What a Ride!

The Kennebec River
By Christina Tree, with special thanks to Raft Maine
  |  Gorp.com
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Happily, Magic Falls is several miles downriver from the put-in point. We had already lurched and spun through the fury of "The Three Sisters" and a wave aptly named "Big Mama" and flirted with a half dozen other holes and eddies.

We had also come through the narrow throat of the gorge, "The Alleyway," and through "The Cathedral," where spruce and white pine march up craggy cliffs and hawks circle in the sky.

After Magic Falls, our unflappable guide, Joe, sounded the welcome "let 'er drift" command, and we all relaxed. It was a little after that, as we edged over to an inviting granola-break spot at the mouth of Dead Stream, that the grandfather in our group fell in.

Joe had warned us that rafters fall overboard when they least expect to. He had also coached us carefully about what to do in the supposedly unlikely event that this happens. When Gramps involuntarily abandoned ship, he kept his feet up to avoid rocks, floating on his back (the lifejackets are designed to buoy your head when you lean back), and was hauled aboard none the worse for wear.

Below Carry Brook Rapids, the waves subside to "rips." Luckily, Joe Apicella is a great tale-teller (if you're lucky enough to raft with him, request the one about Joe DiMaggio), because about this time I began wishing it were August. In May the water temperature hovers around 50 degrees, but by August it's 70 and many rafters slip over the side and float the final few miles downstream.

As it was, we were wearing wet suits and rubber booties (I lined mine with thick woolen socks), and our outfitter had supplied plenty of hot cocoa. Spirits were so high that, when we finally stopped for a granola break at Black Brook Rapids, most of our party jumped into the swimming hole there despite the temperature, declaring the water "much" warmer than the main river.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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