Deerfield River Paddle - August 2008
Confidence is that feeling you have before you fully understand the situation.
For the past several summers we have been lucky enough to enjoy a white water trip on the Deerfield River. The Deerfield watershed is located in western Massachusetts and typifies rural New England at its best, where our rugged topography boasts spectacular scenic settings.

The river actually originates in southern Vermont just south of Stratton Mountain. From there it drops approximately 2000 feet as it glides along its 73-mile course. Along the way there are 10 hydroelectric dams, some built as far back as 1911, most of which are managed on an annual cycle. In early spring they are generally at their lowest, having been used to produce hydropower through the winter and in anticipation of the spring snowmelt and rain. They fill to their highest levels by mid June.

For the months of July and August the utility company utilizes the water stored in them to produce power to meet the peak summer demand. Throughout the fall and winter the reservoirs are drawn progressively lower until the early spring, when the cycle starts over again.

In the early morning hours we head out to the little town of Charlemont, Massachusetts to team up with the folks at ZOAR Rafting.

We put in just below Dam #5, also known as the "The Dryway" or "The Monroe Bridge Section" that is where our adventure begins. The trip is timed to coincide within the schedule of water releases decided on by the power company. On this day the release was a flow rate of 1,000 cfs. We raft a section of class II and III whitewater with names such as Dragon’s Tooth and Labyrinth. The rolling whitewater keeps you on your toes while the rugged northern Berkshires provide a backdrop of exceptional natural beauty. The trip usually takes about 3 hours on the river and about 5 hours overall, including registration, transportation to the river, a snack stop, a barbecue lunch served after at their base camp, and a slide show of your run through the biggest rapids, (where I lifted these photos from - normally they expect you to pay hence the proof watermarks).

In past years we have made this trip with Muffie and Peter "Captain Ahab" Stevens, Patricia and Allen McCarthy, Wendy and Tom Wilder. This year we took Mike and Joe's friends Steve "Chuck Norris" Stanikmas and Nathan "Guitar Hero" Gardner.

In the photos we are position as follows:

Port Side bow to stern > Deb, Chuck, Nate

Starboard Side > Peter, Michael, Joseph