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Trip Reports

Find trips reports from 2001 and prior in the Bow & Stern Archive
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Upper Mad Saturday Mar 19, 2011
Lower (not Upper) Mad Sunday Apr 3, 2011
Lower Mad Saturday Apr 9, 2011
New Haven Race Saturday Apr 9, 2011
Lower New Haven Wednesday Apr 13, 2011
Browns River Afternoon Friday Apr 15, 2011
Green River Garfield to Lamoille Friday Apr 15, 2011
Saranac River (NYS) to Redford Sunday Apr 17, 2011
Lower New Haven Wednesday Apr 20, 2011
Mill Brook, Brownsville, VT Friday Apr 22, 2011
White River Sunday Apr 24, 2011
Upper Mad Wednesday Apr 27, 2011
Lower Mad Saturday Apr 30, 2011
North Branch of the Lamoille Sunday May 1, 2011
Little River Friday May 6, 2011
Black River Saturday May 7, 2011
Lower Mad River Wednesday May 11, 2011
Gihon River May 15th, 2011 Sunday May 15, 2011
Poultney Sunday May 15, 2011
After work NBW - Sooo Schweet Tuesday May 17, 2011
Boreas River / Adirondacks Sunday May 22, 2011
Lower Lamoille Wednesday Jun 8, 2011
Class II Clinic - Fife Brook Deerfield Saturday-Sunday Jul 9-10, 2011
Hot Times in the Hudson Gorge Sunday Jul 17, 2011
Dead River (ME) Weekend Friday-Sunday Aug 12-14, 2011
The Mad Goes Vert (ical) Sunday Aug 28, 2011
Ottawa 2011 Friday-Monday Sep 2-5, 2011


Upper Mad
Saturday Mar 19, 2011
Organizer: John Atherton
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: medium

The four of us started out just below the bridge in Warren. Before we could actually start paddling we first had to get our boats and gear down to the river. We lowered the boats down the snow covered bank by rope and caught the them before they floated down the river. Paul was the pitcher and I was the catcher. We did stop and look at how we might seal launch off the bank into the 33 degree water. We did not think long before that idea was dicarded.

Two of us had never paddled this upper section so Tony lead the way. It was not long after we started that Jamie wanted to get wet by playing in the first wave. It definetly was cold for him but he came up smiling and went right back for more play time.

It was really a nice day even though I do not think the temp got much above freezing. This sction of river has no serious drops or rapids just a few play waves. We stopped at a bend in the river and Jamie put on a show for the kids looking out their windows. I am sure that the kid's parents had a few comments about those crazy people out there on the river and make sure you stay away from the water. On we went after Jamie made the comment that he did not know that his eyebrows could freeze.

A little further down the river Paul decided that it was his time to put on a show. I do not believe he planned it but a nice side surf turned into a roll that sucked him over into the only retentive hole on the river. He held his side surf when we all thought he was going to get window shaded and paddled out. Nice move Paul!

We finally came to punch bowl and we all decided that the left drop was the most desireable way to go. Comments were made that we did not expect to see any nude bathers today. The last and probably most challenging section is at Butternut. I did a scout and was satisfied that I remembered the best way thru. Tony lead the way and Paul followed. Jamie, after getting near the drop, realized that he did not remember the best route and just after the first pour over he decided to see the Butternut underworld. Jamie some how made it all the way down the last drop without hitting anything and made his usual styled roll in the bottom pool. I was the last one and I made it all the way thru until the last drop into the pool that decided it needed some new bait. My roll was not good so a short swim, rescue, and boat rescue was needed.

We proceeded to probably the best surf wave on this section of the river. Jamie, Paul and Tony were making it look fun so I decided to join in. I decide to see the underwold again but this time I hit my roll on the second attempt. More surfing and we were heading for the take out. Well not Tony, he decided to surf that OC1 a little longer. Not very often do you find three kayakers waiting for and watching an OC1 paddler surfing. Of course Tony is no ordinary paddler.

We all made it to the take out and agreed that it was a nice day on the river and looked forward to more spring paddles.

Lower (not Upper) Mad
Sunday Apr 3, 2011
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Tony Shaw

Although the upper Mad had been run two weeks earlier by several of us (TR above) at a dandy level, we knew the flow today was going to be too low to run the upper Mad as planned. But we had no idea just how low it would be until we launched below the power dam on the lower - a mere 25 cfs ... per paddler! Then within moments if fell further, to under 22 cfs(pp), when Ryan and Dave joined up with our group after paddling down from the Moretown Gorge. I can't recall another time when I've seen 14 boats together on the Mad, the Sugarbush Triathlon notwithstanding. It's always nice to meet a few new folks on a river trip, in this instance including Josh and Tim from Johnson State College.

Speaking of the Triathlon, the reason for our late start (2pm) was to permit club members who volunteered to help with Triathlon river safety to finish their assignments and then drop down for a late-day paddle. Peg was the only one to bow out at the last minute with some lame excuse ("broken wrist"), but she did show up at the "double drop" with a camera to take pictures - redeeming herself!

All but one of the day's swims took place at the Horseshoe, where some underestimated how forcefully the redirected flow at the crux tries to flip your boat upstream. Or, in John's case, I think maybe he was just still too blissed out from the Yanni concert he attended in Montreal on Friday night with Elvia. He swam out of that hole looking as poised and confident as a synchronized swimmer at the summer Olympics - turning down the throwrope that we offered!

It was reasonably warm, 45 degrees, with clear skies, aside from the momentary downpour as we passed beneath the barricaded Lovers' Lane bridge (where a winter's worth of accumulated snow was melting fast in the sun). Although more water would have been welcomed, there was always a line down through every rapid, plus this level boosted the confidence of those new to the lower Mad, like Ken, who paddled super.

At the last drop, where Dave and Ryan carried back up several times as part of a contest to see who could catch the most eddies coming through (4...or 5...depending on who you believe), a snowball fight broke out. Or actually, it was more like a snowball shelling, since most of the targets were in their boats and trying to paddle. The rest of us also were carrying back up here as well, trying various routes, including the far left channel.

Parking adjacent US 2 at the start of Lovers' Lane is much improved since they replaced the old bridge across the Winooski, and will be even better when the new boat/fishing access on the Winooski is completed on river right (later this year??). Overall, it was a quick trip on a nice early April afternoon.

Lower Mad
Saturday Apr 9, 2011
Organizer: Jamie D
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium
Author: Jamie D

We substituted the lower Mad for the Huntington when it became clear that the Huntington would not have enough water in it. We stepped up the class level based on who was signing up. The level was great starting at 543 CFS and ending at 627cfs, with loads of sunshine.

It was the first time on a river this year for about half the group. And, it turned out that we had three people who had not been on the lower Mad yet (is that possible?). Yeah, we ferried a bit at the put in to see how many cobwebs there were (maybe more than a few). The first rapid went very smoothly with no issues. Double drop could also be called double trouble. Two rolls and a swim. It was reported the water is cold. The next class II stretch was great, as everyone took their time surfing and ferrying. Horseshoe had no takers but five of us did the left chute. Dan looked like he was about to do the horseshoe (unwillingly) but managed a few power strokes that got him to the left chute. Then he aced the rest of it. Dave graciously showed us why it is important NOT to point your bow river right (towards the horseshoe) when dropping over. It ended well, but those visuals will stay with us for awhile.

I had the opportunity to practice (successfully) my offside roll in washing machine. No one else deigned join me. We boat scouted the last drop which went great for all but one. We had spent over two hours on the water and noone was up much for playing anymore.

Another fantastic day on the water with an excellent group. Thanks.

New Haven Race
Saturday Apr 9, 2011
Organizer: New Haven Race Committee
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium low
Author: Alden Bird

The New Haven Race yesterday was a great success! With 60 racers, warm temperatures, blue skies, and the banks lined with spectators, it was an awesome way to celebrate the community that has grown up around that river!!

First, some unofficial results:

1st: Hugh Pritchard (Montpelier, VT)

2nd: Joel Kowalski (Quebec)

3rd: Patrick Gagne (Valleyfield, QC)

The fastest lap of the day was submitted by Justin Crannell. Past champions Justin Beckwith and Scott Gilbert both advanced to the semi-finals. By my count, there were 56 men's kayaks, one junior men's kayak, two women's kayaks, and one C-1. There were boaters on hand from Maine, NH, VT, NY, Quebec, Maryland, MA, and CT. There were at least three or four swims, in Roostertail Rapid, and below Toaster Falls.

Next -- a big thanks to all the companies that donated money, or gear -- especially Bliss-Stick Kayaks for donating the cash prize money. There is nothing like seeing a guy get presented with a stack of $1,000 -- in singles! For their sakes, I hope that Joel and Patrick were able to get back across the border with that stack of bills without having to explain where they got it!

Also, a big thanks is due to Rustic River Adventures for providing free shuttles to racers and their boats throughout the day.

Finally, a big thanks to the race organizers and the volunteers! Dave Packie, Ryan McCall, Dan Siger, Ben Guttridge, Eric Adsit, Paul Carlile, all the safety boaters, the UVM folks, and everyone else!!

There was a TON of free stuff raffled off and given out to competitors. In just the small area where I was standing during the awards ceremony, folks were winning new paddles, a full-face helmet, sleeping bags, waterproof I-Pod speakers, camp chairs, and drytops.

Given that this race has only been held for two years, and only about twenty people have actually competed in total, I think the sheer volume of companies willing to step up, donate, and publicize 2011's race comes as a direct result not of the race's fame, but of the organizers' hard work and persuasion. I can only imagine how much work and time this has taken . . . I just hope that Ryan's and Dave's marriages have survived the last few weeks intact!

From the put in at Eagle Park yesterday, one could see the snow-covered Mt. Abe way up in the headwaters. There is still a lot of snow up in the mountains. I think the rivers are going to be running for a while . . . and it's going to be a great season!



