A Couple of April Fools Scout The Stream
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge images)
On the morning of April Fools Day, I scouted different parts of the Kenduskeag with my neighbor Chris D'Amico, a seasoned vet of the canoe race. As a paddler, I'm a hopeless novice. I work primarily as a photographer. So it was good to scout some sections of the stream with someone who could actually "interpret" the water. This we did by car and by foot - not by boat.
It doesn't take a seasoned veteran of this canoe race to see that the stream levels are quite a bit lower than in years past. But I felt a need to know just how bad the damage is. Would a seasoned race participant take a look at sections of the stream and abandon all hope? Recent race cancellations in Maine (all due to low water) have some people sitting on pins and needles. Is it possible, they ask me, that the race could be cancelled altogether this year? It is a question which has popped up in the back of my mind as well.
It's important to note that up until now, there has been absolutely no mention of a pending cancellation by the race committee. And today's estimation from Chris was one of cautious optimism: "The stream is low, yes...but it certainly appears to be doable. At least for now. Some sections will be rough going, but it appears to be passable."
I'll have to leave it up to other paddlers to determine whether "passable" is good enough for them. But in any case one thing seems certain: Six Mile Falls looks to be a dicey proposition. With such low water levels, a paddler's options are limited. We walked along both sides of the stream in the area of Six Mile Falls, all the while amazed at how much more exposed the banks of the stream are this year.
Tree stumps, knifelike slices of ledge, spits of grassy land - all of which were submerged under several feet of water last year and in years past - were completely exposed. Stairsteps of rocks and boulders riffled the stream.
Chris lined up some possible approaches to Six Mile Falls and again, he felt that it seemed passable. But tricky. He figured that lining up for a run into the low-level falls may require considerably more technical skill and finesse of paddlers this year. He also wondered if most people might decide to portage the falls altogether to avoid such a problematic obstacle. Then again, there's an outside chance that Six Mile Falls will be designated a mandatory portage.
That about closes it for our April Fools Day stream and race speculation. For whatever it is worth. Stay tuned!
UPDATE 4/5/06: Stream levels have risen in just a few short days thanks to rain, sleet and light snow. Things are looking much better. So, no more hand-wringing! I would be VERY surprised if the race were cancelled at this point. I don't think 2006 will be a year of record race times, but I don't think this race will be cancelled. Just my 2 cents, take it or leave it.