BRENT PENNINGTON The Gorham covered bridge in Pittsford, VT, as seen from Otter Creek on the morning of 14 June 2015.

I spent a long weekend in Vermont last week, back for my annual visit to see the family.  Unlike my previous visits, however, this time I made sure that I had access to the water – I brought the Impulse with me.

I grew up kayaking in Vermont, although my paddling was limited to just two or three sites.  It also occurred before I began my adventure with photography, which left me with the feeling that I needed to get out there with the camera and make some images of places from my childhood.

BRENT PENNINGTON Otter Creek, near the Gorham covered bridge in Pittsford, VT, on the morning of 14 June 2015.

This is Otter Creek, the winding, often lazy river that runs through Rutland.  I paddled a section of it once when I was very young, only about seven, riding in an old blue whale of a kayak with my father.  But since then it’s been a body of water that I’ve only admired from ashore.

This section runs through Proctor.  Or more specifically, it’s the section that leaves Proctor after passing under the Marble Bridge and plunging down the falls.  From there it meanders around a couple of oxbows before passing under the Gorham Covered Bridge and heading north towards Pittsford and, eventually, Lake Champlain.

As a teenager, I worked in Proctor, in the corporate offices of a company that used to have its headquarters there.  I’d often end up in the parking lot overlooking the dam and falls, catching a glimpse of them from above – and once I was even able to tour the small hydro-electric facility the company operated at the base of the falls.

BRENT PENNINGTON The former Omya Power Division dam and power house in Proctor, VT, as seen from Otter Creek on the morning of 14 June 2015.

But I’d never seen them from the level of the river, until this morning.

It took a three-mile paddle upstream, against a current that was stronger than I had anticipated.  I worked the inner banks of the twists and oxbows, keeping to the slow water as much as possible.

The river is deep-set below it’s banks, and even the mountains were invisible to me for almost all of the journey.  I paddled through farm country, fields and pastures, without seeing any of it.  All I could really see was the river and the trees the lined it – many of which were still downed into the water from the ravages of Hurricane Irene, which decimated many of Vermont’s waterways.

BRENT PENNINGTON The Gorham covered bridge in Pittsford, VT, as seen from Otter Creek on the morning of 14 June 2015.

The downstream return was much faster, the current running with me, and path through the strainers and downed trees already determined.  I floated back to the Gorham Bridge, my launch point, and the primary focus of my photography for that day.

Although I had the E-M5 with me in it’s Pelican case, it didn’t come out once.  The morning was gloomy and overcast, the wildlife sparser than I expected.  On a sunny morning I think that would have been different, but on this morning I was content using just the TG-3.

BRENT PENNINGTON The Gorham covered bridge in Pittsford, VT, as seen from Otter Creek on the morning of 14 June 2015.

I had hoped to recreate a panorama I shot from the bank next to the bridge, taken last Thanksgiving on a frosted sunrise.  But the conditions were wrong, so that will have to wait for another time.  I satisfied myself with some images of the bridge – which I love visiting and driving through – from the water, before scaling the steep, muddy bank to head home.

I may revisit Otter Creek in the future.  The section that flows from the West Rutland Falls to Proctor is lovely, and passes through farm country.  I used to drive along it each morning on my commute to work in Proctor.  From my put-in point at the Gorham Bridge, I think I can paddle downstream into Pittsford as well, and visit the Cooley Bridge.  Although a return against the current may not be the most fun.

BRENT PENNINGTON The Gorham covered bridge in Pittsford, VT, as seen from Otter Creek on the morning of 14 June 2015.

My final words on this jaunt?  It’d be a good paddle to share with a friend.

Brent Pennington is a freelance photographer and the driving force behind The Roving Photographer. When he\’s not working with portraiture or promotional clients, he’s usually in the field, hiking, or kayaking in pursuit of nature and wildlife shots.

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