Surfing and Swimming the West River from Mountain Visions on Vimeo.
I've become quite adept at finding gentle keeper hydraulics. This benign hole spiced up the lower West River a bit during the first day of 2016 West Fest in Jamaica, Vermont and sent me for a much needed swim. The lower section, between Jamaica State Park and the Route 100 bridge, is pretty tame in a raft, but we wanted to get our dog out and decided to run the lower section with him. One of the main reasons we got the raft was so we could bring him along and the cool thing about whitewater is you don't need class IV water to practice class IV moves. On day two we ran the upper section, which is somewhat technical class III. Although we had no problems with it, I'd be hesitant to bring the dog due to the potential for some technical swims, especially through the Dumplings.
Monday, October 17, 2016
Surfing and Swimming the West River from Mountain Visions on Vimeo.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
|Setting up for the shuttle Saturday morning. Our tiny Nine.Five is the raft on top of the 13ft raft on top of the van.|
|Our campsite at River Drivers|
|Best part of owning a raft, it doubles as camp furniture!|
|Andy's Pub in Portland. Lobster tacos, tenderloin and lobster and mussels marinara. The lobster tacos were incredible.|
Evil Nasty Hole - Dead River, Maine from Mountain Visions on Vimeo.
Ever wonder what it would be like to put your cat (or yourself, for the cat lovers out there) in a top loading washing machine? There is really only one keeper hydraulic on the Dead River, it's aptly named Evil Nasty Hole, and this is it. At 3500cfs it's pretty tame, only keeping us for a little under 2 minutes and not really being a drowning machine that can form at 5000cfs.. The record, if you care, is 10 minutes in Evil Nasty, we barely even get a participation ribbon. The Dead is 13 miles of essentially non stop rapids, so I sort of let my guard down when we got to this point.. I did tell my partner I thought we should head left, but we then decided to move river center (as originally planned) and skirt it on the right. As you can see, we didn't quite get out of it's re-circulation.. Next time we go left (or way right).
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
After some checking, with the newly acquired state lands of the Finch Pruyn land purchase, the Gooley club access point on the confluence of the Hudson and Indian Rivers is now public. Therefore it is entirely possible for those without the time or technical proficiency to run just the Indian River which is about a grade easier than the Hudson and quite accessible if something should go wrong. At summer flows this is a fairly consistent class III river with some sections of II. It's mostly non stop wave trains that really aren't very technical in nature. However, the length of consistency of the rapids makes this a fun run. This river is a basically a 1/5 scale model of what you'll encounter on the Dead River in Maine at 3500cfs.
Downsides of this are that the official state takeout and shortest walk to the car is quite a ways up the Hudson. It might be possible at higher water levels to paddle most of the way up, but there are two issues. First, the takeout is just upstream of some rapids. Second, the water level this summer was very low and at best you could paddle about 1/3 of the way up, pull the boat while walking another 1/3 but the last 1/3 required portaging over wet slimy riverbed that wasn't ideal by any means.
Aim ultimately found the state takeout while I found the longer portage but easier takeout trail on the point at the exactly confluence of the rivers. Neither option was ideal, but in low water the longer trailed portage was the lesser of evils.
Fortunately for us the Aire Tributary Nine.Five deflates and rolls into a fairly compact package that we wheeled up the portage trail (this was basically an old jeep road). Unfortunately, the walk is uphill (seemingly) both ways which mean the double carry of about 1 mile was not fun (could be done in a single carry for sure, but we needed to go get the other car and the portage cart (beach cart).
I'd say if you can put in at the beginning of the release you might be able to do two runs, but it would be very close. We didn't put in until almost 11 but I'm not sure I would have done two runs anyway.
Hopefully next year we have the skills and the confidence to run the Upper Hudson Gorge (the section below the confluence of the Indian and Hudson Rivers) down to North River, which should be a blast in a small raft. In fact, I'm hoping to do it as an overnight rafting trip.
One of the nice things about the raft is we can live scout runs for the OC. The Indian would be a tough run in an open canoe and we'd have to run tighter lines -we hit at least two rocks that would have likely flipped an OC2- but I definitely would like to be able to run it by the end of 2017. As fun as it was in a tiny raft, I think it would be awesome in a hardshell OC2.
Indian River R2 Labor Day 2016 from Mountain Visions on Vimeo.
