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North Br. Piscataquog, Weare, NH

Saturday Oct 15, 2016
Kayak: Paul Carlile, Jamie Dolan, Bob Malinowski, Brock Richardson, Tony Shaw
Inflatable: Eric Bishop
Organizer: Tony Shaw
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Tony Shaw

The sky above was robin's egg blue, the trees enshrouding the diminutive NB P'Cat were all decked out in their fall finery, and their leaves were falling by the bushel like multi-colored snowflakes, piling up on nearly every horizontal surface, including our spray skirts. For a tiny river with a scheduled release at the end of one of the driest New England summers on record, the P'Cat was surprisingly uncrowded. It was the inaugural trip here for all 6 of us who met up for the trip, and we were a little disappointed to discover that the release would not be as generous as in years past (though for obvious reasons). Honestly, I would be surprised if we were getting more than 150 cfs out of the Lake Horace dam tailrace. Still, it was adequately fluid for our morning and our afternoon runs (and never particularly threatening).

We got some not-so-great advice on where to take-out, and as a result we missed a few features that grace the river in the last 2-3 miles to the Lake Everett dam impoundment. The 4 mile stretch we did run (twice) was plenty of fun, with a gradient averaging 50 feet per mile including lots of continuous class II punctuated by several steeper pitches. Self-rescue, when needed, is quite a lot easier in such low-boatable conditions, but then, too, the rocks aren't nearly so well covered if you do happen to swim!

The good folks from the Merrimack Valley Paddlers had been to Weare mid-week and spent a solid day or two opening up channels where river-wide strainers had taken up residence, which made the whole day more enjoyable for all. One full-size tree trunk did somehow manage to strand itself (pointing upstream like a shish kabob skewer) in the hole at the bottom of the first drop, "Slab City", between our first and second run. And because of the horizon line as you approach (and the clean line we enjoyed there that morning) we didn't know about (or anticipate) it's presence until it was too late. It flipped Eric, and I think maybe Brock as well, but Brock got his revenge - wading right out beside the hole with his long legs, roping the log like a feed lot steer, and liberating it from the hole before it could upend any more unsuspecting boaters.

It is an easy ~2.5 hour drive to Weare NH from Richmond VT. I would certainly be game to run the P'Cat again when it is releasing next fall, getting to know it at a somewhat higher level next time, Mother Nature willing.

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