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West Br. Ompompanoosuc

Saturday Oct 16, 2010
Kayak: John Atherton
Open Canoe: Eric Bishop, Tony Shaw
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: medium low
Gauge (ft): 1.80
Gauge (cfs): 50
Author: Tony Shaw

This was the closest thing we've had to a day of spring paddling since, well, spring! Snowfall records for Oct. 14th and 15th were smashed atop Mt. Mansfield (17") and cold rain fell almost everywhere else in VT - especially west of the Green Mts (3.5" in my rain gauge in Williston).

I was looking for class II/III water (trying to nurse back to health a shoulder I bruised falling off my bike 10/10/10), as well as something in Orange County (to officially complete my 'Around VT in 30 Rivers' list). We settled on the W. Br. Omp, from South Strafford to where it passes beneath Rt. 132 below Rices Mills - 4.4 miles total. A respectable 2" of rain had fallen there the day before, giving us medium-low conditions (~275 cfs) with the sun peeking out occasionally to fire up the remaining fall foliage.

Peg and Jon showed up on the roadside just in time to watch us scout and run the class III staircase at Rices Mills, where we each took a different line but all "styled" it. The rest of this run is attractive and ~continuous class II, with lots of rock dodging at lower levels. John seemingly felt obligated to broach his kayak on the one river-wide strainer, where (adding insult to injury) he was rescued by two open boaters!!

The only other VPC/NVCC account I could find of running this stretch was from a 1978 Bow and Stern - several tandem couples. I hope we don't wait another 30+ years to run it again!

The paddling wasn't over when we took off the water at 1:15pm, as Peg and Jon lured us to the upper White for some more fine paddling and a double (OMG it's SO beautiful!!!) rainbow. See Peg's trip report for details.

By Monday morning my lame shoulder was starting to feel better for the first time in a week, so don't let anyone tell you that paddling isn't therapeutic.

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