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Trip Reports

Find trips reports from 2001 and prior in the Bow & Stern Archive
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Early season Lower Mad Sunday Mar 22, 2009
lower mad Friday Mar 27, 2009
Moose River, Victory, VT Monday Mar 30, 2009
First Hatch - Lower Mad Wednesday Apr 1, 2009
Huntington Saturday Apr 4, 2009
New Haven Race Sunday Apr 5, 2009
Moose River, St. J Sunday Apr 5, 2009
Mill Brook (eastern VT) Monday Apr 6, 2009
Black River Saturday Apr 11, 2009
Lower Lamoille Saturday Apr 11, 2009
Easter in the Gorge(s) Sunday Apr 12, 2009
Mill River - Clarndon Gorge Friday Apr 17, 2009
Joes including the BFS... Saturday Apr 18, 2009
White River Friday Apr 24, 2009
East Br. Pemigewasset (NH) Saturday Apr 25, 2009
Lower Hudson Monday Apr 27, 2009
Lower Mad Wednesday May 13, 2009
Wells River Saturday May 16, 2009
Lower Hudson Saturday May 16, 2009
Patterson Drenched in Sun! Sunday May 17, 2009
Speed Run on Patterson Brook Friday May 29, 2009
Dave Wants an Adventure Sunday May 31, 2009
A Hungry Gihon Monday Jun 29, 2009
Ottawa River 2009 Friday-Monday Sep 4-7, 2009
Upper Huntington Thursday Dec 3, 2009


Early season Lower Mad
Sunday Mar 22, 2009
Organizer: Greg
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium low
Author: Ryan

A good day to get wet....

Cold windy and snowy were the choice du jour. Setting shuttle and sliding down the put in hill we all stretched and put on the river. It was a nice level to stay dry and afloat and work out the early season kinks. It was AJ's first trip down the Mad - more of a geographical thing.

Being the only guy in a play boat, Jamie surfed it up below the 100b bridge. Off to Horseshoe, Jami and I ran the center line to no fanfare. A quick combat roll and we were off through Washing Machine and the bottom gorge.

It was a good start to an early season.

lower mad
Friday Mar 27, 2009
Organizer: paul,ryan
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium
Author: paul s

It was a nice evening, for Jamie and Ryan this was their second run of the year and for Chris and I ( Paul ) the season openner. We all practiced catching eddies as we went down.We got to horseshoe scouted,Jamie showed us the way with a clean run taking the center line right just skimming the whirlpool and boofing over horseshoe for a clean landing in his playboat. That being said I followed up with a clean run of my own in my creeker. Ryan also cleaned it as well. Chris was alittle more conserative and decided to walk around. However the story gets better! I ( Paul ) was feeling cocky and decided to hit washing machine center right hitting that big wave dead on!!! That turned out to be the wrong move, flipping my boat but also missing my roll. Consequently swimming to the next corner watching the guys rescueing my boat. The lesson to be learned is to do what is safe and do the sure thing!! Getting cocky isn't the right choice!!! Anyway we all had fun. Paul

Moose River, Victory, VT
Monday Mar 30, 2009
Organizer: AJ Seibel
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium
Author: AJ Seibel

Got a great early season run on the Moose yesterday, March 30th '09. PIcking up right where we left off in late november, the water may have been a few degrees cooler this time around. The beaver dam at the putin is long gone, but the evidence of their feasts still litters the shores.

Driving through Victory Bog I noticed that it was still quite frozen with many ice-jams upstream of the putin in the sharper bends, but the run itself was opened up with the exception of the pool at the USGS house, which still held on to winter with an iron (frosty?) grip.

During the windshield scout on the way to the putin, we noticed many of our favorite eddies were still locked in, so the run through the first three rapids was a rather quick one - a straight shot with no stopping, and no surfing (still a little cold for a flip). Ice lined the banks, sometimes towering overhead, but the channels were clear so long as you kept a good berth from the ice -- most of it is still severely undercut and a little disconcerting to float past, certainly not place either of us wanted to explore.

The mellow middle proved to be just that, and we made the best of it by playing a little game of eddy tag on our way through, having a great time cathing eddies and holes of all shapes and sizes, and dusting off our ferry skills for the great season to come.

When we arrived at the last bang (just above the take-out bridge then under the bridge and around the corner), things picked up for the last little stretch - we both had clean lines and some good water-in-the-face action as we blasted through the last few holes and waves, instantly getting an ice cream headache as the water cascaded over both man and boat. After a good brace and a nearly missed line, we rocked through the last right hand turn and just like that - it was over.

A great day on a great river, one that I'm fortunate enough to have in my own backyard. Can't wait til the next one (tomorrow?)

First Hatch - Lower Mad
Wednesday Apr 1, 2009
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium low
Author: Tony Shaw

To run the upper Mad (the scheduled trip) we would have needed twice as much water as was flowing in the Mad today. The lower Mad, then, was a good alternative. The level held steady, low but purrrfectly fluid, with temps in the lower 40's and spotty drizzle that didn't spoil the fun at all. Some of the surf waves are especially inviting at this level. We apparently were the missing ingredient that triggered a bug hatch half-way through the run - a sure sign that spring has sprung.

Nobody wanted to test the stickiness of the hole below the horseshoe on river right, but all the runs to the left of the island were clean. At the last rapid around an island we all ran right, but the passage to the left is free of any riverwide obstructions if you want to give that a try.

Saturday Apr 4, 2009
Organizer: Jamie Dolan
Difficulty: novice WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Jamie Dolan

A group off nine (a good mix of boat types and experience) put in at the Bridge St. bridge in Huntington. This allowed us to get warmed up (I'm loosely using that term) in swift water before the horseshoe bend put in where it starts to get a little more challenging. For most, this was an initial whitewater run of the season. For one, Renee, it was an initial whitewater run of a life. And she did great. Renee picked lines well and had good eddy turns. A couple of others were relatively new, and / or getting back into it, and they too did well. Though we did have one swim it was at the Audubon swimming hole. So I don't know if that really counts.

The water level was on the low side but certainly enough to get by. Given the cool temperature and precipitation we were grateful there were only one swim and no rolls.

Mike Smorgans and I were in the lead when we came upon some electric fencing (not turned on) strung across the river. YIKES! Well, that was another disaster narrowly averted. There were two lines that, I suppose, allow the cattle to cross the river without wandering the stream. The lines were at the fields above the bridge closest to Dugway Road. We did not see them until we were upon them and they nearly flipped us. Be careful. Jim said he knew the farmer and would talk with him about the situation.

Thanks everyone, you all sure know how to show a guy a good time.

