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Speaking of the West...

Saturday Apr 28, 2007
Kayak: James R, Amos, Kelly, Eve S, Geoff, Fe, CJ, Brent and Matt Cat (from RI)
Organizer: Brent Osborne
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium
Author: Brent

What was forecasted to be a miserable & rainy Saturday, turned out to be one of the sunniest days on the West River that I can remember. Nine paddlers met at the school field in Jamaica, VT at 9:30a. After gearing up, shuttling vehicles and introducing ourselves, we put on the lower west shortly after 10:00a. The lower west quickly splits into left (main) and right (narrow) channels. We opted for the right channel which provided continuous class II paddling. A classic VT covered bridge was still holding onto a few tree limbs: signs that flows were much higher in previous weeks. The scheduled 1500 CFS release was augmented with a medium-flowing Ball Mountain Brook depositing its flow to the west just below the put-in for the lower section. We all took turns catching surfs on-the-fly and playing in the last rapid before the take-out at the new route 100 bridge. Geoff, Fe & CJ planned on running the lower section again, while the remaining 6 of us made the trek to Ball Mountain Dam. We carried up and over, then down the switchbacks (it's really not that bad), and then briefly scouted the first rapid, Initiation. We all agreed that the river looked lower than we had paddled it in the past, bringing a few more rocks into play. After an easily fixed equipment malfunction on a demo boat, we all successfully ran Initiation without even a roll, let alone a swim. The rest of our paddle was uneventful - a typical April paddle on the West River. There was plenty of surfing and play to be had. Some hit boof rock, while others were content to float by it, catching a water-level view of boaters launching off the feature. We eddied out above the dumplings and refreshed our memories as to the best line. All ran it without a hitch. We were off the river and back in the school field shortly before 3:00p, at which point Brent, Eve & Kelly decided to carry over the dam and run the upper west again. On this second run, all three of us ponied up, faced our fear and hit boof rock head on. Matt and Amos were on shore to photo-document the event.

Three runs on the West River in a single day can really work up an appetite and the volunteers at the community church in Jamaica came through BIG TIME! For $8 we were over-fed with all-you-can-eat rigatoni, homemade marinara & meatballs, garlic bread and salad. A local bluegrass band jammed in the corner and we celebrated Elwood's 78th(?) birthday with a grand assortment of pies in the Pie Room. While it didn't seem too many paddlers took advantage of the pasta supper, the local residents were gracious hosts and I'd certainly recommend this event to future West Festers.

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