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Moose River, St. J

Sunday Apr 5, 2009
Kayak: Brandon, Tom, AJ
Organizer: A.J. Seibel
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium high
Gauge (ft): 7.50
Gauge (cfs): 1075
Author: A.J. Seibel

Got a great Run down the Moose through St. J on a cloudy Sunday afternoon with 2 new kayakers out of northern NH. Paddlers really do exist in this area!

This being the highest level I had personally run the St. J section of the Moose, I was somewhat unsure of what to expect as far as hazards, lines, etc. - but all turned just fine in the end.

The first little wave train under the road bridge in east St. J was really fun, with a super play wave to start it off for the more adventurous. Just around the bend is the first Class III/IV under the railroad bridge, and with all the water pumping through today the sneak on river left was a real fun line - much more padded than usual, landing with a small drop into the pool below. Looking back up at the river right line was probably scarier than running it - all I could see was white and noise, the holes through that side at this level are massive (for me anyway, I'm SURE there's a line somewhere through it). Continuing downstream I was pleasantly surprised to not be bumping down the rocks through the class II section, and even more surprised to find a number of nice play waves and holes that one could catch on the fly. This continues for a while until you near St. J proper and the real fun begins... the first ledge drop had a wonderful drop into a semi-sticky hole that we all punched right through, followed by MORE play features before the next 3' ledge. At today's water levels, the ledge was super clean down the left tongue, and the optional chute on the right was a fast churning shot right out the bottom. We all took the left line. The next couple of ledges had some nice punchable holes and fun waves, and then came the big one - Maple Grove rapid (I guess that name is starting to stick). As we came around the bend we all eddied up on the left to scout the big munchy hole on river right/right of center in the runout. The line I chose was to peel out, thread just left of it and ride the wave train out. Tom tested his playboat skills and caught (briefly) a gorgeous giant wave just above the munchy hole, jet ferrying to river left and down into the eddy. Very fun to watch. Continuing down around the corner and under the bridge there was some fun pushy water and more holes to punch before we all eddied up river left before the old gauge house and 5' falls. Tom and Brandon nailed the river left tongue, making it look like a smooth waterslide down and out. A few more wave trains, one ledge drop, and one spectator yelling that we're crazy led us to the final drop just above the confluence with the Passumpsic river and the takeout. With about 20 minutes of daylight remaining, I think we timed everything just right.

Can't wait to hit this again now that we're starting to dial in the levels...

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