Huntington - Audubon to Jonesville
Sunday Apr 10, 2011
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: high
Author: Tony Shaw

Before telling 8 other paddlers the runout for the Huntington River beyond the lower gorge to Jonesville was "flat", maybe I should have looked at my 1971 AMC River Guide. It advises quite unequivocally to take-out at Huntington gorge, since "the river drops 200 ft. in the next 3 miles through the gorge and should not be attempted at any stage." Even my updated 1989 AMC River Guide demurs: "Although the river is potentially runnable for another 1.5 miles below the lower gorge, it is difficult to reach and first-hand reports are not available."

But today was not the day to let discretion be the better part of valor, so what started out at the Audubon Center put-in as a relaxing, warm, sunny, sandal-clad class I-II float down the Huntington turned into something more closely resembling a northwoods "Deliverance".

It got rainy and cold. We dripped onward. Curtains of fog made the lethal lower gorge entrance imperceptible. We muddled onward. One kayaker had a cold, confidence-shaking swim - above the lower gorge. We inched onward. The snow over the hogback and down into the lower gorge on river right was up to our shins if not our thighs. We slogged onward. The river cranked and swirled through the erstwhile taciturn lower gorge. We flushed onward. The tandem boat flipped. We gurgled onward. It got dark. And we pulled 7:30 pm. The most amazing part of it all was what good spirits everyone was in as conditions steadily deteriorated, and on a river reach whose challenges I had quite obviously under-rated.

This was the day in 2011 when rivers statewide really started to pop. As evidence, within 48 hours the Winooski in Essex Jct. was cresting over 28,000 CFS, a level higher than any Chris Weed had observed in his 15+ years of monitoring its flows. Eric and Barb Bishop/Frankowski, who live off of the Essex River Rd. concurred.

I can't say exactly how much the river rose while we paddled, since darkness had taken hold by the time we drove cars back upstream to retrieve cars at the put-in. Needless to say, there were a few anxious spouses left at home wondering where the hell their honeys were. And it's a good thing John Atherton wasn't along. I'm not sure even a Yanni Concert "glow" would have been enough to overcome the deep, dark foreboding of the lower Huntington Gorge on this trip which Frank Wells later called: "a great surprise adventure...well worth the cold, dark, wet, muddy ending!".

Lower New Haven
Wednesday Apr 13, 2011
Organizer: Paul Carlile
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium
Author: Paul Carlile

It's not often you can tell the exact flow of the New Haven but the gauge was flat at 1000 cfs for 5 hours Wed evening. When we met at the put-in John discovered that he had forgotten his PFD. Francis came to paddle but was feeling uncomfortable with his roll and decided not to so he loaned his PFD to John. In the first rapid John flipped and swam because his paddle had snapped in half. Noah and I retrieved his boat around the corner and luckily Dan had a breakdown paddle so we were able to continue. We had a fun paddle down to the iron bridge where Francis met us. Unfortunately, John's boat got away from him and Dan and I chased it through the iron bridge rapid and caught up a little way down. We had a great time down the last section and had an easy shuttle back thanks to Francis's help.

Browns River Afternoon
Friday Apr 15, 2011
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: medium high
Author: Ken Emery

A mid-forties sunny day with light winds prompted Tony to dust off his trusty river alchemy and algebra books for some extrapolations on the Browns flow, coming up with, "it could be good." Sure enough, a moderate flow (Lamoille - E. Georgia was reading around 6,000 when we started) made for an active run with plenty of water. The flow was roughly level with the footing of the cement bridge on the far side of the river at the put-in just south of Westford.

We could tell immediately there was a nice flow under the Rt 128 bridge and around the bends on the way into the village where we scouted the dam pulling out, river left, just after the covered bridge. Then we all ran the very left short slide that presented a little roller-derby bump at the bottom. Tony led the way for John and I, giving us a refresher on how to do a slow smooth roll. We took the same slide/hip-check line but opted to practice our roll a little later.

The S-turn rapid with the sentinel rock above the small exit ledge reminded John and I to work harder on our boat control in twisting current, as both of us careened off the pillowed guardian but managed to stay upright.

We again scouted from river left and each decided to sample different lines over the river-wide ledge. Tony took a line on the far right and stepped neatly down with a carve left. John chose the far left straight drop burying his nose pretty deeply but clean. I ran left of the center rock, upon which Tony had managed to balance his canoe and take up position with safety rope.

The last drop was also scouted river left before we all elected to run the center where there was enough water to consider alternatives and make adjustments before completing the second drop. Shortly after the double ledge we came to the island where the main channel goes river left. Tony and John river-scouted the right hand channel that needs at least the level of flow we had to run it, and before counting to ten Tony dropped in and neatly eddied out. John followed next. Learning a lesson about the-one-you-don't-scout and giving way to what-the-heck moments, I followed but choose a poor line hard left and bounced down through the small rock-garden allowing myself a brief cool-off at the bottom, learning that John had also taken some brief refreshment there.

What often becomes a slow paddle out from that point on was more lively today requiring only occasional paddling while enjoying the sunshine and taking in the early spring scene including a brown furry mammal (Otter?) and evidence of the recent high water along the banks.

We pulled out at Rt. 128 and traded grins and comments about each getting an opportunity to practice our roll and how I'm still at the duckling stage in the whitewater world.

Green River Garfield to Lamoille
Friday Apr 15, 2011
Organizer: Ryan
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Ryan

The PA crew (Mic, Hippie, Brenton & Art) was in town on their annual pilgrimage to The Green Mountain State. This would be the 4th year in a row the core of them has made the trip up to paddle VT's snow melt in the prime of the creek boating season. The first day if the trip each year is usually started at the Coffee Corner in Downtown Montpelier with me meeting up with them and setting plans for the day. This year was no different than any other with a hearty breakfast and some creek names thrown around, the goal for this year was to hit as many micro creeks as possible. The flows on the smaller drainages were marginal though.

Off we went to check Nasmith Brook in Marshfield. It was at a bare bones level that left most of the guys turning their noses up at it. This was fine by me because with more flow this is an unfinished gem. So we headed up over the ridge through East Montpelier to the North Branch Winooski where flows the preceding days were especially high filling Wrightsville Reservoir. I luv this run and will poke down it at just about any level, extreme low to meaty high. A few in the group are also of that mind set... However; we had a voice of reason with us this day. As much as I am willing to point my plastic down any lubed stretch of rock, Dave Packie was with us that day and for the most part is of the mindset that the boating is much better if there is less chance of rubbing rock - true enough. Especially if there are options that would make it silly to bang down something more terra-firma than aqua.

Driving past the outflow to Wrightsville, Dave came up with a rather logical idea....All of the reservoirs are full around here and are struggling to get the levels down to a reasonable elevation...In other words what a great day for a release river and the best and closest one was the Green River in Wolcott. Just so happens that Dave and I have been trying to get on this river for the better part of 2 years and are actively working with a local group and American Whitewater to secure whitewater recreational releases through the FERC relicensing process with Morrisville Water and Light, the owner and operators of the hydropower facility that dams up the Green River to great the Green River Reservoir. It is really easy to see if it is flowing by driving over the river on route 15 next to Morrisville Auto. If it looks like you can float a boat then it is boatable. So we headed to the power transfer station that is about 200 yards west of the river to set shuttle, change into boating gear and park the return vehicle(great designated parking area btw).

Once loaded up we headed up Garfield road to the ghost village of Garfield where the road crosses the Green River. One time in the distant past this area was supposed to be a thriving village center during the logging boom period...working mills, school house, general store, etc... Now it is a rapid flowing into a culvert where the river drops in excess in 40 feet on to a jumble of road rock and rip-wrap to dissipate the power of the river when it falls from the "tube". Getting geared up some of us looked at the culvert drop and it's unrealistic line. However, there is always one crazy in the group. Surprising no one the youngest and most talented boater in the group decided it was a runable drop. We all were kind of in shock and set safety. While at the bottom ready to pick up the pieces, I was sick to my stomach that I was going to witness a very serious injury at best and quite possibly a death at the other end of the spectrum. On the upper end he took off and was almost flipped in the class V lead in rapid to the culvert. A trip through the culvert upside down would assure some form of bodily harm. Brenton righted himself and was on his way through the culvert like a shot. When he exploded out the downstream side he was air-born for close to 20 feet before he landed flat and bounced another 20 feet to the bottom where he landed flat and his skirt imploded. The sounds of both landings were harsh and we were sure the boat was broken. Brenton struggled to get his bearings and couldn't make the simple eddy I was in and seemed dazed as he floated by flailing in his boat, very uncharacteristic of him missing multiple eddys on his way to a nasty strainer. I ran down stream as fast as I could to watch him suck under the strainer and come up on a rock without his boat and paddle, head in hands. He was OK or so it seemed. I think all of us witnessed one of the most committing things we had ever seen someone do in a boat. I am not a solid class V boater but will boat some class V rapids from time to time when posed with the right conditions. But boat on enough creeks with class V rapids to know what they look like and what they entail to paddle successfully. The drop through the culvert is not class V, I am not sure it is class VI and someone that paddles that class VI water would most likely walk away from a drop like that looking at the jumble of junk in the bottom of it saying it was more or less a boat breaking man-made mess not worth the potential outcome. Young and full of gusto were definitely the drivers behind Brenton running to which he very quickly admitted was a HUGE MISTAKE and an unnecessary risk, putting himself, the boaters he was with and any future potential recreational releases in jeopardy.

After everyone get their stuff together and we made sure Brenton was all set we boated a few hundred yards downstream to the first horizon line. What is nice about walking this river first is you know where the rapids are and cues of where to get out. Both Dave and I have walked this river to scout it out during releases and in dry weather. This first drop is a ledge that the water falls off of, approximately 12 feet in height. It is a tricky drop because the water is all sliding from right to left and the left corner of the drop is messy. The move from what we could make of it is a MONSTER boof going left to right into the pool where the river drops off of the ledge into the river right pool. There was some potential wood that may have come into play in the pool in addition you absolutely had to boof and land flat or risk a HUGE piton. We all walked to just below the ledge and put in the pool just below for a series of smaller ledges ending in a constriction with an undercut boulder. Before we headed down stream Brenton chose to walk off leaving Dave, Art, Mic, Hippie and myself to work on down the river. The double bounce Brenton had survived had done a number on his back and he thought it best he walk off the river before he stiffened up or worse...

