Source: Greg and Sue Hanlon's Steep Creeks of New England, which has more info on this run. Text used with permission.
Directions: From Greenville, head South on Rte. 6/15 about 6 miles to Upper Shirley Corner. Bang a right onto Shirley Mills Rd. and continue 1.4 miles to Shirley Pond. The pond is on the right; the dam, on the left. Put in below the dam on river left.
To takeout: head back toward 6/15. About 50 yards from the dam, take your first right onto an old railroad bed / logging road. Drive about 2.3 miles to a small stream crossing under the road and a cabin on the left. The low-water takeout is where this stream meets the East Branch. To get to the high-water takeout, which adds 1.3 miles to the trip, continue on the logging road and take a right down a steep washed-out logging road. Park and take out in the clearing where a small trail leads to the river.
UPDATED DIRECTIONS: The logging road (B&A Railroad Road) and North Blanchard/Shirly Road are rarely passable in the Spring when the Piscataquis is running, due to poor road conditions, snow mounds and gates. Hiking out through the snow and mud is long and tedious, though possible. Instead of hiking out or getting stuck in the mud, drive to the center of Blanchard via route 15 through Monson. Takeout at the bridge in the center of town (Blanchard Road). There is a long flatwater paddle to get to Blanchard, but if you prefer to ride your boat rather than have your boat ride you, this is the way to go. Put-in is still below the dam at Shirley Lake. Here is a GoogleMap.
Note: The first complete run of the East Pis was made in 1992 by Scott Murray, Greg Hanlon, Bill and Joan Hildreth.
River Description by Nate Warren: Best run with more than 1000 CFS on the Piscataquis Gauge. The first few miles is filled with great class IV+ ledge drops with plenty of good boofs. The aptly named Crack Drop (V-) is towards the end of this section. It can be boat scouted from the pool. Drive left.
Soon below is Big Balls Falls (5.1), a 20 foot drop followed by a 5'er that gets sticky at higher flows. The river turns 90 degrees left above the drop. You can scout from either side, but walking is easier on the right (though not easy). The main drop has been run almost everywhere. I prefer center right working left to avoid a bouncy reconnect in the middle.
There is a small class 3-4 rapid below Big Balls, then the entrance to Slap Ya Mama (5.1). This is the hardest rapid on the river. Scout and portage on the left. The most common line is down the center spout with a little left angle - boofing will hurt, as will pitoning. Hold on down the slide and catch the eddy on the left to watch your friends. If you are hiking out, start here.
Below slap is a bit of wood choked class 3-4, eventually petering down to the long flatwater paddle out to Blanchard.
The river drops through a narrow crop with a rock ledge protruding from the right at the bottom. Drive up left onto the rock. Easy to scout from the pool above.
A tiered 20'er followed by a 5'er. Scout & walk on the right.
Slap Ya Mama - enter right, drive down the center flume then hold on.
Judge by the weir dam at the putin. The water into the riverbed flows over the top of the dam. Three inches of flow over the dam is a minimum runnable level; six inches is a medium level. You can get an idea of flows in this watershed by checking the Piscataquis at Blanchard gage. 1000 is low-runnable.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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Slap Ya Mama
Big Balls Falls
"slap your mama"
Christian in "Big Balls"
top of the slide
East Branch Piscataquis
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A hardy group of northeast boaters climbed into the natural river channel below a hydropower dam to participate in a flow study designed to assess whether whitewater flows should be restored to this dewatered river reach on the Connecticut River. While significant obstacles remain, this site has the potential for providing instruction, playboating, and a big water feature that that could be run throughout much of the year and provide a much needed boost to the local economy.
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