Wisconsin Whitewater Rafting on the Peshtigo River

First Drop Rapid

Class II-III, Class IV in Higher Water

 First Drop Rapid
Class II-III, Class IV in higher water
Whitewater Raft in First Drop on the Peshtigo River

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 First Drop Rapid on the Peshtigo River is a great play spot and a very exciting rapid. For the uninitiated, this is where you are most likley to flip your raft. Not to worry, there is a sizeable pool immediately downstream of the rapid where you can be reunited with your gear. It is really a blast. It is usually up to you if you flip or not once you know the rapid.

Some prefer to blast right down the middle and challenge the rapid outright. That is bold and a lot of fun. Some of the best pictures and memories come from this. Some might want to skirt it, but that takes a little effort. Paddle hard or you wil be headed for the hole.

For it's size, First Drop is a fairly technical rapid. It is a series of three ledges with a big side curling wave in the center. The natural flow of the river takes you right into the hole at most levels. At all but the lowest flows 50% or more of the boats that go into the hole get buried or flip, and frequently swims are in order. At some levels it much higher. Understand, some of us do this intentionally..

After about a mile and a half of rock gardens, the river turns to the left and then to the right. Just around the corner is a short stretch of flat water. This is where you will want to stow gear and make sure your helmet and life jacket (PFD) are on. At the end of the calm stretch, the river turns left. This is where you will see the yellow 51 sign. Right around the next corner is the first drop. You will know you are there by the horizon line.

Area 51? 

The 51 sign is just upstream of First Drop Rapid.

When you see the gas pipeline sign, you know that the rapid is about 75 yards ahead.
The river narrows at the top ledge of first drop. The majority of water coming over the top ledge goes into the hole. If you want to go there too, do nothing. Chances are the river will take you there. Some swim, some don't. That is the challenge. It makes for some great fun and stories after the river. Some of the flips can be spectacular, some are hilarious.

If you make it past the hole, there are still two challenges. One is a seam caused by the water from the hole folding under the water in the left chute. It makes a deep hole, and the unsuspecting often get dumped here.
 At the bottom of first drop is a backrolling wave that can catch the unsuspecting boater off guard. It is a popular surfing hole for kayakers, and some of the guys surf inflatables in there too. A some levels it gets pretty trashy, and you may be in for a wild ride.
The trick to not swimming or at least not going into the hole is to paddle to overcome the current that is pushing you there. Usually a center entrance is the way to the hole. If you enter on the left, a rock redirects the water, and pushes you to the center of the rapid. Call it the redirect rock. You can enter the rapid here, but you need to paddle hard to stay to the left. The water will catch you off guard and push you to the center.
This low water picture shows the redirect rock. The current turns almost 90 degrees here. If you want to cheat the rapid, paddle hard and stay left. If you want to hit the hole, go with the flow.

In this overhead view, you are entering the rapid at either position 1, 2 or 3. Number 1 is to river right, and is usually a safe line. Usually.

Line number 2 will take you into the hole. So will line number 3, unless you paddle hard, overcome the flow, and run the cheater line.

It isn't as easy as it sounds, but it sure is fun.

If you beat the hole, watch out for the deep seam. It will get the unsuspecting paddler.

Another look at it.. #1 is the enterance on river right. #2 is the redirect rock. #3 is the center line to just blast the hole. # 4, 5 and 6 is a cheater line that works in lower water. Number 7 is where you should be taking a breath, because number 8 is the hole. Between 6 and 8 is the seam.

 This picture, one Second Drop picture, and the redirect rock picture were taken at low water to better show the structure. Don't look at this and think that this is a mild rapid, The hole can get 3-6' deep when the water comes up a little, even more when it is really cranking.

Eventually there will be additional information about some of the other 6 major rapids on the Peshtigo River. This is an important one, so it gets far more detailed of a look than the others will.

This is a tremendously fun rapid no matter how you run it. Get out ther and have fun!

Rafting Page 1.....Rafting Page 2.....Rafting Page 3.....Rafting Page 4, First Drop

Rafting Related Pages and Links

White Water Rafting Wisconsin

Peshtigo River Rafting

Menominee River Rafting

Kosir's Rapid Rafts
Whitewater Rafting and Campground
 

Wisconsin Whitewater Rafting Blog

USGS Gauge on the Peshtigo River

USGS Gauge on the Menominee River

USGS Gauge on the Wolf River

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