New Haven Race
Sunday Apr 5, 2009
Organizer: Dave Packie and Ben Guttridge
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: high
Author: Dave Packie

Well, the New Haven race went off! Scott G and I were there on Friday to run some practice laps and we found the river to be low boatable. We needed a bit of rain to bring things up for the event. Bristol got a solid 1/2 inch that night and on top of the snowpack in the Mtns., proved to be more then we needed. Upon arrival we found the level to be high on the Ledges, but just right for the lower New Haven. We ran the lower race first and had about 10 competitors. It was a great level for that run and despite one (or two) swims, fun was had by all. By 12:30 we were back at the Ledges. There was a great turn out of spectators. Clearwater Sports was there demoing boats, Fox 44 news was there and ran a 1 minute segment last night. We had 4 class 5 boaters interested in racing the upper. Safety was set, and we ran the 4 at close intervals as they felt most comfortable that way. The winning time was 8:33 by Justin Beckwith. One swim resulted in a boat being recued out of the toaster pool (thanks Ryan), no other incidents.

All in all, I feel the race was a huge logistical success. Mother Earth threw us some challenging conditions and I feel that Ben Guttridge from the UVMKayak Club and I made some good choices. Retrospectively, I think it important to be well prepared for river-based events, but also be prepared to shift-on-the-fly because as these events are tied to dynamic and ever changeing entities, the nature of the event has to be flexable w/o losing it's structure.

Thank you to ALL those who came, helped, watched, frooze, got soaked, and paddled. Special thanks go the Chris Weed! Ryan McCall! Paul Savard! VPC, UVMKC, ACA, Town of Bristol, Seventh Day Adventist Church, Ken Packie for carving the trophy, Barry from Clearwater. We have allready started planning for next year. We would like to provide more of an oppertunity for class 2-4 boaters and are aiming for more of a festival with a race. Hopefully the VPC will remain involved.


Dave Packie

Moose River, St. J
Sunday Apr 5, 2009
Organizer: A.J. Seibel
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium high
Author: A.J. Seibel

Got a great Run down the Moose through St. J on a cloudy Sunday afternoon with 2 new kayakers out of northern NH. Paddlers really do exist in this area!

This being the highest level I had personally run the St. J section of the Moose, I was somewhat unsure of what to expect as far as hazards, lines, etc. - but all turned just fine in the end.

The first little wave train under the road bridge in east St. J was really fun, with a super play wave to start it off for the more adventurous. Just around the bend is the first Class III/IV under the railroad bridge, and with all the water pumping through today the sneak on river left was a real fun line - much more padded than usual, landing with a small drop into the pool below. Looking back up at the river right line was probably scarier than running it - all I could see was white and noise, the holes through that side at this level are massive (for me anyway, I'm SURE there's a line somewhere through it). Continuing downstream I was pleasantly surprised to not be bumping down the rocks through the class II section, and even more surprised to find a number of nice play waves and holes that one could catch on the fly. This continues for a while until you near St. J proper and the real fun begins... the first ledge drop had a wonderful drop into a semi-sticky hole that we all punched right through, followed by MORE play features before the next 3' ledge. At today's water levels, the ledge was super clean down the left tongue, and the optional chute on the right was a fast churning shot right out the bottom. We all took the left line. The next couple of ledges had some nice punchable holes and fun waves, and then came the big one - Maple Grove rapid (I guess that name is starting to stick). As we came around the bend we all eddied up on the left to scout the big munchy hole on river right/right of center in the runout. The line I chose was to peel out, thread just left of it and ride the wave train out. Tom tested his playboat skills and caught (briefly) a gorgeous giant wave just above the munchy hole, jet ferrying to river left and down into the eddy. Very fun to watch. Continuing down around the corner and under the bridge there was some fun pushy water and more holes to punch before we all eddied up river left before the old gauge house and 5' falls. Tom and Brandon nailed the river left tongue, making it look like a smooth waterslide down and out. A few more wave trains, one ledge drop, and one spectator yelling that we're crazy led us to the final drop just above the confluence with the Passumpsic river and the takeout. With about 20 minutes of daylight remaining, I think we timed everything just right.

Can't wait to hit this again now that we're starting to dial in the levels...

Mill Brook (eastern VT)
Monday Apr 6, 2009
Organizer: Allan Berggren
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: high

Mill Brook in Eastern Vermont has been on my "hit list" for years. Always temptingly "almost running".

Meanders around the north side of Mt. Ascutney, on the road seven miles. What you see from the road is nearly always Class 2 or flat.

Barre Penske and I put 3:30 p.m. in at the junction of 106 and 44 bridge at a low level. Rain and 40 degrees. I was paddling my Aire Force inflatable, Barre in his Swifty rec boat, with a reinforce skirt.

Within the first mile we encountered some nice III features, and one sharp s-turn, which presents a log a foot above the surface at the last minute, which we lift over.

Mill flattened out for a looong meander through the farm fields.

Just south of Brownsville we encountered a six-foot sluice dam which could be run on the left. Water levels visibly rising.

After that, just at the edge of town, we heard the unmistakeable moan of a six-foot flathead dam, guarded by a couple business-like hounds enclosed in an invisible fence. We chose to walk around.

Perhaps two miles below town, we entered a gorge, water level now getting a little pushy. Ahead, just in time to get our boats ashore, is a log fallen from river left, behind which, as we later scouted, is a beautiful Class 5 hole/slide/pooldrop--but not for us today. A quarter mile ahead, we find a putin.

The rest of the trip is 2-3 miles of steady 2+ at normal levels, but by now is III on the basis of standing waves and sharp corners which don't reveal their sequels until the last minute. Sleet is starting to collect on my pants.

Finally the I-91 bridge and our Rte. 44 take-out, a mud-sand beach.

The time is 7 p.m.

"Hey, I can't lift myself out of my boat," said Barre.

"That's how you know you've had a good time," said I.

A number of logs present an opportunity for clearing. And we can't wait to get back to that gorge at a lower level.

Black River
Saturday Apr 11, 2009
Organizer: Allan Berggren
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium

Rick Covill, Bill Ryan and myself paddled for about five miles from Whitesville to Downer's. Level was 1.5 on the covered bridge gauge, rising to 1.75 by takeout, a low-medium level. Put-in was shared with a concurrent AMC trip of about ten paddlers.

Whitesville has an intriguing feature I had not seen before. A large monolithic shelf results in the flow spreading out and dropping four feet, abruptly on the right and gradually on the left. I chose the extreme right, which curls off a narrow chute about four feet wide. Bill caught a center eddy, then propelled off a right shelf just left of a "bitter ending" rock at the bottom of the shelf. Rick went center left through a 15-ft diagonal wide chute which then turned right and dropped another couple feet.

From Whitesville to the gorge is leisurely Class II, forming gentle s-curves along the highway, but always twenty feet below the roadway, so traffic doesn't impinge on the experience. The last quarter mile above the gorge steepens, with more large eddy rocks and play waves.

As we turned the corner to enter the gorge, we noticed 50 yds behind us a young man in a 12-ft green touring kayak crossing the current.The 1.75 level is perfect for sheer enjoyment of the gorge. Clear green water, large boulders, frequent flushy two-foot drops, no retentive hydraulics, and always the steep banks on the right with moss and springtime ferns.

