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Mascoma River - from Mascoma Lake

Saturday Apr 7, 2018
Kayak: John A., Sarah C., Chris F., Tony S., Chris W.
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: medium low
Gauge (ft): 3.7
Gauge (cfs): 475
USGS Gauge Name/Link: Mascoma Lake
Author: Tony Shaw

I put an early April Mascoma River trip on the VPC spring schedule hoping for a 70 degree day. Instead we got barely more than half that, topping out at just 40 degrees. The sun shone brightly all day, which helped a great deal, and the wet snow that had fallen overnight clung to the trees prettily during our first run. The rail trail that parallels the river and crosses it several times was covered with enough snow that a x-c ski shuttle would have been possible, though we weren't prepared for that. The Mascoma here is maybe 25 feet wide on average - free of river-wide strainers (today). There were 4 kayakers for each of our 2 runs (Chris F., John, Sarah, and Tony in the AM, with Chris W. subbing in for Sarah in the PM). The state of NH funds the real-time river gauge (de-funded years ago by the USGS) which looked plenty fluid online throughout the week. But then mysteriously Saturday morning the dam operator lowered the flow from 700+ CFS to approximately 475 CFS - still fluid but rather tame from start to finish. The paddle through the woods is attractive and we enjoyed the many read-and-run II-III rapids, the most technical of which is the final one - Excelsior. Be sure to scout the low head dam (a mandatory portage) from the take-out, whether you choose to park on river right in the posted "lot" near the rail-trail bridge or on river left in the swimming pool parking lot a couple hundred yards downstream. Dartmouth holds a slalom race on this stretch of the Mascoma each April - the same weekend as the Wells River Rumble.

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