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Trip Reports

Find trips reports from 2001 and prior in the Bow & Stern Archive
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Huntington River Saturday Mar 29, 2003
White River Saturday Apr 12, 2003
Huntington River Sunday Apr 27, 2003
North Branch of the Lamoille River Saturday May 3, 2003
Ammonoosuc River (NH) Sunday May 4, 2003
Mettawee River (NY) Saturday May 10, 2003
Hudson/Hudson Gorge/Schroon (NY) Saturday May 17, 2003
Otter Creek Sunday May 18, 2003
Lower Hudson (NY) Sunday May 18, 2003
The Jazz Festival Float Sunday Jun 8, 2003
Magalloway Weekend (ME) Friday-Monday Aug 29-Sep 1, 2003
Otter Creek Falls -- at night! Wednesday Sep 10, 2003
Big Branch Wednesday Sep 24, 2003
Poultney River Tuesday Sep 30, 2003
N.Br.Winooski/Gihon Tuesday Oct 28, 2003
Middlebury Gorge Saturday Nov 1, 2003
Joe's Brook Saturday Nov 1, 2003
Mill River (Clarendon Gorge) Wednesday Nov 19, 2003
Wardsboro Brook/Ball Mtn Brook Saturday Nov 29, 2003
West Branch Deerfield Saturday Dec 27, 2003


Huntington River
Saturday Mar 29, 2003
Organizer: Jamie Dolan
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: medium
Author: Jamie Dolan

Talk about making hay while the sun shines. We caught the Huntington rising up to a medium level on a beautiful 50 degree day. What a great way to start the season. We put in at the Audubon Center and took out at the usual spot on Dugway. Without a doubt, running Dugway was the most difficult part of this trip (easily Class III probably IV). Though the water was still a bit too cool to do aggressive playing, we managed to have a boat load of fun. We poked our noses in a few places and found a couple of good waves to surf. The cows were checking out the scene (and Andy checking them out) but no electric fences impeded our run. Of course there was still snow on the river banks but no floating ice to contend with. With luck, we'll be able to catch the Huntington on the rise once or twice more this season.

White River
Saturday Apr 12, 2003
Organizer: Richard (the Magnificent) Larsen
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: medium low

We met at the Tweed River put-in, and ran the shuttle cars down to below Gaysville. The 9 boats then put in on the Tweed at about 10:45AM, floated to the White, and then down the White, taking out around 2PM. The river was fairly low, and very clear, until we reached the old bridge abutments at Stony Brook. The river had there recently gouged a new channel down the left side, and the newly cut bank was putting a lot of silt into the water, so it was cloudy the rest of the trip. The new channel had a decent wave-train down the left side. The indications on the river bank were that the water had been about 4' higher a week or so before, so it was perhaps this high water that carved the bank and the new channel. The trip was fun, but uneventful. We had a short lunch at the normal location at the rapid above Gaysville. The weather was much better than expected, with reasonable sunshine, few clouds, with a high near 60 degrees. (The forecast for the south-central Vermont area had been for showers, but they never materialized.)

Joe's Brook (Joe's Pond to Morses Mills)
Sunday Apr 13, 2003
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Tony Shaw

5 kayakers and 2 open canoers had a fantastic day on Joe's. Although the level was frustratingly low in some places (where the gradient eased and the streambed widened), the big drops (where the water channels down) were all quite passable and plenty challenging! Every rapid was run by at least one boater, with the exception of the covered bridge drop in S. Danville (too steep and complex for anyone's tastes, even at this level).

The ice was not yet off Joe's Pond, so the water was predictably cold, but the sun shone brightly and adrenaline ruled the day -- noone quit on account of the cold!

There were a few strainers poking out from the banks here and there, but only one riverwide strainer (where the gradient eases below the falls, in the 'storied' covered bridge section).

GMP has provided me with the following information, which can be useful for future outings on Joe's Brook...

