Drywall of the Penobscot in the Karma UL

I was busy with work and family for weeks and was getting very dry from not boating. I had seen some posts that indicated the dryway of the West Branch of the Penobscot River had been running on and off but was just to tied up to make it up there to get on that section.

The Dryway is so fun, it is very short, maybe 9/10ths of a mile but packs a punch in that short stretch. I would guess it would be classified a Class IV stretch but a swim in that gorge is really nasty. Rock geology in there I have been told is Rhyolite amongst others which makes for sharp pocked rocks. Not to mention the historical use of dynamite in the gorge to blow out log jams back in the day.

Last year on a run I did in there a paddler swam and we didn’t get his boat eddied out for a ways and by the time we did one end was broken wide open. It’s an incredibly fun run but not without consequence.

I was actually headed up there to paddle with my friend Maggie from Hawaii and wasn’t aware the Dryway was in until I found Leanne and Julie who told me my friend Miles was headed up to get his second lap of the day in the Dryway and Gorge/Crib, the best section of river thats runs 356/,24/7. I took off to try to catch up.


Miles was tired of waiting for some people to get going and when I saw him he was headed in the wrong direction. We both stop in the middle of the Golden Road and Miles said” Your heading up to the dam arent you?”. ‘Yep”‘ I said and that was it, we set shuttle.

The only time I have spent in the Karma UL has been at Blue Hill Falls so I hadn’t run any rapids besides that in the long, racing style boat and my other boats for river running, the Zen and 4Fun have been out being demoed so I scrambled to get down the steep trail, over the slippery rocks. I cranked down the Levator with my Go Pro and told Miles it was all good and peeled out of the eddy into the first drop.


Theres no warm up here and it the river felt pushier than the past plus I forgot to adjust my contacts to the river water so the first rapid was mostly a blur but everyone was waiting in the eddy at the bottom. Me, Miles, Matt, Justin and 3 people in two inflatables, one that would soon be upside down.

The jewel in the Dryway is the second rapid and it’s the spot that the two person paddle cat flipped but the paddlers got back on top quick and were all set to keep going pretty quickly. The rest of the run down to Mckay Station was awesome and then we just kept paddling through Gorge/Crib and as quick as we could, loaded up boats for a second run, Mile’s third of the day.

When we arrived at Ripogenous Dam so did the workers to turn off the water! We begged them for 10minutes to run raft and two kayaks down the trail and they said”Go Ahead” and we took off for our second run. It was sweet. Great section of river, beautiful day, sick water level and charging paddlers.

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