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Scoping out new water on the upper Winooski

Monday Nov 12, 2012
Kayak: John A, Brock R., Jamie D, AJ S, Hugh P, Catharine, George, Will, John B, Sarah, Win T, Justin W, Ryan M
C1: Alden B
Inflatable: Dan S
Organizer: Ryan
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: low boatable
Gauge (cfs): 225
Author: Ryan

Yup there is yet another section of river in VT that has the potential for a reliable recreational release. With the recent removal of a defunct mill dam the stretch of the Winooski through the town has been on my short list to hit up with a release from GMP.

Last week looking ahead at the weather, the upcoming holiday (VETS Day) and a possibility to pull some boaters out of the woodwork it seemed a grand idea to pull together a mid afternoon outing for some boating.

First thing first, make sure we had flow - Call GMP and ask for a release of Max generation (not quite max but it lubed up the rocks and river bed enough to get down it.)

Next - Dial up the weather man and ask for a 70 degree day in the middle of November....Check

Third - send out emails to anyone I though may be interested in hopping on a new stretch of river that would appeal to a whole raft of paddling levels.....and post to message board.

BINGO - all three came together.....flow, weather and folks. For the first run we put in at the power house up Rt 215 toward Cabot. It is a nice access and a pretty float down through the country side to the top end of Marshfield village where the first ledge awaits. With approximately 15 boaters all waiting in the pool above the ledge it was a testiment to the need for this resorce to be more available. We had an age range from early 20s to early 60s and a skill range from one of the best boaters in the country (actually the top seed on the USA Wildwater Team) to a rank beginner in a kayak that can barely hit his roll on a good day in a warm pool (yea that probably includes me too).

With a few of the more seasoned vets leading the way the group started to eddy hop from drop, ledge and eddy to the next. It was fun and even a little bit crowded....but here is the thing - there wasn't a single person not smiling, laughing, or really enjoying being part of a new release on a "new" run.

Most folks hiked back up for a second run and a few of us banged down a third run. To be honest - if the flow had held up I'd have gone back up for lap 4, 5 and 6. The walk up through town is short and easy and if we get a true 300 CFS release I really think this stretch will show its true colors as a fun test piece for beginners and a nice spot for experienced boaters to work on improving their moves and skills.

Hopes for the future of this run are we can get a regular release with about an extra 100 cfs, maybe work with the town to set up some slalom gates for practice and who knows........just maybe we'll get a few more people interested in the sport of whitewater paddling...........

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