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Upper White River - Stockbridge to Bethel

Saturday Mar 30, 2019
Kayak: Sarah C, Chris F, Rooz N, Tony S, Chris W
Inflatable: Eric B
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: novice WW
Level: medium low
Gauge (ft): 3.46
Gauge (cfs): 100
Author: Tony Shaw

I return to the White River around this time, year after year, partly out of nostalgia. My first ever bank loan (1982, for $300) was to buy my first canoe, a used 17 foot aluminum Grumman with a keel. It was a downriver boat to be sure, wide enough to put my 10-speed inside for shuttling at the end of a solo outing, well-suited to the wide, lovely, and mostly gentle reaches of the White. That said, my nascent self-rescue skills were called upon regularly as well (though I never ever lost the bike)! I always brought along a change of dry clothes in a knotted garbage bag, just in case. This was all before I beat that Grumman mercilessly - coaxing her (tandem or solo) down the Saco, the Ammo, the upper Lamoille, the Mad (upper and lower), the Huntington (including the lower gorge), the West, the Dead, and even the New Haven through Bristol.

But I digress. The White from Stockbridge to Bethel is less lovely since its wooded banks and meanders were ravaged by tropical storm Irene in 2011, but I still like it. This year it was fun having first-timers Sarah and Rooz on the trip, along with three upper White River veterans. The afternoon temperature topped out at 41°, a full 10° or more below the forecast, but at least it didn't rain (and no one needed their dry change of clothes). The upstream USGS gauge on Ayers Brook in Randolph came up nicely the night before our trip (100 CFS late Friday - and falling slowly to the mid-80's by noon Saturday). All the ice had come off the river a few weeks earlier in a late-winter flush. Still plenty of dense snow left up in the headwaters, I'm sure.

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