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CC's Outdoor Journal; Enjoy a river paddle
HANOVER/RUMFORD- For the first time in 18 years, Source to the Sea held an evening paddle from Hanover to Rumford in hopes to make it more convenient for area citizens to enjoy the river. It worked, paddlers numbered 25 on Thursday, with one four-legged friend and a six year old tagging along in her mom’s kayak.
The annual Source to the Sea Trek, spearheaded by the Androscoggin Watershed Council, sets out each year to paddle the 177-mile length of the river and raise awareness of the river’s beauty, history, resource, and this year, their theme focused on Connecting People, Communities and Cultivating Healthy Lifestyles.
The same as in years past, the group of paddlers met at the Hanover launch to unload their kayaks and canoes, and then off to Rumford to transport their vehicles. Sunday River once again donated shuttle service for the trip back to Hanover.
After getting to know everyone’s names and what brought them peace in life, paddlers donned their safety vests and loaded into their boats for the 9.2-mile trek to Rumford.
The water is swift near the Hanover launch, as the current makes quite a run before the next bend where the Ellis joins with the Androscoggin. Paddlers enjoyed trying to stay close to the launch while the rest of the group made their way onto the water.
It was neat to see little Annelise Witas riding along with her mom, Sandy, for her first trip down the river. She looked like a little papoose peering over the top of the kayak.
Then there was Barbara Rajaniemi, who had thought ahead to have a rope handy for her granddaughter, Gracie Farnum, to join her.
“We love to spend time together and she wanted to come along, so I figured this would be good if she got tired.”
Rajaniemi, on a lifestyle change journey of her own, had packed healthy snacks for Gracie, in case she got tired of paddling, she would have healthy options while she floated along, allowing her Mem to do all the work.
For others, like Nona Holland and her daughter, Myriah Porter, it had been years since Holland was on the river and the last time Porter floated down, she was a youngster. It was nice having so many newcomers on the water, along with the regulars.
Floating down the river, traveling under the 232 bridge, the view was majestic. The water was so calm, the sky was blue between a few puffy clouds, making for beautiful reflections in the water. Not too far down from the bridge we spotted our first and only bald eagle of the night. It flew from the grand trees on the river bank and right overhead. Anyone who drives the river daily can attest that there are several eagles’ nests along that stretch. We also spotted a blue heron wading in the grass at the side of the river.
As we approached Ornamental Iron near Rumford Center, the sound of the water rushing over the larger rocks made those paddling with me in the lead, fall back a bit and watch. I assured them that the sound of the water was much worse than the actual ride through the fast water.
Just the same, one-by-one, everyone came through, following me until the water settled and they began to spread out again.
“It just makes your heart beat a little faster,” laughed Laurieann Milligan. “When you hear it coming and don’t really know what to expect, it makes you pay attention and it gives you a bit of a rush.”
The rest of the paddle through Rumford Center, down behind the Madison and on to the boat landing, was relaxing and enjoyable, as other paddlers picked up speed to catch up, and as we caught up to those who left ahead of us.
Waiting for us in the Rumford Polar Bear garage was a giant Subway sandwich, juice and water provided by River Valley Healthy Communities Coalition. Locals Jim Rinaldo and Dick Lovejoy met us there, along with the watershed coordinator, Diana Petrakos.
It was a wonderful night for a paddle and it was nice to see so many come out for the event. There was lots of talk about the weather for Friday, as rain was in the forecast.
On Friday, half a dozen paddlers arrived at the Mexico launch for the trek to Dixfield, and would be met at lunchtime behind the Opera House at the mouth of the Webb River by Mrs. B’s of Peru with their pre-ordered lunches.
There are still plenty of paddles left over the next two weeks. Please visit www.androscogginwatershed.org to register for one near you or to find more details on the trek.