Well, we've now had a week straight of record high temps (in some places by over 20 degrees). Apparently we skipped right past spring (typically in April) to the hottest part of summer here in New England. Conveniently enough, I got the week off work, so I've been paddling every day since spring started 2.5 weeks ago. A solid week of training attaining the White River before melt got going was a good start to the season, but now we're fully into creeking and I've been taking a lot of days off training. Going downstream is so much easier! Good thing the water's running out or it'd seriously get in the way of my attainments.
Driving through the hole that's been guarding the waterfall entry to the Birth Canal since Hurricane Irene.
In the last five days, I've run the Middlebury Gorge four times, the New Haven 3, the Sawyer, Johns Brook, the Branch, and the North Branch Winooski (two laps). For those that don't know...the Middlebury, the Sawyer, and Johns Brook are three of the best runs in New England (and they're damn good on a more global scale, too).
Ryan Mooney hits the elusive boof off Fallopian. First time anyone did this year.
The Middlebury Gorge consists of a 2-4 drop bedrock sequence (depending on how you define "drop") with sheer, overhanging walls and big undercuts, followed by a mile and a half of excellent boulder gardens. The gorge itself is called The Birth Canal. The lines are surprisingly volatile as rocks seem to fall into the gorge with every big rainstorm. In the last five years, the entry waterfall has gone from beautiful water boof with optional rock-spin on river right to challenging but doable flake boof to near-impossible plug-and-aim-for-the-right-room-as-it's-less-undercut. The second rapid, Cunnilingus, spent almost a year as a phenomenal 7 foot spout with a great boof into an eddy...and then turned back into a pile of rocks. The exit to the Birth Canal, Rebirth, has pretty much always been a piece of crap with a terrifying undercut in the runout called the Catcher's Mitt. Hurricane Irene made the Catcher's Mitt less of an issue, but the drop is literally a pile of rocks with just about no line and a sieve on one side. Drop in, let it do what it needs to you (usually something you don't want to talk about later), and then surf out of the hole at the bottom into the light at the end of the gorge.
Dropping in. I try to block out the next 2 seconds from my memory...miraculously, I came flying over the bottom hole in a stern squirt this time.
The "runout" of the gorge is hardly that -- it's another mile and a half of great paddling, with hidden boofs all over the place.
The North Branch Winooski is another VT gem, often overlooked as its hard to catch with water. I was lucky enough to get on it twice in the last week, once low and once high. It's a little bit of an anomaly for VT as it's a pool drop waterfall run, much different from the standard steep, bouldery or tight-bedrock VT staples.
Christian Woodard running Double Drop on the North Branch Winooski.
Johns Brook in New York is another incredible run, one that I've been trying to get on for years but that has very touchy water levels (read: almost never high enough) and is 2.5 hours from my house. Matt Harrison and I headed over to Johns last Monday only to find it marginally low around noon...so we went and ran The Branch, another new-to-me and quite fun run in the Adirondacks. Upon returning to Johns a few hours later, we found a nice med-low level and put on from the Garden trailhead (you can hike further up if you want). Runs like this are my favorite kind of kayaking -- super steep boulder gardens with lots of big boofs.
Put in, bounce down about 50 feet of shallow boogie, drop this Six Foot Boof (the namesake of the rapid), drive right into a slot, boof some other things...and keep boofing for the next few miles to the takeout.
The Sawyer in NH is very similar to Johns, although is a somewhat bigger riverbed and has more bedrock to it. I'll forgo the lengthy description and leave y'all with this picture of Colby Cook on a beautiful 80 degree summer day (March 21, 2012).
Colby Cook finagling down the steep boulder garden that is the Sawyer River.
Sorry for all the Gopro stills, I realize they're not that high quality -- just haven't had my real camera out that much.