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Hot Times in the Hudson Gorge Sunday Jul 17, 2011
Character: intermediate WW
Water Level: low boatable
Organizer: Jim Poulin
Participants: (K1): RodW, ChrisW, RichR, JamieD, JimP; (Inflatable): EricB, BarbB
Gauge Info: USGS Gauge Height: 3.60 ft.; USGS Flow: 1150 cfs; USGS Station: North Creek

Say what?!? The words Hudson and Hot do not normally appear in the same sentence. Usually Hudson runs are cold, tiring, long, wet and cold. Yeah I mentioned cold twice but this run is always freakin' freezin'! But not so on this Sunday in mid July. Depending upon which automotive thermometer you checked is was at least 88 degrees with a high end reading of 91. Now that makes for Hot Times in the Hudson Gorge!

This one started out like so many before. Meet up in Addison by the county store (mmmm, bear claws), coordinate cars, gear and riders and head over to New York. Maybe it should have been an indication of a good day when we arrived at the ferry and they held the boat just long enough for all three of our vehicles to climb on board before they shoved off.

After a quick stop at the take out we arrived at the put in right at 10am. What timing. We noticed the Indian was running lower than normal. Various reports ranged from 33% to 50% less than normal.

Another thing we noticed was getting hit by the waves was so refreshing. Not the bitter cold, bone chilling type, but the warm fluffy type. Made us hit all those many holes on the Indian with gusto!

After a quick confluence break, we worked our way down the Hudson to the Blue Ledge rapid. It was decidedly lower than any of us had every run. We had out run the bubble! We ran the "creek version" of Blue Ledge - boofs and slots but not many fluid lines. Then we arrived at the "always there" surfing wave above the Narrows to find it wasn't there. Then it was on to the Narrows. Not quite the creek version but the three drops in the Narrows were quite distinct, with significant slack water between each drop. Nothing like any of us had ever seen. That's saying something! Check the participant's list. This wasn't a group of wet behind the ears (sorry, couldn't help myself) paddlers. This was a full on gray beard contingent with countless runs on this stretch of river.

So here's the scoop on the levels. Without the bubble the Hudson was running 2.7 feet or 410 cfs. With the bubble the levels skyrocketed to 3.6 feet or 1150 cfs. During this run we witnessed both extremes!

At the bottom of the Narrows it was time for a break and for the water to catch us. Lunch is served! Like all Hudson runs you lunch on the sunny side of the river. Mistake! We should have definitely sought shade. It is hot in the sun! It wasn't too much longer that we noticed the water rising. The fact that Chris' boat started to float away was another key. Then came the rafts. Oh yeah, we passed all the rafts in the first few miles on the Hudson. There was our hint that the raft guides knew what we finally figured out - don't get ahead of the bubble! Live and learn.

After lunch the Hudson was much more fluid and the action continued right on down to Greyhound Bus Stopper. Only today it was more like Radio Flyer Wagon stopper. There was a ledge but not much water coming over. We had outrun the bubble again! What, are we stupid?!? Apparently so. Another break allowed us to watch the feature progress through Schwin Bike Stopper to Toyota Prius Stopper. It never quite made it to Bus Stopper levels.

Ran into MarkL pushing rubber down the river. He had a client that was bandaged up in his raft. Looked to be some type of shoulder injury. Ouch! I guess Mark got to practice his wilderness First Aid!

Then began the slow float out. The water was low but we scraped along. As usual we were greeted with a head wind. But at least this time is was more like a blast furnace than a cold arctic blast.

All in all a very good day. No one even flipped over today (not counting any cool off rolls of which there were many). Definitely a couple of firsts for this paddler. Never been on the Hudson when it was this hot and have never seen Blue Ledge, The Narrows and Bus Stopper with so little water.

I'll try to recall this HOT day on future spring trips on the Hudson...