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Mill Brook (Jericho)

Tuesday Apr 8, 2008
Kayak: Tyler Billingsley, Dave Hurley, Eliot Lothrop, Dave Packie
Open Canoe: Tony Shaw
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Tony Shaw

This may not have been the first or the last bootleg Mill Brook Jericho trip of the season, but for the sake of everyone else I hope it was the boniest.

With no online gauge it is challenging to forecast the level. The nearest small stream gauge I can think of is Allen Brook in Williston, which (for comparison purposes) crested at 2.9 the night before (65 cfs) and 2.7 (48 cfs) the night of our trip. Another possible gauge correlation might be Lewis Creek; it was running around 350-450 cfs April 8th.

If the streambed where Mill Brook passes under VT 117 isn't filled with water, and the route down through there doesn't look fluid, then the class II+ sections above are all going to be rough and rocky. After a bit of discussion, with full disclosure on the point, we went ahead and paddled Mill Brook anyway.

We put-in off of Tarbox Road, keeping the trip as short as possible, ~1 ½ mile all told. After a meandering put-in, where the sun broke out of the clouds, we had no trouble avoiding the tree on river left in the first 2-tiered drop (the best route is river right, anyway).

S-turn Rapid had thin cover (to borrow a euphemism from the ski industry). Everyone nailed Wide Ledge, easily avoiding some tree branches sticking out from river right at its entrance. From above it was difficult to discern the full-size tree trunk lodged in the Swimming Hole drop - a log that narrowed the slot and the landing options considerably, but Dave P. had no trouble staying well to its left. The rest of us more prudently opted to lift around instead. There was still a foot or more of dense spring snowpack on all the south banks.

The last 3 drops are all high enough, and technical enough, that some of us opted to carry...even in these low water conditions. Tony flipped and swam in the "receiving pool" below Cabin Falls. Dave H. struggled to pull free of the whirlpool on river left below Hydrodam Falls, but then redeemed himself by lining up (and landing) Cabin Falls perfectly. Today's adventure will have him shopping for a creek boat, I predict!

Mercifully the river wide strainer below the hydrodam turbine facility present in 2007 has been breached, and a clear route to the left bypasses the only other river wide obstruction in this rollicking class II+ section (at least until the beavers get back at it again).

Both Dave P. and Tyler found a way to avoid pitoning the final 2-stage drop by landing on the upsloping and thinly covered intermediate rock slab with their bows pointing river right, a move I might be willing to try in the future, once my souvenir from the trip (a 4 inch gash in my canoe's chine) gets repaired.

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