End of Summer or start of Fall - either way if was great to be paddling

Some people said it was the last day of summer. Other people said it was the first day of fall. Either way, it was a great day to be on the water, and I spent it on the West River in Jamaica, VT at Westfest.

West River in Jamaica, VT
A typical section of the West

Westfest on the West River occurs during the annual fall release from the Ball Mountain Dam. There are two sections of the West that are popular for whitewater paddling – the upper West (class III) from Ball Mountain Dam to the Jamaica State Park, and the lower West (class II) from the Jamaica State Park to Route 100. The staff from the Jamaica State Park runs a shuttle on the upper section that allows paddlers to easily do 3 or 4 runs a day – a big draw for many people.

Running the shuttle - one lonely canoe
The first shuttle - one lonely canoe

We got an early start and arrived at the Jamaica State Park at around 8:30. We were on the shuttle for our first run on the upper section at around 9:00. As we got on the water at the footbridge at Cobb Brook, we joined Paul for our first run.

Paul from the footbridge at Cobb Brook
Paul from the footbridge

With the recent rains, the level was a little higher than usual, so the rocks were buried and there were lots of long wave trains. The most difficult rapid on this section of the river is the Dumplings. The typical route is a “S” turn starting just left of some large rocks in the middle of the river, then right though some large standing waves. The turns were a little trickier and the waves were a little bigger, but we made it though fine

Running the Dumplings - not the best picture, but I’m in there somewhere
Dumplings - I'm in there somewhere

We ended up doing four runs the upper section for the day. On the last run Paul and Dave carried their boats up to the Ball Mountain Dam to run the most difficult rapid on the river – Initiation. Initiation is a half-mile rapid with continuous 3-foot waves, big rocks and nasty pour-overs. A misstate here usually leads to a long swim, so I decided to skip this rapid and take some pictures instead.

Dave running Initiation
Dave running Initiation

Another great day on the river.

End of a great day
Erik and Dave

Few more pictures here:

First time wearing neoprene this season, and boy does it STINK. My wife says it smells like a pond - I think it smells like FUN! :smiley: