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Winhall Brook during West Fest

Sunday Apr 29, 2007
Kayak: Brent, Eve S, Matt Cat (from RI)
Organizer: Brent Osborne
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium low
Author: Brent

After a full day on the West River the previous day, we were feeling adventurous and decided to scout some of the tributaries of the west which seemed to be running @ low-medium levels. While Ball Mtn. Brook looked enticing, especially with the light turquoise/metallic color of the water, we decided it was a bit above our group's skill level. We opted instead for Winhall Brook, a class II-III run just north of Jamaica. The level seemed to be a bit above low-boatable. We looked for the gauge that is mentioned in Lessels' AMC guide book, but were unable to find it, even once we were on the river. With butterflies in our stomachs, we put on the river at the Lower Taylor Hill Rd bridge, parking at the old school house on the corner. The run was mostly continuous class II with a bit of rock dodging (but surprisingly little hull scraping on the riverbed), & 3 easy class IIIs, the first of which we got out and scouted. The guide book recommends taking out just before a class IV rapid in S. Londonderry cleverly named Londonderry Rapids, but our scheduled take-out was at the confluence with the West River another mile or so downstream. We eddied out just above Londonderry Rapids (Caution: This rapid comes up quick, the eddies are small and this rapid must be scouted!) and scouted from the undercut ledges on river right. There are several options for running this rapid, even in low water, but as the guidebook says, the best approach is from either the extreme left or extreme right. Those running the rapid chose their lines, while those who were portaging set up safety on the river right. Ok...that math doesn't add up...We paddled through or portaged around Londonderry Rapids without incident and floated the rest of the way to our campground at the confluence with the West River at Winhall Brook Campgrounds. The 4.5+ miles we paddled took 1.5 hours with 2 rapids scouted and paddling conservatively so as to properly boat scout the rest of the river. This is a great continuous run for an intermediate group of boaters and provides a sense of solitude and adventure that is tough to get as a veteran of the West.

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