We were stopped one-third through for yet another of Rick's backrest repairs, when the young man floated by, dressed in cotton and sans helmet, accompanied by his boat, which he was struggling to wrestle ashore, and he succeeded about 100 yds further down. We learned that he is from Massachusetts and was paddling while his brother was flyfishing. Our young man had scouted the river from the car heading upstream, so was unable to see what was in store for him, and so had decided he wouldn't need his sprayskirt! He was rummaging in a dry bag for some clothes to change into, but I suggested we accompany him downstream where the bank was lower so he could carry up to the road and meet his brother. The young man seemed to have pretty good paddling skills, but had gotten side-flipped by a rock at the top of the gorge. When we got to the end of the "action" and lower banks, he saw his brother standing in the water in his waders on the opposite bank.

The remaining mile down to the covered bridge is gentle s-curves and a final two-foot flushing sluice which sometimes has a fast play wave, but a submerged rock just below it at center-right makes play risky unless you have kevlar-knuckle gloves, shoulder and elbow pads and a face mask.

Another pleasant outing with old paddling buddies and an adventure or two.

Lower Lamoille
Saturday Apr 11, 2009
Organizer: Richard Larsen
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: medium

The weather could have been a few degrees warmer, the river could have had another 1000 cfs of flow - but it was still a fine trip on the Lower Lamoille. The flow was 2000 cfs, which is good for most of the year, but this was statistically one of the dates of highest flow - 3000 cfs - so we had hoped for more. And, the high temperature was mid-forties, when statistical average high should have been low 50s. So, I am whining about the water level and the weather, but I have to remember that we surely have done it in much worse conditions.

We met below the dam at Fairfax Falls at noon, and unloaded the boats and gear. The little road at this put-in has been greatly improved over a few years ago. We were able to leave almost all the cars at the take-out near the lake, and got back to the dam and onto the river about 1:15 PM. From the beginning, the wind was quite strong, and upstream, like it always is. The open boats especially had to work hard to go downstream, even with the current. In a number of flat areas, we had to stay right against the south shore, under the tree branches, to break the wind - but unfortunately it kept us out of whatever warmth the sun offered. Once we got to the main rapids, we did have some boaters in the water from playing the waves, but no real problems. The level was easy. About this time, one of the paddlers who had flipped earlier in the day became very cold (leaking dry-suit), and we had to use most of the extra wool clothes we had to allow the paddler to warm up again. We had the extra gear on the trip, so there was no real danger, but it could have been a significant problem were there no available extra warm clothes. Hopefully the situation served as a reminder to all.

A few of the boats stopped for a short snack at the islands, while some of the others headed down to play in 'Smiley'. Soon, we all continued down the river, with just a few boats making a short stop at 5-Chutes. With all the headwind, and the cool temperatures, we were later than we had expected to be reaching the takeout, and all were ready to call it a day.

Easter in the Gorge(s)
Sunday Apr 12, 2009
Organizer: Ryan McCall
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium
Author: Ryan McCall


So this spring has been less than stellar for the creek boat scene. So you gotta make hay when the sun shines. The scheduled Stony trip was bagged due to lack of water in the Dog River Drainage. The known options for the day were the Wells (lots of bang for the buck - short) or a new one to me through the two Clarendon Gorges. Dave was the only one that was willing to go out and brave the elements and freeze his fingers off with me as a select few others that had planned to attend retreated to the comfort of their warm couches and large Easter they watched Cabrerra win the Masters too!

So Dave and I were off to the Mill River near Clarendon. With snow in the air, clouds and bits of sunshine it was a great and typical early spring day in VT. The first gorge went with out incident through numerous read and run class III/IV drops leading up to the infamous Mill Drop. What an awesome drop. Dave and I checked lines and then took our respective turns at it. We both aced it with one redux. After this drop the flat water section between the gorges opened up and let us soak in some that limited solar radiation.

Eddying out on river right to portage the first drop of the Lower gorge we noticed there was some ice on a couple of aspects of the walls. This ice we saw was right where the put in below the "hell hole drop" was located. It made for a dicey set up to drop into the gorge. After we were in the water along came Russ and Alex and they went the high and dry route and seal launched in from a 30ft high cliff. Yes you read that right. CRAZY and didn't look like fun but definitely looked easier than the way Dave and I put in!!!!! After the portage nonsense we got back to business and did a far bit of read and run through the lower gorge which I would say was more along the lines of consistent class IV. The drops in the lower Gorge required more precise boat handling and a much more reliable brace.

I must say this was one hell of a cold day on the Mill River. Well worth the drive and I would recommend this run to anyone looking for a beautiful gorged out class IVish run.

Keep an eye out for pix to follow.....

Mill River - Clarndon Gorge
Friday Apr 17, 2009
Organizer: Ryan
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Ryan

This is the beginning of a series of trip reports from a long weekend of Boating around VT,

With flows less than optimal this spring I have had to be somewhat creative to find places to get decent runs in. A crew of friends from PA regularly come up this time of year to sample VT's creeking scene. Last year was a no brainer...this year, well you know the story.

So we put on the Clarendon Gorge under the AT bridge and bounced down through the upper gorge to no fanfare. The drops were clean and the uper gorge was drenched in mid-day sun. Everything was still surprisingly fluid in the gorge.

The Mill drop was reduced to an easy IV at this level as the lead in was a simple staircase and the hole at the bottom of the drop was non-retentive. It was a good exercise in propper posture in your boat. If you were leaning back you would stern squirt like a champ, if you sat up you skipped across the hole no problem.

The lower came up quick enough after some low flat water scraping and everyone got out to look at the first two drops (1-the unrunable one and 2-Grudle Puncher). After much deliberation, it was decided that we would all either seal launch into the gorge from below these drops or throw our boats in and then jump in after them. It was a hodge-podge of entrys. All drops in the lower gorge went fairly fluid and you could poke at them from any way you saw fit at the level the river was at. Retentive holes were nonexistant.

The run ended much too quickly through the bottom gorge but it was time to move on to the next creek of choice.

A good day to be in the Clarendon Gorges and NOT the flat water sections between the two gorges (if you know what I mean).......

Big Branch - chasing the sun out of the gorge.
Friday Apr 17, 2009
Organizer: Ryan
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Ryan

To start with....starting late for a first time down the Big Branch is not recommended. When we put on it was at 0 and when we took off it was at 1 on the painted gauge.

That being said if you do have a late start make sure you are paddling this with Russ. Russ had 60 days last year on the Big Branch and some of those days included multiple runs. When I say he is intimate with the run...this may be the understatement of the year!

So to the put-in parking lot and then down the 700 vert feet into the gorge to the river we went. Russ did some maintenance on a few branches blocking the beginning sequence and we were off down the river.

I really can't do this run justice in a trip report so I'll try to describe what was experienced. This run is a boulder filled stream - there really aren't any bedrock ledges so it is mostly slots and pools that you boof from one to the next. The creek drops an average of 250 f/mi so you should get the idea of its steepness from that. We all walked the big three, Cave Drop, Mushroom - 50/50 and BLT. Mostly from already hauling boats around them but the level was pretty lowish too (When we put on it was at 0 and when we took off it was at 1 on the painted gauge).

Russ ran lead and I ran sweep for most of the run so I was seeing everyone from above all of these slot drops and they would always be smiling, but a later conversation from folks that were in the eddys, said that as people approached the slots you could see looks of concentration. Concentration is something that you can't let up on in this creek because it just keeps coming at you.

