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The Upper Moose

Saturday Oct 2, 2010
Kayak: Ryan McCall, Jamie S., Paul Dawson, Doug Piatt, Russ Kelly, AJ Seibel, Paul Carlile, Gerard Ganey
Open Canoe: Tony Shaw
C1: Alden Bird
Organizer: AJ Seibel
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: low boatable
Author: AJ Seibel

The second full descent of the Upper Moose in Victory, VT.

If most folks had this run in their back yard, they would be stoked every time it came in. But, I'm the only person whose backyard this run seems to be in, and though I'm stoked to run it whenever I can, it is certainly a haul for anyone who lives near any major population center... Only in VT would Montpelier be considered a major population center, and then only by a country dweller from the NEK. But, I digress...

We had run Joe's Brook the day before at what would later be realized as flood stage. We pulled off at the covered bridge and wanted to come back a day later to catch it at more manageable flows. Well, we arrived the next day to find that the river had in fact not dropped at all! The flashiest run in VT was somehow holding water, and so it was time for plan B. I grabbed a saw and Gerard and the two of us led the pack, speeding, to the NEK. I had scouted for wood but a few days before to find some of the best rapids absolutely choked with wood. Well, to my surprise the upper moose is a self-cleaning river. The huge flows from the previous few days of rain had cleared all of the wood from all but one of the drops. A short wait for the group and we were all at the top, gearing up and putting on at the huge culvert at the junction of Radar Rd. and Radar Rd. (confusing!)

Our huge group peeled off and around the corner to find and smooth the first drop, a beautiful sloping 5 foot plunge into a short pool surrounded by bedrock walls. It was at this moment we began to spread out, making use of the single boat eddies on this smaller than average creek... We continued downstream across some fun quick and steep boulder rapids, and began to wind through ledge rapids, slides and cobbly stuff enjoying every bump. Seriously, the water was low, there was much boat scraping... We shortly arrived at the largest drop on the run, an 7' ledge where all the water funnels to the right, down a slide and off of an auto-boof rock. Russ was the first to descend, making it look easy and fun, which it was. With the group fighting for shore space to scout the rapid, Russ was prompted to name the drop as it was a first D. The mess of boaters and good humor of the group led to the name Fustercluck (move letters as necessary). A fitting name with our group that day! With the drop behind us and photos taken we were off to explore the rest of the river. We soon arrived at Sideways Waterfall That Lands on Rock and all portaged the drop. At higher water it looks to go off the right, but for now it's a portage with a big tree stuck in the LZ. Some more fun ledges and generally easy class III creeking continued beneath the bridge and around the first of the class II bump-fests. After an old concrete structure appears on the right bank and the river bends 90 degrees to the left, get ready! Once you round the bend you're in the Moose Cooch. This gorged up rapid contains 7 back to back drops, all fun and boat scoutable by our group this day. The middle drop that plops you in a big pool has changed with the recent rains, now hosting a double drop stairstep which was formerly a smooth 6 footer. That last manky boulder field was tight, and had recently been dubbed a name that reflects that. We'll save that for another non-family post! The turnover ledge at the bottom claimed one swim from this guy who used to packraft, I think his name is Magnum, but a quick self rescue brought everything back to safety.

The class II bump fest resumed after this sweet sequence, and we were all able to zone out, enjoying the foliage, remarking at the high water mark and chatting about the day. Larger rocks begin to appear as you come in to Victory proper, soon passing beneath the Victory Rd. bridge and in to the last great sequence. A small gorge rapid shows its face for the grand finale, and Ryan stated that it looks like something out of Quebec, and that hell, we're practically in Canada in the NEK! So, I've decided to call this last drop Little Canada. The entrance features a nice 3 foot ledge followed by a slide on the right wall, leading right in to a cross current that slammed many boats directly in to the gorge wall. Then comes a hundred feet of fun boogie leading to the 4' plunge in to the take-out pool at the end.

Some warm Long Trail IPA's in the back of Alden's van on the way back to the put-in made for a good cap to a fun low-water run in my backyard. Some cold PBR pounders waiting at the put-in surely topped off the day.

This run would be fantastic as an intro to creeking run, and with more water may hold up as a good option for anyone looking for some fun class III-IV creeking.

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