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Trip Reports

Find trips reports from 2001 and prior in the Bow & Stern Archive
All: by date By Title: A-Z By Author: A-Z Last 12 Months 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

Past 12 Months...

Ausable Chasm Saturday Jun 25, 2022
MIssisquoi in North Troy (MINT) Sunday May 22, 2022
Grand Canyon 2022 Thursday-Sunday Mar 24-Apr 10, 2022
Joe's Brook - 100 Foot Fever Monday Nov 1, 2021
Shepard Brook - Trick or Treat? Sunday Oct 31, 2021
Ottawa River Friday-Monday Sep 3-6, 2021
Warner River (NH) Friday Sep 3, 2021

Past 12 Months...

Ausable Chasm
Saturday Jun 25, 2022
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium
Author: Tony Shaw

Bands of intermittent ADK summer rain brought the Ausable River below Ausable Forks up above 1100 cfs briefly around midnight on Thursday but by noon on Saturday it had fallen to 569 cfs. Two of us had never run this short but impressive class IV river before, and the other two had not run it in a decade (and neither/never higher than 400 cfs). Someone at NYSEG needs a stern reminder that the paddlers' (public) gate at the put-in needs to remain unlocked starting Memorial Day weekend, but as the saying goes: “what happens (just barely) under the barbed wire  fence stays under the fence”.

I think I can speak for our entire foursome when I say the mid-500s was a really fun level, and the shallow 2 mile paddle out to the 9N bridge was not bad at all, made all the more enjoyable by a light breeze under sunny skies, temps in the 80’s, and bald eagle & osprey sightings. In the named drops up above no flips, no swims, and plenty of hoots and hollers at river level, and also from the paying crowds overhead enjoying their own version of an adrenaline rush, crossing back and forth over the raging river on the Tarzan bridges maintained by the Ausable Chasm Company. The ACC staff were universally welcoming and friendly to us when we stopped to scout at the Devil’s Oven drop and above Mike’s Hole, where kayakers in the past have been harassed.

The morning hiccup at the gate squelched our ambitions for a second lap, but otherwise with an early start 2 laps seem realistic, even at flows as low as 300 cfs.

MIssisquoi in North Troy (MINT)
Sunday May 22, 2022
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium
Author: Tony Shaw

Overnight thunderstorms across northern VT (as well as the Eastern Townships of PQ) dropped an inch or more of rain and swelled the Missisquoi in North Troy (MINT) just enough to make this attractive 4.2 miles stretch, ending above Big Falls, sporty. Sun and clouds in the low 80's had us all in shorties, for a change. No strainers in play, no flips or swims. Start to finish in ~2 hours - in part because we boat scouted everything and in part owing to a steady, stout southerly tailwind. Wind also helped befuddle a few pesky skeeters at the take-out and put-in. Class III at this level, with a choice of lines through each of the wavy rapids including CanAm (though there we all stayed left). Full disclosure, there is mile or more in the middle that's basically flat.

The eddy service is ample on river right at the take-out, but you'd be in big trouble if you floated past this eddy absent-mindedly. We were all good until my boat got the notion to run Big Falls by itself when it slipped off the sloping ledge below the parking area where I had it precariously perched. Paul thankfully corralled it before it took the plunge. The last 1/4 mile or so of boating above Big Falls is incredibly scenic, however the steep "footpath" up and out of the final eddy to the road is no picnic. We resorted to using a throw rope to drag up the kayaks.

Grand Canyon 2022
Thursday-Sunday Mar 24-Apr 10, 2022
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium low
Author: Tony Shaw

Scoring a shoulder-season (spring or fall) permit to run the Grand Canyon in the annual January Park Service lottery is a Diamond in the Rough. As well as a Crystal, Emerald, Sapphire, Ruby, Turquoise, etc., etc. A bunch of us tried for years with no luck and then, finally, in February of 2019 a "Congratulations..." email came my way.

No 225+ mile, 2-3 week wilderness float trip ever goes entirely "according to plan". Inviting a group that can be flexible and resilient is the first of many challenges. We were a solid group of boaters/adventurers, considering some of us are pushing 70, and the weather we had could not have been nicer. Jon was a really great late addition to the roster, grinning ear-to-ear with every splash of water! I could say something equally nice about every other person on my trip.

It was sad for sure when Pete and Bridget hiked out from Phantom Ranch on day 8 after breaking a wrist (the 2 youngest paddlers on the roster). Getting off the river on day 18 at Diamond Creek was the original plan in 2019/2020, before our launch date then was scratched due to COVID-19, so I personally wasn't heartbroken when we arranged our day 18 pickup.

Arduous and sublime are my go-to adjectives to describe our trip, and I hope one day you get to experience it yourself.