The turbine releases 125 cfs at full load (1100 kw), but on this day it was running half load (50-60 cfs, equivalent to 300 kw). The bladder at the dam when fully inflated is 1.83 feet, but the state requires GMP to lower it when necessary so as not to completely dewater the stretch of river immediately below the dam. We observed 3 or 4 inches of water spilling over the partially deflated bladder 4/13/03, and GMP reported the pond level for that day fluctuated between 1.7 and 1.8 feet.

Mike went back within the week (at my urging) to complete the run below Morses Mills, where there is an interesting class IV gorge, and was loving that stretch he professed. I hope other managed to catch Joe's (while it ran) this spring!

Huntington River
Sunday Apr 27, 2003
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: novice WW
Level: medium
Author: Tony Shaw

A heavy rain had washed out the lower Browns River north of Westford, where this outing was originally scheduled. Having once done that section of the Browns when it was "in the trees" (and wishing I hadn't), I made a flurry of Sunday a.m. phone calls and we all met at 11 a.m. at Huntington Gorge. Peter paddled his inflatable kayak, and was the envy of Nick, who had one too many swims in his rigid kayak.

For novice boaters, the class II Huntington is a definite step up from the Mad River triathlon route, by virtue of its steadier, steeper gradient, the prevalence of strainers one must avoid, and an occasional boulder or ledge outcropping in the main current. Ten-year-old Emily switched to her K1 below the Audubon section, having renewed her confidence and river reading skills from the bow seat of our borrowed OC-2 for the first couple of hours on the river.

Adjacent to Dugway Rd. we bumped into Michelle Seamans, Emily's first (and favorite) kayak instructor, and Emily did Michelle proud through several sets of standing waves in this section. Way to go, Em! In all, it was a very good day.

North Branch of the Lamoille River
Saturday May 3, 2003
Organizer: Tony Shaw/Fritz Seftleber
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium low
Author: Tony Shaw

Our trio met in Johnson at 9:30, but the Gihon was (too our amazement) too low. I think there was one wedge of VT where the rainfall Friday May 2 was sparse...from Cambridge to Westfield to Swanton. On inspection following a short drive to Waterville even the North Branch was low (2 feet). But by then we were there, so there we stayed. We finished the run from the Back Rd. covered bridge all the way to the covered bridge on Church St. below Waterville. It's been a few years since I've run those ledges. I didn't paddle as well as I should have (thank God for drysuits!). I kept crashing into barely submerged rocks at the bottom of ledges/chutes and getting flipped by them! But it was such a lovely sun-drenched day and the water was sparklingly clear and I was in the company of low-key friends...what more could you ask for?

Ammonoosuc River (NH)
Sunday May 4, 2003
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium low
Author: Tony Shaw

I had low expectations for this trip, and was tempted in fact to cancel it when Friday's rainfall failed to bring the Sunday level much above 3 feet. But I was pleasantly surprised at how sporty the "Ammo" can be for intermediate paddlers at this level. Lori, in fact, maintains that a pleasant albeit scratchy run can be had here at levels all the way down to 1.6 feet. My preference actually would be 3.5 to 4.5 feet, but on this day the sun shone, the water was sparkling clear, few swam, and the gang of (mostly) VPC old-timers was in good spirits.

The day's most comical (and pathetic) moment came when a native on his ATV decided to show off for our group and ford the river under power, only to sputter, gurgle, and stall out in the deepest part of the channel. These antics aside, it was easy to see why the Ammo is a perennial club favorite, especially among open boaters.

Mettawee River (NY)
Saturday May 10, 2003
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium low
Author: Tony Shaw

The Mettawee below Granville NY was our backup for Joe's Brook, which based on GMP's dispatch report was going to be too low to be any fun. Like Joe's, the Mettawee provides advance boaters with a lot of excitement with a paltry 275 cfs.

We put in on a class I reach, 2 or 3 miles upstream of the first big drop on this warm and sunny morning. This gave us time to notice and appreciate what a lovely unspoiled valley the river inhabits. The first short class V drop is in Truthville, NY - more like "moment-of-truth-ville" if you ask me! Three of us managed to cleanly glance right off the bottom boof rock (the suggested route), two carried, and one finished on center-left (amazingly) unscathed.

