The Vermont Paddlers Club

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Maine Weekend

Thursday-Sunday May 4-7, 2006
Kayak: Lisa, Steve, Martha, Anne, John, Jeremy, Cheryl
Organizer: Lisa Egan
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: high

While the rest of Vermont seemed to be scraping or swimming down rivers, a small group of us headed to where the water was....Maine.

While at first I was apprehensive about doing a 6hr solo drive, the weekend proved to be totally worth it.

While the weather was supposed to be in the low 50's ...mother nature looked favorably on and provided a weekend of sunshine and temps in the 70's...just perfect.

Friday: The Mighty Kennebec. While I wasn't nervous about paddling the Kennebec (IV), walking down the stairs to the gorge put in definitely brought back harrowing memories of two years ago, when I took a nasty swim (I still have the scars) and ended up hiking out (2 miles with a kayak sucked big time).

We put on and it quickly became apparently that certain members of the group were nervous (bitchen eddy comments) and we hadn't even seen the first rapid!

With wide eyes and shaking paddles we slowly eddy hoped to the first big rapid.

An amazing sight of high gorge walls and a foaming mass of big waves and boils lay before us.

It was almost like we were all on a Military mission each making sure we had someone watching our back and a specific group line up. One by one we headed out of the eddy down in to the gorge the rapids were full of huge big waves that couldn't be anything but full of fun, before we even knew it we were at Cathedral eddy. Cathedral is a swirling eddy the captures and keep paddlers who try to enter or leave it. We opt for the nice friendly eddy on the right .

With most of the nerves being lost in alleyway we were ready to face Magic falls a long class IV rapid with two significant holes Magic and any circumstances Maytag is the one to avoid...what about Magic you say...well I hear at lower levels it is nasty too. At the level we had it 5800 CFS you can surf me you can!! I was sweeping up the back when I noticed Anne being surfed at the top of Magic so I paddled across to make sure if anything happened I was there. Anne paddled free just as I descended into the dead center of Magic's lots of swearing was going on in my head as I began to front surf, with no real thought of how to get out I flip and roll up on the back side of Magic...giggling like a silly kid, screaming "I have just surfed Magic". The groups enthusiasm for surfing Magic wasn't quite the same as mine hence we didn't visit that side of Magic falls on our next time down.

We took off for lunch and begin to discuss our 2nd run down when we realize the water is being cut to 325 CFS, not wanting to pinball down we opted to paddle the lower.

While the lower is a beautiful scenic river, it doesn't match the adrenaline rush of the gorge. The Lower rapids are class three and are separated by long sections of flat...I HATE FLAT!! By the end I had almost given up all hope of ever seeing whitewater or land again. I don't think I'll paddle the lower again...

Friday night we had a cozy night in our cabin, with great food, beer and Music. Okay guys so Anne and Me can't sing that well but it must have been an entertaining sight us dancing and signing around the breakfast bar in our PJ's.

Saturday: High release on the Dead 7000CFS. The dead on normal releases is class 3 while on high releases (7000CFS & 5000CFS) it significantly increases to a class IV.

Last year Jim Poulin, Myself and a few other Kayakers set the record for the highest ever run made on the Dead at 20,000 CFS. Our reputations proceed us and we are still talked about in the Forks till this day. Our group found it highly amusing during this weekend when testosterone filled men bragged how they had run it at 9000 cfs and would laugh and ask me if I had run it before. I would reply casually yeah last year. The Guy would then say this level is much harder then the usual releases, are you sure you are up to it. I would start laughing and say "I am not worried I ran it last year at 20,000 CFS and 10,000 CFS". Met with a jaw dropping "I have heard about you, your part of that group that run Enchantment in to the Dead, you guys made history" the dog would then sculk off with its tail between its legs. It happened a few times and it got quite funny towards the end.

We paid our $15 bucks each for the shuttle...totally worth it. We staged a mutiny when the driver refused to set off before 10am (it takes 45 mins to get to the put in) so at 9.30 we got all the Kayakers together and jumped aboard the bus and began to sing ...much to the dismay of the driver. He relented and drove us to the top (Yep he did it to shut us up...I told you I was a bad singer).

The Dead an amazing river...Large long rapids with a short enough flat to stop me whining endlessly but long enough to refuel and take a breather for the next rapid.

We weren't as organized as the day before and our military precision and co-ordination seemed to be MIA. We had carnage at the first rapid, a long difficult swim followed with nobody in the group to help, the swimmer was rescued by a another Kayaker. Actually the description was a NJ Kayaker very burly and handsome...A beer is owed to you by Ms Dagger RX...Hope you didn't touch the sponge!!

Back on the river and the rapids were just as fun and technical as I remember them, while a little smaller than last year it proved not to be disappointing in any fashion.

The most significant rapid Poplar...saw group disarray. The group was largely spread out and when a couple decided to eddy out. I was faced with the prospect of running it solo, knowing I was tired and the amount of holes that potentially could eat me. I shouted to one to follow me ...After getting flipped at one wave I rolled 3 times consecutively before I could regain balance. I was tired and weary and I was only half way down the rapid, I was also alone on the opposite side of the river to everyone else. I eddied out and noticed, Belinda Blackcurrant had swum and her boat was graciously running the rapid with out her.

We got the boat in after the rapid but it was along long way down from its owner. Belinda had taken a long swim and was slightly beaten up, when along to the rescue came a raft of young men who helped reunite her with her boat. Makes you think it was some sort of ploy to get young men to look after you, sneaky!!

Thankfully it is was just a short paddle to the take out and more beers.

Thanks to NO Umbrella who provided excellent entertainment Saturday night plus Root beer floats...and nice Tee's too

Sunday- Minus one we hit the Kennebec a second time, it was just as fun as the first and we bopped down like little ducks, happy as can be...until Magic that is. Well everyone was happy but me at Magic. Again me playing the sweep we decided to run center. As I came up a huge wave my boat started to face right I tried to correct it, hit a hole sending me even more right. That's when I came face to face with it. Like death staring me in my face (Maytag), I paddled as hard as my arms could take me digging hard with every stroke forcing my boat left...I clipped the far left corner of Maytag!! It was enough to scare the goolies off me time I am going left and surfing Magic!!

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