So we made it to the last rapid and it had gotten dark really fast. Everyone was pretty frazzled at this point and was ready to get off the river. So Russ gave out a quick set of instructions and sent the ducks on their way, myself included (ducks because we basicly paddled the river in a line like a bunch of ducklings following every move Russ made). This last rapid more or less decimated the group. The vast majority of the group was flipped at some point in this rapid (all hit their roll) and were happy to be in an eddy (eddy is an exaggeration) at the bottom.

Upon exiting the creek we pulled our nicely chilled recreational beverages from the creek that we stased prior to the run (snow melt water does wonders) and I proceded to prop my boat on the guard rail - bad move....A stiff wind blew it over and it landed squarely on the sharp end of an I-beam putting a wicked puncture in it. Needless to say - was up late on a weld-job to ge the boat ready for the next day of Creeking in VT. Note to self....drain water out of boat like everyone else instead of trying to be slick and leaning it up.

If you haven't at least looked at Big Branch....go do so!

Joes including the BFS...
Saturday Apr 18, 2009
Organizer: Ryan
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Ryan

Cold Long Fun Day On Joes.

Wood in one rapid below Covered Bridge that is avoidable at low levels. May be an issue at higher water with pushy nature of rapid.

The following was taken from Message Board post...

Russ, Dave, Scott, et al.

Yea the run on Saturday that Russ did with us was more or less LOW boatable. Having been on it at a MEATY HIGH level last summer, I would have to concur with Dave that it is hard to get excited about a run on it at the level we did this past Saturday...that is unless it is the only game in town. (we, myself and a few others, found alternatives to that though on Sunday).

For reference...The bolted on gauge at the top of the dam (you have to look over the edge next to the intake for the aquaduct to the power house - about 10 yards down stream from the covered bridge over the pond outflow) was reading 1.8. The power house was spitting out full capacity/124cfs (which it always does if there is any water going over the spillway or anytime the creek would be runable) so it is really not a factor - it is always spitting that.

At 1.8 two of our group ran the BFS on Saturday. It was absolutely the most rediculious thing I have seen in a while done in a boat. They may as well have tied their boats behind a car and been drug down the road at 3 mph and then off of 3-4 foot ledges. Not an ideal descent of the BFS - I'll post footy of it when I get it converted and editied. May put it in 2x speed for the Benny Hill effect.

The rest of the run was a bumpy ride between the major drops and those were relatively resistant and slow. All holes were punchable sans the beast on river left near the bottom of the Covered Bridge Rapid - At this level there didn't appear to be any clean went but was not fluid whatsoever. Again boat abusive like the BFS.

The slide above the Covered Bridge went on far left and was a blast...probably a toss up with the last rapid under the takeout bridge for best drop.rapid of the run. The last rapid was twisty and turny with big waves and jets to really give you that roller coaster ride!

Agreeing with Russ, Saturday it was the only game in town sans the Wells (and associated race), so was worth the bang smash run down, but I prefer the Mach 7 with your hair on fire on the slides when it is really lubed up with a good flow. There is something wrong about loosing speed while going down hill which is what it feels like at the level this past Saturday...I guess just a different experience for a different level.

Sorry for the long post - I'll cut and paste this to the TRs as is.

BTW - the Dam opperator said they will be at fully deflated bladder for at least the next couple of days and longer if there is any rain.

A Day of Hucking to end the VT Creeking weekend extravaganza...
Sunday Apr 19, 2009
Organizer: Ryan
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium
Author: Ryan

A day of creeking transformed into a huck fest due to the late start and physical state of two of the paddlers in the group. Staying up and out late doesn't bode well for a day-break assault on the river especially after 3 long days of boating prior.

So I punted and we headed to Middlebury to give the PA crew an opportunity to huck their meat off of Middlebury Falls. With a couple of guys in the water for safety, Brenton took his turn at the falls. It was at a fairly meaty level of 1700cfs so the ledge hole below the falls was relatively sticky looking. The kid (Brenton) aced his boof of the 18ft. falls and sliced through the hole shortly below (pictures to follow). The rest of the group decided to take on the 3-Brothers class V meatloaf sandwich and headed up the hill for some caloric energy.

Now pushing 4:30 everyone seemed to wake up a bit (talking about an alpine start) and on our way back home I suggested we hit up Warren falls....about that time we drove past Texas Falls and I hung a "U-ie" and we headed up to Texas Falls Rec area. The levels were such that it looked very runable and surprisingly there was no wood in the creek. With safety set, Brenton and Jason tag teamed the first 3 major drops with Jason swimming out of the second one and stuck in a pot hole he needed roped out to get back to his boat to finish the run. In all they ran from just above the major drops down about a 1/2 mile. There were some ugly lines and a couple of flips to quick snap rolls but they stayed in their boats for the remainder.

This was the end of a long weekend of creek boating around VT. For basiclly no water, we did a great job of finding some great runs with enough water to make it fun. Thursday the guys hit the WBD at about .5 on the gauge on their way up to meet me. Friday we got in the Clarendon gorges and a guided tour of the Big Branch (thanks Russ). Saturday we found enough water (the coldest water of the weekend) spilling over the bladder at Joes Pond for a 10 mile wilderness run on Joes Brook and it's famous Greenbanks Hollow Section. Sunday the plan was the Middlebury Gorge but we got lemons and made lemon-aid with some great waterfall drops at Otter Creek Falls and then Texas Falls. I'd say it was a solid 4 days of paddling for the crew.

We ended the weekend with food and beverage at Eagan's Big World and I think when everyone walked out of the Pub there was a look of tired satisfaction on their faces...I couldn't tell if it was from the pints imbibed or the 4 days of quality VT boating.

White River
Friday Apr 24, 2009
Organizer: Richard Larsen
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: medium low

Being retired (plus old and decrepit), Len Carpenter and I headed down to the White River to take advantage of a glorious Friday. The day was warm, low 70s, the sky was totally cloudless, and the water level was decent, even if a little low.

We did a loop-shuttle. We both drove down the Interstate to exit 3, went to the take-out east of Gaysville, dropped a car, put both boats on the other car, and went to the Tweed River put-in. At the end of the day, we put both boats on the dropped car, returned to the put-in, and both of us headed back to Burlington via Route 100.

I have run both the Tweed and the White at lower levels. At this level, nothing was 'big', but you could get down the river without hitting rocks, unless you took a wrong channel in one of the braided areas. The first rapid of any substance was the drop that ends where Stoney Brook enters. The changes to this rapid continue. The left bank collapsed about 5 years ago, and the left channel started to deepen. Before, almost all the water went right of the old railroad bridge supports. Now, it all goes left, with the left side having lowered about 6 feet. The rapid has even 'moved' upstream, and is a respectable class 2 at this level.

After this rapid, we had the first of our 'get out of the canoe and see if you can walk' events. This all looks pretty funny, unless you happen to be a participant. Havign old knees is not fun - we have to stand for about 10 seconds before we can walk. After break, and some lunch, we headed down through the 'lunch spot' ledge above Gaysville, which was lively. Continuing, we saw a bat above the river near the Gaysville Bridge, flying at high noon, possibly affected by 'white-nose syndrome'. We saw a second bat another mile down, and then we saw a peregrine falcon near the large cliffs north of the river about a mile downstream from Gaysville while stopped at our second 'see if you can walk' break.

