The Vermont Paddlers Club

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West: Spring 2006

Saturday-Sunday Apr 29-30, 2006
Kayak: James Raboin, Jim Poulin, Chris Weed, Eve Soutiere, Ann Smith, Kim Thomas, Kristy [non paddlers: Dawn, Linda, Deb, William & Daniel]
Organizer: Dan Beideck
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: medium
Author: Dan Beideck

Most of us headed down Friday night and stayed in a nearby ski lodge reserved for the weekend. The next morning we met at the school ball field just before the entrance to the Jamaica state Park entrance. We then divided into three groups with some of us headed towards the upper class III section, some towards the lower class II section, and others opting to stay on dry land. Those staying on land enjoyed the warm sunny day while watching those in the river and/or playing on the nearby playground facilities.

No one wanting to paddle the lower section had run it before. I volunteered to make the first run and serve as the "probe". A few of us were a little nervous before getting started for various reasons. It didn't take too long for the excitement to start. The first rapid proved to be fairly continuous class II water that shortly produced a swimmer. Others helped the swimmer make it to shore while I chased the boat. My attempt to shove it into an eddie didn't exactly go as planned. While doing so, one hand came off my paddle and the blade very cleanly slipped under a downed log. I managed to get my hand back on the paddle but ended up flipping. Meanwhile, the current moved the paddle and my now upside down kayak enough so that the paddle was now wedged very firmly under the log. My choice became obvious that I could maintain my death grip (literally) on the paddle or breathe. It was not a difficult decision and I was soon swimming downstream sans paddle well past the rest in my group. Two thoughts ran through my brain as I struggled for what seemed like a long time to get my boat and body two feet left across the eddie line. First, maybe a hands roll is less of a parlor trick than I had thought. Second, It's probably not such a good confidence builder when the safety boater leading a group of somewhat nervous paddlers swims the first stinking rapid!!

I was happy to find Eve walking downstream with my paddle after I finally managed to collect myself on shore. She reportedly was able to climb out on the log and free it after some effort. We weren't so lucky with the paddle from the other swimmer. The next day we discovered that it made it all the way to Troy, NY, and no the West doesn't go there! Someone had found it later that day and took it home with him after leaving contact information at the park. Owner and paddle are reportedly soon to be reunited.

The gang was a little shaken, but forged on minus one. The rest of the morning's paddle was less eventful. The whole gang then met up again in the school field for lunch before heading on for a second run. Chris opted to paddle the lower this time and I went to the upper. The lower went much smoother the second round with yours truly out of the picture. Ann was rumored to have thrown down her first boof move to the amazement of the rest of the group. The group paddling the upper section had a good run with the river practically to themselves for a good portion of the run.

Once again the gang gathered in the field after the second run. Most of us opted to hit the paddlers dinner held at the local Church in Jamaica. The homemade pies were the highlight of the fare. A few of us, okay all of us, made more than one trip to the dessert area. The rest of the evening was spent back at the ski lodge trying to maintain consciousness after the long day. I think most of us would have been happy to have gone to bed at 8:30 except for the two that actually did, James and Deb's boys!

The next morning we headed back to the river for another day. No trips on the lower this time, however. Those members either opted to go hiking, paddle with another group, or try out the upper. The weather was nearly perfect as it felt like a summer's day with air temps in the 70's. The water temp was a bit more modest! Some opted for one run while others got in a second run before heading home. All in all, it was a great weekend.

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