From the first Big 12 ft ledge the river is in a tight gorge with beautiful geology, mostly ledge rapids with large sized boulders mixed in the rapids. This goes on for more or less ¾ of a mile with quality III/IV- rapids. Everyone was smiling at this point enjoying the rhythm of moving down a river in your boat. One ledge in particular did a good job of tricking two of us into riding a beautiful curlier up and over to the right side only to end in a vicious piton. Out of the two of us that hit that line, I was lucky enough to stop dead on pour over and get a good long surf in the hole while waiting for someone to pull my bow loop and yank me out of the hole. No such luck I was sucked deeper into the hole and ended up with a great hole ride and a silly swim into calm pool - Doh!!!!! A few more rapids later and we were to the inner section of the run floating through the flatwater portion where both otters and beavers have been spotted.

At the end of the inner flatwater reprieve the Lower action starts in earnest with what I could consider the most committing "runable" rapid on the river, a class V gorged in rapid that has several vertical drops/ledges and sculpted rock and for good measure potholes that actually don't have bottoms, forming sieves. This rapid constricts the average width of the river 25-30' down to 8-10 feet in width as well. There are several large pieces of wood in this rapid rendering it unrunable at this time, but some minimal woodworking would open this gem up. It is easily portageable on river left and advised until the wood is yanked. At this point Dave was on a time schedule and need to get off the move was to paddle down ahead of the group and portage quickly the drops that were class IV or higher...He made quick work of the river and was off in time for daycare pickup. This left our group with 4 remaining boaters on the river, Art, Mic, Hippie and myself.

The river opens up directly below the rapid and next short stretch is fun class III boogie water until the river constricts again. This is a fun sluice onto a beautiful fanned out waterfall. The sluice has a piece of wood along the left side but can be paddled past into the drop. The waterfall plops you in a deep pool with the right side of the pool containing a downed hemlock tree leaving you with an urgency to roll up immediately after you plug the drop. One of the more cleanly runable waterfalls I've seen. Art fired it up and plugged it going REALLY deep followed by a speedy roll. The rest of us portaged on river left, again, an easy portage. We put in, in the pool and were immediately presented with a 5 foot ledge drop and then the best stretch of class III/IV continuous rapids on the river for about a ¼ mile. It was non-stop ledgy fast read and run action definitely having great rhythm to it. As this action settled out we started to get into more of a pool drop nature to the river with ledges that were larger and spaced out.

The next note worthy feature was the Green Logging bridge. This is the first sign of anything manmade in along the river you will encounter until the take out. This bridge also demarcates that the river is picking up in amplitude again with more stout rapids. The next rapid below the bridge is worth a look see. The river necks down (surprise), and separates into two distinct channels around a rock island. The rapid is also choked with wood but can be run in the left channel, albeit a log slide and two limbo moves. Two of our group chose to probe the river left line. Looking like an easy line to fire up but also one that didn't leave a margin for error if you messed up two of us hit the river right portage trail. Art cleanly ran the drop making it look easy, Jason on the other hand slid off the log slide and flipped hooking his skirt on something submerged and snagging up. After a few terse moments and an abusive swim through this rapid he was on shore with his boat, separated from his torn skirt and paddle. This rapid is easily portaged on river right but better scouted on river left. There is some work that needs to be done in this rapid as well. Both sides of the island would go cleanly with less wood and more water.

Following this rapid there is a funky little drop that can be sticky and tricky. We all ran it on the left to avoid the slotty/seivey part on the right. At the flow this day it was fairly benign. With a higher release it would be one to see before running it blindly.

The action keeps up with class III/IV rapids and a couple more substantial drops leading to the last of the big drops.

This final drop is easily recognized by the river banking off the left wall and charging right. Get out well above the right hand turn in the river on river right and scout. As soon as the river has made the turn there is a 6 foot ledge that has several locations where you could piton or worse. On the day we ran it Art ran it way right with a huge boof into the eddy. The lead in is messy with several reactionary waves and holes so setting up for a good line is crucial.

Below this drop the river has a few more class III-ish rapids and then settles down to swift water before it goes under Route 15 on its way to the Lamoille River. You can take out at Route 15 and walk west to the power transfer station or float to the Lamoille and get out below the junk yard and walk up the hill to the transfer station.

Thoughts on the run in general... It was at about as low as I would like to run it. The rocks are very sharp and the rapids could use more flow to either lube them up or pad them out. A call to the hydro project manager the following Monday revealed that they were producing 750kw at the power plant. I did a rough correlation. The max power generation at the plant is 1.7mw and the max outflow for the state permit is 288cfs through the penstock. So do the math if 1.7mw = 288cfs, then 750kw = 127.4cfs. It is a fun run and when cleaned up and a little more flow it will be a full on classic creek boat run. At the 127.4 cfs it was a little manky but definitely boatable. I, for one am looking forward the flow studies on this river to see how the boating is at different levels. Having boated it at what I would consider the lowest level I'd want to run it at and having walked it at the max 288 cfs and seen that flow, I think there are a lot of levels in-between that would make for a great VT creeking experience.

Pix at links -

Saranac River (NYS) to Redford
Sunday Apr 17, 2011
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium high
Author: Tony Shaw

The Joe's Brook trip fell through, suspecting too little water with the GMP generators out-of-commission and the river-stopping cold weather leading up to 4/17/11. Perhaps the rain Saturday night actually raised Joe's to a runnable level - but we'll never know.

With huge lakes in the headwaters to buffer its flow, the Saranac in NYS seemed a reasonable alternative, although I had never run it this high before. The drive from the Milton park-and-ride wasn't bad. Including the ferry ride, it took a little over an hour. We met Noah at the take-out in Clayburg at 1 pm. Gas over there was $4.05 and up (get used to it...).

The last part of the drive upstream to find the put-in was making me nervous as the snow pack on the obviously unplowed Casey Road grew deeper and deeper and Paul's Outback slid from side to side. I was telling the guys about the put-in I've used in the past - where Casey Road ends at Union Falls dam. It features easy parking and launching at the powerhouse, and the option to run the flume between the dam and powerhouse (a short creeky III-IV at medium flows if you can handle a seal launch into the current...and dig starting off with a bang). From there, though, the Saranac is pretty (sluggish) for nearly 3 where we actually did put-in this day.

I didn't mind the sloppy and at times snowy 100 yard carry on NYS conservation lands down to our put-in, although the handful of downed trees blocking the path should really be cut-out by someone with a chainsaw. Finding the trail in the first place was another story. But AW's online River Info has the right coordinates. Pull-off and park the car exactly 0.9 miles from the Silver Lake Road junction, and walk upstream until you see the faint footpath marked by yellow trail markers nailed to trees (and/or surveyor's tape). The good news is that, up to this point at least, they do seem to plow Casey Road in the winter.

This area is home to deer (lots of 'em), osprey, and countless other critters. Besides the deer and osprey, we saw/heard Canada geese, ducks, mink (or maybe otter), and some hawks. At times it felt like we'd found ourselves in the Bambi Movie. The run opened with close to a mile of substantial fast-moving class II, passing under the Silver Lake Road bridge, and then flattened out for a mile and a half before narrowing down abruptly at the threshold of Tefft Pond Falls. We carried it on river right, deeming it a huge cascade - class IV+ or V - with some wood in bad places.

The remainder of the run at this level was very reminiscent of the Indian during a release, but with a couple of steeper pitches, and without the hypalon or crowds. The first of these came up fairly quickly below Tefft Pond Falls - a wide class III-IV ledges section. The center and river-right entry options looked intimidating, so we focused our attention on river-left. Paul picked a line near the left bank - left of a small island, and found himself in a hole for a while before breaking free and working right to negotiate the ledges. For the most part we were thankful to Paul for willingly acting as the "probe" and finding a sporty line through each of the many rapids we encountered. In this case, though, Noah picked a line somewhat farther to the right - splitting the island - and Chris and I both followed him, resulting in an interesting set of maneuvers through an extended series of staggered ledge holes.

After that came a couple miles of continuous class II-III, culminating in a big class III+ drop - a run-in to a large slide/tongue/foam pile, with a very large hole to be avoided on the right (formed by the big river-right ledge from which we scouted the drop). I posted a few pictures of this section on Paddle Pix after the trip ( ). The kayakers handled the big foam pile deftly, but it flipped the C1 - leading to my first brisk and successful combat roll in the converted Phat. After that came some more continuous class II-III (more II than III here), all the way to the takeout. The current is so swift in this section at 6.5 feet that the play waves/holes - so numerous and inviting at, say, 5 feet - are hard to catch. But then again, punching through them and boofing over well-covered boulders made for a different kind of fun at 6.5 feet. At the Clayburg take-out, Chris and I gave Paul and Noah the option to continue downstream to a big ledge rapid we had seen from the road, while the two of us retrieved the Outback. We picked them up close to an hour later at the Maplefields convenience store, a mile and a half further downstream.

The entire run is 7-8 miles, around 3 hours, depending on your tailwind, how much you play, and where you finish. I briefly tried to entice the group to try instead the untested North Branch of the Saranac which is flat at the confluence but which AW says upstream holds 10.5 miles of class III-IV rapids, with a side-road option for accessing the midpoint. We took a peek at least, and could tell that very recently it had been over its banks and covering roads in the vicinity. At today's level there would have been no shortage of water to run the North Branch. Something to keep in mind...

Lower New Haven
Wednesday Apr 20, 2011
Organizer: Jim Poulin
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: high
Author: Jim Poulin

I woke up Wednesday morning to a significant thunder and lightning show. The downpour outside my window and New Haven level of 450 on my computer screen led me to believe that we may actually get to run this flashy section of river. Even more amazing is that we predicted this would happen - this trip was put on the events calendar two months ago!

Thus started Gauge Watch 2011.

Through the morning as the gauge went from 450 through 745 and onto 1,140 I was pretty stoked that we would have decent water.

By noon when it was 2,320 I was thinking "Whoa Nelly"!

When it crested at 2,660 at 1:30 I was crest fallen (nice pun eh?). I had never run this stretch at anything above 1,100 and was not sure I wanted to bite off more than double the volume.

