My heart was pounding with excitement as the White-Water Kayaking trip pulled into the Big Eddy Campground located on the western end of the Penobscot River. The eager, adventurous group consisting of Olivia, Abby Wilson, Abby Salzer, Wyatt, Tori, Theo, Brooks, Rachel (me) and our leaders Lauren, Gordon, and Paul were raring to go after a four-hour ride to our destination.
While listening to the constant thrashing of the white-water and breathing in the crisp, fresh air we set up camp. One advantage of white-water kayaking was a home base. Working together we pitched tents, unloaded the wanagans and food, and set up our “kitchen.” After all this was accomplished there was still time for our first lesson in white-water kayaking. After getting dressed in all our gear and unloading the kayaks we headed down to the Big Eddy. After learning how to “wet-exit” and “T-rescue” we played around in the water, getting used to the feel of the kayaks. As the day came to a close we headed back to camp and made our first meal, burritos. Sitting around a warm fire and then heading off to bed we were all tired, but anticipating the day ahead.
After a good night’s rest we got up around 8:30 and started preparing for a new day. Our leaders were off checking the weather and river conditions while we made breakfast. After a hearty meal we slipped back into our gear and headed to the river. Forming our line of ducks we followed one another down the river. “Shredding” the waves as we flew through the water and attempting to dodge rocks got our adrenaline pumping and asking for more. Not only was the thrill of white-water amazing but the views were spectacular. We stopped for lunch looking out over a spectacular level-4 rapid. After lunch we put in and ran “Horse Race,” a two-mile long rapid. At the end we “peddled up,” meaning we formed a circle and floated to shore. While we were “peddled up” you could see the top of Mt. Katahdin and the beautiful trees in shades of the sunset shining all around us. For a little solo time, we headed to the “Crib-Works” where we reflected in our journals, read a book or took a nap. Back at camp we cooked dinner, sat around the fire and then headed off to bed for a rest well deserved.
Wednesday morning we got up and decided to run the same route as the day before, only all before lunch. With much anticipation we headed to the water and took off ready for a new adventure. Having more fun than the day before we “tore-up” the white-water as we took in breathtaking views of the scenery all around us. After a short day of kayaking we headed to Katahdin ware we hiked for about 2 miles to get to Blueberry Ledges. Here the rocks were completely smooth and there was a stream running through them. The water was ice-cold, but felt refreshing after the warm hike to get there. Here we had more solo time. As we were about to leave, Olivia fell in the stream trying to grab her backpack that was floating away. In an attempt to save Olivia, Paul fell in as well. With two soggy companions and a storm approaching we headed back down and back to camp. After another scrumptious meal we prepared for rain by covering up the picnic tables and stove with a tarp and headed to bed.
The next morning it was raining. After a small delay we made a plan for the rest of the day. Paul had to leave to move the canoeist van to a closer destination point. After saying goodbye to Paul the rest of the group headed out. Before kayaking we went to Ripogenus Dam and a huge power plant. Close to the power plant and right after a level-5 rapid there was a put-in. Lowering the kayaks down the 60-foot cliff and then climbing down ourselves, we prepared to take the last run of the trip. We kayaked down the river and “shredded” the waves. We stopped for lunch at the end of the run and then headed back to camp where we went down the Big Eddy rapid twice, concluding the kayaking experience for the trip. After peddling up for the last time we headed back to camp where we ate dinner and packed up the truck. Due to the rain, we headed to the library for a few last hours of bonding before we hit the hay.
After getting back to Chewonki there was still much work to be done before we could shower and wash our clothes. Greeting people as all the trips came back and non-stop chatter about everyone’s trips continued through the night. Though it was sad to see the end of a fantastic trip, it was great to see everyone’s cheery faces again.
-Rachel Hanley, Wiscasset, ME