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Poultney River

Saturday May 11, 2002
Kayak: Rick Covill, Jamie Dolan, Mike Henry
Open Canoe: Randy Allen, Paul Berry, Nancy Gero, Bruce Healey, John Jenkins, Faith Knapp, Tony Shaw
Organizer: Faith Knapp
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium low
Gauge (cfs): 150
Author: Faith Knapp

On a very fine day in May, a group of us decided to go to the Poultney River and run the section from Fair Haven to Carver Falls Dam. Faith, Nancy and John had a wonderful time running this river last June and had great memories of the trip. Only trouble is, John loved telling the stories, and every time he described the slide (which is quite long) it got longer! Well, this time he came armed with his daughter's video camera to prove to those doubting Thomases that such a slide does exist.

We put in near the Vermont Welcome Center and off we went. Just under the Route 4 bridge and about 75 feet downstream, we all got out on the left, careful to stay below the high water mark, to scout the first rapid. Landowners in the area have had some pretty unpleasant experiences with boaters in the past.

A considerable drop with a few rocks showing their faces was our intro the the river. John had his camera ready and got some good movies.

The second drop was the memorable "slide". Only one way down and we all felt that as we reached the bottom we were doing 90 MPH. A couple of us caught the eddy on river (no...slide) left. Others went all the way to the end, and a few perched atop a couple of rocks on slide right. This area could have some incredible dynamics at higher levels with the ledge and rock formations that are there. Some carried up for repeat performances. A short run and strong party permitted more play time -- and several of the drops were run repeatedly.

There are about 8 ledge drops with play areas in this 4 1/2 mi. stretch. We found an island and enjoyed a leisurely lunch in the sun. Soon we came upon the waterfall that does not look particularly nice. Last year Faith and Eric had an interesting swim. Nancy described it as a washing machine seeing arms and legs going in all directions. Not this year! All who ran it did so successfully! John has proof on the video camera. After this drop, there is a short rapid which narrows into a short blind chute. Then for a relaxing paddle to the dam and time to reminisce about the day.

When we decided to paddle this river, we hoped for water and made the decision based on the amount of rain that had fallen in the area the previous couple of days. There is a gauge near Fair Haven as the USGS site describes it. However, last year when we ran it, the gauge was ~ 300 cfs. This year was higher, but the online gauge read ~ 150 cfs. So this is not a reliable indicator of the water level.

With smiles on our faces, we discussed our next adventure on the Poultney. The take out is at Carver Falls Dam, where there is a sign showing the way to the caves nearby. Maybe next time we'll finish with a hike to the caves.

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