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Warner River (NH)

Friday Sep 3, 2021
Kayak: Maddie Clark, Sarah Cunningham, Jamie Dolan, Chris Frost, Tony Shaw
C1: Dave Stanley
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium low
Gauge (ft): 5.4
Gauge (cfs): 550
USGS Gauge Name/Link: USGS Davisville station
Author: Tony Shaw

Brooke Sofferman, on FaceBook: "It’s peaking now at 5.5 (feet), a great first time level. It drops slow, so you may get lucky". And I'll be the first to admit, I LOVE getting lucky. So it was with great anticipation that our group of 6 headed to central NH for a summertime run on the Warner River!


T.S. Ida had left the mainland two days before, after wreaking havoc from The Big Easy to The Big Apple. The poor folks there did NOT get lucky. On its way out to sea the storm also drenched most of southern New England with local rainfall amounts on cocorahs ( ranging between 1.6 and 2.8 inches. But, sadly, Ida missed northern VT altogether.


Jamie was the only one in our group with prior Warner R. experience, but it was so long ago that he had pretty much forgotten the lines. So the AW website came in very handy, replete with gauge correlations dating back to 2003, a helmet-cam video link, and annotated photos of "Pinball", “Sluiceway”, and "The Gorge" at runnable levels. Plus Brooke warned of the one river-wide strainer above Pinball, which we were glad to know about going in.


AW "promised" 5.5 feet/540 cfs on the USGS Davisville station (12 miles downstream from The Gorge) would put us around 2 feet on the Laing Bridge Ln. painted gauge, aka medium low, and medium low it was. As custom dictates, Jamie assumed the role of 'sacrificial probe'. We made our way down rather slowly/meticulously on our first lap, getting out to scout atop any horizon line, and then 4 of us banged out a race lap after lunch in 40 minutes, to be back home by 6pm. We did not complete the entire 5.4 mile run, focusing our attention on the first ~2 miles (Melvin Mills/The Gorge). There were several swims on lap #1, none of consequence. The water was warm, the sky was blue, and the air temperature was well-nigh perfect.


It was an easy drive down I89 to NH Exit 9, and I would be happy to make this trip again with the same group (or some other group for that matter) at this level, but another 6 inches of water would make it even more worthwhile. The other sporty NH river in the neighborhood that VPC’ers should be keeping in mind is the North Br. Piscataquog, which is 7 miles long and has a not-to-be-missed annual fall drawdown dam release scheduled in mid-October. Put it on your calendar now: Saturday, October 16th, 2021.

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