Okay, I’m embellishing a little, but my buddies and I did paddle with snow on the ground, albeit only little remnants of the storm that shook a lot of New England last weekend, knocking the power out of more than 500,000 homes in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. That does mean we paddled the snow melt, and I certainly felt that on my face and fingers.
A group of 5 guys and I returned to the first river I paddled in New England, the Winni. This time, the water was at 1600 something cfs, and it was, in a word, fun! Some of the features washed out, but others replaced it, and fortunately a lot of the problematic trees had washed away, leaving me new lines to explore.
The first of these was the rapid at the upside down bridge. The first time, I took the middle
line, which is easier. On that run, the river right side of the rapid had a huge tree (don’t they all in New England?), which precluded us from that fun drop at the bottom. However, this next run, we got to hit it, and I enjoyed it, almost as much as my friend Jim who counted himself out of the hole too early and got sucked back in. Good times.
The water was high enough to make an otherwise shallow rock pile into a little chute we ran. Still a little too shallow. Every one of us ran the chute and tried to catch the river left eddy, only to knock into one, two, three rocks, to the enjoyment of the others who had gone before us and got to watch the show. The last guy, Max, eddied out on river right, missing the rocks, only to catch one as he tried to surf the wave. That was the funniest, if not my favorite rapid.
Zippy’s was the last rapid I got to enjoy an alternate route. Though AW cautions this section as a class IV rapid, I found the lines easier at higher water than lower. The water moves a little faster, and the waves are bigger, but less rocks are exposed, and at that point, it’s just a matter of moving over toward the center left or center right to go through one of the middle two sections of the last bridge.
The bright red buoys told us we had reached the take out, and we debated briefly on a second run. I, unfortunately opted out for the sake of my Southern boater-wear: paddling shorts, fleece shirt and drytop. I was cold. My friends laughed, and we called it a day at Tilton’s Diner.
Paddling to snowmelt at the first weekend of November told me two things. One, buy a dry suit and soon. Two, I and the rest of the boating community are nuts. But as my teeth chatter and my fingers turn pink, grabbing that paddle and shoving my boat into the moving water is all I need to do to remind me that I love every moment of it, cold and all.