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Mascoma River (Lebanon, NH)

Sunday Mar 30, 2008
Kayak: Bridie Napier, Patrick Thurman
Open Canoe: Tony Shaw
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: nov-int WW
Level: medium low
Gauge (ft): 3.40
Gauge (cfs): 375
USGS Gauge Name/Link: Mascoma Lake dam
Author: Tony Shaw

As we loaded the boats for the drive home I had to chuckle when Patrick proudly announced he had finally bagged his first Vermont river. "Yeah", I said, "except for the fact that we're in New Hampshire!!".

It gives me a lot of satisfaction to introduce paddlers to rivers they've not run before. Patrick is a 2008 newcomer to Vermont, and wants to paddle as much as he can before he leaves to lead a lengthy Boundary Waters expedition with Outward Bound in Minnesota this summer. But Bridie, too, had never paddled the Mascoma, and she has lived in this area for a decade.

For my part, I've paddled and innertubed the Mascoma close to a dozen times. The USGS real-time gauge fell victim to budget shortfalls in 2004 and was decommissioned, but we've discovered the NH DES webpage that now publishes Mascoma flows. I've added the link to the Mascoma River Gauge Correlation table. The leaning wooden gauge stick at the put-in on Payne Road on river right no longer correlates with the online gauge. At 400->350 cfs only 2 of the rapids exceeded class II, and the water clarity was the best I have ever seen it. We saw an equal number of anglers and snowmobilers traveling up and down the rail trail that crisscrosses the river for the entire distance (~4 miles). It was a quintessential spring day, calm but brisk (mid-40's) and not-a-single-cloud-in-the-sky sunny. The sap buckets everywhere must have been overflowing...

The below normal temperatures of the previous week kept us from running the planned Ompompanoosuc River in South Strafford (which WOULD have been Patrick's first Vermont river), but it is nice to know that the Mascoma (with its dam-controlled flow from Mascoma Lake just above) can provide a fun alternative when everything in Vermont at the end of March is still just trickling.

There were no unscheduled fish counts, and the sun (and layers) kept everyone toasty.

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