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Lower New Haven

Wednesday Apr 20, 2011
Kayak: JamieD, JimF, PaulC, JimP
Organizer: Jim Poulin
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: high
Gauge (cfs): 1800
Author: Jim Poulin

I woke up Wednesday morning to a significant thunder and lightning show. The downpour outside my window and New Haven level of 450 on my computer screen led me to believe that we may actually get to run this flashy section of river. Even more amazing is that we predicted this would happen - this trip was put on the events calendar two months ago!

Thus started Gauge Watch 2011.

Through the morning as the gauge went from 450 through 745 and onto 1,140 I was pretty stoked that we would have decent water.

By noon when it was 2,320 I was thinking "Whoa Nelly"!

When it crested at 2,660 at 1:30 I was crest fallen (nice pun eh?). I had never run this stretch at anything above 1,100 and was not sure I wanted to bite off more than double the volume.

Then the strangest thing happened. The level started dropping. And dropping fast! By mid afternoon it was dropping at a rate of more than 200cfs per hour.

By 4:30 it was down to 2,050 and by our put in time at 5:30 the level was at 1,860. This trip was a go!

The only thing I can think of is the rain came down so fast this morning that it did not have time to soak into the ground. It went straight to the river and drained off fast. I have not seen the New Haven drop this much in past water events. It usually has a more gradual decline after peaking.

Only Jamie had run at this level and that was a bunch of years ago. His recollection was that the lines are the same, just the water is bigger and faster.

And that is exactly as it was. All the traditional lines were the same. It's just things moved more quickly and if you got off line, the holes that were there to munch you were that much bigger. As an added bonus, new lines opened up on most of the rapids allowing for choices not available at lower levels.

The only minor bit of excitement came when Paul hit "the meat" and got flipped in the hole in the third rapid (the one after Baldwin Creek comes in). That woke us all up as the water is cold and none of us wanted to be upside down - even if for only a few seconds like Paul. Game on boys!

Even the normally slack middle section moved along and there were a few larger holes to dodge.

We took multiple lines through the bridge rapid to the delight of a local watching from the bridge.

At the island we took the left most slot - which I had never run before - since it had a good amount of water.

There were multiple lines through the next set of rapids and we explored most of them. Then, at the take out bridge, I ran the right of center line. Note to self - at these levels if you run the right of center line you will not be able to make the take out at the bridge! The river is just moving too fast at that point. I meandered downstream and took in the last bit of rapids. Paul, not wanting me to have all this fun by myself joined in. We then walked our boats back up to the waiting cars and compadres. The take out was full of smiles and excitement of the run just had. It was like running a new river for the first time.

At these flows it's a quick run. We did the whole thing in an hour and that includes a few minutes scouting the bridge rapid. The next time the New Haven goes big (did someone say 3,000?!?) look for me to post a trip on the Lower. It's a hoot!


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