Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A Gathering

One of the attributes of the internet that I enjoy (there are some that I find less appealing) is the ability to communicate with a group of people with relative ease. Where it might have been a chore some twenty years ago to organize and plan a gathering of like-minded souls, today one can use community websites to "meet" with and negotiate intentions such as my trip this past Saturday on a stretch of the Farmington known as Crystal Rapids. Northeast Paddlers Message Board connects paddlers of all types in this region of the country. It allows several hundred people to share ideas, tips, techniques, humor, and, sometimes, irritation as they indulge themselves in this wonderful appreciation of aquatic resources.

Saturday was a typical summer in New England. Warm and a bit humid, with billowy cumulonimbus clouds forming at the turn of midday. We paddled with a river volume of about 550 cubic feet per second which is approaching "low" for boating purposes. But each level brings a unique look and feel to the river, particularly the areas of class 1 and class 2 rapids. Rocks appear and disappear with changes in flow. A line of approach on one day may be unavailable on the next. The change in levels can even influence your awareness of the static shoreline features such that the river presents itself as a new adventure with each visit.

The three hour float was marked by constant conversation between paddlers as different as the boats in which we paddled; a pair of kayaks, two solo tripping canoes (one poled and one paddled), two OC-1 canoes, and two inflatable kayaks. It was, to be cliché, a rainbow of boats and personalities. Fun? That goes without saying. Any day on a river, even in less than favorable conditions, is a joy that is difficult to convey to those who have not spent time on the water.