White River - Hancock to Stockbridge – May 2, 2021

It always happens when you least suspect it, and that is why you need to live by the Boy Scout motto – be prepared. Yesterday I wasn’t.

I was joining a group to paddle the White River from Hancock to Stockbridge in VT – (all canoes - 2 tandem, 3 poling and 3 solo). It’s a beautiful, 11-mile quickwater trip through the hills and cow fields of central VT. It’s also a three-hour drive for me, and I was running late. I was the last to arrive at the put-in, and I could tell by the looks when I drove in that the rest of the group was ready to go.

As far as I knew the forecast for the day was sunny and warm, but I hadn’t checked in a few days. I didn’t want to hold the group up any longer so I grabbed my boundary boots, left my hat, drysuit and spare cloths in the car, and headed out. It would be fine. Its just quickwater, and the river was at a nice level.

About a mile downstream I was navigating through a boney section of quickwater and it happened. I hit a rock and over I went. The recovery was quick, but the damage was done. I was sopping wet. I got my boat to shore, put on my splash top (the only spare cloths that I had) and hoped for the best. I’d be fine when sun came out.

Unfortunately, the sun didn’t come out. Instead, it started to rain. The clouds increased and we had a torrential downpour. Everyone pulled out their raingear, but I just got colder and wetter. I was able to borrow a hat from Bob, and that helped for a while. When my teeth started to chatter I knew I needed to get some dry cloths. I borrowed a fleece from Jonathan, and replaced the wet shirt under my splash top. That felt much better, and I started to warm up.

Fortunately, the rain eventually stopped, and the sun did come out. By the time I reached the take out it was sunny and warm, but it is still a lesson learned (or an important reminder) – BE PREPARED. Fortunately for me this time, my paddling friends were.

Few pictures of an otherwise fun trip here:

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Had you another 10-15 minutes you are experienced enough to have brought some extra clothes for a cold water trip. That must have been a delightful day until you got wet; the next 10 miles were about enduring, not enjoying, the day.

I always carry a small duffle in the canoe cockpit and inside is a fleece/wool turtle neck and watch cap. Helps me not forget, it is always in the boat.

Good your friends could help out, you are not likely to let that
happen again.

thanks for sharing.
I hate being cold and always bring stuff.
I was just out for 4 days with a new sleeping bag at over 6,000 feet. Spring comes late in the mountains, so I brought and extra blanket, but also my trusty old down bag. On two mornings, sliding the old down bag over the newer light bag was just the thing.

Whatever doesn’t kill us,
just might make us stronger.
But some so-called friends dip in their dry bags
to address undry bagless so much wronger.

Twas good the hat and fleece of canoe’s companions
was there to unsaturate your fish-count way,
else baggy plaid pants and bridesmaid chiffon you dance,
such friendly fashion sense of ole Mike McCrea.
(Whyyy, he wouldn’t ease yer shiverin’ any other way!)

Just don’t wet-exit a second time, because you don’t want to see what’s inside that purple drybag Sharpied, “Victoria Shoulda Kept It a Secret/Dammit Eric!”

The lesson learned is to always carry extra dry clothing. You (or a friend) may need it if something goes wrong.

You and most of us know to carry extra clothes/gear, however occasionally we get in a hurry. Glad your friends were there to help!

I know you…better a teeth chattering day on the river than a good day at work, but dang, eck, that’s nuts. We had a couple new folks up on the Shep, and had them running into the brush to change into spare wetsuits and sweaters some years back after a rather catastrophic put in, annnnnnd I do recall coming home and ordering drysuits immediately, after running “cookie basket rapids” or drop on the Housatonic with Aaron in January…in raincoats. Rapid that killed rescue dept. folks and those they tried to rescue…only reason we ran it was ‘cuz I saw the flatwater…on top of the 6’ drop…live and learn. Scott, Wade and Bob (MIntulep) were in yaks and suits, ran the section I knew we’d swamp in, so I sought an alternate route, and found one I’ll never forget. Thought I’d killed my kid…again…looked back just in time to see him style it, that’s Aaron for ya’.
I’ve been cleaning the house, found my drybags, still had space blankets, chocolate bars, first aid kits and lighters in them…hint hint…
Anyways, recognize Mena, figure Carp must be in there, and Tommy looks about the same. House going on the market tomorrow I believe, and Janice and I are headed out in the motorhome, going to look for a new place, probably East Tennessee. Had some great times with you; stay safe…got spare drybags, a drysuit, a whitesell pirana, some pumps, poles and paddles if you or anyone you know is interested.
Nice pix, looks like a great run.

Great photos. Glad you got by with a little help from your friends. :+1:

Nice pictures & looks like a really nice run. I’d likely done the same if was running late & everyone else was ready. I’ve gotten lazy about packing dry clothing when &'m planning on wearing the paddling suit. I do keep a neoprene beany in an inner pocket in my PFD.

The trick is to remember that it is there. Which I did not remember when I could have used it on a damp chilly day on the Lower Missinaibi. I was grumbling to myself about not packing cold weather gear even though it was August on our next to last day - ~50km ending at Portage Island. Later at home going through the vest it was one of those palm meet forehead moments when I opened the zipper on an inner pocket and remembered that I stash a neo beany just for those moments.

Such a rookie move (no pun intended Rookie) - so many things I could have done different:

  • Could have got there on time so I wasn’t rushed
  • Could have checked the weather so I would have known the forecast was for rain
  • Could have packed dry cloths and rain gear in my bag
  • Could have put my drysuit on (which would have solved all the other problems)

A good reminder that cold water can get you even if you don’t take a long swim. At the very least, cold temps and wet cloths can make for a miserable day. Once I got dry cloths on under my splash top I felt a lot better.

Another thing - I always thought that if you just kept moving you’d be fine - that only goes so far. Keeping the engine going helped, but I got cold eventually anyway.

Thanks Tom - another one to add to the collection. I have them back to 2016.


I’ll be more careful, because no one wants to see me in anything that comes out of that purple bag :wink:

Tommy and Mena are doing well - hiking more than paddling, but I hope I’ll still see them once in a while. I’ve been doing a lot more FW than WW, but as you say, it’s all good.

We definitely had some good times - glad you and Janice are able to take these next steps in your adventure. We should try to do a Riverton run before you leave - back where it all started.

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