We reached the takeout just beyond the lively roadside rapids after about 2 hours and 45 minutes on the river - including at least half hour of break time. Since we don't play the drops, the actual float time was only a little over 2 hours.

It was a trip that was as good as it could get - assuming you are OK with relatively easy whitewater.

East Br. Pemigewasset (NH)
Saturday Apr 25, 2009
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium
Author: Tony Shaw

OMG! Between 3pm (when we put on) and 8pm, the windy, sunny, HOT weather had a tremendous effect on the level, doubling the flow from 1000 cfs to 2000 cfs at the Loon Mt. USGS real-time gauge. 80 degrees at the end of April in NH's snow-capped White Mountains will do that!

The guidebooks say that people sometimes carry upstream on the Wilderness Trail 3 miles or more to run the pristine sections of the EBP above the Kancamagus Highway. That is not anything I ever expect to do with a canoe! But the 6 mile section downstream from the Wilderness Trail parking area to the confluence with the main stem Pemi is plenty attractive and contains plenty of class III action at this level. About a mile downstream from the put-in the Hancock Branch enters on the left, which would have been fluid enough to run today.

Passing under the bridge @ Loon Mountain, 3 of us chose to take the more conservative (and a little bony) left side of the island, and one chose to call it a day. I flipped and had a pretty long swim once after Loon, just so I could attest to how very cold the waters of the EBP can be, even on an 80 degree afternoon!

The closer you get to the take-out, the more hemmed in the river becomes by (largely vacant) ski family condos, all of which are well-kept but can't help detracting from the scenery a bit.

Near the confluence the remnants of a dam are easily spotted from upstream. Bank scouting (and lifting over) on river left was the prudent thing to do, on this day. The hard-to-miss graffiti there pleads: "Don't MASS up NH".

After passing the sewage treatment plant and passing under I93, take the small channel to the right of the island if you've left your shuttle vehicle behind the fire station in North Woodstock at the little park that is located there.

I posted a few photos in the VPC Paddle Pix area. The camera batteries died, or we would have many more photos to make everyone jealous that they missed this trip!

Lower Hudson
Monday Apr 27, 2009
Organizer: Richard Larsen
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium

I tried to have a Lower Hudson trip on Saturday, when it was 80+ degrees, but only Ed Amidon signed up, and I then had late-developing conflict. So, we moved it to Sunday, but still got no additional takers. We decided we would go anyway with just the two of us, since the river was at a relatively benign 3000 cfs. Sunday turned out to be a bit wet and cool, so we decided to move the trip once again, to Monday, since we are both retired, and since Monday was to be yet another 80+ degree day.

We went. It is a lot of driving. Since there were just two boats we decided to keep it to just the section between North Creek and Riparius. The river came up a lot on Sunday and Sunday night, probably from the high-peaks snowmelt from Saturday. The flow was 3900 cfs.

We put on the river at North Creek at 11 AM, and finished at Riparius at 1:20 PM. The day was glorious, with bright sunshine, quite warm air, and only a moderately annoying upstream wind.

Most of the rapids in this portion of the Hudson are caused by ledge systems, often river-wide, and often the best route is to run right down the center, since the ledges can be most eroded there. The water is usually quite turbulent in the center, with crazy diagonal waves, but this often avoids the rocks and pour-overs nearer shore. But, river-center can be intimidating, since the Hudson is a big river, and shore becomes a long way away.

The river was class 1-2 until about an hour into the trip, when we hit a 200 yard long class 3 rapid with 3' chaotic waves in the final drop. All went well with just a little water taken on. The difficulty built in the second hour, with more frequent class 2+ and 3- rapids. Finally, about half-way down Spruce Mountain Rapids, the road bridge came into view - and that meant it was time for the lower half of Spruce Mountain, where the difficulty increased to a solid class 3 with multiple successive ledges. We cheated the first few ledges by finding a route near the right shore, but had to give in and move center for the final ledges. The only real problem was that Ed got a bad leg cramp as he was paddling through the final ledges, but he made it fine.

We were glad to be ending at Riparius. We had commitments back in Vermont later in the day, and we are both realizing that paddling more than a few hours causes real problems to old knees - which unfortunately we both have.

Chasing water for a Pre-Mother's Day Paddle
Saturday May 9, 2009
Organizer: Ryan
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Ryan

Hind site is 20/20....

So today was a beautiful day - the day before Mother's Day and a great day to get in a paddle. The problem was we really had to work to find our water. The scheduled trip on the Gihon was moved to the Mill River for the Gorge(s) section because it channelizes the water so well that it is fluid at a multitude of levels.

So a quick meet and greet at Dennys in Rutland and we were off on our way south on Route 7. Tony, Chris, Jamie, Eric and I estimate we put on the water around11:30 and headed down river to much fanfare and spectators on the swinging bridge. With the low water levels hitting your line was even more important due to the FU rocks in the first drop. One of our group tested the "stay on your line" theory and let us know that the left side of the drop was a little less enjoyable than the right side and ensued in a swim, a boat rescue, a live bait log removal and some rattled nerves. Once said party member got it together off we went through the upper gorge in an almost rhythmic approach. I was getting a total kick out of watching Tony maneuver his canoe around all of these drops with such ease.

Through the upper gorge and out into the flats we picked our way through the tedious shallow class I-II waters until the Mill Drop. All that ran it ran it with their own mark on the last part...more bump and scrape to the portage into the lower gorge. This was the hardest part of the day - If you have never seen the put in you should and then see a crew of guys working like a team getting the boats to the water including a 13 foot canoe down in there too.

The Lower gorge was a lot of fun. The drops were relatively clean sans the one where you go left around a boulder and slam into another boulder as you drop in. The last drop of the run I wish I had gotten my camera ready because everyone was grinning ear to ear as they boofed off of the ledge and into the left wall pillow.

It was a good day to be in the gorges - All present had a great time!

Lower Mad
Wednesday May 13, 2009
Organizer: Paul Savard
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: medium
Author: Paul Savard

It was a great turnout. We all stayed together picking are way from eddy to eddy. I had three first timers Francis, Dave, Pat which after scouting horseshoe chose the middle line. All made clean runs good job guys! Tony had his canoe and made it look easy. The rest of the group followed the grace. However Ryan and I thought we would go for the right side and I'll let the pics to follow tell the rest of the story!! I want to thank everyone for coming. It was a pleasure as always. Paul S.

Wells River
Saturday May 16, 2009
Organizer: Paul Savard
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium low
Author: Paul Savard

We all gathered at f+w access got our stuff on and walked up the road to the bridge. Between Ryan and I we lead our group through the appropriate lines as we made our way down. We had five first timers: Eric, Tyler, AJ, Shane, and Francis. When we got to the falls, Tyler,AJ, and Francis nailed that drop as though they had done it may times before!! Shane was one step away but at the last moment decided to walk around. Then there was Eric in his inflatable shedder who brought the excitement!! There was no place that intimidated him including the falls. He went over like a trooper, made it down but not quite up right. My hat's off to you!! Anyway Ryan and I both went over and the trip came to a close. Again thanks everyone for showing up. It was a pleasure. Ryan's pics have been posted. Paul S.

