While traveling south through Vermont, we tried to secure a campsite at the Jamaica State Park. We were told that no campsites were available due to “Whitewater Weekend”. We were able to find a site in a nearby Army Corp of Engineers Campground, Winhall Brook. Since we’ve had a little experience with whitewater kayaking, we were anxious to find out what this special weekend was all about.
The following morning we headed down to the Park. Literally hundreds of kayakers, canoeist and rafters had already filled the area. Vendors were onsite selling kayaks, life jackets, wet suits, and assorted paraphernalia for anyone that might be inspired at the last minute to join the fun and challenge. The waters above the Ball Mountain Dam are released into the West River just above the Park. Class II to class IV rapids are produced by the controlled release once a year, usually the last weekend of September.
A former rail bed now provides a 3-mile trail along the side of the river providing a perfect vantage point for park visitors who want to watch rather than participate. At the bottom of the run, trucks are lined up to carry the individuals and their vessels, for $15 for the day, to the Cobb Brook Bridge where they start the run. The local high school had a food wagon selling coffee, hot soup, pulled pork, chili and a variety of baked goods as a fundraiser. They had a steady stream of customers. I’m sure those individual who had been in the water on this chilly morning were most appreciative of their presence.
We stayed for quite a while watching the participants find their way down river, and almost wished we were in the water with them.
|Eskimo Roll sequence|
|He makes this look easy|
|We never mastered the technique|
|Job well done!|
|Several kayakers got thrown on this rapid|
|Rescuer on shore|