Then the strangest thing happened. The level started dropping. And dropping fast! By mid afternoon it was dropping at a rate of more than 200cfs per hour.

By 4:30 it was down to 2,050 and by our put in time at 5:30 the level was at 1,860. This trip was a go!

The only thing I can think of is the rain came down so fast this morning that it did not have time to soak into the ground. It went straight to the river and drained off fast. I have not seen the New Haven drop this much in past water events. It usually has a more gradual decline after peaking.

Only Jamie had run at this level and that was a bunch of years ago. His recollection was that the lines are the same, just the water is bigger and faster.

And that is exactly as it was. All the traditional lines were the same. It's just things moved more quickly and if you got off line, the holes that were there to munch you were that much bigger. As an added bonus, new lines opened up on most of the rapids allowing for choices not available at lower levels.

The only minor bit of excitement came when Paul hit "the meat" and got flipped in the hole in the third rapid (the one after Baldwin Creek comes in). That woke us all up as the water is cold and none of us wanted to be upside down - even if for only a few seconds like Paul. Game on boys!

Even the normally slack middle section moved along and there were a few larger holes to dodge.

We took multiple lines through the bridge rapid to the delight of a local watching from the bridge.

At the island we took the left most slot - which I had never run before - since it had a good amount of water.

There were multiple lines through the next set of rapids and we explored most of them. Then, at the take out bridge, I ran the right of center line. Note to self - at these levels if you run the right of center line you will not be able to make the take out at the bridge! The river is just moving too fast at that point. I meandered downstream and took in the last bit of rapids. Paul, not wanting me to have all this fun by myself joined in. We then walked our boats back up to the waiting cars and compadres. The take out was full of smiles and excitement of the run just had. It was like running a new river for the first time.

At these flows it's a quick run. We did the whole thing in an hour and that includes a few minutes scouting the bridge rapid. The next time the New Haven goes big (did someone say 3,000?!?) look for me to post a trip on the Lower. It's a hoot!


Mill Brook, Brownsville, VT
Friday Apr 22, 2011
Organizer: Berggren
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium low
Author: Berggren

Miles of Smiles--off the paddling map

Wes Nelson and Burlington,Vermont paddler Noah Pollock and I paddled the Mill Brook from 2 miles north of the intersection of Vt 106 and 44 (Hammondsville) ten miles down to the pass under I-91 leading into Kennedy Pond in Windsor. We shuttled around 3 miles of flatwater west of Brownsville.

At the outset, I wondered whether my old Dagger CFS--high rocker, rounded bottom--would hang on every rock in the 10-15ft wide stream, but we found some nice mossy banks and ledge drops in the two mile run down to Hwy 44. Our optimism was rewarded by rising level as the day warmed, snow was melting on the banks, and we were joined by feeder streams. Easy II to full III features followed to our bypass takeout a mile down Hwy 44.

We put in again below Brownsville. A log above the 12-ft slide/falls made us boogy far right. Falls itself was a bump-bump-bump-kersplash, but the works below were intense and had several holes. Below the arch bridge was three miles of very steady 2+ rapids, sometimes triple the width where we started, with a few boof logs and lovely mossy stone banks. Takeout alongside Hwy 44 below the I-91 overpass is a sandy beach with generous parking.

Mill Brook is not in the AMC or creeks literature, and there is no gauge, though it will be reflected in levels of the nearby Black (whose gauge is WAY downstream in Springfield). It has a narrow watershed, so drops off quickly. But we felt affirmed by our journey to keep it on our watchlist.

Kay,Allan Berggren

White River
Sunday Apr 24, 2011
Organizer: Richard Larsen
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: medium high

We met at the Tweed River put-in at 10AM, and shuttled cars to the takeout on Route 107 a few miles below Gaysville. (The Tweed put-in is located on Route 100 in the short stretch between the Stockbridge bridge and the intersection with Route 107. A run of about 200 yards on the Tweed gets you to the White. The takeout is shortly after Route 107 enters Bethel.)

The water level was pretty much ideal, being clear, green and lively. The weather was fine for people already dressed in wetsuits / drysuits - there was a short period of inconsequential drizzle - but the rest of the time it was cloudly with the sun trying to come out.

There were no problems on the river, and we reached the takeout about 2.5 hours after going onto the river.

The rapid at the old trestle supports at Stony Creek continues to move upstream, following the collapse of the left bank 4-5 years ago. And, there had been a major collapse of the right bank recently a bit below the Gaysville Campground. Neither of these were problems, but they do continue to drop trees (strainers) into the water, and so require attention to upcoming drops as one heads down the river.

Upper Mad
Wednesday Apr 27, 2011
Organizer: John Atherton
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: medium high

We started out just below the Warren bridge. The over the guard rail and down the bank was a test for our newest paddler Welker. It was a test for all of us. The evening was warm and the river was higher than I had ever paddled it before. The higher level was really nice and made the river and paddle more interesting. The real action began at "Punch Bowl" we had two nice runs by Dan, an ok run by John, a swim by Francis and a walk around by Welker. The swim/rescue/rerescue and boat rescue was definetly the most interesting part of the evening. We were not done yet. the next rapid is at Butternut road under the bridge. Dan was the only taker and he hit the line perfectly. By this point it was starting to get dark and that was my excuse for not giving it a try. we all paddled straigt to the finish line and pulled out at dark. nice run for everyone. thanks guys

Lower Mad
Saturday Apr 30, 2011
Organizer: David Hathaway
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium high

Everyone but Woody (who we didn't know was coming) met at the Lover's Lane take out at 11 AM and headed up in two cars. At the put in we found Woody's front wheels mired in the ditch (looked solid, but wasn't), but John had a towing strap and managed to pull him out. We warmed up ferrying back and forth at the put in, and then started down, with Jim in the lead and Chris running sweep. John flipped and swam near the bottom of the entry rapid and lost hold of his boat and paddle. David grabbed the paddle and clipped it to his tether, but then ended up misaligned on Double Drop and ran through the big curling wave on the right, and flipped and swam (but held on to his boat and both paddles). Meanwhile Jim was chasing John's boat and managed to bring it to shore below the bridge. After watching all this, Francis decided to walk around Double Drop. On one of the next rapids David managed to flip again, but this time pulled off a successful roll. We all got out above Horseshoe, and only John decided to try running it. With four throw ropes at the ready, John bumped along the far left and was in almost perfect position as he took the drop. It looked like he took the drop well, but didn't have quite enough speed, and disappeared into the froth. Both Jim and EJ threw ropes, and John, his boat, and his paddle were all pulled to shore. John said he didn't have to wet exit, as the turbulence sucked him right out of his boat. Francis decided to walk Washing Machine as well as Horseshoe, but the rest of us proceeded through it. John took a swim crossing the eddy line out into the turbulent pool below horseshoe, but managed to get out before being flushed through Washing Machine, and EJ rounded up his boat at the bottom. I didn't see it, but since I saw him draining his boat on the shore, I think Woody also swam in Washing Machine. Somewhere along the way the strap holding EJ's seat back managed to come loose. She had the pin that linked the back strap to the ratchet strip, but the back to it was missing. A jury rigged repair with an old piece of duck tape wrapped and tied around it held for the rest of the trip. From there on down the trip was pretty uneventful. We all took the right side of the island for the final rapid, and John went back up and ran the left side as well. Then a flat water paddle with a stiff headwind back to the take out, getting there a little before 2, I think.

North Branch of the Lamoille
Sunday May 1, 2011
Organizer: Paul Carlile
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium low
Author: Paul Carlile

In the aftermath of the huge rain on Wed. the NBL was down to a low level today but you could see how high it had been and it must have been huge. We talked to the guy in the house river left just below Rt 109. He said the river was the highest he had seen it in the 15 years he's lived there. The Lamoille gauge at Johnson was 1680 and falling.

It was a beautiful, sunny day with no clouds at all when we put in. All 3 of us ran the right slide at the put in. I started out and got pushed further left than I wanted to be dropping into the slot but just got flushed. Tony was a little further right and Jim (having the benefit of 2 probes) styled it. We had a great run down through the gorge enjoying the crystal clear water, sunny sky and good company.

When we got the Waterville ledges, Tony and Jim felt they'd had great run already but didn't want to push their luck. It's been a while since I'd run the ledges but it was a beautiful day and when Tony and Jim said they'd cover me with a rope for the big drops I went for it. The only issue was when I had to work a little bit to get into the sneak slot on the second drop. Otherwise it was a clean run and great end to a beautiful day.

Little River
Friday May 6, 2011
Organizer: Dan Beideck
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: high
Author: Dan Beideck

The Little river had been running higher than normal and I had been scouting the infamous weir for the past couple of days. American Whitewater lists it as "unrunnable". However, I was convinced it could be done at this level, 1600 cfs. I posted a couple of pictures on the VPC website showing a tongue on river right that goes around the nasty low head dam portion. Speaking of which, a few more hundred cfs and that nasty dam MIGHT just become a really sweet play hole! That will have to wait for another day, as that didn't look to be the case yet.

Chris and I scouted the weir and decided to give it a go. However, we decided to go up river a bit for a warm up and put in just below the big dam forming the Little River Reservoir. The spill gates were wide open up top resulting in an impressive waterfall over the rocks before hitting the bottom and adding to the high flow in the river. I was first to put in and decided to paddle upstream a bit while Chris was getting ready. I must have been out of sight when Chris put in because he was nowhere to been seen when I floated back down. My guess was that he assumed I went downstream while waiting for him. So, I heading down hoping that was the case. We finally caught back up just above the weir. Not a good start, but we decided to keep on after taking one last look at the weir.

We were both comfortable that the low head dam wouldn't be an issue. The tongue was big and clearly defined. At a normal summer release level, the tongue isn't really there in enough force. But it appeared to be a clean sneak at 1600 cfs. The bigger issue was that there were some nasty hydraulics forming on river right along the gorge walls. The move seemed to be to take the tongue on the right and move to the center immediately after the weir. There were two big waves that had to be punched after this. This was where the real action was going to be, but was beyond the most dangerous parts. After that, it was a big turbulent flush down the gorge.

