“What number am I on? Which numbers next where is it.”
Just one of the thoughts racing through the mind of a paddler as the water turns into the ultimate test.
“Just got to keep your mind on it have your head straight and you really have to learn how to boat,” says paddler Harold Harasko.
“It’s challenging because it’s not just like paddling down a river,” tells Sandy Pratt. “You have to boat right here at this point. It’s challenging.”
“You have to be able to read the river and see and it’s going to take you where it wants to and you need to go where you want to go and sometimes it’s two different things,” Harasko adds.
This course is part of the New England Slalom series.
Race director Clayton Cole says this stretch of the Kenduskeag is ideal when it comes to white water slalom for canoes and kayaks.
“We have rocks, waves, eddies,” Cole explains. “These are things, we call them features you can make the paddlers do moves that test their skills and ability they have to go as fast as they can without touching the poles.”
“There’s tons of foamy, splashy, wet water it creates holes in pockets where there are rocks hiding underneath and you can bang your boat and get kind of thrown off balance and that’s probably the hardest part.”
Another tricky spot is right at the the beginning – paddlers need to go through this gate backwards…
“I made the course so I’m pretty happy about that.”
Some of these racers came all the way from Wisconsin – they’re in Maine for the month as part of a wilderness instructor training course.
They say the uncharted territory makes the whole experience better.
“I really love the terrain up here in Maine, it’s gorgeous,” says Aaron Pardee. “The rocks are beautiful and just this ravine. The Kenduskeag river or stream whatever this place is it’s really gorgeous and has really runnable white water for us especially early on in our paddling careers so it’s super fun.”