Paddling Staff Retreat-Penobscot

Hey guys, just thought I’d catch you up on what some of the staff does around here for fun on their days off.  Ian, Liz, and I rallied up to The West Branch of the Penobscot for a few days of kayaking and camping.  Known for its dependable class IV White Water this has been an annual trip for my friends and I for years.  This is the first year I had dragged Ian and Liz along though.  In fact, it’s only second time Ian had really paddled any significant white water (ok, any white water).

We met another boater along the way on route 95 (Ben has been helping me with some Lyndon State Courses I teach) and spread out the load of gear for the long haul.  We were actually headed for the Seboomook section first (7 hours from home) so that everyone could see this really cool “pool drop” section of the river.  Only two miles long, it was a great stretch of river to get everyone warmed up for the big stuff we would hit the next day.  The Seboomook is about 12 different rapids all at a class III difficulty.  Everyone loved this stretch and swore to come back.

Staff padding, great glen trails, whitewater

Staff padding, great glen trails, whitewater Staff padding, great glen trails, whitewater We landed at camp by 6:30pm that night (about 12 hours after we started driving) and were snoring by 9pm.  Up early pressing coffee and getting the fire going we enjoyed our beautiful site at the bottom of the Cribworks rapid.  I ran the upper stretch of river while Ian, Liz and Ben got some pics and walked the dogs (yes, we had four dogs in the truck too!!).  The group decided to set a shuttle downstream of our site at Big Eddy so we could run Little Ambejackwockamus, Big Ambejackwockamus, and Neswadnehunk Falls.  So. Much. Fun.  We all did some laps on the big drop at the end and had a blast running into the huge hydraulic at the bottom of the waterfall.  More food back at the site, a couple drinks, a huge fire and we were in bed again before 9pm.

Day 3 we needed to pack up and leave the site by 9am in order to make our morning run down Abol Rapid and Big Pockwockamus Rapid.  Absolutely stunning views of Mt. Katadin and some of the best foliage I have ever seen made the morning go way too fast. Staff padding, great glen trails,whitewater Huge surf waves and fun rapids finished the morning before noon.  We were home by 5pm only to unpack and repack for the next trip.  Another Penobscot adventure in the books.  -Nate

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Eye Candy for Bird Enthusiasts

Blog post from Sue Wemyss ~

Today was International Migratory Bird Day.  I’d heard there was to be a bird walk at the Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge with Dave Govatski this morning.  Dave is incredible:  super friendly and full of knowledge about birds, trees, and seemingly everything in the natural world.  I was very happy my schedule was open to join this guided bird walk.

It was pouring rain when it was time for me to leave Randolph to drive to the meeting point in Jefferson.  But I’ve got good rain gear and I figured it couldn’t possibly keep pouring for the entire morning.  So, maybe I’d get wet . . . I could always come home and dry off afterward.

There were at least two dozen people who showed up at the trailhead/parking area off Airport Road.  Dave welcomed us, we all introduced ourselves, and it was nice to learn there were a number of other birding guides present, in addition to Dave.

The walk into the main pond is about 1.6 miles along an old railroad bed.  The first time Howie and I went birding there, we didn’t even get to the pond—stopping so often along the way to search for the birds we were hearing!  Today we mostly kept moving to the pond, stopping only occasionally to listen to various birds singing.  Most of the identification of species during this time was by ear.  I’m not very good at this yet—identifying bird calls, but I was happy to recognize the call of a winter wren, one of my personal favorite birds, and the classic “Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody …” call of a white throated sparrow.

Winter Wren

Winter Wren-Dwayne Java, Flicker Image


I was happy when the big group split up into smaller groups once we neared the pond.  With the masses following Dave out to the viewing platform on the pond, I chose to go with Chris, along with about five others.

Just past the first trail turnoff, we hit our first jackpot of bird activity.  It was an open area where trails and old rail bed cross. Birds were flitting busily from tree to tree, catching bugs.  Warblers which have been south through the winter were back: black-throated greens, black-throated blues and many yellow-rumped warblers, all of which are very striking with distinctive colorful markings.  Just to see and focus one’s binoculars on a constantly flitting warbler is a big accomplishment in my book!  I was able to get several nice looks at these birds and drink in their natural beauty.

Then, we started seeing the truly spectacular and less often seen warblers in the trees.  The flame orange throat of a Blackburnian Warbler was shockingly bright and beautiful.  A Northern Parula with its bright yellow chest, blue head and back and white wing bars was a treat for the eyes.  Finding and seeing an American Redstart, whose stand-out coloring is patches of orange on its sides, wings and tail seemed like such a gift of nature.

The bird sightings continued for hours!  I saw over thirty species myself, and heard reports of many more from others.  With every beautiful bird sighted, I felt like I was drinking in full glasses of nature.  Soon I felt brimming, almost bursting with all I was seeing and experiencing.  I only wished my favorite birding partner Howie could have been there too, to take it all in.  We will have to go back, together.

The best of the northern NH birding season has arrived!

Sue Wemyss
Ski School Director, Kayak & Active Programs Instructor
Great Glen Trails

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How to wax your skis for summer storage

Sooner or later, it’s time to call it quits for the ski season. (I tend to admit this later than most.) But before putting the skis away in their summer resting place, there’s one chore left. Done religiously, this chore will help keep ski bases well-conditioned and leave them in much better shape for next year’s skiing.

ski waxing, great glen trailsWith classic skis, I clean off the remnants of whatever kick wax was last used. Hopefully it wasn’t klister. If it was, there’s a great chance that by now it has dribbled down onto the glide zone of the ski tails. I mostly avoid using base cleaner on the skis’ glide zones, (trying only to use it for sticky kick zone cleaning and sidewalls.) But, if there has been klister dribbling, I will use minimal amounts of base cleaner to get rid of this sticky substance.

Next, I like to do a hot scrape of the glide zones. I melt a very warm wax into the ski base, and then scrape it off using a plastic scraper while it is still molten. The theory is that scraping the molten wax will pick up some of the dirt from the ski’s base and pores. Often the dirt is visible in these warm wax scrapings. I also scrape the grooves in this cleaning process.

I then brush the ski base with a steel-bristled brush. I always brush tip-to-tail, in the direction of glide. The oval Swix brush with a hand strap and an arrow showing direction of brush motion is my favorite for this. The theory is that this may get a bit more dirt out of the ski base pores, and open them up to receive clean wax.

Now the final step: ironing in a coat of glide wax that will protect the ski bases through the summer. I like to use a hydrocarbon wax as opposed to a fluorinated one. I also like to use a slightly cooler wax than what I used for the cleaning process. I believe it provides a more durable coat through the heat of the summer.

I don’t do any scraping of this glide wax coat until it’s time to ski again next winter. I may or may not rub some kick wax on my classic skis’ kick zones, giving them some protection too. This is a lot less important in my mind though, and sometimes is missed. Now I feel good about putting my skis away for the summer (well, at least for the sake of their condition). Hopefully it won’t be too many months before I’m bringing them back out to prep them for a fun ride on the snow again!

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