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Mill Brook (eastern VT)

Monday Apr 6, 2009
Participants:
Kayak: Allan Berggren, Barre Penske
Organizer: Allan Berggren
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: high

Mill Brook in Eastern Vermont has been on my "hit list" for years. Always temptingly "almost running".

Meanders around the north side of Mt. Ascutney, on the road seven miles. What you see from the road is nearly always Class 2 or flat.

Barre Penske and I put 3:30 p.m. in at the junction of 106 and 44 bridge at a low level. Rain and 40 degrees. I was paddling my Aire Force inflatable, Barre in his Swifty rec boat, with a reinforce skirt.

Within the first mile we encountered some nice III features, and one sharp s-turn, which presents a log a foot above the surface at the last minute, which we lift over.

Mill flattened out for a looong meander through the farm fields.

Just south of Brownsville we encountered a six-foot sluice dam which could be run on the left. Water levels visibly rising.

After that, just at the edge of town, we heard the unmistakeable moan of a six-foot flathead dam, guarded by a couple business-like hounds enclosed in an invisible fence. We chose to walk around.

Perhaps two miles below town, we entered a gorge, water level now getting a little pushy. Ahead, just in time to get our boats ashore, is a log fallen from river left, behind which, as we later scouted, is a beautiful Class 5 hole/slide/pooldrop--but not for us today. A quarter mile ahead, we find a putin.

The rest of the trip is 2-3 miles of steady 2+ at normal levels, but by now is III on the basis of standing waves and sharp corners which don't reveal their sequels until the last minute. Sleet is starting to collect on my pants.

Finally the I-91 bridge and our Rte. 44 take-out, a mud-sand beach.

The time is 7 p.m.

"Hey, I can't lift myself out of my boat," said Barre.

"That's how you know you've had a good time," said I.

A number of logs present an opportunity for clearing. And we can't wait to get back to that gorge at a lower level.

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