VT Summertime Whitewater! (West Branch Deerfield)

By:  Ben
August 13, 2010

Though apparently easier than it was a few years ago due to rocks moving in flood, Tunnel Vision is still an intimidating, complex boulder garden with some great gradient. It’s the kind of drop that depends precision from the top to the bottom, from the entrance slide to the last boof before it enters the Tunnel – a ~100 meter long culvert under the road that hides a Class III rapid.

Chris scouts the top part of Tunnel Vision

None of us were sure whether we wanted to run Tunnel Vision or not (after all –it’s an easy portage!), but after getting a good look and choosing a line, I decided to fire it up. With Brian on the camera and Chris setting safety near a sieve, I nervously hiked to the top, got in my boat, and paddled in.

My favorite thing about any “downhill” activity, be it skiing, mountain biking, or whitewater kayaking, is the intense focus you get when you’re in the middle of a line. Everything else falls away in those seconds after you’ve dropped in, and all you think about is the next move, staying one step ahead, making all the right moves. Moments like these are what make whitewater kayaking and skiing seem so similar to me.

Me on the entrance slide on Tunnel Vision

I got caught a little off guard by a curler above a 6’ ledge, and wasn’t able to get as good a boof (a move to launch your boat off a ledge) as I wanted to. I made it over the hole below the falls but landed off balance and flipped. I was able to roll right away though, and get back on line for the last part of the line before the tunnel. The tunnel itself was one of the strangest rapids I’ve run, with the waves only dimly visible and the spooky, echo-y sound of the flowing water all around. I finally got to the end of it, eddied out, and ran back around to see Chris and Brian.

Chris decided to run it too, while Brian decided to put in right above the tunnel. Chris ran a great line through most of it, although he got endered (shot out vertically) by the hole at the bottom of the same waterfall I had trouble with. Soon we were all sitting below the tunnel with huge smiles pasted across our faces.

Chris navigating through the middle section

The rest of the run was easier, but the glow of catching a new steep creek at a great level in the middle of the summer didn’t go away. To cap off a perfect day, we ran into some other paddlers who had a shuttle set already and gave us a ride back to our car at the put-in, saving us from jogging shuttle!

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Read about the author:   Ben
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  1. Lionel Hutz
    wrote on August 14th, 2010 at 8:34 am  

    Cool Ben. Love it.

    I wish I knew the need for water. I would have def. highlighted it in the weather reports. What’s the need for water…quick and fast like a t-storm? Steady rain? I suppose both works…good stuff.

    • Ben
      wrote on August 14th, 2010 at 10:28 am  

      Water’s tricky, it depends a lot on stuff like how wet it has been recently, how big a given drainage is, how much the trees are drinking, etc. But in general for summer boating, intense storms that drop more than an inch across a drainage are good candidates. Once the trees stop drinking for fall, even less rain can bring stuff up.

      The best storms are the more widespread, dousing rains though, like when the hurricane remnants sweep through…

  2. Harvey44
    wrote on August 14th, 2010 at 10:11 am  

    Chris – you are one cool cucumber.

  3. Greg
    wrote on August 15th, 2010 at 11:20 am  
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