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Tuesday, September 21, 2021/Go Back
Each week, Kabeyun campers and counselors head out on about two dozen hiking, climbing, paddling, and fishing trips all over New Hampshire and often into Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts. Sometimes, they're inspired to write about their trips when they return! Here is a sample of three 2021 'Trips Reports' from our weekly in-camp newspaper, The Log of the West Wind.
By Jesse Metzger
If you want to have a fest, and you wouldn’t mind having it down by the river, then a canoe-kayak Riverfest just might be the trip for you. Such was true for a dozen of Kabeyun’s most riverworthy and festive campers this past week, who ventured deep into the Berkshires of Massachusetts with counselors Gus, Willie, Jesse, and Matthew Paine Thacker. They were off to the Deerfield, one of New England’s most beloved rivers for learning to paddle.
After hours of driving, and an early lunch at a picnic site with towering pines beside the rising Deerfield, the group drove to the put-in of the aptly-named Fife Brook section, where joyous fifing can be heard echoing through the hills and valleys all the way down. They pushed off into the chilly water and practiced peel outs (how to properly leave an eddy and enter the current without flipping) and eddy turns (how to properly exit the current and enter an eddy without flipping) as the wavy river meandered and ospreys flew overhead. At the end of the run, a couple of the kayakers ran the stout Zoar Gap, with clean lines (clean teeth, clean lines) all around.
Once off the river, the group traveled to the nearby Country Aire Campground, where gaggles of benign, elderly couples in American flag T-shirts waved sleepily from their lawn chairs and RVs at the two vans full of youngsters. After some chips and salsa, a feast was prepared: chicken green chili, Spanish rice, beans, and corn, with loads of fixins. Sleep came easy after all was done, and the boys dreamed of wave trains and pour-overs.
Day two brought French toast with fruit, corned-beef hash, loads of sunscreen, and a return to the Fife Brook section, but alas - when the group arrived for round two, there was hardly any water in the river! Along with the Kabeyun group, a collection of canoeists, kayakers, and paddleboarders stood around at the put-in scratching their heads. It turned out that the dam release that would fill the river had been delayed an hour and a half without notice.
After an exercise in great patience and some splashing about in what little current there was, the water finally began to rise by late morning and the group set off. Now already familiar with the section, the boys bobbed and weaved around the river with great nimbleness. In the second major upset of the day, two campers won Jesse’s dessert by matching his line on a challenging ferry (a ferry involves pointing mostly upstream and moving laterally across the current). As the group reached the day’s take-out and loaded up boats, they said goodbye to a river that by then had become a true friend. It involved neither deer nor fields in the slightest, but it found a special place in their hearts nonetheless.
By Atticus and Leo
As we got out of the cool van into the steamy New Hampshire heat, we crossed not only a road, but also a stream to get to the trail leading to Square Ledge. We began our brief trek to the ledge. After passing several groups of hikers, we arrived at our destination, which thankfully no other climbers were using. Sam Dyer set up the anchors, and after a snack of granola bars and fruit snacks all of us were ready to climb.
We had a choice between two different 50-foot routes that were both off-vertical climbs up with plenty of hand and footholds. After everyone climbed both routes without any issues, we ate a lunch of tortillas with either salami or chicken salad. Certain campers among us ate sun butter instead. Then Sam climbed to the top so he could set newer, higher routes for us to do.
The new routes were 100 feet tall and slightly harder. On one of these routes there was a tiny snake we named Linguini. The view from the top of the routes was a stellar view of Mt. Washington. We climbed to the top of the mountain to enjoy a view. We then hiked down to the van to enjoy tasty rice crispy treats on the way back to camp. The end.
Ah, the Maine seacoast! The wafts of salty air, the seductive aromas from the deep fryers of little seaside clam shacks, the musk of slowly decomposing seaweed … this is how six of Kabeyun’s finest kayakers and their paddling staff were greeted when they stepped out of the van upon reaching Sheepscot, Maine. A bottle of sunscreen, passed around, completed the bouquet of hackneyed smells of summertime.
“I wonder if this white stuff on the rock is the sunscreen I just spilled or seagull poop one wondered aloud. “I guess I might as well just use it and find out.”
Sheepscot is one of Maine’s hidden gems, tucked away among the brackish tidal wetlands just inland of the Atlantic Ocean. Kayakers go there for the “reversing falls” - a rapid that forms only for a couple of hours at a time, twice a day, when the outgoing tide is strong enough to create waves as it rushes over a wide ledge. The group paddled out about a quarter mile from the nearest road for a stakeout. After a half hour or so of watching the current of the tide strengthen and begin to surge, great surfing ensued.
As quickly as the waves had come, they vanished, and the group packed up shop, ate a late lunch, and continued north. By early evening, they were able to find the improbably located Wandering Moose Campground - but try as they might, they could not see or reach the campground owner. Finally, after some thumb twiddling and head scratching, a dusty, old Jeep Cherokee screeched around a corner and skidded to a halt.
Out stepped Norman. We reassured him that no, we weren’t from Florida (contrary to what Maverick’s plates would indicate), and we asked what campsite we had been assigned to.
“Oh, aah ... I just mowed that theyah field! It’s all yaahs!” he exclaimed in a thick Maine accent. “How much should I chahj ya? Do I do it per person, oah what now?”
After some slightly confused discussion, the kayak staff negotiated a fair price, accepted a “receipt” that Norman created by scrawling ONE NIGHT PAID IN FULL in large letters on scrap paper, and followed him to the group’s spot for the night. A chilly rain came and went, and the group was warmed by chicken curry with rice before climbing into tents and drifting off to sleep.
Day two brought a trip to Blue Hill Falls, another reversing falls right by the coast. The waves here were harder to surf, but the boys already had some good practice with tidal rips, and they scooted around with joy. By day’s end, they had packed up and traveled back south again, this time to the beautiful Chewonki Campground near Sheepscot. They affixed glowsticks to all their paddling gear in preparation for the night ahead, filled up on Italian Sausages, and caught an early bedtime.
Just before midnight, the group awoke again and packed into the van for the short drive over to Sheepscot. Under the nearly full moon, with glowsticks cracked, they pushed off from shore for a yet another stakeout of the tidal rip and the climax of the trip. There is no feeling in the world quite like carving back and forth across a glassy wave, taller overhead than a person, and jet black except for the shimmers of moonlight.
You can learn more about Kabeyun's Trips program here.
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