Who says you can’t get any faceshots just because there’s no snow on the ground? In search of thrills, some variety to our exercise routine, and some fall foliage, Kelly and I set out for the Androscoggin River for some entry-level white-water, and autumn kayak camping. Turns out we missed the foliage by about a week that far north, but the thrills and exercise were found in good supply.
We chose this Androscoggin route for it’s length (17 miles – an easy overnight), it’s reliability (the Errol dam is released regularly ensuring consistent flow), the low grade white-water (we’re newbies) and it’s proximity to civilization (again, we’re newbies). As it turns out, many other northern rivers are pretty much dried up and un-runnable at this time of the year.
As usual we hauled the kayaks up north with the Xterra. When we arrived at our designated take-out, we rendezvoused with Dan from TrailAngels.com. We loaded the gear and the kayaks onto his vehicle, and stowed the Xterra in the corner of the lot. Dan shuttled us from the Pontook Dam Reservoir to a put along Rte. 16 just south of Errol, NH. He dropped us off on the side of the road, we paid in cash, and he took off, to ferry more outdoorsmen around norther New Hampshire. We made last minute preparations to the kayaks, stowed the overnight gear in the drybags and hull hatches, dragged the kayaks down a steep embankment, and pushed off into the river.
Virtually none of the footage is worth watching, but some of the screen-grabs are pretty cool. In the future, some better techniques might include hi-res stills at a frequency such as 1 frame / 10s. Some variety in camera angle would probably go a long way too. A tail could be interesting, especially if we followed each other from a reasonable distance. A side view might also be cool if we could manage to pick roughly parallel lines through the interesting sections.
After a day of running (tame) whitewater, we started our hunt for a camp site. Many of the best looking sites were earlier than would have been ideal – we just weren’t ready to call it quits so soon! We pushed past some dismal prospects and eventually set our sites on a stretch of woods nearby an old gravel pit. The area was reasonably set apart from the road, and we hoped it might be large enough to offer some variety in camp site selection.
We found an ideal spot at the intersection of two old 4×4 trails. I strung up a clothes line and hung the bear bag while Kelly pitched her new Sierra Designs Flash 2. With the serious business under control we took a tarp down the gravel pit and used it to haul some loose field stones back to our site to put together a fire ring. We stoked up the fire, ate some Backpackers Pantry and enjoyed a bottle of wine.
The following day, we broke camp at a leisurely pace: the route had only a few miles and now whitewater left before we’d reach the car. We enjoyed a lazy paddle back to the Pontook Reservoir, and were treated with various birds of prey in lieu of the easy paddling.