile Bridge was visible but buried under a foot of water.

Again referring to numerous guide documents, we learned that the enjoyable water levels on the river are between 1.5 and 2.5 feet, and anything above 3.0 was rated "don't even think of it. " At the current water level (no pun intended) of approximately 4.5, we didn't think of it, but we did watch as a group of five supposedly "strong" kayakers put in. They said they had planned on doing the Swift but the gauge in Rocky Gorge was reading 6.5 feet and rising. Rumor has it that anything above 3.0 is suicide on the lower Swift. Anyway, these five paddlers had a full day on the Mad, which is a long story of questionable judgement that shortens down to many swimmers, two lost kayaks, and only minor injuries. Nonetheless, I can't wait to catch the Mad in good conditions.

As for Jim and I, we finally settled on paddling about seven miles of the main branch of the Pemi from North Woodstock, a class II run normally. At the put-in we found some Boston AMC members who elected to paddle when they saw us preparing to put in, and we joined forces to paddle as a group of four. River conditions were generally "safe" (the volume of water was generally contained within the river bed) but enormously squirrelly. I've never paddled in water conditions like it, and must confess that it was a little frightening.

Most eddies were large rotating ponds. Chaotic eddy lines generated strings of whirlpools up to two feet deep without warning. In eddies and play spots the river surged up and down by enormous amounts, instantaneously forming deep holes and then filling them in. Sets of standing waves were actually migrating upstream. Boulders could be heard tumbling along the river bottom. I couldn't believe it. There were no really comfortable places to catch a break as the water was all generally in motion, either upstream or downstream.. We took out in Thornton right above a set of ledges. Nobody had the heart to run them at this water level.

Beer and pizza rounded out a pleasant evening.

-- Tim Yarrow

UPPER LAMOILLE : April 20, 1997

Participants: Richard Larsen, Sheri Larsen, Michael Fullerton, Andy Meilleur, George McIntosh, Len Carpenter.

The weather was fair, but the cold spring held back the runoff and the river was running at a moderate, level. The team was a strong one and the run was finished by early afternoon. Some scoped out the dam and ledges for a possible try but some timber blocked the channel and a more prudent course was chosen. NICE TRY, and a nice trip. We will hope for a warming trend and faster runoff in upcoming weeks.

-- Peter Alden alias Paddling Pete

DOG RIVER : April 20, 1997

Participants: Eric Bishop, Julie Petot, Tim and Chris Parsons.

We paddled the Dog River from Riverton to Dog River Park in Montpelier. This novice trip was made enjoyable by sunshine and beautiful clear water. Julie was breaking in a new boat, and the Parsons tried a day of tandem paddling. All went well.

-- Eric Bishop

LOWER LAMOILLE : April 23, 1997 (Wednesday evening series)

Participants: Rich Larsen, Andy Meilleur, Jay Strane, George McIntosh, Pike Porter, Whitney Brice.

Two solo canoes, two kayaks, and one double canoe. River level was 2 3/4' on a clear day with temperatures in the 50s. A beaver just upstream of Five Chutes made a number of charges at the group, before slapping its tail and diving. We went down the river fairly quickly, spending about one and three quarters hours on the water. Some playing, a little swimming at Five Chutes, but generally just a nice float down the river, and off before sunset.

-- Rich Larsen

HUDSON RIVER (North Creek to The Glen) : April 26, 1997

Participants: K-1: George McIntosh; OC-1: Peter Alden, Rich Larsen, Sheri Larsen, Andy Meilleur, Mike Smorgans.
Time: 11:15am - 3:20pm
Water: 5.7 feet at North Creek

We had the wind to our backs for this 14 mile cruise. The first half had intermittent class II and II+ rapids while a couple of prime class Ills awaited on the second half. We all ran The Hook on the left with Sheri finding the driest route. Race Horse Rapid was ideal at this level with plenty of power and uncovered rocks. The rest of the group watched at Rock Island as I tuckered myself out trying to surf the wave there.

