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Upper Mad (Improv)

Sunday Apr 13, 2014
Kayak: Paul Carlile, Jamie Dolan, James Fecteau, Will Parini, Brian Wilcock
Open Canoe: Eric Bishop, Tony Shaw
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: high
Gauge (ft): 5.7
Gauge (cfs): 2000
Author: Tony Shaw


verb \ˈim-prə-ˌvīzˈ\

: to create and perform spontaneously or without preparation

: to make or create (something) by using whatever is available

: a skill honed by VPC trip organizers when Mother Nature throws a curve ball

Despite this year's unhurried spring thaw the scheduled Black River in Perkinsville, VT - a river that is fluid/optimal around 800-900 cfs - went from 2x optimal Friday to almost 3x optimal Saturday, so we scrambled to find an alternative for the Sunday intermediate level trip. Plan B was the Moose River in Victory, VT (scuttled due to high water and a 2 hour drive). Plan C was Bingo Brook (scuttled because the road remains impassable this early in April). It wasn't until Sunday morning, in the wake of a fast-moving rainstorm overnight that left an inch or so of rain across Addison and Washington Counties, that the Upper Mad River bubbled up to the top of the list. And there the 7 of us met...and frolicked.

The rain stopped and the sun shone. But the shot of rain and warming trend turned the normally well-mannered class II Upper Mad into a bit of a beast. There were 2 swims within moments of our Main St. (Warren, VT) put-in, 2 swims at the Butternut Rd. constriction where we opted to take-out, and 3 (I believe) swims along the way as well. Seeing 1275 cfs on the online Moretown USGS gauge as I left home I knew there would be enough water, but by the time I got back home it was reading over 2400 cfs - and still climbing. All the little side-streams were churning, and when we got off the Mad, James and Jamie headed together up Rt. 17 toward Mad River Glen for high-water "dessert" on Mill Brook. I gather that too went "swimmingly".

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