Lower Hudson
Saturday May 16, 2009
Organizer: Richard Larsen
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium

This is a long drive to paddle, and the weather looked marginal, but the level looked good - so three of us went. We drove three cars, placed one car at the Glen Bridge, and put in at Riparius. This allowed us to paddle the lower and harder section first, and perhaps quit after this section if the weather got too bad. First we had a moderate head-wind, and then that stopped and a very light rain started off and on. We made the 'hook', or 'Z-drop', with no problems, and then the rain got steadier. We ran the long class 3 with light, constant rain, but got down OK. The level was very enjoyable, but the rain annoying. At the take-out, we once again had to use the left bank above the bridge, which requires a class-3 rock-scramble while carrying a canoe. (Not really - but it is a short climb.)

At that point, the leader (RL) decided that paddling in the rain was not that great. Even though the rain had momentarily stopped, the forecast was for worse weather in the PM. The others wanted to paddle the North Creek to Riparius section, so RL loaded all three boats on his car and shuttled the others to North Creek. Would be no problem, their cars were at Riparius. RL left, and after 10 minutes thought "I never saw LC get his paddles from my car" - checked - and there the paddles were. So, back to North Creek to give LC the paddles. The two remaining boats headed down, and the weather started getting nasty. A strong headwind came up and blew the boats around in Spruce Mountain Rapid, and lightning was approaching as the boats got to Riparius. Shortly after the boats were loaded on the cars, the proverbial situation of "all hell broke loose" occurred. The trip home was described as class 4 driving, with cars pulling off the road in driving rain. About the time the boats came off the river, back at North Creek the gauge started going straight up because of rising water. But, everyone got off the river in time to beat the driving rain and the rising water - so it was a good trip! Len and Frank really know how to squeeze every moment of excitement out of a day!

Patterson Drenched in Sun!
Sunday May 17, 2009
Organizer: Ryan
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium
Author: Ryan

What a Day to be on a classic!

Decisions were tough to make today with the deluge we got last night. It seems that Dave and I get in an annual run on Patterson ever year. Today seemed like a good day for us to hit it in 2009. We caught it at about 2 inches over the gauge rock. About a perfect level for a budding creeker. Dan, Dave's ski & biking bud started boating last year and is ready to step it up.

The flow was enough that we could put on up at the Clark Camps. What a great warm-up to the regular run and if you go up further there are some real quality IV+ drops.

For the most part it was a clean beautiful run with some minor fish counting from the budding creek boater and a live bait paddle recovery. MAN THE WATER IS STILL COLD!!!

I say this every time I do up a TR on this run...if you haven't seen the inside of Patterson and its gorge and its drops and its rapids..treat yourself! It may be one of the prettiest runs going and its not so hard that you can't take it in while you are paddling it.

As we were taking out it looked like the school bus had just dropped the kids off for a field trip...there were a couple more groups lined up to head to the put in for a run.

A great run on a great day.....

Speed Run on Patterson Brook
Friday May 29, 2009
Organizer: Ryan/Dave
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium high
Author: Ryan

Had the best run on Patterson I think I have ever had.

Level was perfect - higher than two weeks ago but not so high to pucker your sphincter. If the gauge rock looks to be encased in liquid crystal of about 3 inches then you really truly can't beat this run.

And again - if you haven't run the headwaters to the White more commonly known as Patterson. Get off yer' keisters and go get wet!

Cheap Thrills and the SFHWL Principle
Saturday May 30, 2009
Organizer: Allan Berggren
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium low

I posted before about paddling the Mill Brook in Brownsville, Vt.

Water level was 1 at the covered bridge over the Black River in Downers, so Barre Pinske and I made the short run of the Black River gorge. He was in a playboat modified for creeking by adding upper deck flotation, and I was in my CFS. He got to lead through, which is always a thrill the first time.

On the Steep Features Hold Water Longer (SFHWL) principle, Barre and I drove 12 miles to the Big Feature Gorge of the Mill Brook north of Brownsville. Barre cut a couple logs (leaving a big one at water level which can be boofed at runnable levels), then I rock-hopped to get to the Big Smiley 12-ft slide/falls, then on to several smaller features before taking out 200 yds downstream, just below the bridge that carries Brook Rd across.

Local water, big fun.

Dave Wants an Adventure
Sunday May 31, 2009
Organizer: Dave P
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium low
Author: Ryan

I bet that title caught your attention...

The prior three days yielded some good flows on the usual suspects. It was Sunday and a handful of us were still itching to get in the water even though most other rivers had dropped off. Dave stated it best, wanting an Adventure. An adventure is what we got.

With Russ being the seasoned vet in the Middlebury Gorge we had a guide that not only knew the river but if you have ever paddled with Russ as your guide, you know all too well that his mind is like a vault and no detail is too small. We even got hi tech drawings in the dirt of what rapids looked like. AWESOME! Marshall had been down it at a lower flow a long time ago when the Birth Canal drops were slightly different and Dave had only boated below the Birth Canal. I was the newbie on the run (no pun intended).

So after a mandatory look see at the Birth Canal from above Rebirth we were back up to the road and put in up towards Ripton. The first mile or so down to the confluence with the North Branch of the Middlebury River was really fun class III/III+ continuous boogie. Speaking for myself, it was nice to get some of that in before the action started. My heart was so far in my throat before the run, I was actually feeling sick. Lots of anticipation and anxiety for me from hearing about and seeing some pretty stout drops from a distance and the committing and unportageable nature of parts of the gorge. So like I said the upper part of the run was a nice way to loosen up and get focused or decide that you were just not feeling it which on this river you have to be feeling it before dropping in or you are SOL.

The 4 of us arrive at the confluence with the North Branch and the anticipation starts back up as Russ starts to give exacting details of what to expect. Marshall and I jump out of our boats, one with a camera the other with a rope and watch both Russ and Dave run the entry drop of the Fallopian Tube and both get splatted on a rock that Russ said has pinned him in the past and looked like he and Dave missed the same fate by a very small margin. At this point it was get'er done or hike it out. Marshall had only 3 days in his boat this season prior to this one so he made a judgment call and hiked it out. I had been having a solid season up to now and felt pretty confident that I would be OK pushing into the Birth Canal. I ran the entry drop a little further right than Dave and Russ and never got near the said pin rock. However, I was completely locked into a brace when I needed to dig into an eddy so this was the first missed move of the day for me. That missed move meant I was going to get the first shot at the 15 ft waterfall at the end of the Fallopian Tube. So now more details from Russ were blinking bright red in my cortex about a wicked crack in the wall directly above the falls that can swallow the front end of a boat and stick you in there. So even though the current was pushing you in the direction of the crack, you needed to drive across the current and try to get a late boof off the falls. As everything felt like it slowed down to a weird movie slo-mo shot I came up on the crack...I could see the edge of the falls and where the nose of my boat could be swallowed so I dug and stroked and then felt like I was hanging in space for a whole lot longer than any other 15 footer I have ever run. It all went white and then dark and then white again and then.......I was bobbing in the inner gorge, the birth canal.

