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­This spring the Peshtigo River Roaring Rapids section saw the highest water level ever recorded since record keeping began in the 1980’s. A snow-filled winter came to an abrupt end as summer-like temps soared in April. An unusual warm week of 80 degree temps caused the snow to melt rapidly, filling NE Wisconsin’s rivers and streams beyond their riverbanks. The typical long, slow spring thaw came all at once this year.

The Peshtigo River crested at a record level, approximately 48” on the paddlers bridge gauge. This equates to 3980cfs. Typical spring flows are 2000-2500cfs. The lines remain similar through a wide range of flows for each of the 6 named rapids. The named rapids are: First Drop, Second Drop, Third Drop, Five Foot Falls, Horserace, and S-Turn.

Second Drop Rapid

Horserace Rapid

For this high water event the lines through each rapid did remain similar, but the margin for error rose significantly. Be off your line and you’re going for a ride in a hole. In between rapids, the normally rocky boogie water became one long wave train that was a blast to ride.

The Gnarvana is a great boat for this 5 mile high water run. The boat makes punching through and riding up and over holes much more successful. The Gnarvana is a joy to paddle through the wave trains and easily maneuvers wherever I desire.

2023 will certainly be one for the record books on the Peshtigo River.

-Hannah RayJ

Video from the highwater day.