First descent of Bowley Brook Gorge between Weld and Dryden, Maine
Report by Scott Barnes
Ted DeVoe and Scott Barnes ran Bowley Brook where it intersects Route 156 after an inch of rain in July of 1996. The run was short (1/4 mile at most), but the gradient was estimated at 400 feet per mile. It included several small, constricted drops, with landing pools often not more than 12 feet long. One log had to be boofed, and another was perfect for a railslide down a six-foot drop. The most difficult sequence involved a shallow, two-tiered slide with a 90-degree turn, into a 15-foot pool before you had to pass between two rocks that overhung enough to force you to pull your paddle in to your side, and weave your head quickly left then right (called "Decapitator Rocks"), boof right over a log that hung over a 5-foot drop and into another shallow, two-tiered slide with a 90-degree turn in the middle. It was run at fairly low water, and seems possible at high water, but consider that the decapitator rocks have huge pinning potential when they are under water, and fresh wood is always washing into this small gorge.
If you can't find a paddling buddy or only have time to get an hour of creeking in and you're in the Farmington area this one is fun and relatively safe (if you scout it).
If the gorge is scratchy then the boulder garden section that runs to Webb Lake won't be much fun and will beat your boat up, but the gorge is more manageable.
If the gorge is fluid or juiced then you better plan as if you are going to run all 6-8 consecutive falls without catching an eddy. At this level the boulder section is about as good as it gets if you are into running steep mountain streams full of round boulders.
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A hardy group of northeast boaters climbed into the natural river channel below a hydropower dam to participate in a flow study designed to assess whether whitewater flows should be restored to this dewatered river reach on the Connecticut River. While significant obstacles remain, this site has the potential for providing instruction, playboating, and a big water feature that that could be run throughout much of the year and provide a much needed boost to the local economy.
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