Monday, September 12, 2011

Lower Millers - September 11, 2011

Had a great time yesterday on the Lower Millers in Erving, MA. We had 8 boats – 3 canoes, 4 kayaks and one cataraft (cool boat).

Seth in his cataraft
I've done the upper section of the Millers a couple of times in the past, but this was my first run on the Lower Millers. The Upper Millers is very different – not as continuous with lots of rocks to dodge. The Lower Millers is mostly long wave trains. I’d rate the lower section as a class II+ (maybe III in places) with the exception of the Funnel which I’d definitely rate a class IV.

We put in at Arch Street and took out off Dorsey Road (under Route 2) in Erving. The river was at a great level – 4.7 ft, 2,000 cfs on the Erving gage. The wave trains seemed to go on forever – long runs with short sections of quickwater in between.

Paul in the Farley Flats
This section starts with easy rapids as the river runs along Route 2 through the Farley Flats. As the river leaves Route 2, we ran a series of progressively more difficult rapids leading to the Funnel.

The Funnel is by far the most difficult rapid on this stretch of the river – easily a grade above everything else. Paul, Tim and Alan had all run this section before, but none of them was quite sure where the Funnel began, so we unexpectedly entered it without scouting – big mistake.

Middle section of the Funnel -
I hit the rock on the lower right
Tim went first, followed by Seth in his cataraft. I went third. I was told to stay to the left to avoid a strainer that we thought would be on the right side. As I followed Seth into the rapid the river narrowed and the gradient increased dramatically. I saw Seth disappear into a huge hole and thrust himself out the other side – his huge cataraft must have been 6 feet in the air. I knew I was in trouble.

Since I was running down the left side I missed the huge hole in the center, but ran head on into a large rock on the left side. I tried to grab my boat, but lost it as we went over the huge pore-over at the bottom of the rapid.

Andy near Millers Falls
I got to shore easily, but watched as my boat disappeared downstream. Fortunately, Paul was able to chase it down and push it ashore about a quarter mile downstream. Of eight boats, we had five swimmers in the Funnel. Alan flipped and broke his paddle trying to roll. Jeff flipped in the middle, but was able to self-rescue. Andy and Ed were helped ashore by Tim and Seth.

The rest of the trip was uneventful as we enjoyed the wave trains down to Millers Falls, and the quickwater below that to Dorsey Road. Another great day.

My Pictures
Erving Gage
Lower Millers from American Whitewater