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Joe's Brook - Why Wipe that Grin off Your Face?

Sunday Aug 3, 2008
Kayak: Tyler Billingsley, Dave Hurley
Open Canoe: Tony Shaw
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium high
Gauge (cfs): 750
Author: Tony

I should probably let Tyler or Dave write today's trip report, since it was their first time ever running Joe's. For the most part their ear-to-ear grins summed up the outing. What a great introduction for them to a spectacularly long and continuous stretch of Vermont whitewater!

It took us a little longer than usual to get on the water, but it WAS Sunday morning and equipment DID need to be bleached (didymo abatement) before leaving home. We set a car 10 miles downstream from West Danville at the Brook Hill Rd. takeout and were on the water at noon.

The stick at the pond dam read 5.3 and the bladder was fully deflated and spilling a good deal of WARM Joes' pond water. Add in the 124cfs from the turbines and the sidestream runoff from Saturday's soaking rains and throw in some unforecasted sunshine and you have a rollicking good time...if you can handle it!

Dave and I both got back-surfed then side-surfed by the big munchy hole half-way down the first long rapid below the powerhouse (Corkscrew), and were upside down momentarily. Of course I knew what lay ahead, but for Dave this was a wake-up call that he was going to need to put his game face on and paddle aggressively...which from that point on he did.

The funny thing for me in that first rapid was that I let go of my paddle and watched it float rapidly on downstream, never to be seen again. Or so I thought. For the next 8 miles I paddled with my spare paddle through S-turn (no trees for once), Alka-Seltzer ("plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is"), Pinball, carried the Big Slide and the Covered Bridge drops with Dave and Ty (on account of lethal strainers in both locations), ran and/or swam the covered bridge section (excluding the Falls Drop) with all of its continuous boogie water, meaty slides, and the occasional worrisome strainer, and ran grinning ear-to-ear almost all the way to the final gorge drop below Morse's Mill before my white paddle came floating past my boat, out of the blue. Hell, it almost jumped right back into my canoe all by itself!

It didn't seem to matter to Ty or Dave that they were paddling playboats, though a creekboat would surely have come in handy where the holes got longer, deeper, and/or wider. On several occasions my open canoe filled basically right up to the gunwales in the first hole or two of a long rapid, and I'd just have to keep on paddling with a "boatful" of water (from whence my email address ;o)

We pulled off the water at 5pm, and were greeted by a friendly state trooper as we loaded our boats. After hearing about our trip, said he lived nearby, and told us he had been thinking about venturing down Joe's Brook sometime in a big truck innertube he owns. We advised against it!

I suppose there must be some way that this could have been a better day of paddling. But right now, I can't think of anything about it that I would change...

PS: As far as levels go, Dave noted back in May that the concrete shelf on the covered bridge abutment (river right) had a little water spilling up onto it. On that day we opted NOT to paddle Joe's due to the high/cold water combo. Today the water was just below that same concrete ledge beneath the covered bridge - and NOT spilling onto it. Maybe we should paint a gauge there...visible from river left?

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