Flatwater stretches and a few class II-III ledges separate the 3 remaining IV-V drops. The first and easiest of these is reminiscent of the Horseshoe Falls on Vermont's Mad River. The horizon line above the second so-called "Triple Drop" and the powerful recirculating hole at the end on river right had Eric carrying his canoe without ado (left bank). All four kayakers maintained a perfect line through Triple Drop, nailing this impressive three-ledge combination. But my OC-1 filled with water below ledge #2 and I flipped over halfway down ledge #3, ripping out my thigh strap anchor in the process. My canoe recirculated carelessly in that nasty hole for quite some time, while I clung desperately to the sheer rock wall a few feet away. The upstream current feeding the hungry hole was so strong that I would never have managed to swim downstream and out of my predicament were it not for Eric and his throw bag expertise. THANK YOU, ERIC!

Embarrassingly, our group missed altogether the final high class V falls/slide, as none of us had ever run the Mettawee before and I somehow managed to mistake a small parking area just upstream of it for the official take-out. Simon and photographer Patrick Rogers took some great digital pictures this day, which are featured in the VPC website slideshow.

Hudson/Hudson Gorge/Schroon (NY)
Saturday May 17, 2003
Organizer: Michael Fullerton
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium

A glorious day, warm and sunny with a light breeze. The Hudson was at 5.5' and falling. A couple of the open boats weren't in the right mood for big water so the trip split with the kayaks taking the Gorge and the open boats the lower Hudson. That continued a long club tradition of never pressuring anyone into running something he or she is not really up for.

Report from the K1 group sounds like a fine day with great water and no problems. The OC 1 section had a perfect run on the Lower. Remarkably, there were no other boaters on the river!! We surfed the rock island to death and then headed for the Schroon. Here we saw other boaters, but they were ahead of us and we never actually met. The river was at about 4.8', enough for lots of prime surf spots and low enough for some rocks to appear. We surfed our way down, providing action shots for a group of photographers at the first big drop. The leader even obliged them by not doing a proper high brace and demonstrating an open boat wet exit. It was followed by a textbook self rescue.

A great day, excellent water and no crowding on the river.

Otter Creek
Sunday May 18, 2003
Organizer: Fritz Senftleber
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium high
Author: Tony Shaw

The "Big Otter" below Belden Falls Dam holds its water in the spring better than most other whitewater runs in Vermont. On this warm and sunny Sunday it was pushing 1200 cfs - more water than any other river in the state, notwithstanding the Connecticut.

The cross-currents and haystacks in the short gorge section at this level are a force to reckon with, with just one in five running it cleanly. For Maura, it was reminiscent of some of the big water runs in the southeast, where she used to paddle. Even whitewater champion Ray had a swim here - his first in years!

The current below the next ledge was too fast to be surf-friendly, and the two remaining rapids typically enjoyed on this stretch were, unfortunately, washed out. Still, nobody was complaining. Keep an eye on the real-time USGS Otter Creek Middlebury gauge after heavy summer rains, and try catching the "Big Otter" between 300 and 750 cfs sometime.

Lower Hudson (NY)
Sunday May 18, 2003
Organizer: Richard (the Magnificent) Larsen
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium

This was a trip organized in short order because of expected great weather and water level - and all turned out to be true. It was a beautiful cloudless day, with a high in the mid-70s, and with the North Creek Gauge at 4.9 feet. All in all, it was a perfect Class 3 trip. We put in at North Creek at about 10:30AM, and paddled to the Glen Bridge, taking out around 3:30PM. We saw a fox walking along the shore, and Common Mergansers and Canada Geese on the river. The rapids were pushy, but none were overwhelming. We had lunch at the Riparius Bridge, which was under construction, so the area was somewhat disrupted. The Creemee stand at the train station was, however, open, so some were able to enhance the river food with another of the major food groups. What more could one want from a whitewater trip? We had good rapids, warm temperature, clear sky, and Creemees.

