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Trip Reports

Find trips reports from 2001 and prior in the Bow & Stern Archive
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Lower Mad (open for business)! Tuesday Mar 10, 2020
Huntington River Saturday Apr 4, 2020
Dog River Saturday Apr 18, 2020
Green River Friday Oct 23, 2020
Desperately Seeking Whitewater Monday Nov 16, 2020


Lower Mad (open for business)!
Tuesday Mar 10, 2020
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: medium
Author: Tony Shaw

As the day began, the Mad R. USGS real-time online gauge was showing "ice", but the New Haven gauge was barely over 500 cfs, so we were surprised to find the Mad with, as Jamie put it: "a lot more water than I was expecting". The put-in trail was still snow-covered, but the river was open from top to bottom, and fun! We had sunshine and rain showers - sometimes simultaneously - during our run, and temps close to 50 degrees. Quite pleasant for March 10th. Chris had to pull his skirt and swim below the horseshoe (river left), after capsizing above the lip, but he was unfazed. The water where he is going later this month (Costa Rica) will be warmer, if he happens to have another swim!

Huntington River
Saturday Apr 4, 2020
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: novice WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Tony Shaw

I didn't invent the internet, but I sure could have used the internet back in the day, when I was new to Vermont with no paddling pals. I would drive all over kingdom come after it rained a bit toting my bike and my canoe, looking for a boatable stretch of river. When finally I found something I could (perhaps) make it down, the bike would go inside the canoe (yep, the 17' Grumman could hold me as well as my bike) and I would paddle until I'd had enough paddling before biking back to the get the car. I logged hundreds of river miles (and many more road miles) through the early years before I discovered the VPC - then called the NVCC. Paddling alone is frowned upon for safety reasons, but necessity is the mother of invention. Plus I have to admit, paddling solo still holds for me a certain quiet, nostalgic, and earth-child appeal.

Where the Huntington is concerned, there is no USGS gauge, so the internet wouldn't have been much help Saturday morning when I couldn't resist the urge to go paddle it. I waited until the temperature topped 50 degrees, figuring it's a rare 50 degree day in early April when the Huntington is too low to paddle. My plan - to start all the way up in Hanksville and run all the way to Huntington Gorge - was thwarted by a lower-than-usual-for-early-April water level and by my late start, so I put in at Horseshoe Bend above the Audubon Center. It was lovely to be out!

Those early days in the 1980's - road scouting until I found water - were bad for my carbon footprint but great for my low water river-reading skills, and negotiating thinly covered boulder fields is like riding a bike - you never forget. It helps that the river when it's running low is also running clear, making the gravel bars and pillow rocks easier to identify, and avoid.

There were only a handful of decent surfing waves at Saturday's level, and I made the most of them. Novices should be forewarned that the Halloween storm of 2019 - a conveyor belt of Canada-bound moisture propelled by a mid/upper level trough that dumped 3-4 inches of rain here over a 6 hour period - took a toll on the banks of the Huntington, leaving scars that will last for decades and dropping at least 3 large trees across the river in foreboding places. Knowing how to spot deadly strainers and how to avoid them is definitely necessary on the lower Huntington - until further notice. The Linda Weiss memorial venue at the Audobon was mercifully unaffected - as pretty as ever.

Dugway Rd. below Huntington Gorge is closed to through traffic because a section of it - in the same storm - collapsed into the river. I can only imagine what the toll on the river was from that calamity. And that final stretch of the Huntington had always been - for me - so gorge-eous, so alluring.

I can no longer fit a bike in my canoe, but I had the road almost entirely to myself on the bike shuttle back to Horseshoe Bend (thanks to covid-19).

Dog River
Saturday Apr 18, 2020
Organizer: Alden Bird
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Alden Bird

I realize this was in no way an official VPC trip, but I wanted to record this information on a lesser-run river in case it proves helpful for future boaters.  What a treat last night -- as I scoured the Internet to find any information about paddling the Dog River -- to stumble onto Eric Bishop's trip report from Saturday, April 17th, 2004 -- almost 16 years ago to the day.  And what a treat to realize, by looking at other trip reports on the VPC site, that Eric and I had run Joe's Brook a day later -- my first trip down Joe's and a wonderful memory from my senior year in college. Eric's write-up was helpful today, and in that spirit, I wanted to provide an update.

I put in just upstream of the town of Northfield.  The dam just downstream of the Route 12 bridge was the best rapid of the day, a 5-6 foot sloping ledge.  Light rapids to a portage around the big dam behind the Nantanna Mill on river left. Easy water to the shallow rapid just above the next Route 12 bridge, by the town offices.  A decent ledge just below the first covered bridge. Then the huge, impressive 25’ Northfield Falls alongside the abandoned mill just downstream of the Cox Brook Road covered bridge.  Is it runnable? Back in 2004, with safety set, maybe . . . But in 2020, solo, definitely not!

More easy water to the “Jacuzzi” drop at the head of the last gorge.  Easy water to the Riverton take out.

Partway through the run, I paddled past a man running his chainsaw in his backyard.  This man was, interestingly enough, a dead-ringer for Eric Bishop, circa 2004.  He put his chainsaw down for a moment to talk. This is Week 5 of the Coronavirus social distancing period, and both of us were eager for conversation, even a few brief words  When I arrived at the take out, I saw he’d driven down to talk some more.  We chatted for a few more minutes at the bridge, six feet apart. I biked the shuttle and drove home.

Green River
Friday Oct 23, 2020
Organizer: Jamie
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Jamie

MWL once again put out notice there would be a  "one tube" release. Having missed the previous one, I was real keen to get on this one.  Unfortunately, it was scheduled for Friday making the eligible particpants a bit more limited then a weekend release.  And one tube is a low volume run though definitely passable (well as the story progresses you may decide otherwise for yourself). 

