The West River
by Blair Winans
Think Spring! Think West River Rafting! Think…snow?
So far it is a toss up about what I’ve enjoyed most this spring, the look of excitement on my guests’ faces as we torpedo through snowmelt swollen class III & IV whitewater, or the look of amazement and incredulity as they gaze at the thick snow STILL omnipresent in the Charlemont woods. And I know where there is more snow, and even more class III-IV white water -Vermont! That’s where I’m heading April 26 & 27 on our annual spring trip to the West River.
If you’ve never been on our West River trip let me set the scene. Our friends at Stratton Mt. extend their hospitality allowing us to transform their Sun Bowl Lodge into Zoar’s home base for the weekend. Stratton Mt is oddly quiet at this time of the year; ski season is over, the hotel, lodge, and most importantly, hot tub are dominated by the smaller but personable and comedic rafting and kayaking community. As for the river itself, it’s a dam-controlled intermediate class III-IV whitewater experience that is home to one of the most impressive put-ins in New England, as you hike up and over the Ball Mt. Dam. The lower half of the river is generally a little slower, but with some extra snow melt, it becomes a playground of surfing holes waiting for the observant guide to exploit. That is what I’m anticipating this year.
Whitewater, surfing, and a relaxing evening in the hot tub are not the only reasons I’m anticipating the West. If spring is a transitional period between winter and summer, I’m going to attempt to truly merge the seasons and raft and snowboard in the same day. A seasonal biathlon of sorts. Of course this will be done without the courtesy of a chairlift, and will undoubtedly be an excessive amount of work for a solitary run down the mountain. But the juxtaposition of the two activities is too inviting; I can’t let the opportunity pass. Personally I can’t think of a better way to terminate with winter, anticipate summer, and embrace spring. See you on the river, or maybe the slopes.
Assistant Rafting Manager