-- Andy Meilleur

SACANDAGA RIVER (East Branch) : April 27, 1997

Participants: K-1: Ricky Battistoni, George McIntosh; OC-1: Andy Meilleur, Tony Shaw, Mike Smorgans.
Time: 10:45am - 12:20pm & 1:30pm - 3:50pm
Water: 4.5 feet (Hope Gauge)

If the run on the Hudson the day before was the main meal, then this was dessert. Judging river level from the road was deceiving, as the river looks lower than it actually is. Maybe it's the steep embankment, the clear water, or the abundance of medium sized boulders. At almost medium level we found it to be a continuous technical class II+ to III. Constant maneuvering and water reading was required lest the wrong line be taken to result in being perched atop dry rock.

The first run was cautious but the second turned into a river play extravaganza on the part of Tony, Mike, and Ricky. Tony paddled with such verve as to make one think this was the last 2.5 miles he would ever paddle. Mike's facial muscles were sore from smiling. The trip leader almost forgot to shuttle cars on the second run. Mike got the award for persistence on making a side surfing recovery that looked hopeless.

-- Andy Meilleur

LOWER LAMOILLE : April 30, 1997 (Wednesday evening series)

Participants: George McIntosh, Jay Strane, Ricky Battistoni, Frank Talbott, Peter Brown, Rich Larsen, Greg Magnant, Peter Downey, Peter Briggs.

Four canoes, four kayaks, and one C-1. This was an excellent evening for paddling, cloudy but with a temperature near 70 degrees, and water level just over two feet. We did a lot of surfing at the reversal upstream from Five Chutes, with a few resulting swims. Greg and Ricky won the awards for best surfing for their particular types of boat. A little more swimming at the Five Chutes, but no real problems. With the warm day and later sunset, we stayed on the river longer, about two hours.

-- Rich Larsen

LOWER MAD RIVER : May 8,1997

Participants: K-1: Randy Mead; OC-1: Randy Allen, Lori Barg, Peter Brown, Peter Downey, Andy Meilleur, Mike Smorgans.
Time: 5:15pm - 7:30pm

This started as a Wednesday evening trip that was delayed one day for better weather conditions. We found the Mad River at medium high level on a beautiful spring evening. The rebar at the washed out dam was completely covered.

Two swims were kept short through good self-rescue and an accurate rope throw. A third swim occurred after the last drop near the confluence with the Winooski River, where a large whirlpool had formed. The currents were subtle and slow, but powerful enough to keep the swimmer treading water despite being just a few feet from shore. The rest of the group teamed to make the rescue fairly efficient.

-- Andy Meilleur

NORTH BRANCH of the LAMOILLE : May 11, 1997

Participants: K:1 Ricky Battistoni, John Wolfe; OC-1: Randy Allen, Julie Petot, Lori Barg, Mike Smorgans, Eric Bishop.

Low but runnable. Cool early; sun late; outstanding water quality. The group did the gorge above Waterville and then some of the group did the lower gorge through town. (Hey, anyone know where Ricky put his keys?)

-- Eric Bishop

LOWER LAMOILLE : May 14, 1997 (Wednesday evening series)

4 boats, with a record -- probably the first club trip where the predominant type of boat was the covered canoe -- 2 of these, Peter Briggs and Ray Ingram; one canoe, Rich Larsen; and George McIntosh in a kayak. This was a very pleasant day, with a temperature near 60 and almost no wind. The water level was about 1.5 feet. There were no major adventures, just a two-hour float down the river. We saw at least one osprey.

-- Rich Larsen

LOWER WHITE RIVER : May 17, 1997

Participants: OC-1: Andy Meilleur, John ..... Kevin Eaton.

Trip on the White from Sharon to the bridge in West Hartford. Level was 1 1/2 feet on the 1-89 bridge, a fun level for this stretch of water.

-- Kevin Eaton

HUDSON GORGE : May 17, 1997

Participants: OC-1: Mike Fullerton, Mike Smorgans, Eric Bishop.

We had intended to paddle the Boreas, but it was too low even for us, so we switched to the Hudson, at 4.6 on the gauge, and had a challenging run. The weather was cool, dark and damp but only a relatively minor swim marred the day.

-- Eric Bishop

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