Joe's Brook - 100 Foot Fever
Monday Nov 1, 2021
Organizer: Jamie Dolan
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium
Author: Jim Poulin

100 Foot Fever – Joe’s Brook

November 1, 2021

 

It all started with a significant rain event on Halloween weekend. I received 3 inches of rain in Richmond with this storm and all the local rivers were going off.

Jamie put the call out on Sunday evening about a Joe’s Brook run on Monday. Tony immediately came down with 100 Foot (per mile) Fever and called in sick for Monday. Overnight, Jim too, came down with 100 Foot Fever and the Joe’s threesome was set.

It was a lovely early November day, sunny with a high about 55 in West Danville. A bit of a breeze at the put in and take out, but not down on the river.

At the Joe’s Pond dam we found the pond level to be about 5.1 on the gauge (very hard to read) and the bladder deflated. At the put in we saw “gauge rock” with a good pillow pouring over – maybe 3 or 4 inches? This led us to declare the level a solid “medium”.

A note that VT Creeks dot com’s correlation with Sleeper’s River predicted Joe’s to be too low to run on this day. So take that into account when determining if Joe’s is a go.

Since this was higher than the normal boat scraping low levels we are used to, we put a car at the midway point – the covered bridge – and would assess if we should do the lower half after experiencing what the upper half had to offer.

The rapids were nicely padded. As Tony said, “we didn’t leave much plastic out there today”. The sun made visibility challenging at times but you really cannot complain about that! There was some wood to contend with. A couple of river wide logs we could boof over, a couple that we could sneak around and couple we needed to carry. All the wood was in spots where we clearly saw it coming and the current was not too strong. There was some wood in some of the rapids – most significantly in the big slide– that alternated the usual lines.

We walked a couple of rapids (not Jamie of course) but everything else was read and run. It was nice to see Joe’s with a little juice. Tony and Jim set safety at the big slide for Jamie’s run and while getting hung up on a few FU rocks in the middle section trying to avoid the wood filled lines, he styled it. We finished with a bit of boogie water to the covered bridge.

We scouted the covered bridge rapid with no intention of running it. It is amazing when the boat is firmly on terra firma, the lines become crystal clear!

At this point we had enough and thought the more difficult section below the covered bridge would best be saved for another (warmer?) day.

All in all a great small team on a great river in Vermont on a glorious late fall day. What more could one ask???

JimP

Shepard Brook - Trick or Treat?
Sunday Oct 31, 2021
Organizer: Jamie Dolan/Tony Shaw
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: high
Author: Tony Shaw

This was the highest level any of us can remember being on Shepard Brook, and for some in our group it was their first descent on this seldom-run micro that drains the Green Mountains (Burnt Rock Mt. and Big Basin) in Fayston. We knew ahead of time there would be wood. Wood aplenty, as it turned out. And the real danger is not the paddling over/under/around the fallen trees here and there blocking the main flow (or carrying - in 2 or 3 "big" cases), but swimming a rapid containing wood (if you are unlucky enough to do so). Skill...and luck...of course are factors.

The first logjam came almost immediately below the Randell Rd. put-in (a mandatory portage). The gradient climbs to over 100 ft/mile for the first time approaching the Airport Road bridge, and after that my memory starts to blur.

I know the rain had stopped. I know there were swims in each of the steepest sections (Jamie says nothing above class 3, but jeez-Louise, at this level and given the wood I think you could say at least 4-). I remember a bunch of us scrambling around on islands and on shore contemplating and ultimately recovering boats (one boat in particular) plastered onto a submerged log and later broached on a large rock. I remember making it safely through the S-turn rapid below the Henry place (where the yellow house sits up high on river left)  where I pulled off—shaken—in the middle of my only other Shepard Brook outing in 2017.

One enduring memory will be the serious looks on everyone's faces at the take-out, relieved I imagine that we started the trip with 10 paddlers and ended with the same 10 paddlers (and 10 boats). I also won't soon forget the ~2 mile long continuous (FUN!) class 2-3 well-padded boogie water below the S-turn which brings you pretty much all the way to the take-out.

USGS gauges around the state on Halloween tell the story: single-day real-time flow in cfs climbed by factors of 8 to 20 (New Haven 150 > 3,000, Passumpsic 300 > 3,800, Mad 400 > 4,000, White 1,000 > 8,000, Winooski 1,000 > 13,000). 3 inches of rain the last week in October will do that (and also bring creekers out of the woodwork).

"Trick or Treat!"


 

Editor's note:  On Google Maps ('Measure distance' function) I just traced the distance from the Airport Road bridge to the take-out. I got 2¼ miles, which consists of non-stop whitewater. The section from Randell Road to Airport Road adds 1.16 miles. If you put in at the Center Fayston Road bridge the distance down to Airport Road is 2.33 miles.

