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NBW Season Opener - SOLO

Saturday Mar 17, 2012
Kayak: Ryan M
Organizer: Ryan
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium low
Author: Ryan

The NBW is open for business. In the 10 or so years I have been poking around the North Branch Winooski, I have never seen it clear of ice before April 1st. This year I bagged my opening run on it on St. Patty's day. It has been one WEIRD winter with the warm temps and lack of snow. Sort of sucked for skiing, but is serving up a nice early Kayak season....I digress

So being early in the boating season, a trip down the NBW is nerve racking enough, now do it solo in an Eskimo TOPOLINO and you can barely get your skirt on at the put in from the nerves. That damn boat paddles as good backwards as it does forwards as it does sideways. I think a good translation from the german name of Topolino is "Safety Potato" Actually Topolino I think is a translation for Micky Mouse in Italian, but again I am digressing.

So sitting at the put in on my tailgate soaking in the solace, sunshine and just getting my berings straight for the season, I catch a really pungent smell. I look over the snow plow piles and on the other side is a heap of no fewer than 8 dead coyotes. YUCK! And now it is time to put on my gear and get moving down stream. The Topo paddles as it always does - unstable and corky. It doesn't track for squat and takes me a little while to settle in. Good think the NBW starts off rather mellow and then builds in amplitude.

The first few drops I plug and come up laughing like a little kid. I can tell it is early in the season - my lines are very wide and variable with no precision what so ever. I am going to blame it on the boat. Anyways - I bobble on down the river toward the broken drop. I know the move and where to locate myself at the lip and how to crank a big righthand boof to keep the nose up. Yea - I was in the right spot (sort of) but missed my boof again!!!! Didn't matter that Topo smoothed it all out. It did the same thing on the next three drops......Almost to say "boofing is overrated anyways"

I finally get to the first of the larger drops and again know the line and what to do. I hit my line and fired on down the white ramp launching into the river right wall......."WHAT THE....." That was a first! Crazy how I just jetted into air and slammed into the wall with the nose of the Topo. Meh, didn't seem any worse for the wear. The basketball sized nose on this thing is built like a battering ram!

Next up is Manky-mank. I bounce and grind down it not needing a single brace. This boat eats this stuff up. Next is the lead in to the Big Bouncy...same thing - stay centered and the boat does the rest. It eats up rock slides (the way left line at big bouncy) and seems to shrug off impact.

Flat falls seems to always give me trouble with my boof so I set up carefully and grabbed the lip and pulled a huge boof (the TOPO sounds really weird when you land a solid boof).

Double Drop, Cave Falls Drop and the Last drop (Three of the big four) went without issue....

I'd like to say I had a successful two laps today because I am an off the couch class IV/V boater, but I know better. The Topo took good care of me this afternoon. Nothing like a 19 year old boat that knows the ropes to keep you laughing......

The NBW - go get some when it's in!

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