SPA Trip #14: Vermont Gorge-yoneering

By:  Greg
August 22, 2010 8:07 am | Category: General Interest, SPA

The Starting Points for Adventure series gives your outdoor-imagination a kick in the butt, and gets you on the fast-track to adventures. Approximately every week we provide a few pictures and clues of a great location a bit off the beaten path. We challenge you to read carefully, put your thinking cap on, go out into the wild, and find the location. Report back about your findings in the comments below, but please don't give it away for someone who has yet to figure it out. Of course, if you find something even cooler during your travels don't hesitate to challenge us! If you find something really awesome, and think it's worthy of being included in the SPA Trip series send us an email!

Keeping with Ben‘s theme of water sports that go down stream, here’s something you can do in Vermont when the river gauges aren’t checking in high enough for kayaking: canyoneering! Admittedly this isn’t the sport people think of when their minds turn to Vermont. Nonetheless there are many sharp gorges carved into this state’s mountainsides that offer a surprising contrast to the rolling hills that otherwise dominate it’s landscape. Some of these canyons have deep enough pools that one can jump into the waters from high above and then swim downstream and find places to get out safely. Others have improbable rock outcroppings hanging precariously above deep emerald green pools, and invite you to surge some adrenaline through your veins for a fleeting moment. Finally, there are some sharp gorges in Vermont that do not provide a place to jump or swim, but which offer a gushing brook just enough vertical drop over a short distance to make a dry-rope-rappel the only safe way down. Furthermore, as with any canyoneering exploit, these gullies which are fit-for-rappel also have a certain level of commitment; meaning once you’ve entered, due to the sharpness of the walls, the only way out is down. The view from the top of this gorge’s exciting 125 foot descent–which takes place over several cascades–indicates how sharply the walls abut the river. Christian prepares the rope for the first rappel.
preparing for the first rappel.

Needless to say, this sport + cameras = broken cameras. As such we have a few shots from the beginning, and then had to put the device aside in a dry bag to avoid a costly snafu. Here’s Christian rappelling down the first cascade.
the first descent

We made our way down slinging rock horns and robust trees for anchors. I pulled out the camera about halfway down to snap Christian coming down one of the cascades.
half way down

And after that Christian snapped this one of me descending the subsequent cascade.
half way plus 1 down

Admittedly, in retrospect, a rope was only necessary about half the time. For the other half of the descent, a rope was merely a welcome convenience. All in all though it turned out to be a fun outing making our way through this river gorge. It’s a place that many visit, but few ever get to experience this watercourse from such an intimate perspective. Here’s a parting clue for those who really know the area, or for those who don’t mind doing some research.
the clue

Thanks for checking out SPA Trips on FIS! Want a sticker? They’re just $1 each!

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  1. Ben
    wrote on August 22nd, 2010 at 11:13 am  

    Beautiful!!!! That looks like a great adventure, makes me really want to get out and try some northeast canyoneering sometime!

    • Greg
      wrote on August 22nd, 2010 at 12:43 pm  

      Anytime. Actually haventwo others I’d like to try one of these days. One of them is BIG.

  2. brizz
    wrote on August 23rd, 2010 at 5:09 pm  

    brookie fishin has been hot downstream a lil bit

  3. Ryan
    wrote on June 17th, 2011 at 12:04 pm  

    I’m moving back to VT after spending a lot of time in Utah doing colorado plateau canyons, and that’s one of the things I’m most sad about leaving behind.

    You mention you had two others you were wanting to try in an earlier comment – with one of them being “BIG” – I’m all for “big”, and I’ve got a fair amount of experience on large raps and with natural anchors – but would be interested in hearing what kind of techniques and stuff you guys are into out there for these descents.

  4. Adam
    wrote on June 18th, 2011 at 5:10 pm  

    I work for Adventure Trek USA out of Bellows Falls VT and we’ve been doing private guided gorgeneering trips in southern VT for about 6 years now. Theres some great places big and small hidden all over VT and NH, if your in the area stop by our shop in downtown bellows falls and you might be able to pick our brains a lil.

  5. Lane
    wrote on July 22nd, 2011 at 11:34 am  

    Wow! Looks awesome! Any ideas around the Champlain Valley area where we could do this?

    • Greg
      wrote on July 22nd, 2011 at 11:40 am  

      shoot me an email in my profile. I can point you in a few places this type of thing could be fun. I’m scared of liability for posting directions online.

  6. Doug
    wrote on July 22nd, 2011 at 12:08 pm  

    As usual, the FIS guys doing stuff WAY cooler than me!!! …Mannnn! :)

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