It felt like eternity before Russ banked around the top and threw a HU-JASS boof and landed about as perfectly as I have ever seen off of a trashy lip! Lots of whoops and hollers and smiles and we sat bobbing in our respective eddys for Dave. Dave threw a pretty cool melt-down/boof thingy that sent him out but not far enough from the spout of the falls to keep him from an AWESOME ender. This resulted in a swim in the preferable river right eddy where Russ was able to scramble up the ledge and get Dave a rope to climb up the wall on and then tow his boat out of the surging eddy. Absorbing some sunlight and taking in the whole beauty of the gorge for a few minutes was pretty cool!

All regrouped we paddled down to look at the next drop where you boof a 3 foot ledge and then get left to set up for the drop called Cunnilingus. It was a squirrely flume that had changed from the last time Russ had been on it (a 6 foot boof before). Russ styled it and was in the eddy above the next drop. Dave ran up to his boat and came down through the ledge and Cunni with style as well. Next up was me...As finished the 3 foot boof I was in the slack water above Cunnilingus and could see Dave out of his boat and headed down the river left shore. I though wow he boogied on down through Rebirth and was already scouting the stuff below. Later I found that Rebirth munched on him as it was about to destroy me. So I hit Cunni in the right location but didn't anticipate it to snag my bow and flip me so quickly. Next thing I know I am getting hammered along the bottom of the river and taking shots to the head and hands..then it all stops and I am broached against a boulder upside down above Rebirth - one of the ugliest rapids I have ever seen or boated and the end result of a mess up is equally miserable. So I say forget this and wet exit my boat and Russ is in the eddy telling me to stand up and grab my boat. Huh - easy enough I am safe and didn't run rebirth upside down...I think to myself. I do a quick sort of mental regroup and go to pick up my boat to drain it out and the right shoulder is feeling a wee bit loose. Russ is pretty anxious to get down river to see if Dave is OK so I tell him to hit it and watch his line as I all the sudden realize I am in the Birth Canal alone and have no choice but to run the next drop with a loose shoulder because I couldn't have been is a more committing place w/o a way out but down the river.

OK all systems check ferry into the eddy throw a few paddle strokes and peel out and drop off the same line Russ did. I don't even know what happened next other than I was up side down again and hanging on for a good opportunity to roll. Then it hit me - O S!#t roll NOW! The entire current of the river pushes into an undercut portion of the wall on river right called the Catcher's Mitt. I hit my roll to hear Russ screaming PADDLE! I paddle just enough to get away from the mitt but my stern is sucked under and I flip again and end up in a shallow but rapid spot that yanks at my paddle and I feel the shoulder go again. I let go of the paddle and manage a hand roll (what the hell is the purpose of having a hand roll - you can't paddle anywhere after you are up anyways). Now I am headed down a class V river w/o a paddle backwards. It doesn't take long for me to get flipped and being completely shot I swim up on a beach river left just above the next rapid. My boat is stuck in an eddy up river a bit and Dave is laughing because he did the same thing.

At this point I see that I can hike out and I am fairly confident that there is no way I am boating out of the gorge with the way my shoulder is behaving. Russ and Dave decided that they are going to put my spray skirt on my boat and bump it down the river through several other legit class IV and V rapids. I am happy that I don't have to try to carry it up the gorge wall and bid farewell to my trusty cork and paddling partners as I can hear the familiar BONK sound of a boat bouncing off of rocks.

While out of the gorge I hooked up with Marshall and we got the vehicles all down to the take out and chilled while we waited.

It took the guys probably an additional 90 minutes to boat the remainder of the river to the take out where I saw them send my boat down through the last rapid running it cleaner than I probably would have in it. The rest of their run was uneventful and enjoyable with out the stress of the Birth Canal but still had them on their toes.

Upon their arrival at the take out vehicles brewskis were popped all around. At the very least I needed to have beer on hand for the two guys that got my boat safely out of the gorge w/o me having to haul it up the wall.

Dave got his least what I saw of his run. You'll have to ask him about the rest of it...

A Hungry Gihon
Monday Jun 29, 2009
Organizer: Scott Gilbert
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: very high

Gihon was high at 4 seams surging to 3.75 seams showing which I now know is my cutoff level.

We paddled to the dam on the upper section, it was one solid sheet of water and a nasty walled in hole at the bottom with towback maybe 6ft downstream so we paddled back to the car and headed down to the lower section.

We put in at Bedhead and ended up walking it. Then each tried 4 - 5 times to make the ferry to get to the river right side of Eldorado below Bedhead. At this level the center is a big burly hole and the left has a nasty pocket downstream against the wall. The ferry was almost impossible, so I decided for the "scary ferry" move which was to surf a wave from river left to right directly above the center drop of eldorado. I made the ferry and down the slide on river right but flipped at the bottom directly into the backwash of the hole...immediately felt myself sucked back into the hydraulic and the beating began. Trying 2 rolls, neither which were successful, I then pulled the cord. For the first time ever I had the unpleasant experience of being in a body-recirculation for maybe 8 - 10 seconds but which felt like a whole lot longer than eternity. After the exhausting failed attempts at ferrying I was seriously out of gas and air. The only way I knew what was up and down was the occasional contact with bottom where I would try to push off and get to the surface. Finally by more of a decision of the hole than any action of mine I felt the chaos lessen and emerged about 20ft downstream of the hole gulping for air. With what small reserves I had left I got to the side and clung to the rock wall for a good 20 seconds before pulling myself out and then sat for another good minute or two calming myself down. I played it off when Chris finally found me and we went on a boat chase. We found the Huka and my paddle in the big eddy above pincushion, and went to finish the run.

Well, the eventfulness didn't end just yet, as Chris got stomped on in the hole of pancake which was also big and hungry today but he swam free, fortunately without the body-recirculation...

All in all we only ran about 4 rapids each, and each swam once. I'd say once the Gihon is only showing 4 seams or less on the Powerhouse bridge, my new option will be to walk away, and go to the NBL (North Branch of the Lamoille). We had looked at Waterman Brook and it was surprisingly too low. On the plus side, events like this are sometimes a good thing to remind you just how powerful a river is, and that sometimes you are gonna get beat up by comes with the sport.

Borrowed from a Message Board Post from Scott Gilbert...

Ottawa River 2009
Friday-Monday Sep 4-7, 2009
Organizer: JimP
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium low
Author: JimP

Executive Summary

A typical Ottawa 3 day weekend. We arrive with huge expectations and excitement. We spend three marvelous days in warm, fluffy, big water under sunny Canadian skies. At the end we head home tired, sore, hung over and sunburned but with big smiles on our faces.

And now on to the details...

What is provided below is a mere highlight version of actual events. Please ask any of the participants for further details or any of the myriad of stories that I deemed "unfit to print".