I had brought my playboat in hopes that there would be some great play wave down river at this level. I was second guessing that decision at this point and would have much rather have had my bigger boat to punch those two waves that were coming up. Too late now. I was the first to go. The tongue got me around the weir just as expected, and I was on line when I crashed the first wave. It knocked me off balance a bit and the second wave came up a just a second or two later. I'd like to say I decided to go for style points and intentionally did a stern squirt, but the truth is that just sort of happened on it's own. I somehow managed to get my bow back down without flipping. I was against the gorge wall at this point and quickly paddled back to the center and on down the rest of the gorge. I caught a glimpse of Chris coming down. He was smart enough to bring a bigger volume boat and made it down clean right behind me.

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. The great play wave that I had hoped for, never appeared. Should have taken the big boat. Next time the water is this high, I'll know. Definitely, would do it again. However, the level has to be right. American Whitewater is probably right in that this is unrunnable, or at least shouldn't be run, at normal release levels.

Black River
Saturday May 7, 2011
Organizer: Jim Poulin
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Jim Poulin

A lucky thirteen souls came out on Saturday for a run or two down the Black river in beautiful downtown Perkinsville.

This was a logistical masterpiece with meeting spots set up for the Richmond Park & Ride, Waterbury Park & Ride and the (closed) Sharon Rest Stop on I-89. And this was just for the Northern Vermont paddlers! Who knows what coordination went into getting the Central Vermont paddlers to the take out!

Kelly from BRAT (Black River Action Team) was there to video the happenings. Their goal is to capture various users of the Black River in action. I am sure this adventure will be the next You Tube sensation. Keep an eye out...

After some quick hellos and changing into our gear we were ready to head to the put in. Does anyone know where the put in is? Apparently not. The group split into two caravans and neither headed to the right put in. CJ finally got us all together and we were ready to go.

The water level was low but boatable. The slack sections got a little boney but the rapids tend to channelize so there was good flow. Everyone was hopping around the rivers into eddies, small surfing waves and green slimy boof rocks. There were a couple of swims. One was by Brian but that was due to being egged on to perform a roll in water that was too shallow. After dragging his head across the bottom he pulled the rip cord. I am not sure this really counts as a swim.

The gorge section provided the best rapids on this section. The river pinches a bit and the gradient increases for about a quarter of a mile. This stretch would be quite impressive with a foot or two more water! After some more fast moving water we arrived at the take out covered bridge. How Vermont!

At the take out Francis proclaimed this was his best run on the Black! A number of the Northern Vermont contingent had to agree as it was our first run and therefore our best also (I guess you could counter it was our worst run too). We decided to see if we could top that by taking another run. A couple of boaters had prior commitments so we were down to eleven boaters for the second run. Still a formidable flotilla!

We cut off a little bit of the first part of the run in order to save some time and get to the gorge section more quickly. Having learned from the first run, we had one caravan and all made it to the correct put in together. And it is said that kayakers are lower on the evolution scale. Ha, showed them! The second lap came off without a hitch and everyone seemed to be in their own whitewater world exploring different lines, eddies and play spots.

By the time we got to the take out everyone had their fill. Some goodbyes and promises to meet up on the river again soon finished off the day. Then it was to reverse the pick up process on the way home to get everyone, their boats and their gear to the correct places.

Lower Mad River
Wednesday May 11, 2011
Organizer: JimP
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: low boatable
Author: JimP

Ah, Spring. The weather starts to get warm; the trees start to bud out. Wait a second! That sounds like the end of paddling season!!! This was the refrain of about a dozen boaters aound noon on Wednesday, May 11. And it was motivation to get them all on the Mad River - all at the same time!

And thus started Spring's Last Hurrah 2011.

The VPC posting was set: meet at the takeout at 5:30. Then someone posts a "warm up" run at 3:30. Amazing to me how many paddlers don't work for a living!

Six hearty souls (John, Ken, Francis, Jamie, Rich and Jim) met at the takeout for an early run. It did not take too long to get ready and consolidate boats on a couple of cars. The level was low but boatable. All the rapids had enough juice to get through. We moved down river slowly but steadily. We did have to be at the takeout by 5:30! There was a quick scout at Horseshoe and those that chose to run styled it. (all on the left channel) There was a quick swim at Washing Machine but that did not stop the group for long. We paddled the last couple of rapids, joined up with the Winooski and made it to the takeout with time to spare. (OK, maybe 5 minutes)

Waiting at the takeout were a few more paddlers. Actually, it was A LOT more paddlers. We figured out a way to not have to run an intermediate shuttle to get the two cars from the first run back to the takeout. We just loaded everyone up and headed to the put in! Thanks Dan for the pickup truck that can hold ten or fifteen boats! Or so it seemed...

Once at the put in we meet up with a couple of more paddlers and found it hard to find a parking spot. Were we paddling on the Mad River or skiing a power day at Mad River??? Hard to tell by the number of cars.

So here's the math: 6 paddlers on the first run. Minus 1 for the second run (Francis). Plus 8 paddlers for the second run equals 13! But wait there's more! Another private trip picked the unfortunate time to put on at the same time. Plus 3 more boaters. We were a flotilla of 16 paddlers in 15 boats! Yowza, that's a lot of plastic on a small river like the Mad! As trip leader I needed to keep counting heads. No small feat as the group bobbed down river.

But we managed. We poked our way down the river and spread out so that we didn't get in each other's way. We congregated at the larger eddies so we could count heads and recount stories.

At Horseshoe almost the whole group ran the left channel. Each run was clean! (nice job all!) Paul popped into Tony's open boat as an understudy to Emily (Paul - do you like the theatre reference?!?) and the two went over the drop to everyone's cheers and whistles! Sweet run!

Then the real action began. A number of folks walked back up to give the right side of Horseshoe a go. I would like to say that every run was as clean as the left, but sadly that wasn't the case. First an orange play boat could not escape the froth. Then a certain green Fluid kayak hit the right slot a bit off line and went deep. Both events causing some rope throwing practice. Nice rescues guys!

From there we poked down to the last rapid - including another quick swim at Washing Machine. A few people took multiple runs on the final rapid as the sun set and darkness started to settle in. We arrived at the put in at 8:15 with still a bit of daylight to spare.

Packing all the drivers (and there were plenty) into a couple of rigs for the ride to the put in was challenging but not insurmountable for this adventurous bunch. Once everyone was reunited with their cars and equipment we said our goodbyes and headed home with smiles on our faces.

Now we are all looking to the skies for signs of clouds and rain. It's amazing how quickly we forget one of the wettest springs in recent history and are once again dusting off our best rain dances to get our favorite rivers to pop just once more before the heat of summer really kicks in!



Gihon River May 15th, 2011
Sunday May 15, 2011
Organizer: Dave Packie
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium
Author: D. Packie

After no measurable precipitation in May, we got a nice soaker. It brought the rivers up to medium levels just in time for a club Gihon trip. We put on at the bridge on Whitcomb Island Rd that is still closed from the big flood from a few weeks back. It was the first time on this strech of the Gihon for 5 of the 8 boaters and the Dam loomed large at the end of the flat water. The major high water event has changed the hole at the bottom of the dam making it a more fitting feature for a drop of this size. Now the 35 foot, 70 degree slide ends in a formidable hit at medium levels. Staying forward is much more important if staying upright is at all a concern. From the eddy below I got a great show. One by one I watched faces light up at the horizon, and one by one I watched the lemmings torpedo thru the hole at the bottom with dramatic results. A few capsizes, a couple swims and 7 stern squirts later we were back in formation and moving down towards the sweet boof above Balls. All but 2 gave a quick scout, and this fun, dynamic rapid was fairly kind to the group. We moved down towards the 4th drop where most ran left and left again. There were 2 more swims here but rescue was swift and no gear was lost. Mustang was up next and I was eager to settle the score after getting roped out of the bottom hole last week. This feature also change slightly from the floods and has become more retentive. I hit the hole at the bottom more left and was flushed through swiftly, and upright. No one who got out to look at the hole felt like taking their medicine today and we were back in below the gorge and padling the flats towards BedHead and the Lower Gihon. Bill and I both ran BedHead with the stadard line, far left boof, punching the lower hole dead center. We both ended up in the eddy on the left. We boogied on down to Powerhouse with a few rolls thrown in here and there. A few scouted Powerhouse, and multiple lines were run. Sunset went smoothly and I think everyone was stoked. Good trip.

Dave Packie

Sunday May 15, 2011
Organizer: Jamie Dolan
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Jamie Dolan

Three boaters signed up for the Poultney trip, so you can imagine the surprise when I saw 6 boats at the Welcome Center. Two more boaters then showed up. It turns out that Poultney was just very popular that Sunday. Three women (E.J., Sarah, and Becky) were running the Poultney independent of the VPC trip. We did end up running the river with them in various sections. Adam and Brian also had decided to run the Poultney and joined the VPC contingent. Though it rained fairly steady for the better part of the trip the water stayed at a low, but boatable, 350 cfs (or so). We scouted the first, second, and last rapids. There was some swimming but not too much. The last rapid was fairly straight-forward at this low water level, as long as you avoided the mess in the middle. Everyone who ran it did so river right (to some degree) without issue. It looked more intimidating then it was (but isn't that always the case when everyone styles it?). We were off the river by 2:00 pm. So three of us went on to do a fast run down the lower New Haven.

After work NBW - Sooo Schweet
Tuesday May 17, 2011
Organizer: Ryan
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Ryan

So it is hard to find a better vertical run in Vermont. If you open the dictionary and look up pool/drop whitewater - the North Branch Winooski is in the picture.

Lots of water this week (really no different than any other week this year thus far). I get an email from Paul asking what's pun intended. I needed to stay close to my stomping grounds and why go elsewhere anyways with this 12 miles from my abode. NBW it was - I knew it would be on the low side but definitely runable....hell I've been on it lower (not recommended).

We got to the take out at 5:30 and got our stuff together and headed up into Elmore to the put in and got on water at 6pm on the money. This was Paul's virgin run on the NBW so it was going to take a little longer than a normal race run but we had at least 2 hours of daylight to get down it. Also the river was at a level that it didn't push or stuff you but you had to be on line not to piton. That being said we boogied through it in just over 2 hours.

