Rebecca and I were playing pickleball in Stonington when we got a text from Nate. Did we want to go for a whitewater run on Wednesday with him and Chris? Of course we did. Never mind that I needed to pack to leave Thursday morning to go guide a trip in Georgia. These opportunities don't come every day; you say yes to them.
After a foggy drive, we met in Hampden at the take-out for a run on Souadabscook Stream. The parking area was a sheet of ice, so we parked along the roadside and shuttled up to the put-in in Nate's truck. Fortunately for us, Nate and Chris have an extra boat or two and were happy to outfit and coach us. Of course a lot of the gear - like everything we wore - is the same we would use for sea kayaking. And of course, a lot of the skills overlap as well, especially if you spend some time in tidal currents.
Despite the snowy banks and the sculptural ice formations atop rocks or hanging from flooded trees, the air temps crept up into the high forties, and we were plenty warm. This was my second time in a whitewater boat, and the second time on the Sou (rhymes with 'cow') but Rebecca's first such excursion.
Whitewater can offer a nice counterpoint to sea kayaking. It takes you inland to places we don't get to in sea kayaks, at times when boating on the ocean might be less practical. And although the emphasis seems to be more upon thrill-seeking than journeying, we enjoyed the less-bumpy stretches as well. You just drift downstream and enjoy the ride.
But then there's the bumps, and they're a lot of fun.
I'd like to think I'll be plunging into whitewater boating as I did sea kayaking, but it's not likely, at least anytime soon. I feel lucky when these opportunities come my way, and we would undoubtedly do it more if we invested in our own gear and began taking classes and getting coaching as we did for sea kayaking. But maybe it's knowing what it took to improve my sea kayaking skills that makes me hesitant to spread myself too thin. Maybe it's yet another reason to figure-out how to spend less time working and more time having fun.
As on last year's run down the same stream, I chose to not run Grand Falls at the end. Chris did though.
If you're a sea kayaker and you'd like to give whitewater a try, Nate will be teaming-up with Todd Wright in Vermont for a class meant just for you this June!
I've got a short article in the new issue of Adventure Kayak Magazine about paddling in some of my favorite neighborhoods. Chris (above) appeared in a profile as well. It isn't online yet, so if you don't already subscribe, you might just have to run out and buy it!
I also discovered that Paddling Magazine published a favorable review of AMC's Best Sea Kayaking in New England last summer: