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Browns River, float in the sun

Sunday May 25, 2014
Kayak: Ken Emery, Rich Reynolds, Mark Cook, Chris Weed
Organizer: Chris Weed
Difficulty: novice WW
Level: medium low
Gauge (ft): 4.95
Gauge (cfs): 1900
Author: Chris Weed

I had a Browns River trip on the schedule, and one early interested participant, so I started watching the Lamoille's flow as the best available correlation. It got a small boost late on Saturday, and I got two more expressions of interest, so the trip was a go.

It promised to be marginally runnable, but turned out to be better than that, although certainly not exciting. We elected to use the alternate bridge takeout on McNall Road, eases the climb up from the river while adding nearly a mile to the run. It finishes with some easy class II water, after an extended flat stretch. The weather was stunning all afternoon, with a temperature close to 80 F. The water was refreshingly cool in contrast.

One of us (MC) was new to the run, having done the White River numerous times with a few runs on smaller rivers (Black, Huntington). In marked contrast to the White, much of this section of the Browns River is away from the road and surrounded by woods. The feeling of quiet isolation is one of its best features.

Two of us chose to walk the initial drop at the broken dam, but it presented no problems for those of us who ran it, despite being forced to traverse the hole on river left. Everything else went without difficulty, and the right side of the final island drop was surprisingly smooth. (Two of us ran it, and two of us took the class II bypass on river left of the island.)

All in all it was a very pleasant way to spend a gorgeous Sunday on Memorial Day weekend. On the Browns, one doesn't often get this combination late in the spring paddling season, with all the trees fully leafed out.

NOTE: The local gauge is not painted on. It consists of a low flat bridge footing across the river from the put-in parking area. Poking above Sunday's water level is a rectangular cavity in the vertical face of the footing, a few inches below the top. If part of the cavity is visible the level is low, albeit runnable. If the river is at the top of the footing it's at a good padded level that adds interest to the main features.

On the wall above the footing is the opening of a pipe embedded in the concrete. This marks the highest level most people will want to run, and is not for novices. Above that be especially careful, and scout the drops. You'll probably want to walk at least one. Also, the river will be lapping into the trees and strainers may be in play that wouldn't normally be a concern.

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