The Vermont Paddlers Club

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Hudson Gorge

Saturday Apr 23, 2016
Kayak: John Atherton, Ken Emery, Mike Mainer, Jim Poulin, Chris Weed
Open Canoe: Tony Shaw
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium
Gauge (ft): 4.2
Gauge (cfs): 1610
USGS Gauge Name/Link: Hudson, North Creek
Author: Tony Shaw

If a sun-splashed, day-long, 15+ mile trip down NY's Indian River and Hudson Gorge with 5 good friends can be called uneventful, then this scheduled VPC trip was indeed uneventful. There were a few delays getting to the put-in, but once we got on the river we managed to stay on the bubble all the way to the North River take-out. For Jim, who has done the Gorge as high as a burly 10 feet, today's 4.1 > 4.2 foot level surely felt tame.

On the Indian, Ken (on his first ever NYS whitewater trip) remained in close proximity to Jim's stern, trusting Jim to vet (and wet) a line through the long series of cross-currents and haystacks which make up Indian Head Rapid and similarly down through the Gooley Steps. The other kayakers, aside from Mike, were not far behind Ken, and this string of kayakers reminded me of a mother duck and her well-behaved ducklings, all in a row.

Mike seemed content to look for more meaty lines, play waves, and caves inhabited by really big spiders. After a while, he figured out that in the heavier rapids he would have ample time to spin, ferry, surf, and play, because inevitably I would need two minutes to get to shore and empty out my canoe in the calmer water below. I had one harrowing moment in Harris Rift, where I got spun around and went over one of the center ledges in reverse, but there were no swims all day, by anyone.

By the afternoon, mother duck Jim had pushed his (her?) ducklings out of the proverbial nest, or maybe more accurately the ducklings simply flew the coop, because they all seem to have left Jim in the dust and were all picking their own lines merrily down through the rapids that come in quick succession below Staircase (a.k.a. the Blue Ledge Narrows). At 4.2 there are multiple lines from which to choose, once you reach the Hudson.

For a run dubbed "one of the great river trip of the East" by Alec Proskine (in Adirondack Canoe Waters), the Indian and Hudson were all but deserted on this day. Perhaps this was the silver lining of our later-than-intended launch, but we encountered only one 3-man raft all day, plus 3 other kayakers, and a couple of folks on shore, fishin'.

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