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Joe's Brook (Massacre)

Sunday Oct 16, 2005
Participants:
Kayak: Dan Beideck, Dave Gurtman
Open Canoe: Eric Bishop, Tony Shaw
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium high
Gauge (cfs): ~900
Author: Tony Shaw

It seems whenever we've run Joe's Brook in the past we are left saying: "It would be nice with 6 more inches of water". Well...this day was an occasion to experience those extra 6 inches of water...and then some!

For Dan and Dave, recent emmigrants from Philly and Portland, OR., respectively, this was their first Joe's Brook trip. I can only imagine their horror when their fearless open-boat leader (me) and his trusty open-boat sidekick (Eric) accelerated cockily over the first faint horizon line without scouting and proceeded to both ~simultaneously flip and swim! I am no mathemetician, but it seems to me the length of a rapid most certainly varies with how high up in it you SWIM! All I remember is glancing over to my right now and then to be sure Eric was doing OK, and then finding the adreneline rush I needed to self-rescue not one canoe...but two (a first for me)!

The rest of the ride to the Greenbanks Hollow covered bridge was uneventful, though Dan in particular voiced his unease over the brook's tendency to pick up speed around every blind corner and how this has deposited several strainers in hard-to-avoid places along the way.

It was too juicy a level to consider running the steep Covered Bridge section or the gorge section below Morses Mills, in my opinion, at least for open boats. So we loaded up the gear, scouted the tail end of the gorge section on foot, and then shuttled down to "Bottom Joe's" - the seldom run last 2 miles to the Passumpsic. Even this section (considered tamer than those above), gave the open boaters some difficulty. After one short swim here, I had a chance to see how well my canoe can side-surf holes ALL BY ITSELF. I know now this can go on for 5 or 10 minutes, at least, before the randomness of churning waters eventually nudges it onward!

In the future when GMP says the Joe's Pond dam bladder is all the way down I will take heed, and stay off Joe's Brook in my open boat, though the decked boaters in our group seemed eager for their next juicy Joe's adventure...

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