Miserable Spring Weather Brings Glorious Whitewater

Usually by Memorial Day Weekend, I’ve already burned off a couple layers of skin from my shoulders after sun-drenched weekends on the river. You’d think after 35 years I’d have learned better! But there’s something about a warm day on the river after a cold winter and spring that makes you throw caution to the wind and just reveal yourself to the sun!

But not this season.   My arms remain a horrible pasty white color. Because as anyone living in the Northeast can attest—May has been a particularly damp month!

But am I complaining? Do you hear me whining? No! Because while the weather has been miserable…the whitewater has been glorious!

I wish I could change this basic truth of whitewater: the wetter the weather—the better the rapids. I wish the facts of the matter were that a river’s excitement increased with warm sun and dry weather. But that just ain’t the way it works.

It is practically a universal truth that higher flows on whitewater rivers increase the intensity of the rapids. The current moves faster, waves grow in size, rocks get covered and develop into hydraulics. Big water means big excitement!

It’s certainly true on the two rivers that ARO rafts in the summer—the Hudson and Black. Both rivers feature guaranteed flows that produce exciting whitewater throughout the summer—courtesy of water releases from upstream dams. But during a wet spring and summer—those levels are augmented by additional flows from the rest of the watershed.

Which brings us back to the aforementioned corollary: big water means big excitement. With both the Hudson and Black flowing at levels higher than typically found at this time of the year—the conditions for whitewater rafting couldn’t be better!

Especially if the rain would stop by the weekend! Need to work on my tan!