West River Release 2019

This past weekend was the West River Release in Jamaica, Vermont. Thanks to the efforts of American Whitewater and the cooperation of Jamaica State Park, there are two scheduled weekends per year that paddlers get to enjoy this classic whitewater run.

The run is full of awesome surfing waves, plenty of eddies and eddy lines to play on, and beautiful Vermont scenery. For the more self sufficient paddler, groups can hike over and down Ball Mountain Dam on some steep switchbacks etched into the side of the massive retaining wall. The temperature peaked above 80 degrees over the weekend, which made the hike down a perfect warm-up.

The put-in eddy is full of paddlers cooling off with practice rolls before they cross the horizon line and enter into the first rapid, Initiation. Appropriately named, Initiation has been the demise of many new paddlers who are then in for a lengthy swim. The rapid itself is just over a half mile of big rolling waves and large boulders, with plenty of surf spots along the way. It’s a blast when you’re in your boat, not so much out of the boat.

Following Initiation is what is commonly referred to as “class fun”, with more play spots. The second major rapid is Dumplings, named for the four large boulders that make up this exciting rapid. There is also an awesome ender spot in the second half of the rapid that has been standing up long boats for decades.

This West Release was special for me because it was the first time that my friend Whitney had been down the river, and I loved being able to to share one of my favorite New England runs with her. Thanks again to American Whitewater for continuing to protect recreational releases on this awesome section of whitewater.

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