East Branch of the Pemigewasset
|Stretch:||Lincoln Woods to North Woodstock|
|Difficulty:||Class III to IV|
|Flows:||300 to ~4,000 cfs. USGS East Branch Pemi in Lincoln gauge|
|Gradient:||75 fpm average|
|Take-out:||Woodstock Fire Department Park|
|Shuttle:||6 miles, (10 minutes one-way)|
|Season:||Spring of snowmelt, summer and fall off of rain|
North East Road Trip 2021: Day 8
A classic run, known for its scenery and continuous grade 3 to 4 whitewater... at a very un-classic flow. We were looking for a run between Bingham Maine and Fayston Vermont to break up our drive. The rain system was still a day away, so the options were thin. The upper Ammo was in, but that was a longer run and we didn't want to take that much time sorting out a class V run in the middle of a 5.5 hr drive. So, the East Branch of the Pemi fit our bill nicely. It was low, 330 cfs was below the Let it Rain's recommendation but still above AW's recommendation. I do not think we got to experience the river properly at this flow, the classicness of it was replaced with rock dodging and deep water channel searching. However, I do feel that this is an acceptable low flow as only twice where there not deep water channels to be found and those spurts lasted less than 50 feet each. What it did give us was a glimpse into what is classic about it as the continuous nature maintained even at the low water. But rather than class III and IV I would say it was more like continuous II+ with some III crescendos that gave the day an overall III feel. Do note though, even at these low flows the Dam has some legit holes and should be approached with caution if you are pushing yourself here. There was also a great ender spot just above the dam that was also plenty deep for some nice stern squirts. Overall, I am glad we did it, however I would really like to see it with a classic 1,000 cfs in it. For now, I am just going to rate it based on the low flow and catch grief from people saying it is harder than what I rate at higher flows.
We put in at the Lincoln Woods Trailhead and ran down to North Woodstock. You can extend the run further by hiking upstream 3 miles to put in at the confluence with Fraconia Brook, but I am told that needs at least a more medium flow.
I would also like to return to this area for a trip because there are a lot of good runs in the White Mountains. Lots of nice granite and lots of gradient. I am sure when the flow is present this region is all around classic. One day I hope to experience that.
Mi -0.3 to 0:
- The Upper Pemi is a hike-in section that extends the run by 3 miles. Similar in difficulty, but more open so needing more water. We for sure did not have enough water.
- The actions starts immediately and honestly was pretty non-descript at our level. All these rapids have names. But it is too hard to line them all up as it was all read and run for us at the low flow. So I will call out some highlights.
- Peak Action (III). An action packed section here as the river flows left and then right through the fluvial field. Stay on your toes, as you get down towards Loon Mountain there is a metal culvert in the river. Easy to avoid to the left.
- Upper Loon (III to IV-). The biggest single rapid on the run in my mind. This was a double drop that I could see getting sticky at higher flows. The ski resort is next to you and the bridge to the ski resort is immediately downstream.
Lower Loon (III to III+). This was immediately below the bridge. It was completely different than the Upper rapid. This one was a boulder maze where finding a clean line was the challenge. We worked over to the right and then back left.
- Apartments (III). This rapid was fun and had a more unique character. We ran down the middle and had a fluffy s-turn to exit. Good fun even at the low flow.
- Pre-Milton Dam (III). Just above Milton Dam was a nice little rapid that ended in a fantastic ender and stern squirt spot.
Milton Dam (III+ to IV). Straight forward, but man even at low flows the holes packed a punch so I shutter to think how bad they may be at higher flow. We entered the top against the right wall which was a tongue. We then worked far left and exited down the slide through a soft spot in the hole. The center of the bottom was a bad hole, don't go there.
- Small Ledge (II+ to III-). You see fencing and stone work indicating the water trement plant and this little rapid comes into view. There was a fun small boof on the right, or you could go around it on the left.
- Boulder Garden (II+ to III-). As the channels reconverge below the Small Ledge, there is this nice rapid where the river constricts and has decent size boulders that offered some fun eddy moves, small water boofs, and stern squirting.
Runout (I). From here, make sure you stay right every time the river forks off as the take-out is on a smaller channel away from the main flow.
Take-out: In the town of North Woodstock, head south from NH-112 onto US-3. In 0.3 miles turn left onto Woodstock Family Park Rd which is at Woodstock Fire Department. Follow this 100 ft to the park behind the fire department
Put-in: Head back to US-3 and head north for just 0.3 miles. Turn right onto NH-112E. Continue for 5.7 miles. Immediately after you cross the river, turn left into Lincoln Woods
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