Putting in at the Hedgehog Brook Trail Head on Big Basin Road adds another 1.2 miles. That section starts off with a steep Class 4 descent over a long series of ledges, and then levels out to Class 2 boogie water before Center Fayston Road. I walked it a few years ago, and there was a lot of wood to contend with.

   — Chris W.

Ottawa River
Friday-Monday Sep 3-6, 2021
Organizer: Jim Poulin
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium low
Author: James Poulin

Ottawa River 2021 – COVID 19 Version

September 3 – 6, 2021

This year was made more interesting in that the Canadian border had just opened in early August for fully vaccinated U.S. citizens. The trick, as I saw it, was to find a testing facility that could turn around a COVID test in less than 72 hours. This is important that the Canadian government needed a negative COVID test within 72 hours of entering Canada. The timing seemed to be getting the test on Tuesday afternoon and getting the results so you could enter Canada on Friday afternoon. Even so, we still had three participants drop out because they did not get their test results back in time. Who knows what next year will bring!

Friday, September 3

Level: -3.5

Weather: sunny and in the 70’s

Afternoon Run

A few of the early arrivers opted for a McCoy park and play over a full run down the Middle as it was around 4:30 and we were running out of time. For this run we had Paul, Sue, Mark and Jim.

We observed the McCoy Island damage from the recent tornado that touched down there in late July. The damage was excessive. Trees down all over the place. Even with strategic chain saw work, the normal path had to be altered to walk down for the scout / portage. The Zoom Flume sneak route was choked with wood and was not even an option.

We had an uneventful run of McCoys – doing the usual “thread the needle” line. The group played around below the Horseshoes for about an hour and got our big water legs under us again. At this level Baby Face was much more hole than wave and was giving more poundings than rides. The sun was getting low in the sky and there wasn’t another paddler to be found. A very relaxing start to the weekend! We paddled back to the put in using the exit from below McCoys on river right.

The group relaxed over dinner and adult beverages. Late arrivers started trickling in around 7:00 and later.

Saturday, September 4

Level -3.5

Weather: sunny and in the 70’s

Morning Run

With all 7 paddlers assembled we opted for a Middle run to get everyone on the water. This included a run through McCoys. Sue and Molly used the paddle to the bottom of McCoys rather than walk through the lumber yard that is now McCoys’ Island. They arrived at a good viewing spot to see the hearty five paddlers wind our way down the rapid.

From there we worked our way down to the Middle Channel. All your favorite Middle Channel rapids were fluid, but maybe a touch lower than most had seen. Iron Ring, S-Turn, Butterfly, Garvins, Little No Name, Big No Name and Velvet Falls was the lineup. We did walk Garvins but everyone ran everything else! We did spend a little time scouting Big No Name so everyone got the line down in their mind.

Afternoon Run

For the late day run we headed for the Main. We put in at the Lorne to miss the flatwater after McCoys and to shorten the time. We had 3 paddlers on the run – Paul, Mark and Jim. At these lower levels the water seemed a bit more squirrely on the outflow but otherwise the normal lines were still the preferred route for Lorne, Butcher’s Knife, Normans and Coliseum. Garburator was not in at this level but Pushbutton was superb! We ran everything straight up (no scout) except for Coliseum, we took a quick peak to make sure we knew the line. At this level you can run Coli left or right and there is a large eddy in the middle of the rapid to stop and catch your breath (or surf the left or right V-wave, both of which were in). We finished out with Dog Leg and Blacks and headed back to the car.

Once back at camp we tucked into appetizers and tequila! We moved the normal tequila night up a day because Sunday’s weather was looking very wet. Dawn pulled together a delightful chili feed that included said chili plus kale slaw, fresh bread and oatmeal applesauce cake for dessert.

Then we set about telling tall tales of the day’s adventures all while looking at the beautiful open sky filled with stars.

It was a banner day all around and why we venture north to this wonderful whitewater playland.

Sunday, September 5

Level -3.5

Weather bonus day! Sunny skies! Supposed to rain but it never really did!

Morning Run

The Main was on the docket this morning again putting in at the Lorne to shorten the run a bit. We had 5 paddlers on this run – Paul, Chris, Mark, Ryan and Jim. Sue, Molly and Dawn walked down to the rapid to see the guys run the meat! Or at least what is the Lorne at this level.

We worked our way down though all the rapids scouting Coliseum again since Chris and Ryan had not yet seen it this year.

It was a wonderful run and we were back in camp by around 1:00 for lunch and rest and get back out for another run!

