Sunday, September 26, 2010

West River - September 25th

Its been a while since I had my whitewater boat out, so it was nice to do a couple of runs on the West River in Jamaica, VT.

The West is a pretty river located in southern VT with popular whitewater releases in the spring and fall. This year, the spring release got cancelled, so it was more crowded than usual yesterday. There were long lines for the shuttle operated by the Jamaica State Park, and it seemed like an endless stream of kayaks flowed though the Dumplings. Still, it was a beautiful day – 65 degrees and sunny - and the leaves were just beginning to turn. The release was scheduled for 1,500 cfs, and it appears that’s what we got (West River Gage). The river was definitely crowded, but everyone was having a good time.

There are two sections on the West. The upper section from the Ball Mountain Dam to Salmon’s Hole in the Jamaica State Park is class III. The lower section from Jamaica State Park to the Route 100 Bridge is a pleasant class II. We did two runs on the upper section. To avoid the long lines for the park shuttle, we ran our own shuttle and carried down the face of the Ball Mountain Dam.

The upper section is about 2 1/2 miles long – nothing technical, just lots of 2’ to 3’ standing waves with an occasional rock to avoid. Some of the biggest waves are right at the start in a rapid called Initiation. The preferred route starts in the center, and then moves left to avoid a large collection of boulders on river right. For there, the waves continue to the take out at the Jamaica State Park.

The most technical rapid on the river is called the Dumplings – a collection of large granite boulders plopped down in the middle of the river. There are two routes through the Dumplings – run the three foot ledge on river right, or perform a more technical but less dramatic “S” turn through boulders from river left. I opted for the “S” turn, and had two clean runs, although I did get spun around backwards on my second attempt. It wasn’t pretty, but I made it through.

Running the Dumpling from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

I did have one swim in the rapid just below the put in for the shuttle.  I was bouncing downstream sideways on my second run, not really paying attention, and I flipped on a rock. It was a long swim even though I was kicking like crazy to try to push my boat toward shore. The kyakers would paddle up, take one look at that 13' boat filled with water, and wish me luck.  Good thing us open boaters are self-sufficient. 

My Pictures
My Video - Running the Dumplings
Gregg Koenig's Pictures
Upper Section from American Whitewater
Lower Section From American Whitewater

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