The Jazz Festival Float
Sunday Jun 8, 2003
Organizer: Andy Meilleur
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium
Author: Jamie Dolan

This bootleg Hudson River gorge trip was put together on the streets of Burlington

during the jazz festival. How Andy managed to play on the river as much as he

did after so much time at the festival is not known. But of course he did. The

trip was a healthy 7.5 hours long. Fortunately, the weather was wonderful and

the black flies weren't even that bad.

We started out on the Indian before the release (USGS reporting 4.2 ft. @ North

Creek). We caught the river high enough so we did not drag anywhere. But what

a difference the release makes. Instead of high volume water, big waves and holes

we found a relatively technical river. At this level it is a lot of fun with some

relatively easy surfing waves and plenty of rocks to avoid. We were lucky that

it wasn't much lower otherwise we would be dragging.

Eventually the bubble caught up to us raising the level of the Hudson to just

over 4.5 feet. A comfortable level to be sure. We had the river to ourselves pretty

much up to the Narrows when the few rafts on the river started coming through.

There were only about dozen compared to close to forty or so I saw two weeks before.

Andy managed to hit most play spots on the way down while Merle conserved his

energy in anticipation of the long run out after bus stop. We had the rare opportunity

to see Andy swim. He was playing at the bottom of Harris when his off side brace

didn't come up to snuff. Andy went over and enjoyed the Hudson from a different


After looking over bus stop I decided the level was benign enough that I could

play in it. Well I did for about 30 seconds until I was flipped on a back surf.

Not a big deal but when I went over I slapped my paddle down to try to brace.

The brace quickly failed because a paddle blade broke off. Though I had no blade

I did have my wits and was able to roll using the other blade. Merle came to the

rescue by tying off his spare paddle to my remaining paddle so I could have a

much easier paddle out.

As the day wound down the bubble had passed us by. However, the level was high enough that there was no boat dragging. And that's always a good thing after a long day on the Hudson.

Magalloway Weekend (ME)
Friday-Monday Aug 29-Sep 1, 2003
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium
Author: Tony Shaw

An eclectic group of boaters and outdoorspeople met up north for a Labor Day Weekend of hiking, biking, flatwater, and whitewater boating. In addition to the Magalloway class III participants listed above, we also enjoyed the company of Faith Knapp, Lucille and Dick Allen, Becki Bates, and Lynn McDermott, who opted in turn for novice whitewater stretches of the Androscoggin River around Errol, eagle and loon watching on Lake Umbagog, and a leisurely Upper Connecticut River trip en route back to Vermont on Monday.

For the first time the VPC maxed out the cabin capacity at the private and secluded Johnson Brook cabin. 10 of us enjoyed a roaring fire in the woodstove, a starry night, a filling meal, and some old fashioned northwoods revelry. Evening guests waxed eloquent on subjects like what can happen when you DON'T let your teenagers jump off of bridges, and what can happen when you DO let your parakeet fall into the mayonaise jar. Becki treated us to a heaping dose of corny humor (" saw a fox driving in? What was he driving???"). Dick brought along his copy of the Hoagland essay "Walking the Dead Diamond River", which embraces a conservation ethic for these private mixed-use woods. Those who slept on the screen porch and those in the Aziscoos Campground in Wilson Mills were greeted with near freezing temperatures Sunday Morning, though it warmed to near 70 each day and didn't rain. Some heard coyotes yipping in the night, but none observed any big game during the weekend. Still, signs of moose and deer were abundant.

Eric B. and Tony detoured on Friday through South Danville VT to dismember several deadfalls obstructing Joe's Brook with Eric's chainsaw, in anticipation of a Joe's run this fall if weather permits (or next spring for certain). The rest of the Friday group arrived after dark, and some were less than impressed with the patchwork of divergent College Grant logging roads, the printed Dartmouth Outing Club directions, and the accompanying map. Can you say "SUCK"???

By daylight, at least, everyone seemed to enjoy their elected outdoor activities: Saturday, Sunday, and even Monday. Bob and Marvie returned to paddle the Errol section of the Androscoggin, where they got their first whitewater instruction about 20 years ago. Eric B. rode west by bicycle on Sunday for 50 miles or so before his motor transport (a.k.a. Andy Meilleur) caught up to him. And Tony completed his 'Around Vermont in 30 Rivers' odyssey on a scratchy class I Connecticut River float from Colebrook to Bloomfield with Becki and Lynn.

