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Upper Mad

Wednesday Apr 2, 2008
Kayak: Brent, Grayson, Jim, Dave, Tyler and Ryan
Organizer: Ryan
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium
Gauge (cfs): 1100
Author: Ryan

Not a bad turnout for an April 2nd evening paddle in sub32 degrees....

We all met at the Lower Mad take out at 5:30 and the decision was quickly made that the Lower Mad was still pumping pretty good for most of us looking to just get on the river to knock some rust off the skills for the start of the season. So we high-tailed it down 100 to Warren to get a late run on the Upper Mad from the lower bridge in Warren through the rapid on Butternut Road.

After a quick email from one of the folks that was to join us stating that he got "stuffed" in the rapid just before the Warren bridge and was not going to join us, we all decided to NOT start off with a bang and put in right below this rapid. The following bit of water is a nice wake up rapid that is short and sweet but splashes that sub 35 degree water on your face..."WAKEUP you are now on the river". The rapid below that is a fun playful hole and is moderately sticky. A few of the fellas played in the hole and one of them thought that this was a prime spot to pull his best AQUAMAN impression. It would be the only swim of the evening and thank goodness he was wearing a dry suit!!!! Below this rapid there are several more class II+ rapids at the level we were on the river at. Another sticky hole had Grayson playing it up and surfing around in it. And the smallish ledges along the way let everyone pick their own lines. Once we passed the Sugarbush Ponds you come up on Punch Bowl. It is an easy class III drop on the left and a IV slide into a very retentive hole on the right. Not to many people make it out of the right side upright and a good number of the ones that flip swim out of that hole. Long story short we all ran the left side of Punchbowl with varying lines, styles and attempts at boofs. The following rapid is a simple ledge that has good outflow and great eddy lines. At this point it was getting dark really fast and no one was game for play with ice starting to form on paddles, skirts and pfds. This was followed by a river wide strainer (the beavers have been very busy along the Upper Mad this early spring) which we could skirt to the right. This brings you to the last rapid of the Upper Mad....Butternut! Butternut is a fun rapid that has two parts to it. The first is a substantial river wide ledge that runs out into a squirrely pool and then the rest of it is a right to left move as the river banks off of a rock wall, over several boulders and small ledges - then squeezes through two large boulders in a space of about 6 feet wide. It makes for a fun and interesting rapid that can be pointed at from a number of different ways but it always plays out right to left. Everyone made it though unscathed and upright.

It was a good run - the levels were decent...A little more flow would have been nice but what we had was sufficient. A turnout of 6 paddlers on a late in the day cold April paddle was admirable. Everyone was happy to be getting the season underway and to be back in their boats. The Upper Mad Valley put on a beautiful showing with blue skies and a pretty sunset behind the Greens. We timed the run just about I was sitting in the eddy below Butternut I couldn't make out details on folks faces as they popped through the rapid - so I'd say we eked out every bit if available light for our season opener on the Mad.

It's nice to be back on the water..............

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