Paddling with Sue

Our 1/2 day guided river trips start in Shelburne, NH and finish in Gilead, ME on the Androscoggin River. A shuttle is required for this point-to-point adventure and I was asked to shuttle Sue’s paddling trip. The morning was a little cool and clear-perfect for paddling. After getting our guests fit to their life jackets and boats we were off. I followed behind in the other vehicle and was anxious to get a few photos as they launched the kayaks on such a beautiful day.

Looking downstream on the Androscoggin River

We arrived at the put-in and I helped Sue unload the four kayaks, three solos and one tandem. Sue gave some instruction on how to adjust the seats and footrests for the family to do while we shuttled the van and trailer to the take-out in Gilead.

Upon our return I took a group photo and listened while Sue provided some more instruction.

She explained what to do if you flip your kayak and gave a demonstration while telling them it rarely happens. Next, Sue handed out paddles and gave the option to “feather” the paddle, adjusting it so that both blades are not lined up and twisting the paddle on every stroke. This way there is less surface area and the blade out of the water can cut through the air easier.

Sue helped everyone get their boats in the river and held them steady. She gave a slight push back into the small eddy, a calm spot where the water is not moving as fast so they could take off together behind Sue. After Sue hopped in her boat she asked them to follow her and avoid the ripples-they give indication the water is shallow.

They were off on a wonderful trip, leaving me wishing I was with them.

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Paddling with Maine Adaptive

Several times each summer our GGT paddling staff heads over to Maine to assist the MASR staff and volunteers – here’s Darron’s take on yesterday’s efforts:

Sue and I headed out to Range Pond in Maine to join the Maine Adaptive Sports & Recreation folks for some accessible paddling for persons with disabilities, and their stellar staff and volunteers. We saw a mature bald eagle, two fledglings in the nest, a loon and juvenile loon, painted turtles, cedar waxwings, and Sue gets birdwatcher award of the day for spotting what she is very confident is a Blackburnian Warbler – vivid orange splashing about in the trees.

The folks did really well, including some first timers. The weather held and was beautiful when we left to make it back for the Salomon Trail Running Series awards and potluck wrapup.


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Bill Koch Festival was a Blast!

This past weekend we hosted more than 575 kids plus their families for the 2012 TD Bank Bill Koch Festival and Bill Koch himself was here supporting all the kids!! Bill Koch had a passion for skiing early on. At 18 he became the first American to win a medal in Nordic skiing during international competition at the European Junior Championships. He then went on to make the 1976 Olympic team and became the first American to win an Olympic medal in Nordic skiing, placing 2nd in the 30 km. The Bill Koch Ski League, named in his honor, is an Eastern US cross-country ski program for children in grade 8 and under.  It’s designed to encourage kids to ski and develop their talent. Here at the festival he signed autographs for hours, skied out on the trails to watch the competition and personally presented awards to those skiers who placed, congratulating every one who raced. Thanks Bill!

Saturday morning’s weather wasn’t so ideal but everyone made the best of it. Kicking off the festival was a parade showing costumes representing the theme-Blast from the Past to the Future on Skis! From the Berkshire Trails team dressed as cavemen….

to futuristic skiers, fun was had by all.

From then on it was non stop racing. Saturday showcased relay racing with racers from 1st through 8th grade. The best part was seeing them finish into the stadium -just like in the Olympics and International races. Spectators watched as they came across the top of the tubing hill, down “Apple Orchard Hill” and around the pond. Cowbells rang out, the crowd cheered non-stop and Peter Graves, the well know Olympic cross country commentator, called their name as they passed the finish line. It must have been such an incredible feeling- I felt the excitement and I wasn’t even racing! There was plenty to do for those who weren’t racing or who were waiting to race. Kids were everywhere-on the tubing hill, playing on the obstacle course, discovering the fairy houses, conquering the snow banks and getting Bill Koch’s autograph!

The races and following awards ceremonies were split, grades 1-4 before noon and grades 5-8 in the afternoon. It was perfect – the younger kids didn’t have to wait. After the top 10 or 20 were awarded, all racers were brought in for photographs and recognition, no one was left out.

After racing concluded for the day, most attended the delicious pasta dinner held at the Town & Country Inn in Shelburne!

Sunday brought more smiling faces, individual races, 8th grade graduation and probably the most anticipated race of the entire weekend-the Lollipop Race.  This event is designed as an introductory experience for young skiers prior to involvement in timed categories.

8th grade graduation was very special and exciting. Sue led the graduates up into the woods and out of sight.

Next thing we knew they were coming down the lower portion of the Auto Road in pairs skiing onto Great Glen Trails where their names were announced and where they received their certificate.

By the afternoon I couldn’t believe the festival was almost over, a few more races and and one more award ceremony and the 2012 Bill Koch Festival would come to a happy ending. This was the busiest most fun filled weekend we’ve had here in the winter. Seeing kids outside, making new friends, playing in the snow and the camaraderie in the races was truly amazing! I am so happy I was a part of this memorable event and hope to see some of the kids returning to enjoy our trails.

Fantastic job to all who were involved!!
Relive the festival!

Festival Photos:

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