The Vermont Paddlers Club

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West R. Weekend

Saturday-Sunday Sep 21-22, 2002
Kayak: John Barrows, Rick Covill, John Floyd, Scott Hayden, Mike Henry, Eliot Lothrop, Rod Wentworth
Open Canoe: Pat Cleary, Ray Ingram, Faith Knapp, Tony Shaw
Organizer: VPC
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium
Gauge (cfs): 1500
Author: John Floyd

All week the weather forecast for the infamous West River release called for heavy downpours both days. E-mails and phone calls went back and forth: "D'ya think you'll go?"

The drive down to Jamaica Saturday morning was under low clouds, occasionally spitting drizzle. But by the time we were on the water, the sprinkles had stopped, the air was warm, and the sun even came out now and then. With 1500 cfs released from Ball Mountain Dam, it turned into a great day of paddling.

There was lots of envelope-pushing going on, including John Floyd and Eliot running the upper section for the first time. Eliot swam the entire III-IV rapid below the dam. John swam the Dumplings, getting up close and personal with the boulders river right. Lots of playing going on, too. Scott couldn't wipe the grin off his face after launching off the rock below the Dumplings. We hope he was still smiling at home Saturday night, having chosen familial harmony over a second day on the river.

Many of those who stayed over were at Winhall Brook campground (hosted by some very laid back park employees). Tony, Rod, Eliot and John Floyd shared a site. Just as we were turning in for the night, a light sprinkle started. It wasn't long before the rain picked up, and the promised downpour fell off and on through the night. Morning light brought huge puddles (one in Tony's tent) and some talk of running Winhall Brook. Conversation over a Dunkin Donuts breakfast revolved around whether the rain still falling on the tent would let up. By the time the subject was beat to death, the rain let up and, when we reached Jamaica State Park, it stopped altogether.

Sunday turned out to be another fine day for paddling. The clouds, often barely above the river, drizzled now and then, but no one cared (some didn't notice!). All together, it was another fine West River weekend.

We should acknowledge all the great park staff, elementary school boosters (i.e. parking attendants), the dam operators and the vendors who make it all happen for our benefit.

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