So starting off on this run you get lulled into a beautiful dance...maybe a waltz? of weaving bobbing and popping off of micro ledges. It is hypnotic as you work through the forest and gorge, all the while looking for Moose. Then blamo - you hit the first drop (broken drop). At this level it is easy and straight forward with a solid right boof stroke into the seam and eddy. This is where I got the pleasure of seeing the first expression on Paul's face. The saucer eyed look of surprise continued on each and every drop down through the river. After broken drop there are two really fun ledges both between 5-6 feet and require precise angle and boof strokes. Paul launched them both with skill in his Mamba.

Next up was the first of the substantial drops... On this trip there really was only one line on river right down the face of the 12 foot falls. It is a jumbly sort of affair and this is where the dance changes from waltz to foxtrot, knowing the ante has just upped its self. I had a decent line with a classic side-boof off the bottom lip. Paul styled it, even if his eyeballs looked like they were going pop out on the way down.

Below this things gorge up a little dumping you into Manky Mank. A deceivingly steep section of undefined rapids (boogie water between the defined stuff - to relate to a discussion a bunch of geeks are carrying on, on the message board). In my opinion one of the harder sections on the river though. Again today there was only one option and you needed to make it happen. Through Manky Mank we looked back up stream to really see how steep the two tiered multi faceted rapid actually is. Not to be taken lightly - especially with more water in it!

This brings us to the Big Bouncy...We walked down to look at it but knew we wouldn't be running it today with the low flow. Just not padded out enough.... But worth a look at the three lead in rapids that we would paddle to avoid the heinous portage on river right. So off we went down the three ledges snagging the last eddy above Big Bouncy and portaging river left on the bedrock shelves. This allows you a fun seal-launch into the bottom half of Big Bouncy and give you perspective of the magnitude of this beast - when you add in the lead in it is over 45 feet in height. A MONSTER.

Below this are some more ledges and roadside rubble leading into the tube under Route 12. Always good for a few whoops and hollers in the echo chamber.

Popping out the other side we had 8 notable drops between 4 feet and 35 feet left in our run and about 1/3 the distance left of the river. It was about 7:20 at that point so we needed to make haste and get to Flat Falls...Usually an easy right to left driving boof off the center prow in-between the two piton slabs at the bottom. This is not trivial but not hard either. You need to be precise because an 8 foot piton is never good for the boat or you. Both of us fired it up cleanly and we were on our way to Sliding Board. A fun curling sculpted banked right hand turn over a ledge drop. One of the two holes on the river that you really just don't want to mess with. Stay left and you are golden, go right and you are going to get a good surf at best and maybe some time with Elvis at worse. I learned my lesson on a run a few weeks prior...not a fun place to swim either because it is above the 35'er Double Drop. Both Paul and I cleaned Sliding Board with Paul having a few terse moments being sucked back towards the hole....STAY LEFT!

Portage #2 Double Drop definitely went today, however we opted out and boogied down the portage to put in at its base. What a great rapid and amazing waterfall. Go see it to believe me.

Starting to run out of light we needed to book it on down to Cave Falls. Definitely the worst hole on the river. You can see the cave behind the falls curtain - disgusting! Better have a whopper of a boof to clear the back tow of the falls, oh yea and it is a completely walled in gorge too. BUT.........The option to make it a really fun rapid is the slide on the right, next to the falls. With just enough water to lube up the slide we both powered up onto the slide and rocketed down into the gorge with a great seal launch in. In all the falls are probably 10-12 feet in height. An awesome place to practice a boof but a horrible place to not make it! The outside of the gorge is a really fun hole/wave thing that you need to punch. Below that is a nice 5 foot ledge followed by another 4 foot ledge and then the slack water leading to the Final Stage.

Final Stage is a river wide slide that looses close to 10 feet in elevation and ends in a river wide ledge that is approx. 12-15 feet high. We were officially out of light so pulled the pool toys out of the water and carried up to look at the drop and be on our way. Definitely two clean lines can be had at the level we were on the river at yesterday. Center goes fast with fury and River left, directly against the mid-river buttress was about as good as it gets.

Paul and I were all set and walked south on Route 12 to the shuttle. It was a great way to spend a Tuesday Evening....

Boating.... the ever entertaining NBW.

If you like waterfalls and hucking your meat - this is your run.

Boreas River / Adirondacks
Sunday May 22, 2011
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Tony Shaw

If there is a whitewater park in heaven, I hope it is like the Boreas in NYS!

A day before this trip I had sheepishly pulled the plug on the Hudson Gorge trip because it had been raining all week (heck, all month) in the central Adirondacks and the Hudson was running more than a foot and a half higher than I had ever run it in my OC1 (6.7 feet). But the trees over there were all budding out and getting their summer leaves, so the Boreas was actually on the low side by Sunday am.

Running the Boreas is something everyone should do at some point or other. It doesn't take all that long to drive there from Burlington and it is 7 miles of wilderness boating. We saw no big game but no people either - except one family camped at the take-out, where there are several marked campsites ready for use.

The Boreas would be pretty intimidating if not dangerous in high water, but for us it was 2 inches below the lowest painted marking on the bridge footing at the take-out (the Northwoods Club Rd. off 28N) - reading just under -0.5 feet. The rain held off and it was in the 60's - very pleasant with just enough blackflies to make you glad you weren't that family...camping.

It was a new river for both Paul and Jim. As for John, he was evasive on this point.

Below the 28N put-in there are a couple of cool features in the first half mile that led to one flip/hole-roll (nice recovery BTW, Paul) and one short carry for 1/2 our group (river right). Then a series of straight-forward easy rapids brought us to one long stretch of flatwater where we enjoyed the solitude and green grandeur of the Adirondacks in late May. Once sufficiently bored on Hewitt Eddy the river started dropping again, through easy rapids for a while and finally culminating in continuous Deerfield Dryway size features for the last 2.2 miles, with noone else around to compromise the wilderness feeling. The low water conditions made each of the rapids "busy", but the boulders in the streambed are mostly all rounded and there always seemed to be one+ good clean route through. Everyone was grinning ear to ear when we reached the take-out bridge.

While Jim and John ran shuttle, Paul and I walked up the defunct rail line that parallels the steepest part of the river on the right bank, and contemplated how we might someday utilize the tracks and a homemade "handcar/shuttle vehicle" to run carbon-neutral laps on the tumultuous middle/lower Boreas. This could be a really fun camping/paddling/fishing weekend, when the water is up and the blackflies die off (fall 2011??).

We spent about 3 hours total to complete a leisurely run, wishing we had had found it with a bit more water. The trip can be lengthened, too, by A) starting higher on the road to Newcomb and/or B) paddling to the Hudson River confluence and down the runout to North Creek.

A few pictures were uploaded to Paddle Pix ( ) and our new FaceBook page ( ).

Lower Lamoille
Wednesday Jun 8, 2011
Organizer: Chris Weed
Difficulty: novice WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Chris Weed

As usual, this early June trip on the Lamoille was planned months ago knowing that the flow might be very low by late spring. And low it was, but this spring one could say that was somewhat surprising! Fortunately for denizens of the Lake Champlain shoreline we have been getting less rain and more sun and warmth over the past 10 days. This Wednesday the air temperature was about 90, and the water temperature was in the mid-60s.

A few days after VPC's Novice Clinic, it was a good opportunity for some participants to get more practice-a preview of the Class II Clinic in July. Doug, Rod, and Justin all made the trip. It lacked challenge for Justin, who is an advanced novice with the beginnings of a combat roll, but it was perfect for Doug and Rod. The rest of us got relief from the heat and some late day relaxation. The weather turned ominous about two-thirds of the way down the river, as the first signs of impending thunderstorms arrived-thickening cloud cover and a strong west wind. We made it to the takeout before anything more happened. As it turned out, the storms didn't hit northwest Vermont until much later, but most of us weren't inclined to press our luck. (Besides, I was hoping to make an 8:30 pm performance at the Flynn. It didn't quite work out that way.)

All in all, it was a very pleasant way to spend a muggy workday evening before nightfall.

Class II Clinic - Fife Brook Deerfield
Saturday-Sunday Jul 9-10, 2011
Organizer: John Atherton
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: medium
Author: Paul Carlile

Class II Clinic

Fife Brook Deerfield

Instructors: AJ Seibel, Paul Carlile, Mark Lienau

Safety: John A, Brock, Rich R, Dave H

Students: Kerry W, Nick M, Adrianne R. Nick R. Rod M, Jim D, Ben

A small contingent arrived Friday morning and paddled the Fife Brook section to scout out the teaching spots and enjoy the river. We camped at Woodford State Park just East of Bennington, VT. After some scattered showers that soaked the campsite on Friday night for the early arrivers, we had clear skies and sunshine for the rest of the weekend.

After meeting up with the rest of the group Saturday morning we put on the river just below the dam about 10:30. The release was from 10 to 4 at 800 cfs , so we had plenty of time. After spending a little warmup time on the flats we headed down to the Class II Hangover Helper for some ferry and peal out practice in the fast current and some more stroke work in the large eddy. After a few swims from some people pushing their envelopes we headed down river stopping a couple of spots along the way. The students were somewhat tentative going through Pinball caught several eddies along the way as their skills and confidence were clearly improving as the day went on. Four of the students were ready to challenge Class III Zoar Gap by the end of the day and although there was a little fish counting, all had a pretty nice run and were looking forward to the next day. Had a great meal at Madison Brewing Co. in Bennington that night.

Sunday was supposed to be 1000 cfs release but we all decided that it was probably the same as Saturday. Everyone pushed themselves harder at Hangover Helper working in the faster and it was clear that they had made a lot of progress the day before. By the time we got to Pinball, the students were choosing their own routes and catching most of the larger eddies in spite of a crowd of paddlers that arrived at the same time. At Zoar Gap, the students caught the eddy right above the first drop and made the clutch peal out cleanly. It was incredible to see the progress all of the students made. They are a great bunch that worked hard and had super attitudes. I look forward to paddling with everyone in the future.

