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Upper Pemi

Saturday Apr 29, 2017
Kayak: Ryan M, Chris I, Noah, Neal S
Organizer: Ryan M
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium low
Author: Ryan McCall

Lots of snow was still left up high in the Whites and a sunny warm Saturday made a run to the Western slopes of the White Mountains a no brainer.  The Upper Pemi was said to be in good shape with and it had been a hell of a long time since I had been on it.  None of the other guys had ever been on it.  We met in North Woodstock, grabbed an extra coffee and headed up Route 3 to set shuttle and suit up in the Hiking trail parking lot.  Once we were up at the Basin the questions started from the tourists.  Are you going to run that?  What's it like down stream?  Can you roll? Is there enough water? 


All of us took some time looking at the move to get into the Basin.  I knew I was going to run it before looking at it, knowing it is deep and is a one trick pony.  Flop off with a huge sweep.  To attempt to stay upright....Flipping is almost guaranteed and a quick roll in the slack water is easy.  Of course that is exactly what happened to me and I was upright and paddling away.  Neal did the same thing.  Both Chris and Noah walked thinking it was looking a little too manky.


Next up was Mini Flume which required a look at the line.  It also went cleanly off of the lead in tongue.  Below that there was a few boulder rapids leading up to North Pole.  We all walked it due to how much water was actually flowing under the boulders and of course the wood lodged just below it.  Below the wood there is a fantastic slide that has a few entries that make it fun and mix up how you finish it.  All ran it cleanly. 


From there we had a lot of fun constricted bedrock rapids with potholes and ledges where you could really get into a rhythm.  About the time we were leapfrogging each other and really syncing up, the Sentinel Bridge came into view and we could tell the river was dropping off into oblivion.  I knew we had a few more progressions and then needed to eddy out on river right to avoid being sucked into "Wham Bam Thank you Mam".  Wham is a lethal sieve that claimed one of us in 2011.  That sieve was still present and as ugly as ever.  Putting in below the sieve is an option so you can run the rest of the rapid into the gorge below.  The portage is a royal PIA, but we all did it.  After we had put in below, we all said we should have just run the bottom of the rapid.


Below Sentinel, the river really picks up steam and is pretty much continuous to the take out with a ton of beautiful pink bedrock slides and ledges.  This may be the best stretch of whitewater in New England, aesthetically and quality.  We had one mis-hap that resulted in a head shot and a swim, but all turned out well and we were back on the river floating toward the take out and beers.


We capped the day with Beers at the Woodstock Inn and Brewery.  A great place to wrap up the day.

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