Friday, September 4

The various participants arrive at River Run to set up camp. All arrive too late to head up to McCoys for a park and play. Jim and John, as usual, are the last to arrive. Sometime around 12:30am.

Saturday, September 5

River level is 1.25 on the Owl Gauge.

At first we are surprised by the number of paddlers in the campground. While it is a three day weekend for both the Canadians and the Yanks it does seem more crowded than usual. Read on to see why.

After a semi-leisurely breakfast our intrepid group of paddlers head on to up to the put in. We paddle the "warm up" section - in other words flat water to McCoys. Since this is Brock's first look at Phil's hole and because most of us have not paddled in a while we scout. It is always fun to see an Ottawa rookie when they first lay eyes on Phil's hole. Brock's OMG moment was just one of those looks you wish you could capture on film.

Baby Face was barely in at this level but we still managed to hang out for a couple of hours to surf and sun.

We then proceeded to run the Middle Channel as a warm up for the big water that was yet to come. Everyone did great and there may have been a fish counting incident or two. The Middle was quite busy given the level but that followed the observation that there were a number of paddlers around this weekend.

So why were there so many paddlers around you ask? Well let me tell you...

This weekend happened to be the first annual Ontario Paddling Club competition. There were four or five paddling clubs each with fifteen or twenty participants. Some were from close by Ottawa and others traveled from the Toronto area.

The competition was held on Saturday and consisted of seven events. Each paddling club scored points determined by the order of finish in each event. The winner was crowned King of the Ontario Paddling Clubs.

Here is a summary of the events:

McCoys Relay - Five paddlers on a team take turn running McCoys with the "baton" - actually a rubber chicken. When finished the paddler ran back to the top of the rapid with the baton and the second paddler negotiated the rapid. This goes on until all five have run. Shortest time wins.

Cardboard Boat Race - Each club builds a cardboard boat out of cardboard (obviously) and duct tape. The boat is paddled from the top of Upper Lauren rapid through Lower Lauren. This sounded more like controlled swimming with wet cardboard. Fastest time is the winner.

Advanced Boater Cross (aka where paddling meets X-Games) - Thirty paddlers take off in a mass start at the top of the Normans rapid. The race continues through Coliseum. Fastest time wins. This one produced much carnage and would have been fun to see!

Intermediate Boater Cross - same idea as above but running a more civilized course through Dog Leg and Blacks rapids.

Once the water events have been completed the team head back to camp for the land events. Before any land event takes place there is a mandatory warm up period. Something we call happy hour in the States. Makes the land events much more interesting!

Kayak Toss - pretty much exactly as it sounds. Huck a Riot kayak as far as you can. Amazingly some people can actually chuck these things forty or fifty feet!

Z-Drag - a team sets up a Z-Drag and pulls a pick up truck up a slight incline.

Shuttle Vehicle (aka how to trash a perfectly good car) - load as many boats and people in a car and drive it twenty feet. No worries about the dents and broken suspensions. Check out the pictures in Paddling Pix. The winner had an amazing 21 boats and people in the rig!

After all this entertainment you would think we didn't need any more. But you would be wrong! Another first for this group, River Run was hosting Yuk Yuks down at the pavilion. A full on comedy show with six different comedians. Very funny and led to many repeated lines for the rest of the weekend (he's a loser, TJ shut the F up).

Sunday, September 6

A major push by the team saw us at McCoys rapid at 8am! Not unexpectedly, we were not the first ones there. Even with a few other boaters we could not keep Babyface busy 100% of the time. We spent three hours there until the lines and the raft traffic began in earnest.

Three hours on Babyface can tucker a boater out so we went back to camp to recharge with Sunday brunch! Pancakes and sandwiches all around.

Around 2pm we came to a decision point. It was either time to run the Main or starting drinking. We felt the Main run to be a safer choice and off we went.

The river level was 1.0. This is the lowest the Ottawa has been all year! Even at this level there is plenty of excitement to be had.

It was a bit entertaining to see some of the locals waterskiing on the flat water about McCoys.

Brock worked on his triathlon skills - walk, paddle & swim. The latter two events sometimes being chosen by the river gods.

All the rapids were big and at this level the usually play spots (garb, pushbutton) were not quite right. We were in a pack of quite a few boaters and they provided a great show at Coliseum. We ran through Coliseum with varying degrees of success (no swims though).

We paddled the remaining river with dreams of dinner and beer in our heads.

It was late when we got back to camp and rustled up dinner just before it got dark. Then it was beers, guitars, drums, pig poems, groover stories, campfires and Canadian paddlers until midnight. How did we stay up so late?!?

We did make one easy decision that evening. A group of paddlers were headed out at 10pm for a moonlit run down the Main. We cracked another beer and wished them well!

Monday, September 7

Well, we had planned to be up at 7:30 and on the river early. So much for that plan...

Everyone was sore and tired. But a little Vitamin I and we were rarin' to go!

We headed down to Babyface for a few more surfs. We would like to say that the lines were so huge that we didn't stay long. I think it was more the multiple missed attempts to get on that thing that caused us to look downstream sooner than one would expect.

Today's poison was the Middle Channel. River level was holding at 1.0 and no one had the desire to test the Main channel again.

Everyone had a great run and the water was warm and fluffy as usual and the sun beat down on us and all that whitewater. We were treated to a raft decent of the middle tongue of Garvins. They made it look easy but there was a roped off raft guide at the bottom ready for a live bait rescue...

Got back to camp around 1:30 and packed it in. Everyone was on the road by 2:30.

Getting through the border for us was an easy Class I (5 minutes). The line up going north back into Canada was approaching Class V (more than a mile of stopped traffic).

I will leave you with the line of the weekend that was repeated more than once:

"I am going to F#@%&in' murder you in your sleep!"

With that the annual Ottawa trip is in the books. I look forward to you being part of next year's adventure!


Upper Huntington
Thursday Dec 3, 2009
Organizer: Dave Packie
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: high
Author: Dave Packie

As pulled from the Message Board.....

After walking away from the lower NH yesterday with my friend Dan who is newish to boating, we ended up on the upper huntington. we put on just after it came under the rd. once we turned off of 17. It was a scenic run - nice creeky 2-3. I didn't think this strech had much on it. We ran a fun class 3+ ledge drop and scouted the next horizon line to fine a class 5 rapid. Portaged that, plus a bever dam that partially blew out and left some larger trees scattered downstream. Crossed under the road for the second time on the run and in too a blind left that we had "road scouted" with an eddy on the right. Turns out from the road you can't see a good 1/3 of the river...the important 1/3. Because of a small ledge hole under the bridge, you were naturally left coming into the blind left turn. This puts you far from the RR eddy which is essentially and uphill ferry to get to because the whole river is banking a left turn, and the 1/3 of the drop you can't see is a horseshoe shaped notch on the left that sucks you in as you come round the blind left. So, stay right under the bridge and catch that eddy. That hole is deep. We both swam and yardsaled then ran a mile to catch our boats, mine now broken...again. After that ledge, the river mellowed out again, there were some river wides in this strech and not many eddies. Fun day...didn't know there were any teeth on the upper Huntington. The one class 5 rapid was pretty legit, heads up for it.


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