Ashuelot, New Hampshire, US
1. Marlow to Gilsum Gorge (Upper Ash)
||III-IV (for normal flows)
Surprise RapidPhoto of Mike Brindamour by Mark Lacroix taken 09/18/04 @ 6.5
Thanks to Allan Berggren for the following information
The Ashuelot is the quintessential "step-up-to-Class III" stream. It has 3-ft. drops,
sometimes in complex, with plenty of recovery pools. It has, in addition, a Class IV Surprise at
the top and a IV- gorge at the bottom (at low levels). At splashing 7 on the Gilsum gauge, Surprise
has monster holes, and the gorge goes thrashing around a corner, splits over a knife-edge, etc.,
etc. What remained was four miles of quite continuous Class IV action, with big holes, sometimes
3/4 the width of the stream, and complex pourover-mixmaster combos which made us shift from "let's
find a feature" mode to something more timid--"maybe I can afford to catch the edge of this hole,
curl the edge of that drop." I have just bought an Ultraclean-- However, in this water, the decks
are constantly awash, and the ends rarely out of water. I found myself slicing through the far side
of holes going downstream, being frequently held in suspension over drops, buried in bubbles up to
my navel, and having to paddle briskly leaning foreward to avoid being backendered more than I
already was. Ryan found the run at this level a memorable experience, and it was a kick to see him
disappear over standing waves, ledge drops, and to see him struggle through the 10-yd foam piles in
the narrow places. One curl thrust me about 5 ft to the right in one shot.
Note: You can avoid the two toughest sections of this river (Surprise and Gilsum gorge)and cut the
trip down to 3.5 miles. Put in about 1/2 downstream of Surprise rapid, (you will also avoid some
flatwater here). Take out well above the gorge at an old lumber yard on river left. Gilsum gorge is
considered class V in very high water and a difficult Class IV+ in high water.
Put in elevation........1069'
Take out elevation......731'
Average drop/mile.......64'.......Including Surprise and Gilsum gorge
1st mile drop...........52'......Includes Surprise rapid
2nd mile drop...........30'
3rd mile drop...........75'
4th mile drop...........69'
5th mile drop...........85'......Includes upper Gulsum gorge
5.3 mile drop...........27'......(90' average) includes lower Gilsum gorge
River width average.....25'
River geology...........Small to medium schist boulders, some ledges
River water quality.....Good, clarity average
Scenery.................Nice river valley usually within view of
route 10, a few homes on the banks.
Wildlife................Occasional deer, hawks
From Keene NH to NH state route 10/12/9 north.
Approximately 3 miles take a left (north) on NH 10.
Approximately 10 miles look for Surprise rapid on your left shortly after crossing over the Marlow
Head back south on NH 10 approximately 3 miles.
Park and take out shortly after the first or second river crossings (first one easier).
If you are running Gilsum gorge, take a right at the Gilsum bridge 1.25 miles until the river comes
into view with a private bridge crossing.
Posted on the MVP message board by Walt on 3/30/03
A beautiful run, but a large log strainer 1/2 or 2/3 of the way down caught our attention. Stay far
river-left to avoid it. A very quick run at this level w/ some holes you'll want to avoid.
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Last Updated: 2008-04-14 22:53:26