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Micro-Phun in the Dark and a trip to the Rustic

Thursday Jul 24, 2008
Kayak: Dave Gurtman, Ryan McCall and Chris Weed (pavement pounder)
Organizer: Ryan
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium high
Gauge (cfs): 2000
Author: Ryan

How could you not want to run this brook everytime there is water in it. ~5 miles of the most fun you can find on the east slopes of the Northfield Mountains (I can say that because I haven't run any of the other ones draining into the Dog yet - waiting for Cox Brook Dam to come down). I digress..

Anyways - epic rains had everything up near flood stage and most stuff was pumping higher than spring time flows....By the time I got off work my time frame was pretty tight to get in a good run before dark. Dave Gurtman was in the same boat (no pun intended). He beat-feet over to the capitol reigon and we boogied down through Northfield with one eye on the road and another on the Dog River. Man, nothing like a river in flood to get your heart pumping...does a number on the japanese knot weed too. Any of that crap that was within reach of the angry river got riped out and washed away.

So we get to the take out for Stony Brook and who comes bopping down the road with only his playboat strapped to his rack but Mr Weed. I'd get into the multiple excuses he provided for not having the proper gear to paddle Stony - but there has already been enough eye rolling over this.

Up we head to the put in making mental notes of spots where it looks like there could be wood in the creek - at least from the road. One quick stop to look if there was anything stuck in the dam drop and then another stop at the Mill at Stony Brook to see if it was choked up with deadfall. Good to go.

Quick gear up and some stretch strokes for the photographer (yes Chris decided to ride up to the put-in with us and run beside the creek to snap pix. Make sure to ask Chris why there aren't any new pictures posted along with this TR. We enter the Mini-gorge at the top of the run and it is at a great level with plenty of flow to bop down through the mile or so of ledge drops and twisty-turny nature of this stretch. About the time the mini-gorge sputters out the grade picks up and you know you are approaching the Mill drop. The lead in to the Mill is pretty chaotic with lots of holes and reactionary waves working pretty hard to flip you before you actually reach the drop. River left ducking under what remains of the old dam at the top of the drop is the preferred line. Both Dave and I aced it. Following the Mill Drop there is a mile or so of swift water with some holes and ledges here and there. Once you pass under Stony Brook Road for the first time get on your game because this is the only boulder rapid on the river coming up....It collects wood and there is a great last chance eddy on river right that you can hop out of your boat and scout the rapid from. This night there was a small log in the left side of the main drop that really wasn't in play but at the bottom of the rapid (note for future runs) a hemlock had fallen across the entire width of the river. It looked like you could ramp up and over it but the potential outcome of missing the move was enough that Dave and I both carried on river right.

SCORE..... Back in April (April 20th to be exact) I had a hand full of friends from PA up for a weekend of spring flow high water creeking. We happened to hit Stony after a full day of it on a couple of other rivers. One of the guys swam this rapid and lost his gear - boat and paddle. I chased the boat down and got it. The paddle was never recovered........Three months later running this creek and portagaing the exact same rapid that this guy swam through we come across the paddle no more than 5 yards down river on the opposite side of the creek. I have looked all over Stoney Brook for the lat 3 months for this paddle and never found it. Thursday night it was just bobbing in an eddy that we were dragging I said SCORE - was in the same shape as when it was lost 3 months earlier!

So through the Boulder drop it was starting to get pretty dark...good thing white water is WHITE! Dave and I went into race mode wanting to complete the river before we had to walk off. There is a log/dam drop below the Boulder drop that you need to boof or be sucked in the backwash. Bingo-bongo...both over and cranking on to the next drop. A large ledge drop of about 8 feet. I went right and rode out a couple of slots and Dave banged over the drop on the left boofing off a pillow at the bottom.

Next up was another 8 foot ledge backed up by a 10 foot dam (at this level anyways). We poked down the right side of the ledge on a jig-jig move and were into the backwater of the dam. Run just right of center with a late boof to have some angle and away you go soft as a baby's bottom. Big safe pool at the bottom.

Now we were headed for the last of the ledge drops before "Junior's House" This ledge is trashy on the right and off-vert on the left. I have run the right every time I have been down the river and it has neer been clean. Next time I'll be going for the off-vert line to the left. We both banged down this one.

Wow it is getting dark and there is only one more rapid left and the biggest one on the river. We are paddling pretty hard and fast at this point to get there for a quick scout for wood. There is a huge strainer above the drop that has to be portaged but the drop is clean and then you have to paddle like hell not to get sucked into the log jam at the bottom where the flow is flushing. So we look at the drop, see the moves (remember to not flip), and head back to the boats. In and shoved off Dave gives me about 15 yards and follows. I clean the waves and holes of the run in and hit my standard line and grind out the left side of the main drop and miss the nice plop into the only deep hole...Oh well gotta regroup and line up for the next drop quickly to get in an eddy to miss the log jam. Made it - look back to see Dave ace the drop to the right of the hole and then FLIP....uh oh. get the roll!!!! no roll!!!! Dave runs the last of the drop over a ledge up side down and swims...Manages to get out before the log jam and gathers his stuff and dumps his boat. One more 5 foot ledge and out to the cars.

Lucky for us the KILLER PIT BULL DOGS are not anywhere to be seen...Yea a class III/IV run with a class V+ take out. Be very weary of this. So getting gear loaded up in Gillespie's Fuels (take out) Chris comes thumping down the road. I am willing to bet he never forgets his creek boat again!

The evening doesn't end after the run...A mandatory stop at "The Rustic" in Northfield Falls takes place to recount the run and imbibe in some refreshing beverage. A good way to end a great post work run on a gem of a brook! Don't miss it next time it is up!

Better waves

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