Rafting in Maine – Photos Oct16

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Rafting in Maine – Photos

It was the end of August and we were headed out to the coast from Newport, VT to visit Bar Harbor, Maine, but along the way we needed to make a stop. Ever since we’d missed out on a rafting trip in Bend, Oregon we’d been looking for another opportunity and the Kennebeck River was the perfect option. So we booked ourselves for 2 nights of dry camping at the Three Rivers Rafting Company in West Forks, ME.

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We arrived in the afternoon just in time to get the RV set up before it started to pour. Allison dug out 4 different games from the cabinet, Canasta, Rummy Squares, Set and Cribbage while I opened a bottle of wine and we settled in for a long evening indoors. I would have said a quiet evening, but that’s not quite possible in the tin can during a deluge. The following morning we were up early to meet our rafting group and guides at the office. It was still pretty cold and cloudy, but at least the rain had stopped.

It took a good hour to get everyone suited up with life jackets, helmets and paddles. Two of our boat mates opted to rent wet suit tops and booties, they were that cold already. Ali and I conferred and decided to tough it out. Once we’d received all of the boat operation and safety instructions, we boarded an old school bus and road 20 mins out to the river.

The Kennebeck is dammed and its flow is controlled by the state, so the section of the river just beneath that is the most exciting. Up near the top of the dam is where they had the huge staging area for all the rafting companies and their boats. When we arrived and exited the bus, we were immediately surrounded by a hundred other helmeted, puffy chested, paddle-carrying people. Our guide Seth couldn’t have been more than 22 years old, if even that. He came up to about my shoulder and was a thin, sinewy type of boy. We all watched him use a big manual pump to blow up our boat and then we hopped into it (while it was still on the ground) to practice our paddling. And then we waited for a minute or two while the pecking order between rafting companies was sorted out.

This was really the first time we’d gotten to speak to our boat mates. Ali and I can’t remember their real names, though I’m sure we were told them at one point. All that remains are the nicknames we gave them when she and I were recounting the day’s events to each other back at the rig that afternoon. Truck Driver (his profession) and his son Unibrow (it was an amazing straight bar of fuzzy hair) were in the front of our boat, followed by Pizza Boy (he worked for a pizza restaurant) and his wife, Butt Crack (her yoga pants sagged down all day) in the middle and then Ali and I were next. We were all captained by Sinewy Seth in the very back.

Soon it was time to head down to the river so we lifted our boat up as a team and started the long walk down the hundred plus stairs to the water.

This is not our picture, too sunny, but it shows the stairs.

This is not our picture, too sunny, but it shows the stairs.

There was a calm spot near the shore where we put in, but within a few paddles we were smack dab in the middle of rapids. I should have worn my GoPro that day – I kicked myself for an entire week for forgetting to charge the battery the night before. A photographer did follow us down in a kayak and took photos and video, but they wanted an arm and a leg for them, so we’re cheating by using their watermarked thumbnails in this blog post.

After the first set of rapids, the river turned and got much deeper and wider which made for a good spot to get in and “swim” for a while. When Seth offered up the chance to get in the water, my first thought was, “Oh no, too cold.” But then I took one look at Allison and knew we were going in. Her eyes were sparkling with excitement. If eyelids were lips, hers would have been flappin’ like hell yelling – “it’s all about the EXPERIENCES – we gotta live big!” Pizza Boy was having a similar exchange with Butt Crack, but she wasn’t having any of it. He jumped in alone, and Allison and I followed him in. As I felt that first, cold finger of water splash up onto my face, I had my second thought. “How the hell is Sinewy Seth going to get me back in the boat since I outweigh him”, by some amount that doesn’t need to be defined in exact terms here. “Worry about that later,” I said to myself and smiled while I bobbed up and down in the ripples.

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Truck Driver, Unibrow and Butt Crack were ahead of us in the boat with Sinewy Seth. We could easily see them all as we floated down the river behind them for a few minutes. But fairly quickly the water started to get rougher and smiling and laughing became a liability as my head sunk under the water several times. I lost sight of everyone for a second or two, even Allison and Pizza Boy, but the next time I surfaced I was right beside the boat and Sinewy Seth was holding out his paddle for me to grab onto. He hooked me just as I was about to pass the boat and head down river.

Truck Driver, who was also pretty thin, but taller than Seth, had already helped Allison into the boat. We’d all learned how to do it during our safety session. You grab the person in the water by the life vest at the arm holes and haul them up. Trucker had just started to help Pizza Boy who outweighed me by several pounds, when Seth reached down and grabbed me up. Next thing I knew I was laying on top of Sinewy Seth in the boat. That tough, skinny, little dude had whipped me up out of the water like I was nothing.

THAT IS NOT MY LEG - it's Pizza Boy's.  I'm just saying!

THAT IS NOT MY LEG – it’s Pizza Boy’s. I’m just saying!

With everyone back in the boat, we bounded down the river again full steam ahead and finished out the rapids. The trip included a snack stop at a spot where you can usually jump off a water fall into a natural pool, but the water wasn’t deep enough for us to do that safely. So after a few minutes of exploring we loaded up again and continued down the calmer section of the river for another 45 minutes. Finally, we landed at the take out spot.

Our rag tag crew of wet rats boarded the bus to head back to camp and Ali and I huddled together, side by side in our seat grinning from ear to ear. We were soaked to the bone and shivering on the outside, but inside we were basking in the warm thrill of adventure. We often share the same thoughts in life. We absolutely have that twinning thing I mentioned earlier, but there was no need for any extra special mind reading that day. Because in that moment, we both had “Let’s go again!!!!” written in all caps on our foreheads.

Bugs, bugs, bugs!!!!!

Bugs, bugs, bugs!!!!!

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