July 15 marks one of four annual Esopus Creek recreational releases, during which the DEP doubles the rate of water flowing into the Esopus from the Schoharie Reservoir making for thrilling but potentially hazardous conditions for kayakers, tubers and swimmers in the portion to the creek between the Shandaken Tunnel and Ashokan Reservoir.
With higher water levels, boaters and tubers and less likely to strike rocks. The danger comes from getting tangled up in piles of fallen trees called “strainers”— while you’re stuck, the rushing water pulls you under. Four deaths since 2002 have been blamed on strainers.
“[Releases] make higher waves and faster water for the adrenaline-rush tubers,” said Harry Jameson of Town Tinker Tube Rentals. “But they’re not recommended for first-timers or for younger children. When a release is happening, I put a post out that the water is going to be really fast, and those folks should wait for another day.”
This is an AMC/KCCNY Whitewater Weekend, so we can expect kayakers and canoeists from around the region to make the trip to Phoenicia, the headquarters for Upper Esopus recreation. White water is ranked on a scale of I-VI. The Esopus during releases rates a II-III, or moderate to moderately difficult, with a potential for “numerous high and irregular waves; rocks and eddies with passages clear but narrow and requiring experience to run.”
A previous release took place June 3-4; future releases (pending approval) are scheduled for September 2-4, and October 7-8. More information is available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/80682.html.
This article includes info from a previous more detailed article on the releases which you can read here.