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NBW and Lower Hancock

Monday Mar 19, 2012
Kayak: Dave Packie, Mike Mainer, Ben Schott
Organizer: Dave Packie
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium
Gauge (ft): 800
Gauge (cfs): 800
Author: DP

Record high temps the last couple days finally got a respectable snow melt for us on Sunday. With reports the North Branch Winooski had been up the afternoon prior, I exploited my social media contacts and Ben and Mike were on board for an afternoon in the north Worcester mtns. As I passed the bridge in Putnamville, I pulled in for a look. 3 feet. Low. As I rolled along Rt. 12 on this incredible early spring afternoon my spirits were lifted when the tributaries coming in to the NBW were, in fact, juiced. NBW is notoriously flashy, so I knew she was quickly rising.

"How's it look?" said Ben as he pulled up.

"Low, but I think we're in." I told him.

Shuttle set for 2 laps, we all chose our own Seal Slide from the snowbank. As we passed the rivulet at the old put in I was stoked to see it really flowing. Level was good. Several great boofs later, I portaged Big Bouncy and watched to boys come on through. Big and bouncy, and upright. At this point I noticed that the water was up significantly. Everything else was nice and fluid, we all ran the slide at the Cave and I finally liked the looks of the middle line on the last waterfall, a PFD for me.

The second lap was an even better level. All the ledges were soft. Mike and Ben ran center on the first big one getting huge boofs off the knuckle. The right side boof off the next ledge at this level was partcularly stellar as well. Down to Big Bouncy and Mike took the high line with me. We watched as Ben Bounced, then headed off. By the time we got to Double Drop the river was again noticably higher. The recirculating eddy on the wall ride style rapid gets real bad at higher flows, but the sneak was not quite in yet. We all rode the wall and congregated in the eddy above Double Drop. I always get amped floating there. One of my favorite places for sure. So soft — an 8 foot vertical boof onto a giant upwelling, then a couple pillows to the face before you melt down into an areated pool. The total drop is probably 20 feet. I got flipped at the bottom on this lap and managed not to think about the hemlock sweeper waiting some feet away on the right. Rolled up quick to watch the boys come down through. All smiles at the bottom, we booked it out at an optimal level on a sweet creek, in the sun and near 80 degree air temps. The slide on the last waterfall was fast and fluid. Really had a good line, but did notice it's a hard landing. Not much aeration where you land, and not so deep you could risk a softer angle. After struggling through the worst take out ever (until we run Flint Brook), we had daylight to burn. Last year I got destroyed up on a NBW tributary and I wanted to finish that run off. We hadn't even gotten to the good stuff before we were scared off by some swims and high water. We found Hancock to be just on the good side of low, and I was surprised at how much the Teacups clean up with water but there's deadly wood in there for now so we didn't contemplate for too long. The steep lower section of this run looked really nice. We put on at the old bridge abutments and ran down low angle boulder garden that was a bit boney. The few bigger ledges through here could have used more water for sure, but once we got down to the last 5 runnable drops, things channelized and felt more padded. Also worth noting, the Heinous Under is very runnable, and a great rapid. The Split Ledge above it was a spectacular boof in the left channel. One of the best days I can remember spending in my kayak. Looking forward to more.


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