Dam! Another New England River

I’m sorry the river posts haven’t been here in a while, but I finally got onto a new river, shot some footage, and got a new post to write! This river was great fun, too.

In the eddy before Pinball

Yesterday was an adventure on the Warner, a 3.5-mile stretch of whitewater from Melvin Mills to Warner, NH. Let me digress real quick to mention just how much I fell in love with the town of Warner. It had all the bigger town/city comforts like a yoga studio, fair trade store, and cafe, but with the bigger comfort of being a small, historic-looking town. Old, colonial structured buildings and homes painted bright blues, yellows, and whites dotting the roads as Will and I drive to the takeout added a lot to what turned out to be a really fun day.

The River

Now back to the actual river. First nonsurprise, lots of dam-built rapids! Of course, my favorite, right? We can’t forget the abutments of long-gone bridges either, so when one’s done paddling through the old mill dam rapid, they (yes, I’m using they and not he, she, he/she, she/he) get to pick which channel, which I’m actually learning to enjoy.

Next nonsurprise, strainers! The Warner had probably the best strainer I paddled

Hitting Gorge Drop Number 2

through/around so far up here. The tree was river wide with a 4-foot passage on far river right. As everyone snuck their way along the bank, my thoughts were “Aw eff this,” but I did it anyway. Yeah, still not a fan. I will say that the boating buddies up here are not reckless and would never risk this while teaching people. Just once it’s us boaters, they’re idea of strainers to avoid and my Southern boaters idea are two different notions.

Warner, overall, is a very pretty river that moves into a gorge for the last mile, shaded by lots of oaks and evergreens. While the rapids are fast, the river is a bit of a pool drop type and has plenty of space to get to shore and grab gear should one swim. While the rapids themselves are easy enough, the Warner is full of barely submerged rocks that you bang into and flip. Actually, my favorite part of this rapid was turning to watch as people made their lines only to scrunch their face in that “Oo, didn’t see that rock!” expression. I probably made the most of those faces.

The Rapids

The first mile is pretty much class II-III boogie water and surf spots, a good place to warm up and play around before hitting the first major rapid, Pinball. This rapid is just a lot of holes and rocks to avoid, a longish rapid that ends in a pool right before Sluice Dam.

Sluice Dam is, yep, a dam with nothing but shallow rocks at the bottom except for a 4 foot stretch on river left, which is higher up rocks to slide down. I did not like the look of this rapid so I watched as people bumped their way down before I went for it.

–And got stuck on the stupid board of cement jutting out from the dam to divert water into a culvert. Despite numerous people telling me about it and seeing it downstream as I watched people paddle the dam, I still literally floated right on top of it and got stuck like a beached whale. A quick spin and some hard paddling got me off, and I paddled through the sluice just fine.

Barrett punching through a rapid on the Warner

From there, two abutments offer fun runs through either the left or right channel and puts paddlers a hundred yards from the Gorge section. This part is definitely the most difficult, honestly just because it’s more continuous and contains more slightly submerged rocks to play bumper boats with. Four distinct drops make up the Gorge run.

The first tends to be run on river left cutting back toward river right. River right lands in a hole that can be boofed, though it generally results in a backender. This drop had some pretty big wood in it yesterday so be weary to check this rapid for wood.

The boys in the group at the end of their second lapThe second drop was a rooster tail to simply punch through, with a pool to get ready for the third drop, another dam with a tongue to ride. After this drop, the river widens and drop four becomes more of a long, continuous to pick one’s way through. The rapid and river end with one last abutment, which can be run either side of, and a pool. Overall, the Warner is a must for paddlers looking to experience a fun New England run. Happy boating!

The Warner was a lot of fun, pretty, and had an easy shuttle. It can be a less-than-fun experience if you flip or swim, for it is shallow. Yet at higher waters, the river becomes a little more forgiving (we ran it at 2.25), and I’d love to paddle it at 2.5 or 3.

Also, if interested in more kayak footage, including one of the sluice dam rapid, find my youtube vidoes here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdxIEIL3mbc


4 responses to “Dam! Another New England River

  1. Its what you call gorge drop #2 that normally eats me. I live about 10 minutes way on one of the feeder streams (too small to run at my house). Curious what level it was when you guys ran it. Bill and Butch let me tag along with them occasionally.

    • When we ran it, the level was at 2.25. I had a blast! The Warner is definitely a good run. You are more than welcome to shoot an e-mail address my way for the next time we run the Warner.

  2. One of my favorite rivers. A bit further down from the usual take out is a 12 foot dam we often run (multiple times) just for the fun of it. The bottom is set up so there is just a nice run out to some boogie water then a flat water haul to a cl 2 piece before a second take out about a mile down stream

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