Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Late Tuesday I was in Holyoke, heading up Rte 5, when I noticed a large group of vehicles parked on the side of the road. Seeing a whitewater kayak on one of them, I pulled over to see what was up.

Heading down to the river bank, I saw these guys doing something quite cool:

The Connecticut River was heavily swollen, and the current moving at very high speed; It poured by over the rocky bank, in a torrent of whitewater.

There was a large group of kayakers, I'd say about a dozen, riding the turbulent water.

After they'd go by, they'd come ashore and go back up stream for another run. There was a constant stream of soaked, smiling extremists walking by.

They were hard core. Even their dog (a Chocolate Lab, I think), would repeatedly jump into the raging current after a stick, ride the current downstream for a bit, then return for more.

They say a dog and it's master take on similar traits.

Here's one of the kayakers approaching the rapids, note the fast current...

Surprisingly, the group weren't part of some club or organization, and most of them didn't even know each other. Apparently, it was mostly just a random congregation of thrill seekers, taking advantage of the excellent river conditions today. All seemed to have on appropriate gear and protection. Someone can get hurt doing this.

One of the kayakers was a young girl, about half my weight and size. She was doing all kinds of tricks, like rolling over on purpose, sending her head under water. As several seconds pass with her upside down, and just as your about to yell over to her comrades for help, she'd suddenly recover and right herself. Then do it again.

Emerging from the river, as she walked by on her way back for another run, she glanced over at my look of envy, and said I should try it sometime. Nooo...thank you. I'm good with the peaceful-like-a-plate-of-glass-water kayaking. I'll just stand over here and watch, and revel in my oldness.

They would head downstream at high speed, position themselves, then catch what I believe they call a 'Haystack'. A crashing wave that stands still, relative to the river bank. There they'd 'ride' the wave indefinitely, without really moving anywhere. It was kind of an optical illusion. This guy had some skills:

It looked very much like surfing a crashing wave. So much like surfing, in fact, that some people were surfing. With varying degrees of success:

Gnarly, Dude.


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Tony said...

Bom dia em' Brazil. Qual-quer dia, espero que posso dar uma viagem para o seu pais, porque ovi e' muito bonito...

How's my Portuguese holding up?

Mary E.Carey said...

Wow, I wonder who these people are and I wonder if the river gets that turbulent most years. Great post.

Tommy said...

Jeff Ziff keeps wanting to take me kayaking. I've considered it, but after this post, I think not.

Tony said...

Mary, Thanks. Those guys must have been there before. I suspect it's a well know spot among local white water kayakers...

Tommy, I highly recommend giving kayaking a try. The normal, peaceful, easy kayaking, that is. It's a great way to explore.(also a great way to fish).