Afternoon Run

For the afternoon we had all 7 paddlers on the water for the Middle. Again, Sue and Molly paddled around from the lower McCoys takeout and the remain 5 (Paul, Chris, Mark, Ryan and Jim) ran down through McCoys. There were a few rafts and not too many paddlers as well. There were a number of boaters at camp but I think our timing was out-of-phase with everyone else and we get to enjoy a more empty river experience.

We ran down all the rapids and since this was the second time there was no scouting at Big No Name. We surfed all the big and small waves we could find and used up every ounce of energy we had. Once at the takeout it was hard to drag our boats up the bank.

Back at camp, a couple of dinner time showers did not dampen the mood and it cleared so we could sit out and enjoy the evening and recount all the day’s events.

Monday, September 6

Level -3.6

Weather: bonus day #2, supposed to be showers but was sun & clouds. Cool in the mid 60’s

Morning Run

A number of folks decided to break camp and nurse sore muscles rather than take another run. But we did have 3 hearty paddlers for a Burner Main run from Lorne – Paul, Mark and Jim.

Ryan and family went with us to the put in and watched our run through Lorne. They also shuttled our vehicle to the take out so we could proceed back to camp as quickly as possible.

The group was not teaming with energy and did not need to scout anything on this run. But we did not hammer down it either. But we shocked all back at camp when we rolled in before noon – a 90 minute run!

We finished packing and had a bite to eat but everyone was on the road by around 1:00. This is the first time in a long time where I made it home before dark!

Additional Notes

Dawn composed and performed a new song, “Over the Border”, to capture the weekend. Here is a link to the song for your enjoyment.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnWNQ6ZDnmk 

There was some discussion about next year doing this trip mid-week. There are a few good reasons:

• Many of us are retired so why not?!?

• Less paddlers and rafts at all the key play spots

• We could do a Madawaska run – dam releases only during the week

• Can go to Beaver-Fest on Labor Day weekend

For the worker bees, you will need to start planning the time off now!

Tentative dates: Monday, August 22 through Thursday, August 25, 2022

Let me know your thoughts on this change!

JimP

Warner River (NH)
Friday Sep 3, 2021
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium low
Author: Tony Shaw

Brooke Sofferman, on FaceBook: "It’s peaking now at 5.5 (feet), a great first time level. It drops slow, so you may get lucky". And I'll be the first to admit, I LOVE getting lucky. So it was with great anticipation that our group of 6 headed to central NH for a summertime run on the Warner River!

 

T.S. Ida had left the mainland two days before, after wreaking havoc from The Big Easy to The Big Apple. The poor folks there did NOT get lucky. On its way out to sea the storm also drenched most of southern New England with local rainfall amounts on cocorahs (https://maps.cocorahs.org/) ranging between 1.6 and 2.8 inches. But, sadly, Ida missed northern VT altogether.

 

Jamie was the only one in our group with prior Warner R. experience, but it was so long ago that he had pretty much forgotten the lines. So the AW website came in very handy, replete with gauge correlations dating back to 2003, a helmet-cam video link, and annotated photos of "Pinball", “Sluiceway”, and "The Gorge" at runnable levels. Plus Brooke warned of the one river-wide strainer above Pinball, which we were glad to know about going in.

 

AW "promised" 5.5 feet/540 cfs on the USGS Davisville station (12 miles downstream from The Gorge) would put us around 2 feet on the Laing Bridge Ln. painted gauge, aka medium low, and medium low it was. As custom dictates, Jamie assumed the role of 'sacrificial probe'. We made our way down rather slowly/meticulously on our first lap, getting out to scout atop any horizon line, and then 4 of us banged out a race lap after lunch in 40 minutes, to be back home by 6pm. We did not complete the entire 5.4 mile run, focusing our attention on the first ~2 miles (Melvin Mills/The Gorge). There were several swims on lap #1, none of consequence. The water was warm, the sky was blue, and the air temperature was well-nigh perfect.

 

It was an easy drive down I89 to NH Exit 9, and I would be happy to make this trip again with the same group (or some other group for that matter) at this level, but another 6 inches of water would make it even more worthwhile. The other sporty NH river in the neighborhood that VPC’ers should be keeping in mind is the North Br. Piscataquog, which is 7 miles long and has a not-to-be-missed annual fall drawdown dam release scheduled in mid-October. Put it on your calendar now: Saturday, October 16th, 2021.

VPC trip reports can provide an important historical basis for 'current use', a legal doctrine that can affect the regulatory process - dam relicensing, new dam construction projects, etc. But only (obviously) if we (WE) write them! So, be sure to share and preserve the memories of your latest paddling adventures by submitting a trip report.
If you are a VPC member and you want attribution for a trip report, please login to the website (above) before you begin filling out your trip report. Reports with attribution will appear on the 'My Trip Reports' tab on your 'My Profile' page.
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