Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Whitewater On The Deerfield

Well I admit it. I turned fair weather paddler. The weekend called for hot and rainy conditions and I bailed on our planned trip to Little Tupper.

While we've explored almost every nook and cranny of Little Tupper, I've never been to Round Pound which was "sort of" private till about 2 years ago.

In the end though I had a lot of work the catch up on, so I worked Saturday and we planned on running a river Sunday.

Something easy, no harder than consistent Class II, but more than Class I and riffles.

The Schroon in the Adirondacks looked perfect, especially since we'd need to run a shuttle. Right off the Northway and about a 1 hour drive to the put-in.

As always nothing is simple. The Schroon has no gages except for one at the outlet of Schroon Lake.

It was at 1.90 Friday night before the rain, and I was hoping we'd get poured on all day Saturday.

Well, Saturday it hardly rained. And never very hard.

Saturday night came and I looked at the gage 1.93...Nooooooo!!!!!!

I read that minimum level on that gage should be 2.50ish. So we were way too low and running rapids in scratchy conditions is no fun.

Saturday night at 10pm I'm scrambling to find a place to paddle that both was moderate in difficulty and had some flow to it.

Looking at the American White Water Stream Gage Page and browsing by state it was looking bleak until I saw the Deerfield River running at 1300cfs. Minimum flow to run it is 450cfs and high water is well over 2000. So it was prime conditions.

Sunday morning it was down to 700cfs when we left, and I bet it was closer to 500cfs when we put in, but it was a fun stretch of a bout 6 miles.

The reason we did so little was that our intention was to put in above Dam #2. Problem is the power company doesn't allow access to the road near Dam #2 so paddlers must risk their lives to lower the boats off a loose steep ravine edge down to the water using ropes.

Well my 70lb boat and I decided that I wasn't going to fall into a ravine and so we shortened the trip to the next put-in.

This was the first time I'd paddled the Deerfield and I have to say it's a nice river by Massachusetts standards. It's in many spots out of the way, with few roads crossing it, it's bordered by rocky cliffs with waterfalls pouring down into it, and it's teeming with wildlife.

This really is an excellent river with lots of moderate whitewater below Shelburne. Mostly Class II-III.

We will definitely be back to paddle more of the Deerfield.

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