On the weekend of Sept. 25th and 26th, Boston ICO volunteers Jeff and Anh, along with 2 St. Peters Staffmembers (Carlos and Luis) and 12 young men aged 12-14 from St. Peters in Dorchester went on a great camping and whitewater rafting trip in Western MA and Vermont. This was a special treat, as the Army Corps of Engineers only releases water onto the West River (near Stratton Mountain) once a year for some great rafting, and we had a blast!
It was a lovely early fall day when the group met at St. Peters at 11 on Friday the 25th, and loaded up the van to depart for a lunch at Walden Pond. The group enjoyed making sandwiches and walking along the Pond and trails around the main swimming area to stretch out legs before the 2 hour drive out to Mohawk Trail State Forest in Charlemont, MA. The group arrived in mid afternoon and quickly helped set up camp and tents, and we enjoyed going down to the riverbed to climb and swim in the natural pools and collect tadpoles. Then the group all helped make a dinner of burritos on the camp stove, and we started a great campfire to play games, tell stories, and of course make Smores!
We all got up very early the next day to eat breakfast and break camp by 9:15am and be on the road up north to the Green Mountains. We arrived at the Sun Bowl base lodge at 10:30 to grab our wetsuits and other gear and get a safety talk from Zoar outdoor guides before taking the schoolbus to the dam that is the source of the West River, which is normally “dry” except for this weekend, as it was gushing with the release from the dam. We divided up into 3 groups, each with our own guide, and got in our rafts and practiced some of the different paddling commands before pushing off into the rapids! We immediately encountered some great whitewater and class 3 and 4 rapids, including the famed “dumplings”! We had a great time maneuvering the rafts in behind large rocks to execute a “soaker” where water comes gushing safely into the raft. And we enjoyed getting into waterfights in the calmer areas of the river near the end.
After a great lunch of chicken, burgers, beans, and salad back at the Lodge, we all got in a closing circle and shared what we loved most about the trip (the campfire and rafting were obviously very popular!) A special thanks to Carlos and Luis for being great with the kids, to Craig Kelley for allowing us to store all our gear with him, and to the Sierra Club for helping to finance this special trip!
Photos can be found at this link