Hot Times in the Hudson Gorge
Sunday Jul 17, 2011
Organizer: Jim Poulin
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Jim Poulin

Say what?!? The words Hudson and Hot do not normally appear in the same sentence. Usually Hudson runs are cold, tiring, long, wet and cold. Yeah I mentioned cold twice but this run is always freakin' freezin'! But not so on this Sunday in mid July. Depending upon which automotive thermometer you checked is was at least 88 degrees with a high end reading of 91. Now that makes for Hot Times in the Hudson Gorge!

This one started out like so many before. Meet up in Addison by the county store (mmmm, bear claws), coordinate cars, gear and riders and head over to New York. Maybe it should have been an indication of a good day when we arrived at the ferry and they held the boat just long enough for all three of our vehicles to climb on board before they shoved off.

After a quick stop at the take out we arrived at the put in right at 10am. What timing. We noticed the Indian was running lower than normal. Various reports ranged from 33% to 50% less than normal.

Another thing we noticed was getting hit by the waves was so refreshing. Not the bitter cold, bone chilling type, but the warm fluffy type. Made us hit all those many holes on the Indian with gusto!

After a quick confluence break, we worked our way down the Hudson to the Blue Ledge rapid. It was decidedly lower than any of us had every run. We had out run the bubble! We ran the "creek version" of Blue Ledge - boofs and slots but not many fluid lines. Then we arrived at the "always there" surfing wave above the Narrows to find it wasn't there. Then it was on to the Narrows. Not quite the creek version but the three drops in the Narrows were quite distinct, with significant slack water between each drop. Nothing like any of us had ever seen. That's saying something! Check the participant's list. This wasn't a group of wet behind the ears (sorry, couldn't help myself) paddlers. This was a full on gray beard contingent with countless runs on this stretch of river.

So here's the scoop on the levels. Without the bubble the Hudson was running 2.7 feet or 410 cfs. With the bubble the levels skyrocketed to 3.6 feet or 1150 cfs. During this run we witnessed both extremes!

At the bottom of the Narrows it was time for a break and for the water to catch us. Lunch is served! Like all Hudson runs you lunch on the sunny side of the river. Mistake! We should have definitely sought shade. It is hot in the sun! It wasn't too much longer that we noticed the water rising. The fact that Chris' boat started to float away was another key. Then came the rafts. Oh yeah, we passed all the rafts in the first few miles on the Hudson. There was our hint that the raft guides knew what we finally figured out - don't get ahead of the bubble! Live and learn.

After lunch the Hudson was much more fluid and the action continued right on down to Greyhound Bus Stopper. Only today it was more like Radio Flyer Wagon stopper. There was a ledge but not much water coming over. We had outrun the bubble again! What, are we stupid?!? Apparently so. Another break allowed us to watch the feature progress through Schwin Bike Stopper to Toyota Prius Stopper. It never quite made it to Bus Stopper levels.

Ran into MarkL pushing rubber down the river. He had a client that was bandaged up in his raft. Looked to be some type of shoulder injury. Ouch! I guess Mark got to practice his wilderness First Aid!

Then began the slow float out. The water was low but we scraped along. As usual we were greeted with a head wind. But at least this time is was more like a blast furnace than a cold arctic blast.

All in all a very good day. No one even flipped over today (not counting any cool off rolls of which there were many). Definitely a couple of firsts for this paddler. Never been on the Hudson when it was this hot and have never seen Blue Ledge, The Narrows and Bus Stopper with so little water.

I'll try to recall this HOT day on future spring trips on the Hudson...


Dead River (ME) Weekend
Friday-Sunday Aug 12-14, 2011
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium
Author: Tony

The ~6 hour ride over to The Forks was half the fun, as usual, with several of us car-pooling, a pair of walkie-talkies to pass the time and keep one of the caravans in sync, and Frank arriving quite late Friday night having gone north of the border and back into ME at Jackman (he has "friends" at all the border crossings). The little one-horse hamlet where the Dead and Kennebec meet truly feels like a place where time stands still, a little (or a lot) like in Ken Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion.

Most of the group had never paddled the Dead before, and none of us had in recent times. Since it is a scheduled dam release, we knew we would have 2400 CFS on Saturday and 1800 CFS on Sunday, medium and med-low, respectively. The weather was warm and mainly dry while on the river both days, but it offered up a steady light rain Saturday night in the campground. Not enough to spoil dinner cooked over Ken's gas grill, or stop several from a short drive and hike to see the lovely Moxie Falls. Karl was in a hammock overnight, which wasn't the best thing under the circumstances, and the young couple on the site beside us cashed it in in the middle of the night - tossing their brand new tent in the trash and bugging out.

Tony, Frank, Tina, and Jamie earned their keep by helping retrieve the shuttle vehicles from the put-in, and Tony got additional brownie points from the group (ask John) for collecting a bunch of dry firewood on the return trip (with no axe or saw), The hornet's nest Tony disturbed getting firewood was nothing compared to the "assault" staged by the campground owner/manager, based primarily on her memories of weekends long ago when the private paddling groups at her campground ruffled the feathers of her "bread and butter" raft-going clientele - who like to drink too much and stay up late lighting off fireworks and being generally obnoxious. But even when she came bustling onto our site accusing us of theft of service and threatening to call the cops if we were secretly harboring a dog and with little sympathy that we might actually value getting a good night's sleep, and even though she came with "back up", Frank and Ken and Karl (in particular) joined forces to keep things from escalating into fisticuffs. It would have gone down differently in a Kesey novel, I'm sure.

Tina went off to Moxie Lake on her own to explore Saturday, but joined us for the run Sunday and paddled with confidence. For Ken the Dead was a good place to practice paddling with less timidity in preparation for the Labor Day weekend on the Ottawa, and Rich was doing the same. Karl had a helmet cam and recorded some video clips that were fun to see afterward (on the www somewhere), and both Jamie and Tony took digital photos (

The weekend was a "full adventure" (Ken) with "a very convivial group" (Jamie), and such outings should be repeated from one year to the next. Now that the Kennebec minimum flow in the FPL Energy dam license agreement is up from 140 CFS to 300 CFS, a low water run on the Kennebec on Saturday afternoon will be a possibility during the long days of summer, and/or all day Sunday at 4800.

The Mad Goes Vert (ical)
Sunday Aug 28, 2011
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: very high
Author: Tony Shaw

The USGS Moretown gauge recorded 4 inches of rain in the first 12 hours of the day-long Tropical Storm Irene event, and certain elements of the VPC thought paddling the Lower Mad would be a sensible idea. On a river that is high and obviously rising, when the NWS has issued flash flood warnings, you approach your outings with trepidation. Cameron had some trouble in the first rapid in his ME, and using the "discretion before valor" motto he accepted our help getting his canoe up to the road so that he could head for home and arrive in one piece.

From that point on, the farther downstream we got the more wood the river seemed to be transporting toward Lake Champlain. Jamie did the whole goddam run in a playboat, but always managed to roll back up when one of many diagonal curling waves (dumping into one of many never-before-witnessed holes) flipped him over.

When we arrived at the Horseshoe to scout, the big island in the middle was nowhere to be seen, and the two remaining rocks exposed at the far left (usual carry route) disappeared underwater during the 10 minutes we spent sizing it up and sneaking it left of center (and myself far left). I took dead aim at Washing Machine, and in the maelstrom realized that this was the biggest feature I had ever deliberately paddled into east of the Mississippi. I came out the rinse cycle upright, spic and span!

Except for one hiccup in an eddy, Dan styled every drop, on top of which he rescued Chris from the island on which he found himself stranded at the top of the final rapid before the confluence with the Winooski. Jamie did manage the boat retrieval at the confluence, which surely took some effort.

A Waterbury Fire and Rescue unit kindly pulled over at the US2 bridge to inquire as to our safety (and sanity?). In all the river claimed one paddle and one wetsuit bootie, but otherwise we came through the afternoon unscathed. I wish I could say the same for the rest of Vermont. Chris, BTW, still had the energy to head out paddling on Lake Champlain in a gale at "sunset".

Time Flow (cfs) Comment
Sunrise 68 a trickle
11:15am 665 10x sunrise
12:45pm 2,200 plenty high (we put-in)
2:30pm 5,500 in the trees (we take-out)
3:00pm 6,860 100x sunrise
7:15pm 22,700 and still rising - new all-time record?

Ottawa 2011
Friday-Monday Sep 2-5, 2011
Organizer: Jim Poulin
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium low
Author: Jim Poulin

Fifteen hearty souls headed north for Labor Day weekend to enjoy the beautiful Ottawa River valley in Beachburg, Ontario.

After many carpool e-mails and phone calls all the rides were set and all participants headed up to Canada at various times on Friday. Ken and LeeAnn win the honors for first arrival and got the pick of where the group would be setting up our base camp. Jim and Dawn were the next to arrive. Last place goes to Paul and Chris.

After a quick camp set up, Ken and Jim headed up to McCoys for a little park and play. It was just starting to get dark but they managed to get in a scout of McCoys for Ken (first time he has seen it) and a few rides on Baby Face for Jim. By the time they got back to camp it was fully dark and a few more folks had arrived.

Tents were set up in the dark and some needed to pull together dinner. After a while we all circled around Tony's lantern filling in nicely as our campfire this evening. Exaggerated stories of past Ottawa trips, jokes and tales of the ride up kept us going well into the evening.

Saturday broke as a beautiful day with sunshine and warm temperatures. It took some time to get everyone moving but we eventually got to the put in with a goal of running the Middle Channel today. As usual, McCoy's rapid is an eyeful for those that had never seen it. Ken had the luxury of seeing it the night before - or maybe not as it might have kept him awake all night. Tony and Chris got their first look this morning. As is the case with the Ottawa, McCoy's was filled with activity - paddlers, rafts, many people on the banks wondering what to do. We scouted and picked our various lines and ran. We spent a bit of time playing around in Baby Face until the traffic got a bit much, including a raft running over Dan in the eddy. Time to move on!

