Sunday, September 24, 2017

Westfest – September 23, 2017

At the put-in
I was up at 4:00 a.m., and met Paul at the MacDonald’s at 5:00 a.m. for the early morning drive up the Westfest on the West River in Jamaica, VT. We left early so we could meet a CTAMC group at 8:00, but those plans went awry when I took a sleep-deprived wrong turn on to Route 35 in Townshend.

By the time we reached Jamaica State Park, the CTAMC crew had already taken the shuttle up to the put in.  No problem. Charlie Sweet was waiting in the shuttle line, so we paddled with him for the rest of the day. 

Charlie
The shuttle started at 8:30, but the release wouldn’t ramp up to its full release level of 1500 cfs until 10:00. The river on the first run was a little lower, and a little more technical with more rocks to dodge, but I liked it. I did the S-turn at the Dumplings - hugging the rock at the top, and then sneaking down the left side.

As I pulled my solo boat into the take out, I saw Dave Draper waiting.  The plan was for at least one tandem run with Dave in his Caption – we ended up doing two. 

By the time we got on the river for our second run, the river had reached its full release level. The Caption is a great boat, and very stable, but we had a hard time keeping water out. Maybe it was just poor route selection by the bow paddler (me), but we had to pull over to empty the boat after pretty much every big rapid. 

Paul
At the Dumplings, we took the left line, and were able to eddy out behind the second rock before heading down the left side to avoid the big waves.

With a little confidence after a successful second run, we decided to hike up to the dam to run Initiation on our third run. The line is just left of the small rock at the top (to avoid the rocks at the top on the right), then go right to avoid the big hole, and then catch the eddy right side.  We filled up with water in the big hole and got spun around backwards, but made it to the eddy before tipping over. 

Dave and Erik
Self-rescue complete, we ferried left to avoid the big rock on the right, and then rode the big waves down to the footbridge, where we emptied the boat again.  That pattern repeated itself for the rest of the run. 

After the third run I knew I was done. The shuttle line was short, so Paul headed back for one more run – a 15-minute shuttle ride up, and a 17-minute bomber-run back down. 

As tough as it was to get up at 4:00 in the morning, I did like getting an early start. We got two runs in before 11:30 with no lines at the shuttle - including the lower water run. Unfortunately, there is always too much going on to take many pictures. 


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