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

Last 12 Months...

Upper Saco R. (NH) Saturday Apr 10, 2021
New Haven Ledges Sunday Mar 28, 2021
Desperately Seeking Whitewater Monday Nov 16, 2020
Green River Friday Oct 23, 2020

Last 12 Months...

Upper Saco R. (NH)
Saturday Apr 10, 2021
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium low
Author: Tony Shaw

By Easter, April 4th, the snow at the Mt Mansfield stake was barely half as deep as normal for the date, and our prospects for a rollicking month of mud season boating were looking dimmer by the day. Thankfully we had been out on the Lower New Haven and Lower Mad a few times already, so the whitewater season wasn't going to be a total bust. The forecast for the week ahead included several days in a row of 70+ degrees and sunshine, which ordinarily would bring a bunch of VT rivers up in early April to prime levels. This year, no such luck. So I started looking east, where New Hampshire's colder/higher White Mountain snowpack lingers longer into the spring.

A relatively new USGS real-time gauge on the Upper Saco in Bartlett NH gives a good idea of what's happening with runoff in the Whites, broadly speaking. With fingers crossed, online, I watched the Upper Saco flow climb on subsequent days from ~320cfs (5pm Wednesday) to ~450cfs (5pm Thursday) to ~600cfs (5pm Friday), leaving me confident we'd be above the (AW) minimum recommended 650cfs for our planned run on Saturday. In actuality by 5pm Saturday the flow was closer to ~750cfs - a still low but very boatable level.

On the drive home Eric commented on the water quality as well as the unspoiled natural setting/valley, both of which make the Upper Saco special. Lots of tourists were out sightseeing up and down US302 from Bartlett to Crawford Notch, and the roadside waterfalls (Flume Brook and Silver Cascade, among them) were truly spectacular. My favorite (pretty) spot on the river was the confluence with the Sawyer River, where a friendly couple wearing bathing suits stood on the gravel bar with their son and their dog. I bet the lovely swimming hole there is PACKED on a sunny July afternoon!

Earlier in the day, actually about 1/4 mile into the run, at "the gorge", another young couple of river-loving sightseers provided Paul with the wherewithal to pry a broached kayak off a rock in the middle of the river. Their assistance came in the form of a thick/long/dead tree limb they tossed into the river and floated downstream to the rock where Paul was perched (and the kayak was pinned). Between back-to-back swims in the gorge and the broached kayak/rescue, we gave that couple something to tell their family and friends over dinner Saturday night! In hindsight we coulda/shoulda stationed someone with a throw bag at the top of the gorge, as a precaution.

The rapids immediately below the gorge were class II at this level, not III-IV as advertised on the AW website, with barely enough water in some places. The farther down we went the more channelized the river seemed to become (and also it helped that the level was rising). There are a few bouldery rapids and bedrock ledges along the way that would perhaps rise to a III-IV rating in higher water, but today really III at most. By the time we reached our Sawyer Rock takeout - where the river returns to US302 for the first time - everyone seemed satisfied that we had been on the river long enough, so we did not go all the way to the River St./Bartlett take-out AW recommends, and we forewent a contemplated second lap.

In all, nice river, nice level, nice folks, nice day.

New Haven Ledges
Sunday Mar 28, 2021
Organizer: Jamie
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium low
Author: Jamie

I was thinking of heading out for a lap or two on the ledges but it was kind of raw out, and I'm a wuss. So I was probably going to sit this one out anyway. But Wilbur called on his way over. Sure enough when we got there we we saw three others on the river and one more waiting on his friend to show up.  The river is at a low runnable level that many people don't like due to the FU rocks. Me, I like it lower as it's not as pushy, reactions times don't need to be as fast and there are really no holes to speak of. 

We did put in at the park and were making our way down cleanly (well, Wilbur didn't like the boulder garden section). I've never really sussed out Secret C but rarely get flipped in it. Today went exceptionally smooth as I got the boof off the center flake and landed nicely in the fluff. Coming through the ledges I did get turned slightly sideways entering the first ledge. Fortunately, I was pretty far right and muscled out easily.  Oh By the Way has changed because of the rock falls. River right is still a go but no longer a straight shot. Still, for me, preferable to the Schott slot. Onto Rooster Tail where we came upon the three ahead of us. One sitting in an eddy at the top of the slide and the other two below the slide...one boat circulating in the eddy at the bottom.  Wilbur retrieved the errant boat and we were back on our way. We continued on without issue. The entrance to Hipshot seems to have changed just a bit, pushing you a bit more up on the river right rock. Just need to keep the boat angle good and it's alright. 

Wilbur was on a child care time table so we ran the boats up to the lower put in. I was good with one clean run on this rather windy rainy day. Wilbur, without me slowing him, can do a lap in 10 minutes, so he would still have time to get back for child care duties. We ran his truck back down and returned to find his boat floating down the river. The wind blew it and it made its way through the trees. Fortunately, the paddles (which were in his boat) both managed to fall out just at river's edge. His boat was retrieved, albeit with some effort, between Secret C and the S turn. It was a little worse for wear but Wilbur decided to finish the lap regardless. 

Overall another good day.

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.  
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 him.it 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.

 

 

 

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