The Middle provides a good warm up to three days of paddling. After a bit of flat water the action picks up with Iron Ring, S-Turn and Butterfly. We all walked around Garvins, an impressive drop. The group was entertained by a couple of boaters running the main chute cleanly. We then finished off with Little No Name and Big No Name. There was some surfing, scouting, swimming and multiple runs. Then the flat water paddle to camp.

After an appropriate amount of cocktail hour time the majority of the group headed up to Garburator to catch the end of the rodeo being held there. By the time we got there the show was over but there were a few competitors left and some other boaters strutting their stuff. We hung out and watched the show for a bit. This also allowed everyone to pick their line(s) for Sunday's run!

Back to camp to catch the end of the Ontario King of Clubs competition. The remaining alcohol infused events included Kayak Toss and Throw Rope Accuracy. Interspersed was a BBQ which the Vermont Team (completely unregistered for the event) poached salads, burgers and sausages. No sense letting good food go to waste!

Sunday morning broke with a chill and a drizzle. Not exactly the weather to make you jump out of a warm and dry tent! Sunday morning is the time for the traditional early park and play routine. We put on at 7:30 in the freakin' morning! Kerry and Selby opted for Push Button and Garburator. Most of the others headed for Baby Face. After a couple of hours we all managed to make it back to camp for brunch.

After some serious lounge time we headed back for a Main Channel run at 1:00pm. Everyone negotiated McCoy's with various degrees of success. Phil's Hole managed to eat a couple of boaters. Then the ever present Horseshoes (Left and Right) got a couple more. The river was less crowded today. I guess all the locals checked the weather report - Saturday 85 degrees and sunny, Sunday 65 degrees with clouds and rain. I wonder which day I'll paddle??? With less people on the river we spent a little time on Baby Face before heading downstream.

The trip from McCoy's to Upper Lauren is like lake paddling through many islands. Not something to be attempted by first timers! After about 1.5 miles of flat water we could hear the roar. Since everyone (except Frank) had seen the rapid the prior evening we opted to run without scouting. The "Anns" (LeeAnn, JoAnn and Dawn-Anne) walked up from camp (4.5 miles one way!) to watch the action. As is the case with a large group on the Ottawa there were a couple of different outcomes. Most made it through without issue but there were a couple of swims. Frank, who was tight on Jim's tail at the start of the rapid, ended up losing Jim midway and finding another orange boat to follow. By the time Frank eddied out at the bottom of Lower Lauren he realized his mistake. Oops!

Some of the play boaters dropped into Garburator for a surf. The most memorable ride would be Tony surfing and then endering a canoe. The crowd roared their approval. I have never witnessed an open boat in Garb before!

After Upper Lauren the group proceeded through Lower Lauren and Push Button. Push Button provided yet another play spot for folks to wash out their ears with Canadian whitewater. At this point we lost a couple of paddlers to fatigue and they took off. Nice thing about the Ottawa is that it does provide this mid point take out (and put in!). It was then on through Butcher's Knife and Brain Douche. That brought us on to the next big feature - The Normans (aka Criss Cross). Jim and Paul conferred if we should scout. They agreed to describe the line to the group and if anyone did not feel comfortable we would scout this rapid. The group said "Screw the scout, Let's Fire It Up!" And we did. Everybody nailed it. Then came Coliseum. This one we did scout. There are basically two lines - left and right. Jim led a small group (Tony, Paul and Dan) down the right slot while the rest of the group watched. As luck would have it another group of paddlers came and ran the left side. The scouting party got to see both lines run! Our group jumped on and ran the left side with some excitement but no swims. Ken, who had an urgent nature call (that frequently happens while scouting Coliseum), ended up at the top of a rapid he had never run and no one to show him the initial line! He headed down the right side solo and styled it! After the adrenaline levels receded to normal levels we headed for Dog Leg. You would think at this point the excitement would be over, but you would be wrong. On the approach, John flips and while protecting his face from the rock ledge he snapped his paddle clean in two! We found him and his boat but the paddle (both pieces) have been offered to the Ottawa river. Luckily, John had a break down paddle in his boat and after a quick assembly we were on our way. Black's was the last rapid and gave no one any problems. Then it was the flat water slog to camp.

We were met on the beach by the "Anns" including Kerry-Anne and Brock. And as much as we liked seeing them we were even more excited to see a cooler full of adult beverages! Cocktail hour #1 started right then and there! We hung for quite a while before getting the boats up to the parking lot and everyone back to camp.

The Big Pasta Feed. Jim had mentioned in his Ottawa logistics post a planned pasta feed for Sunday evening. This post was taken a couple of ways. The first was the way Jim intended, which is to say everyone bring their best camping pasta dish and we'll all sample everyone's creations and vote on the best one. The way most people interpreted the posting was that Jim was providing the Big Pasta Feed and everyone should bring various accompaniments. Well this was debated well into our second cocktail hour. And this cocktail hour included many munchies, beer, tequila, tattoos and wild turkey liquor. Slowly everyone forgot about the Big Pasta Feed. Much later in the evening, LeeAnn and Kerry fired up some pasta and we all shared. So in the end, there was pasta!

We raided the woods for some firewood and build a nice fire to hang around. Tall stories were told and the day's events relived. Even though Ottawa whitewater is huge, it got even bigger as the night progressed. As the evening went on we were joined by a few PBR drinking Canadians. There were plenty of good natured jabs at paddling styles, national pride, clubbing in Canada and hockey. By the end of the evening everyone's ribs hurt from laughing so hard.

Monday broke cool and damp. 60 degrees and cloudy is not the way to get a bunch of tired and sore paddlers moving. (and maybe still feeling the effects of the night before?) There were three schools of thought: 1) a no scout run of the Main Channel; 2) a park and play at Garb/Push Button; and 3) let's make a run for the border while there is still time. Six paddlers headed for the put in and proceeded through McCoys. After a little play on Baby Face (no one had much left in the tank at this point) it was downstream to meet up with the park and play crowd. The park and players were content with a few more turns on Push Button and calling it a day (there was talk of running the bottom portion). The rest continued to camp via the Main Channel. True to our goal, we did not scout anything to conserve time and energy. Brock, who had not seen Coliseum since last year (having missed it on Sunday) also figured not scouting was a good option. The group split on the lines (left/right). Brock had a bit of trouble with the very last hole at the bottom of the rapid. He was so close to running it clean but still popped out with a huge grin on his mug.

Then it was the last bit of flat water to go before hitting camp and the realization that this weekend was fast coming to a close. Everyone was packing and reflecting and the mood at camp was quite a bit quieter than the previous three days. Goodbyes were said and promises to repeat this adventure again next year. Then folks filtered out in their fully stuffed cars.

Ottawa FAQs

Q: How far is the Hockey Tape Museum from camp?

A: The Hockey Tape Museum is in Renfrew and is about 36 km from River Run.

Q: Does the Hockey Tape Museum even exist?

A: How would I freakin' know! There are those that have their doubts.

Q: Was Eric Jackson at the Ottawa Rodeo this weekend?

A: Indeed he was. His company's boats were well represented and his daughter won the Women's Division.

Q: Did the Vermont Team enter the Ontario King of Clubs competition?

A: We thought about it but in the end we are just too damn lazy.

Q: How does one win the King of Clubs championship?

A: Not entirely sure but it does involve large amounts of cheating and drinking.

Q: I heard Brock made some new Canadian friends this year. Is that true?

A: Brock meets new Canadian friends every year. This year was no different.

Q: What's a garburator?

A: It is a big freakin' wave/hole in the middle of the Upper Lauren rapid on the Ottawa's Main Channel and host of this year's Ottawa Rodeo. It is also what the Canadians call a kitchen garbage disposal.

Q: Can the term "Park & Play" be used to describe non paddling activities?

A: Indeed it can! Just use your imagination.

Q: I've heard the outhouses were quite a walk from the campfire.

A: It does seem that way. Luckily the Red Magnum was a close by alternative.

Q: The Ottawa camp is more like an isolated outpost. What do you drink there?

A: Mostly beer, wine, tequila and wild turkey liquor.

Q: Is it true that The Boyfriend and The Situation are teaming up to form a new reality series called "The Ottawa Shore"?

A: Gosh, I sure hope not.

Q: Does it ever rain at the Ottawa?

A: It did this year!

Q: Was Ken and LeeAnn's camper described as a "fish truck" this weekend?

A: One of our Canadian friends commented that if Ken was going for the fish truck look, he nailed it.

Q: What did the "Three Anns" do while the paddlers were on the water?

A: Let's see, there was a 24 mile bike ride in Quebec, yoga on the beach, a long 9 mile walk to watch the Vermont Team navigate Garburator, a dip a the beach, flat water paddling and a bit of shuttle-bunnying.

Q: When will Tony Shaw paddles be available in the States?

A: The marketing team was shooting video this weekend for the big splashy advertising campaign. Keep your eyes peeled...

Q: Speaking of Tony Shaw, have you ever seen hole tricks at Baby Face and Garberator like those he pulled off in an open canoe?

A: No, I have not.

Q: How did you keep those rowdy Canadians in line around the campfire?

A: We would ask them where the Stanley Cup is.

Q: Is it true you can hold a pasta feed for the entire Vermont crew and actually not serve any pasta?

A: Jim did seem to pull this trick off.

Q: How do you drink tequila in Canada if you don't have any shot glasses?

A: Crocs seem to be a good option.

Q: How does a Canadian answer the question "What do you paddle?"

A: "My balls off".

Q: Who won the Battle of the Ottawa Stand Up Comedians, Brock or his Canadian counterpart?

A: I'll give it to Brock but I'm a biased ugly American.

Q: Who was in the "I punched Phil's Hole" Club this weekend?

A: Pretty much everybody.

Q: How was Ken's front/back/side/upside down surf of Horseshoe?

A: Epic!

Q: How long was the line at the Highgate border crossing.

A: Nada, zip, zero. Not a car in line. Got through in less than a minute.

Q: Is the same true for the Canadians headed home?

A: Not even close. The line stretched down both lanes of I-89 for 1.5 miles.

Q: I heard "The Anns" made all the boys keep camp spic and span.

A: You obviously have not looked at the pictures.

Q: Are you planning on doing this again next year?

A: You bet!

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Online Gauge Reading(s)
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