I went up to Franklin, NH yesterday to paddle the New Year’s Day Icicle Run on the Winnipesaukee River. I’ve paddled the Winni a couple of time in the past, but always on the easier class I/II section in Tilton. When I heard that the MVP would be doing shredder runs on the lower class III section in Franklin, I jumped at the opportunity.
The river starts off with waves and rocks as it approaches the first major rapid known as Coliseum. At higher water levels this can be a very dangerous rapid since about a third of the river channels into the foundation of an old mill building – the “Room of Doom”. There is a center line that follows a boulder-strewn drop to the left of the foundation wall, but we went left around the rocks in the middle of the river.
Another half-mile downstream is the next major rapid – Railroad or Sulphite. The river splits around the center trestle of a railroad bridge with routes on the right and the left. We took the right channel that has a 3-foot drop directly below the bridge. We punched through the drop fine on the first run, but on the second we got turned sideways in the hole. As we got sucked back into the hole, I hit the current coming down the drop and got swept off the boat. It was a short swim, and fortunately my partner was able to stay in the boat. We were soon back on our way.
There were more rocks and waves as we approached the last rapid - Zippy's Final Plunge. The river runs under another railroad bridge – this time with three abutments creating five channels. The second channel from the left is usually the easiest, with the middle channel being passable at higher water. We hit the middle channel perfectly on our first run. On our second run, we lined up to run the middle channel, but drifted too far left. At the last minute we shifted hard to the left and hit the left channel.
I’d love to go back and run the river in my canoe at a lower level. It was running at about 1,100 cfs yesterday. I might try it at between 500 and 700 cfs. The kayakers will think that is too low, but I’m a wimp
Few pictures here:
Newspaper article from the Manchester Union Leader: