Saturday, January 03, 2015

Bulls Bridge 1+ on the painted gauge (a very important correlation)

These numbers are important to note because they represent the lowest levels that indicate the river is "running".  Too many variables come into play to state definitively that the painted gauge always reads 1 when the internet gauge at Gaylordsville reads 3.95.  But, if the internet reads 4, then surely something is going over the dam and adding to the normal minimum flow they maintain for the fish.

Painted boater's gauge:  1 (just an inch over)

Beware of stick in the last small drop of Stairway (river left)

Housatonic at Gaylordsville gauge:   3.95  (1970 cfs)
Tenmile River gauge:  1.98  (271 cfs)
Falls Village gauge:  3.63 (1380 cfs)

This is the level at 3:30 pm today

The lower levels are difficult enough to read without the snow that fell today.  To get this picture, I had to splash water on the wall after I put in.  Note that the block (the footer, the shelf) that can be seen just an inch below the surface of the water is the mark for 1.  Some of the boaters used to call anything below the block "minus" whatever amount of inches they saw below the block.  Arguing the difference between zero as the lowest number or 1 is kind of silly, since that block is the indication that enough water exists to get through the flat water past Pencil Sharpener.  Water always flows over the Flume, and through S-Turn and Pencil Sharpener.  The minimum flow can be fun if you just want to get on the water.  The problem is that you have to walk out from there when the level is below 1, since it's difficult to float a boat through the flats to get to the take out.  

photo fo Stairway from the bridge.

I put in today at 3:30, while the snow was falling, and frazil ice was forming to add to the accumulating snow in the river.  The beginning of pancake ice was seen in some of the larger eddies that have steady recirculation.  I did not think I was going to paddle today, but the snow made the environment much more attractive, and I knew that I would enjoy some quiet winter paddling.  This is the time of year when I can see more of the natural world and fewer people lining the banks.

That stick in the last little drop in Stairway might become more of a factor is ice continues to build up on it.  It does not seem to be on anyone's line when the level is above 2 1/2, but lower....

This photo of the bottom of DeadHorse was taken from the end of the Surfing Rapid eddy.  The arrow is pointing to the most obvious part of the strainer on the left fork of Dead Horse.  It is a large boulder that is propped up by two small stones.  It used to be directly in the landing zone, but has moved a bit to the right (still in the way, and still very dangerous).  I hope that subsequent floods will continue this trend and start the process of opening up the sieve.

This is the same left fork of Dead Horse taken from the confluence with the main stem of the river.  The right arrow points to the same part of the sieve as the previous picture.  The center arrow is pointing to where most of the flow goes.  If you look closely at the boil, you will see that at least half of the flow is emerging from under the rocks.

This is a photo of the same left fork of Dead Horse, taken from where the right fork (the only line that can be run) hits the main part of the river.  The arrow shows the direction of flow, and points to the major sieve.  Behind the arrow (with many icicles) is the back side of the rock from two pictures ago.

If you choose run Dead Horse, you should be fully aware of the dangers that lurk in the left fork of the final drop.  Not only does a serious sieve exists, but it often collects wood.  The final move is a must-make move, and is not the place to rely on luck.

Above is a picture of the Flume at this level (1).  I took the picture after running the Flume, so am looking back upstream at it (with the tourist observation deck at the top of the picture (the vantage point from which I took video footage of Sollie running the Flume at 3 1/2), and Dead Horse out of sight upstream of the Flume because of my low vantage point).  The arrows illustrate an alternate line that some of us like to run when the river gets this low.  It really only goes when it hits 1 on the gauge.  There is a last chance eddy on river-left (A).  Setting up the move from the last-chance eddy (A), boaters must ferry across the entire drop (B), with the stern almost touching the horizon.  The river will want to kick back the other way, but keep paddling as far as you can, and make a nice angled boof off the opposite edge (C), landing in a shallow pool.  To exit, paddle back into the hole of the main drop and surf it out.  It's not for the timid, but it's a great boof.  

Taking out at the confluence of the Ten Mile River cuts the walking shuttle distance in half (and means I can walk on the Appalachian Trail instead of on busy Route 7).  The AT follows the river.  A more direct trail exists through the woods, but it does not follow the river.