The Vermont Paddlers Club

Meet new friends, and paddle better!

Joe's Brook - Low Boatable

Monday Oct 23, 2023
Kayak: Jamie Dolan, Tony Shaw
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Tony Shaw

Today marks my 3rd (or perhaps 4th) Joe's Brook outing with Jamie in 2023 - but it was our first since the record rainfall and flooding that plagued low-lying VT communities this past summer. The pond level today was 5.18 feet. So long as you're not too attached to the plastic on the bottom of your boat, and so long as GMP is running their generator ("full load"), then 5.18 feet should be a perfectly adequate flow on Joe's.

A long and fragrant cedar "swamp" below the powerhouse precedes the first real action on Joe's. Here virtually every cedar on both banks leans quietly/precariously out over the brook, except those that have already fallen in, so even this quickwater section demands your attention.

There are 3 ledge drops (with horizon lines) between the put-in and the first bridge/road crossing and none of them contained wood. However, the channel on the right side of the island above the "s turn" rapid in this section - a channel that has been choked with wood for years - was completely open and devoid of wood. We rounded that bend in the (now bony) left channel knowing that woodpile had to have gone somewhere...

One HUGE tree blocking the left half of the river in the outflow from the first drop below bridge #1 was easy to avoid, by keeping right. I expect that big fella will be there on river left for a long time. Most of the rest of this upper Joe's stretch is class I whitewater and we moved downstream faster than usual with a brisk tailwind (and temps in the low 40's).

"Small" strainers below a horizon line (often 2 or 3 skinny and/or short logs piled up together) are particularly hard to spot from above if boat-scouting and I crashed into/through one of these on the final short slide above the covered bridge - river right. If you're keeping score, it's now Tony: 1, Strainers: 1.

Tony on 'The (first) Big Slide' -  medium low 10/23/2023Jamie and I discussed our trepidation about strainers before putting back in below the covered bridge at Greenbank's Hollow, given how prolific the ledge drops with horizon lines are in the steep 2 miles from there to Morse's Mills. Luckily, in this reach there were no trees in bad places. I scouted the waterfall from the right bank (Jamie boat-scouted) and we both cleaned the falls!

I always manage to swim at least once on Joe's, and today I was true to form. It happened in the section between Morse's Mills and the gorge, at the bottom of perhaps the frothiest and most technical drop in this section, a drop that IMO deserves bank-scouting until further notice. Why you ask? Well, here large trees have fallen in from the left bank (above) and right bank (below), the former blocking the preferred entrance and the latter blocking the main outflow. Having missed Jamie's hand signal to eddy out above, I found myself in a tenuous mid-river eddy half-way down this rapid with wood blocking my only egress onto the right bank. From there I signaled Jamie to enter right and drive left. He obliged and in so doing he was able to avoid both strainers altogether (because he's THAT good). I, on the other hand, could not make the same right-to-left move through the torrent of water from my mid-river eddy, and forthwith plowed headlong into the strainer at the bottom, doing my small part to help clear it out (and getting up-ended in the process). My signature strainer mitigation technique proved useful on at least one other occasion in a slow moving section of river, where Jamie opted to lift over on the left. Score now Tony: 2, Strainers: 2.

We habitually walk down to scout the final gorge from the road during the morning shuttle, so we knew this to be devoid of consequential wood. IMO no one should run the gorge without laying eyes on it from the right bank first. Wearing big smiles, below the gorge we agreed it is "big" (and fun) at any flow level.

I try not to let a year go by without getting on Joe's at least once. Three (or four) runs in a year has been a real treat. Joe's wood situation will evolve over time, and those who hanker to spend a day on Joe's just need to be mindful of this fact.

Please log in.
For Username, enter either 1) the primary email address you've specified in your member profile, or 2) the Username assigned to you upon joining the VPC.

Once you are logged in as a VPC member, you will have access to your member profile, and members-only content on the website. If your login attempts fail, please email the webmaster. Include your name, and (if you know it) the username you were assigned.

Page Views: Link CheckerValid XHTML 1.0Valid CSS
© 1996-2024 The Vermont Paddlers Club
Report a Bug
The 'My Favorites' list uses cookies...
Add this page to 'My Favorites' Remove this page from 'My Favorites' Trip Reports Message Boards Site Map
Current PHP version: 7.4.33