Most assuredly there is something for everybody during the VPC Magalloway weekend. Hope you can fit it into your schedule in 2004!

Otter Creek Falls -- at night!
Wednesday Sep 10, 2003
Organizer: Alden Bird
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium low
Author: Alden Bird

Immoderately fun. We met at 9pm under a full moon and warm air. We walked barefoot

over the blacktop through downtown and we could hear the water in the falls below

and we could smell the Otter Creek in the dark. Every river has a smell. You know


The water felt warm on my bare arms in the dark at the put-in. We paddled out

of the shadows and down toward the falls.

The moon gives softer light. You know what i mean. I drifted down under the bridge

through the water -- warm, like pond water, and we eddied out.

I went first. I peeled out, cut around something -- a log -- and started looking.

I saw it, the lip, coming -- fast, faster, and i shoved off into the dark of the

vermont night. pushed off.

I landed flat, hard. My friends heard the impact from up above. But it was like

landing in warm snow, white in the moon light, and you wouldn't have known it

was me, it was still dark enough. You really must try paddling at night.

It was great. We all eagerly went back for a second run. This time I went last

and watched all my friends shove off from the lip and drop away. That is something

you really must try at night too.

This sport reminds me of sex -- you need other people, you meet and do something that you couldn't (well, safely, in our case) do alone, and you have an infinitely pleasureable time doing it. Often you arrange to meet total strangers...and this time it was at night, so it felt like we all stole off in secret from the takeout back to our lives. Hell Yeah!

Big Branch
Wednesday Sep 24, 2003
Organizer: Alden Bird
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Alden Bird

Many creeks get harder when they are low. The New Haven is like this. You are

more likely to flip if you hit a rock at high speed than a wave.

Apparently the Big Branch is the same way, according to my companion who had run

the river a foot higher. If I were to go back, I would want some more water.

This is the steepest and most continuous river I have ever done. To do it right

you have to Concentrate, Concentrate, Concentrate. When I got to the takeout I

felt like I had just taken the damn SATs or something.

Unfortunately one of our three dislocated his shoulder in the "Cave" rapid right

at the start and, writhing in pain, had to call it a day. We hauled his boat up

and out of the gorge for him. This took a while. End result was that I didn't

get back to school in time. Missed class for some class V.

The few times I looked up I noticed that I was hurtling down through a very pretty gorge. That's why we say "gorgeous," ain't it?

Poultney River
Tuesday Sep 30, 2003
Organizer: Alden Bird
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: too low
Author: Alden Bird

I would have had no idea this river existed, save for the earlier trip report

written on this website. excellent, excellent resource.

Anyway, we ran the river from the Vermont Welcome Center off Route 4 to the Carver

Falls dam. Four miles, classically pool/drop, with about a mile of flatwater at

the end to remind one that . . . there are probably rapids under there -- way

under there -- thanks to the dam.

The first rapid was a fun, if rocky, slide. The next rapid is the famous Big Slide.

You tend to go so fast down this thing that you can't stop yourself (from doing

it again!)

There were some more slide-type rapids with interesting eddies and some fun playholes.

The four-foot ledge had a wicked hole on river left. One could laugh at this hole

while boofing around it though.

Just below the ledge is the best rapid on the river -- an angled chute with a

smart diagonal wave and another large, large hole at the bottom. Watch out for

this baby! After that, there are a few more small ones, then flatwater.

I would want more water next time. At 440 it wasn't bony yet -- just low. Class III-IV. I would want more though to make the slides faster and less rocky. I think the river is yellower today with the plastic I left on those slides.

Tuesday Oct 28, 2003
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium
Author: Tony

The NWS recorded nearly 2 inches of rain Monday in Burlington, and a few of us

with flexible schedules took the opportunity to take advantage of the runoff Tuesday.

