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Lower Hudson

Monday Apr 27, 2009
Open Canoe: Richard Larsen, Ed Amidon
Organizer: Richard Larsen
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium
Gauge (ft): 5.50
Gauge (cfs): 3900

I tried to have a Lower Hudson trip on Saturday, when it was 80+ degrees, but only Ed Amidon signed up, and I then had late-developing conflict. So, we moved it to Sunday, but still got no additional takers. We decided we would go anyway with just the two of us, since the river was at a relatively benign 3000 cfs. Sunday turned out to be a bit wet and cool, so we decided to move the trip once again, to Monday, since we are both retired, and since Monday was to be yet another 80+ degree day.

We went. It is a lot of driving. Since there were just two boats we decided to keep it to just the section between North Creek and Riparius. The river came up a lot on Sunday and Sunday night, probably from the high-peaks snowmelt from Saturday. The flow was 3900 cfs.

We put on the river at North Creek at 11 AM, and finished at Riparius at 1:20 PM. The day was glorious, with bright sunshine, quite warm air, and only a moderately annoying upstream wind.

Most of the rapids in this portion of the Hudson are caused by ledge systems, often river-wide, and often the best route is to run right down the center, since the ledges can be most eroded there. The water is usually quite turbulent in the center, with crazy diagonal waves, but this often avoids the rocks and pour-overs nearer shore. But, river-center can be intimidating, since the Hudson is a big river, and shore becomes a long way away.

The river was class 1-2 until about an hour into the trip, when we hit a 200 yard long class 3 rapid with 3' chaotic waves in the final drop. All went well with just a little water taken on. The difficulty built in the second hour, with more frequent class 2+ and 3- rapids. Finally, about half-way down Spruce Mountain Rapids, the road bridge came into view - and that meant it was time for the lower half of Spruce Mountain, where the difficulty increased to a solid class 3 with multiple successive ledges. We cheated the first few ledges by finding a route near the right shore, but had to give in and move center for the final ledges. The only real problem was that Ed got a bad leg cramp as he was paddling through the final ledges, but he made it fine.

We were glad to be ending at Riparius. We had commitments back in Vermont later in the day, and we are both realizing that paddling more than a few hours causes real problems to old knees - which unfortunately we both have.

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