On July 27th a bunch of us from my Wednesday Night Dinner group went white water rafting on the Kennebec River in Maine. It was a great time, we camped, kayaked, rafted, and cooked dinner over a fire. We drove up Saturday, stayed overnight, rafted Sunday morning and then drove home. It was a long trip, we were only ~35 miles from Canada. This was the first time I got to use my tent or otherwise come anywhere close to camping since moving it to Boston. The weather was perfect – it was 70 and partly sunny, although; it did rain a bit during the night, which eliminated the chance to do some star gazing.
Kayaking was on a nearby lake, and included an encounter with a loon. We came upon a what appeared to be a duck, at least until it opened it’s mouth to make a sound – then we knew it was no duck. After a few minutes worth of calling by the first loon, a second arrived. This one had a baby loon on its back. It seemed to be about 1.5 times the size of a baseball. It climbed off, presumably, its mother’s back and into the water. We had two kayaks approaching in on it from different directions, on a line running right through the family’s present location. They made a dash, as fast as the little one could swim in the perpendicular direction. We did not follow, it was very cute.
The surprising thing was that the water was also ~70 degrees. It is a damn controlled river, but they must release from the top of the lake or something to get those temperatures. The river was also strange in some other ways. First, we put in within sight of the damn, maybe only 100 meters downstream. To get to the put in there was a huge stairway to take down fully inflated rafts, carried by us. There were immediately 3 large rapids – two class 3’s and then a class 4. The class 4 was a ~6 foot waterfall. The water was big and it was hard to paddle so hard so close to the start of the run. It was also interesting, going over the waterfall they actually told us not to paddle but instead get the paddle away from us and hold onto some rope in the raft. It was quite the departure from the never stop paddling mantra I’ve learned.
The rest of the river, however, was quite different from the first, say, 30 minutes of it. There were only a handful of class 2 rapids the entire rest of the 4 hour trip. So here we are in these enormous 10 person rafts, which were needed to get through the big water upstream, but which make class 2 rapids super lame. It appears the company was well aware of this problem. After lunch they trucked in a double ducky raft for each raft, so that people could trade in an out of a smaller boat (where the smaller rapids would be more fun). They also let us swim pretty much the entire rest of the river. It was ok, but I would not go back to this river unless I was either in a smaller boat, or only did the top few miles (and did them multiple times).
Also, the lunch on river was simply amazing. A pre-trip choice of chicken, steak, or salmon with rice, pasta salad and cookies. There was also gorp, lemonade, ice tea, and water while we were waiting for the real meal to cook.