We had wanted to go to Danville to run Joe's Brook, but almost a foot of water

was spilling over the dam according to GMP dispatch Tues. morning -- too juicy

for everyone's taste. We picked instead the North Branch of the Winooski in Worcester,

because it drains a small basin south of Lake Elmore, and thus requires this kind

of daylong heavy rain just to be navigable. The level was perfect. Aside from

its stunning natural beauty, pool-drop is the attraction on the "other" North

Branch, sporting a high class V falls every 1/4 mile for 2 1/4 miles - all of

which can be run! We took 3 hours to complete the run - scouting carefully, soaking

up the sunshine, taking photos, and grinning ear to ear! Everyone paddled deftly,

rising to the occasion. Alden turned in two memorable performances beyond the

comfort level of the others -first cleanly running the last twisting drop above

the culvert on the far right, and finally richoting effortlessly down the final

falls drop from-left-to-center (where everyone else kept right).

I would have been satisfied to call it a day at 3:30, but youthful exuberance

prevailed and we took Alden and Mike to Johnson for a "race run" on the Gihon.

The level here had dropped 2+ feet since midnight from the appearance, but was

still more pushy than I have seen it. The hole below Bedhead was unsettling, and

everyone carried. Eldorado upended 3 out of 4 in our party ("I think we're getting

tired..."). Everyone took Spinach to the right (except Mike who took it on Sinclair hot pursuit of his runaway kayak).

Alden nabbed the AWOL boat, and we ran the last 3 drops together. Multiple routes

were open in Pincushion, where Eric advises staying far left. Tony missed his

line, swimming not once but twice in Powerhouse ("now definitely tired..."). Everyone

had a clean line through Pancake.

If I don't paddle again in 2003, this day's sweet memories will carry me through the winter until next spring!

Middlebury Gorge
Saturday Nov 1, 2003
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium
Author: Alden Bird

A sunny Saturday morning. It was warm and majestic in this Gorge of Gorges. At the put-in I looked down, and, after a week of serious rain and serious paddling, realized that my equipment was in tatters! My boat was coming unzipped at the seams, my secondary paddle cracking and my skirt ripping. How did this happen?

I noticed that I had broken my favorite paddle and only dimly recalled the incident. There was an amount of duct tape on my paddle jacket that appeared to have been applied in haste, perhaps while in a rapid. Yet . . . how could I give this much thought, with such a river at hand?

Two in our party chose to meet us below the Birth Canal, so it was four of us who sank our teeth into the tasty rapids from the top.

The ragged, torn skirt that I noticed I was using kept popping off, which worried me less than one might imagine. Ah, to have run class V for a week straight!

I felt in control and excited during the dramatic passage into the Birth Canal. Our descent from here was careful and smooth, culminating in all four of us "cleaning up" Rebirth and out of the crux.

We met up with our two friends below here, and ran down to Tester, today's hardest drop. Three boats portaged and three ran. Fred took two runs and had one right-side-up run -- the only one of the three of us!

From here we chased each other down the endless class IV drops of the lower gorge. I eddied out several times just to enjoy the early scenery. This is a place that only kayakers can visit.

At the takeout I persuaded Katie to join me in running the 42-footer (jumping off the 125 bridge) which we both "ran cleanly!"

This river has haunted me ever since I began boating, and today for the first time I felt at peace with it. As a freshman I used to joke that running the Gorge would be the "pinnacle of my boating career" but who would have imagined me actually running it someday? and in C-1? Not me, not for an instant.

Joe's Brook
Saturday Nov 1, 2003
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!

Mill River (Clarendon Gorge)
Wednesday Nov 19, 2003
Organizer: Alden Bird
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Alden Bird

Jim and I had seperately wondered about this run for a long time. The Mill had caught my fascination ever since I first drove over it on Rt. 7, just south of Rutland. We had both done some scouting, and we were both eager to see things from the water.

The first gorge, from the put-in where the Long Trail crosses 103, was fun class III. The water was low and the rapids were fun, distinct and bony.

There is next a long section of class I broken by the three-stage class IV cascade just above the covered bridge. an extremely fun rapid. we got to the bottom and Jim said excitedly, "Wow, that's the biggest thing I've ever run!"

