Kennebec river excursion…with pics!

This sign should be in front of our house this week.

Blogging is hard while on vacation- so much to post, so little desire. And whenever the Yates family convenes, it’s always well-ordered chaos. Well-ordered because most of us are type-A (the rest of us are closet type-A), and chaos because that’s what happens when type-As try to out-type-A each other. I mentioned there were 8 of us, right? Not including the parental units? And that doesn’t include spouses, children and other extended family.

After spending 3 days in a jet-lagged, micro-brewed stupor I finally got off my ass and kayaked the lower Kennebec River gorge. Ben and Leonie shredded the top section with two hard-core Mainers: Morrill and John. If ever there was an ‘Old Man River’- it’s these guys. They’ve done every river in any kind of river-craft you can imagine, and their accents are as thick as the black flies. More on the Maine state bird later.

Morrill and John

Morrill and John, shredders.

A shredder is a 2-person inflatable that can tackle pretty much anything a river can throw at you. You can even play in it if you and your co-pilot are co-ordinated enough. The Kennebec River gorge has some nice class III-IV white-water and the dam was releasing 5000 cfs that day, so nice flow! But too big for me and my insufficient kayak skills, so I put the two shredders in at Harris Station and then drove to Carey Brook access point to wait.

Harris Station

Harris Station was built in the 1950s to generate power for the state of Maine. It has 3 massive turbines and can produce 85.9 megawatts of electricity at full tilt. It turned out to be a little over-engineered and so they only generate power for 3-4 hours/day, not only for Maine but for the surrounding states as well. When they open up the generators (usually from 10am-1pm) the rafters, kayakers, shredders and duckies based in The Forks put in and ride the waves back to town. Yes, there is a town in Maine called ‘The Forks’. It is at the confluence of the Kennebec and Dead Rivers, ergo a fork. No, there aren’t any vampires there.

I'm going to cross the eddy line with a left broach, peel out and catch that wave train river right. Meet you at Gravel Beach for lunch.

I joined up with the shredders at Carey Brook. It was a complete high to be back in my perception sparc and on the river again. And either I’m much stronger or that little boat is hella-stable; I didn’t have any ‘oh-shit’ moments and actually was able to catch a few waves and surf a bit. Water is an amazing substance, so pliable when you run your paddle through it and so hard when a wave crushes into your chest. And at the end I found out- I can still roll with ease, another trick I practiced and practiced and practiced.

Access to white-water is one of the very few things I miss about life in America. There’s nothing like spending your morning pushing through a river that changes every time you run it and every moment you’re in it. And after the big stuff and a snack on the river, there’s an afternoon float out through a beautiful, green sunlit gorge. Maine- the way life should be.


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