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The Mighty Nully (Nulhegan)

Saturday May 5, 2007
Kayak: Ryan Dave (JD)
Organizer: Ryan
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: low boatable
Gauge (cfs): 350
Author: Ryan

Oh the mighty Nully....

Should be a song title...I can see it now Gordon Lightfoot singing it - HA!

Anyways - the day started off with a debate about what to drive to to run, the Nulhegan at about 1.5 hours drive time or the Clarendon Gorge with roughly the same time in the car. It was a nice day so why the heck not head out on an epic....

To start off with the only thing epic about the Nulhegan other than the drive to get there was the flatwater sections inbetween the two class III gorges (with more water Class IV for sure). Lucky for us (and lucky for them) we ran into Martin and Bernard. They had come down from Sherbrook to paddle the Nully as well and didn't have a shuttle ride. We snagged Martin and he gave us the low down on the creek as we ran him up to his car and then he helped us set shuttle so we didn't have to endure the 4 mile hike back up to the put in. They had put in up river of the Stone Dam road put in to snag a gorge that us usually not run and suggested we do the same. (Thanks for the tip on that one Martin) Probably the best section of water on the entire run.

So for beta on the run. We put in a good mile above the regular Stone Dam Road put-in(Silvie O Conte Preserve area). Found a good area to park and bushwacked down to the river. There was decent read and run rapids through here up to the initiation gorge. On thing to take note of was the beauty of the river. This is a true northern VT float with multiple moose crossings, the spires of cedars all around and just an abundance of wildlife. The first gorge/rapid is worth a look when the river is pumping. There were several ledges through here and most of them were boofable and the holes on the back-sides were pretty benign, but again at higher water would serve as a good class IV test piece. We ran it twice to get some photo ops. Both Dave and I agreed it was a little more fun the first time through just sort of going with the flow instead of trying to be so precise on the second run. Heck I had to roll on the first run at the bottom because I got flipped. From this gorge it was flat water to the Stone Dam Road put in. Below the Bridge on Route 105 the Nully begins a pretty consistent drop (I think Mark L. said it was around 80 ft/mi) and this continues on for the better part of a mile. This was a fun rapid that I would say was at the low end of a III on the day we ran it, but at a higher level would be very pushy and I would bet you could give it a solid IV between the holes and ledges. After this long rapid the river mellows in its last couple of miles to the confluence/take-out with the Connecticut.

Both dave and I agreed it had a good vibe to it and would give a novice/budding intermediate paddler a chance to feel like they were on a widerness run and see some bigger rapids while they were at it. At higher levels the two gorge sections would be fun to catch enroute to another river elsewhere - but an extended day trip just for the paddler looking to snag class IV on the Nully would be bummed about the drive time if it was more than 30 minutes....just my impression.

All in all, it was a beautiful day to try a new river and go for a senic drive. Got to enjoy a couple of good brews & excellent burger too at the Pub Outback in East Burke for an added bonus.


(Pix to follow)

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