There is another half mile of class I, which was bony. Then there is a sharp left turn and the rock walls rise up, signaling the start of "Devil's Gorge."

The first drop is an injury-making class V at low water, and is, according to good sources, class VI at all other levels. I gave it a good hard look and decided to risk broken bones on the steep portage rather than in the pothole filled rapid.

The rest of the second gorge is narrow, ledgy class III with one class IV. These drops are fun. In one place the walls close in to less than 10 feet. We took out just before the Rt. 7 bridge.

All in all, a great run in two massive gorges. This run has been done very infrequently. I doubt it's been run by more than 10 parties. But there's good stuff in there, and it can be run when other stuff isn't going. Otter Creek in Rutland was running at 644 cfs.

Wardsboro Brook/Ball Mtn Brook
Saturday Nov 29, 2003
Organizer: Mike Henry
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium
Author: Mike Henry

Took advantage of the soaking rain in S. Vermont on

Friday to paddle these two rivers I've been hoping to hit for some time.

I paddled the last mile or so of Wardsboro Brook down to the confluence with the West. This was a great run, with some good surf waves. My improvised ride looked dissappointed to have his kid for the day, and lamented about the difficulty of finding a good baby sitter. He informed me that the upper section also has some good rapids and that Ball Mtn Brook was running at a fun level.

Ball Mtn Brook is a lot of fun, pretty much continuous rapids for 4 or 5 miles. The only hazard of note were some river wide strainers on "Elwoods Corner" (at the base of a land slide). It is fast run and seemed to get harder as it progressed. Or it could have been the fact that I couldn't feel my hands. The lady at the Jamaica Store took pity and invited me in to warm up and have a free cup of coffee, for which I was most grateful. An older gentleman, who was a kayaker "many moons ago" gave me a ride back to my car.

All in all a great day of whitewater and meeting some fantastic folks on the country roads of S. VT. Until spring.....

Mill Creek, "Easy Street" section (Danby)
Monday Dec 1, 2003
Organizer: Alden Bird
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Alden Bird

On my way back up from CT I celebrated the start of December (my native month) with a rush of a ride down the Mill Creek in Danby.

On the way up I had scouted the Roaring Branch and found a suitable run, but cold temperatures. I also checked out the Big Branch and found a low, unappetizing level of 1.5 feet. I headed across Route 7 into Danby and found the "Easy Street" section of Mill Creek to be at a low, boatable level. The last slide looked so worthy, I signed myself up for a solo run.

It didn't look so big from the road, but my, how things change when you get closer!

I blinked through the snow as I sloshed down the drops "blue angel" style, dropping through some tight stuff and one notable falls/slide that holds a good boof in store for just about anyone with a name and face.

The last slide is REALLY BIG and laugh-out loud fun. There are five parts, all on top of each other. This is Vermont's answer to the Eagle section of the Beaver in NY! great stuff.

suffice to say it had me pasted somewhere near the backdeck!

check this out next time you're at the Big Branch, or just down that way.

West Branch Deerfield
Saturday Dec 27, 2003
Organizer: Alden Bird
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Alden Bird

This is the longest section of good rapids I've done in the state. It's 3.5 miles, all good action. I think of the run in four stages:

First, the top section, from Readsboro Falls to where the river crosses under the road. About a mile. There is a cl V drop at the top, a IV right after it, and then a long section of awesome cl III+ boogie water, total non-stop fun.

From the bridge down are about four or five cl IV New Haven Ledges-type drops. Then a section of easier water.

The Tunnel Trio is three drops right before the river goes under the road again. Two class IVs, and Tunnel Vision, a monster cl V. There is a cool rapid in the tunnel too, paddling in there is very strange!

From the Tunnel to the take out is the best section. It's pedal-to-the-metal small class IV drops the whole way. You bang right down into Readsboro, where two larger cl IV drops, High Chair and Low Chair await. These are just above and just below the gauge, right behind Readsboro General Store. Low Chair is one of my favorite rapids ever. More class III+ boogie to the end.

Great stuff. My new favorite river in the state. Definitely worth the drive.

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