I was able to hook up with Tom Cronin who works from home and has some flexibility in his schedule. Our plan was to meet at 10:30. Earlier is often better with MWL as the flow sometimes stops a bit before the scheduled time.  

When we arrived at the used car dealer at the Green's confluence with the Lamoille, we found no other cars there. (Tom had checked in to request permission for parking.) A little surprising as there hasn't been much local boating lately, but then again it was a Friday. Off we went to the put in where the day was becoming sunnier and warmer.  

The river at the put in was at a pleasant fluid level.Neither Tom or I had run the river much and did not really know the rapids well. And there were reports of wood in various places, so we committed to scouting as necessary. 

After the opening boogie water we quickly came to Moonshine.  Neither Tom or I had ever run it. But we thought we'd take a look.  With the low flow, it seemed it would be relatively easy to get well placed for the 10 ft(?) drop/boof. And that turned out to be the case. I came off the right side of the falls while Tom was a bit more center. He did manage to miss the rock pile just a bit further over to the left.  Avoiding the undercut rock  at double squeeze was straight up  as the flow was not very pushy.

From there to Young Buck there was not a whole lot of excitement due to the water level. All class III drops were pretty straight forward. We didn't scout as the upstream visuals gave us enough comfort regarding any potential wood.  We did need to portage in the flat area to avoid two river wide trees and we did scooch (technical term, look it up if you need to) over a few others without incident.

Young Buck now has some impassable wood in it. Well at least at this level. And the main log shifted so a branch is sticking down where one might pass under it. Not that this mattered to Tom or me. It's not like we would run it.

Now Tom hadn't been out white water kayaking since October of last year. His first drop, in close to a year, is Moonshine. When we get to Humble Pie, he asks if we should scout or run it blind. He's never done this rapid either (though he has looked a tit plenty). Given the lower water flow I figured the recirc wouldn't be too bad. So off we go. Both of us had great lines going center left. Tom, it turns out, is a pretty good boater.  The next section was a little thin but you you could get through without too much plastic loss. We took a look back at Humble Pie mid way through the next rapid. That is one of the most gorgeous sights on the river, especially when its high 60's and sunny(ish).

When we got to lumber yard we did get out and scout. No wood, but the water was barely coming over the flake rock.  I decided to try it and while it wasn't a s*** show, it wasn't pretty. I was surprised when Tom decided to follow. And he aced it. He got over the flake rock with just enough oomph and completed the rapid without issue.  

The rest was bump and run. The final rapid before Pition had a tree in the left side line. I almost missed getting over right but was able to with a bit more work then I wanted. I took the hard, hard, hard right side at Piton and had no issue getting into the eddy there.  Tom followed but only went hard right, much to his dismay.  He found Piton! and broached in it. We got him out, while he stayed in his  boat, with a rope pull. As he was still in his boat (though not really upright entirely), I said to stay in it and I would right He said, "Uh, no, the boat's cracked." He wasn't kidding. There was a crack in the nose that ran under the boat for about 1 1/2 feet.  The nose was litterally separating from the rest of the boat. Crazy. He amazingly was of good spirits regarding the whole situation. He said, "Well, a fitting end for the boat. And hey, this is the first time I have to walk off a river but have dry hair!".  

As you may have concluded, there was no second lap for us.




Desperately Seeking Whitewater
Monday Nov 16, 2020
Organizer: Jamie
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Jamie

Oh the wind and the rain, they made for quite the night. So first thing (before coffee) I'm busy checking AW. Well the New Haven is nowhere but the Mad has spiked.  Still there was hope, but not a lot of optimism, that the NH might take a bounce. Checking later, the USGS source page showed the NH at about 160 and rising. Occasionally, because the gauge is so far downstream, 160 cfs means the ledges are in (and sometimes it means it's way too low).  As it had already stopped raining by the time I was up at 6 (ish), my optimism for a ledges run was diminishing. To the Mad, I may be off to.


And there were things to do, people to meet and places to go. When I passed the NH around 9, the water was barely coming over the center ledge. Indicating a barely runnable level.  When I got back at noon it stopped coming over but was oh so close. By the time I got home it was decision time. Go for the Mad or do the ledges. The ledges won out. The ledges are so close even at low water (no water?) they will invariably win out. I have never gone this low before (well at least for running the ledges). Was it worth it. YES. However, this is really a desperation level.  To say it was bump and run  would be generous. More like bump, bump, bump and run. As I was socially distancing on my walk back to the car, I tried to think of all the rapids that went cleanly. Out of the 10 or so rapids two went cleanly. Fortunately, those were the ones where you caught air.  Rooster tail also was relatively clean but hard to get any purchase on the slide. The s*** shows included Roadside, Secret Compartment, Oh By the Way (I actually got out of my boat at the bottom and pulled it over the right side rather then do the Schott slot). The other rapids weren't that bad but do not fall into the "Oh, they're okay" category. They were not okay but they also weren't s*** shows.  There would be no going for a second lap but on the other hand I was real glad I got one in.  


On the walk back to the car a guy was bicycling up the road and told me he happened to see me just when I was coming over the falls. I think it kind of added a little magic to his day to, by chance, see that.  Doing it certainly added some magic to mine.  
VPC trip reports can provide an important historical basis for 'current use', a legal doctrine that can affect the regulatory process - dam relicensing, new dam construction projects, etc. But only (obviously) if we (WE) write them! So, be sure to share and preserve the memories of your latest paddling adventures by submitting a trip report.
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