More practice in the Aire Tributary Nine.Five HD. After running familar rivers like the Deerfield (II(III)) and Sacandaga (II-III) several times since purchasing the raft, we stepped it up to the fairly continuous Class III rapids and big waves of the Indian River, which is the access point/warmup for the Hudson River Gorge -one of the premier rafting trips in the east or perhaps anywhere in the US. The Nine.Five has actually been a lot more fun than I expected, and I'm really happy with it. I don't think I'd have enjoyed a bigger raft or one with less kick.
Posted by Justin Serpico at Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Friday, September 9, 2016
- It allows you to run harder rapids that might be pushing your OC2 skill level. A good option is to raft a new run before taking the OC2 out and see what it’s like, scouting out rapids, surf holes, and eddies. This is especially good on rivers that are read and run. Read and run class III might be pushing the limits of OC2 for most people, but it’s generally fairly tame in a raft.
- It allows you to learn river dynamics and choose lines without the consequences of a swim always being there (although, it’s definitely possible to flip a raft in any class river, just a lot less likely. In fact, I’ve had a few people who were accomplished paddlers in hard shell canoes, kayaks and rafts tell me that they rolled a raft in the secondary rapids at the bottom of Zoar Gap, basically the class II+ section).
- Catching an eddy with a raft and a canoe are different in terms of angles, it still allows you to practice finding eddies for future runs in an OC. On wave train rivers these eddies might be your only chance to bail an OC (unless you have an electric bilge pump). Catching an eddy in a raft requires a steeper angle of entry and more effort, IMO (but that could also just be a lack of skills on our part) but the concept isn’t really any different. Basically if you can catch it in a raft, you can more easily catch it in a hard shell boat.
- It allows you to practice ferries and surfing (which is basically just ferrying in place). Again, not quite the same as in an OC as you don’t edge the raft like a canoe. Angle and speed are similar. Angle, speed, edge are your 3 factors in a hard shell.
- Sight lines on a raft are higher than even an OC (much, much, higher than a kayak or inflatable kayak). This gives you a different perspective on the water allowing you to look much farther ahead and make decisions at a slower pace. It’s like being able to see the future.
- Both paddlers have unobstructed sight lines in a raft when paddling R2 vs an OC2/IK2/ K2 where the stern paddler has to look around the bow paddler.This also means both paddlers can learn from each other.
- Rafts are a great way to take out non paddler family and friends. I was able to run Zoar Gap @ a high 1000cfs (III+) perfectly in an R3 configuration with my two 13 year old siblings, with me paddling off the back doing most of the steering, although, in a 3 man raft, everyone still plays a big role and my siblings did an amazing job.
- Rafts are a great way to take the dog down river. This was actually the main reason we got the raft. I saw people in IKs taking their dogs down river and I was already feeling guilty for leaving ours at home every weekend. I feel like next year we'll be comfortable enough to run class II with Colvin in a OC2, but my worry was if we rolled it in some rapids this year that he'd become fearful of the whitewater and we wouldn't ever be able to take him. He actually really loves the raft and is protective of it. Barking at neighbors if they approach it. He gets excited when he sees it.
- A raft offers much more bang for buck than an IK. It’s compact but holds 850lbs worth of people or gear. Two plus K9 and compact overnight gear is no problem. Or you can get 3-4 adults and dog in it. Or 4 adults (usually two couples come in under 850lbs). Definitely a lot of value for the money. You’d need at least 2 tandem inflatable kayaks for 3 adults and a dog. And probably 2 kayaks for a dog and two adults since IKs rarely hold over 400lbs and a lot of space is used by the legs being extended.
- You might get lazy. Although the basic techniques are the same in a canoe, kayak, IK/IC, or raft, taking balance, edging and bracing out of the equation for too long is a great way to end up swimming a lot. Most OC flips happen when the wrong edge is engaged. Canoes feel tippy but the reality is they have a lot of ability to edge, we’ve had our OC2 gunnel to the water and still recovered with a good brace.
- A large raft generally requires a trailer.
- Rafts aren’t cheap.
- Rafts can be heavy
- Rafts require a little TLC, especially get them dry for storage
- Rafts don’t paddle long stretches of flat water particularly efficiently. They downright suck as paddle craft in the wind.
Posted by Justin Serpico at Friday, September 09, 2016