A Different Kind of Canoe Trip:
West River - Spring '98

by Carol-Anne Eldridge
From the May 1998 WrapAround

The Jamaica State Park will no longer run a shuttle service for boaters on the class three section in the spring. Thus the options are carrying the dam or walking and carrying your boat up the road. At the dam you climb up one side lugging a canoe and down 265 feet on a switch back trail on the other side--been there, done that---never again!

I signed up for the class three Boston trip this spring (NH wasn't running a trip on the class three section) and wasn't told by the leader that there would be no shuttle. The next night co-leader Skip Morris, wakes me up (about 10:30 PM) to inform me that there's to be no shuttle, but that I can use his wheels to pull my canoe to the put-in. Ok, Skip. Now, I lost an hourís sleep after that news! Did I really want to hike up the road hauling a 100 lb. canoe. After all, I am a senior citizen!

Saturday morning I drove into Jamaica State Park and there wasn't a canoe in sight -- smart people I thought. Well, the Boston group did have a few canoes and some opted for the life time experience of carrying the dam. It turned out that the Brindles were paddling tandem and had wheels to walk their canoe to the put-in. Thus Skip and I teamed up with them, with Skip putting his kayak on top of my canoe--and we were off. We saw kayakers Kevin O'Grady and Allen Gaskell standing on the platform waiting for the shuttle--hah, ha.

westriver.jpg (36286 bytes)Dick and Verniel Morin on the West River in í97. That certainly seems like a different kind of canoe trip!!!

The hike from the parking lot to the put-in is 2 miles. Since the road is an old railroad bed, you don't notice that you are going up hill for two miles. This year the Park Service installed new informational signs about every 0.2 of a mile up the road, at the truck pull offs. These signs along the road made our hike a breeze as we stopped to learn something new, take a brief break, and switch sides to give our arms a break on the long haul. We learned that beavers have changed considerably in the last million years. They were once the size of Vermontís black bears of today.

Then there was the Salmon Hole Massacre in 1728, when men going from Lake Champlain to Fort Drummer (Brattleboro) followed the West River and the Indians took a more direct land route at the oxbow in the river and cut them off at the Salmon Hole.

We arrived at the put-in relaxed after an easy hike and met the exhausted and beat group that had walked down from the dam.

At the put-in the canoe wheels were disassembled and loaded in the canoe. The water level on the river was the highest any of us ever remember and made for a great run. The waves were huge, but the dumplings seemed easier to me, although the eddies were almost non-existent.

Moral: Canoeing the West River in the spring time, requires wheels now and its easy.

So much for the West.

You should have been on the Swift Sunday, I almost swam Rocky Gorge! I tipped over coming into the pool at the gorge. Luckily, I caught a rope and Skip caught my canoe before it went down the gorge.

Copyright 1998, Carol-Anne Eldridge. All rights reserved.


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