Float Out

7-29-2018

Another summer River treat is the Governor’s Race float out. Every year, the Governor’s Challenge gets a lot of important people out of their offices for a couple of days and into the fun tourist activities that up-state NY has to offer. One of those activities is white water rafting. All the rafting companies contribute 3 boats with gear (helmets, life jackets, and paddles) and guides to take the Race participants down the Indian River to the confluence with the Hudson. It’s a big deal, covered by several media outlets and news stations. The Race participants end their rafting trip at the confluence and take a bus to town for a big dinner and award ceremony, many of the guides who raced go too.

That leaves a lot of boats and gear that has to go down the Hudson part of the trip (about 14 miles). Although people can exit the river at the confluence, it would be exceptionally difficult to get rafts up the hill and down the mile of trail to the parking area, so the rafts go downstream. A whole gaggle of us guides think it is great fun to take empty rafts down the river. We all float together and pretty much have a guide party all the way to take out.

It is a completely different experience guiding an empty raft. It is just you making it happen, and you have no one to worry about. The float out usually takes the rest of the day because we float through all the flat water, and with just yourself paddling, all you really are doing is steering. Of course with no weight in the boat, you can explore parts of the rapids you can’t get to (or wouldn’t want to) with guests. With no one else around, we goof off and do silly things that we can’t do when we are working. It is an exceptional amount of fun.

This year was lively escapade as well. We hung out with a couple of other companies, swam, floated, ate tons of good food, laughed, and generally clowned around. We even got off the river before dark (always a plus)! Good summer fun was had by all on the float out.

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Ahead Of The Release

7-22-2018

The river level has gotten down to its summer time low. It is still a ton of run to run; it’s just a lot more physical work for the guide and is a longer day out on the water. We run four days a week, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday on a dam release from Lake Abanakee down the Indian River three miles to the Hudson. This time of year we have to stay on the release water as it travels downstream. We call it staying on the bubble. Now, being at the top of the bubble is optimum, however when your guest paddle through the rapids to get the good hits, your boat moves faster than the water is flowing, and we tend to paddle off the front of the bubble. Which is actually no problem because you just stop paddling, sit on a rock until the water comes up and you drift off the rock. You do not want to get behind the bubble because once the water has passed, you can’t really catch up to it.

So today we got way ahead of the release. It was fascinating to see the rapids before most of the water gets there. Of course on the camping trips, you get to watch the water drop and you see the spot your are camping in with just the natural flow, but it is very different to be in the bigger rapids an see this. The steepest rapid is Givney’s and seeing it ahead of the release was mind blowing!

Normally there is a fun little wave sometimes small hydraulic hit at the very bottom. There is a rock you can pull your raft in behind and actually jump off into the current to float down into the giant calm pool at the bottom. The rock is flattish, just s few inches above the water’s surface, with enough room for a couple of people to stand on. When you get a little bit ahead of the release, this hit becomes Bubble Beater; a wicked fun surf!

Today however, this last little fun hit was insane! The little rock was steep and standing 6 feet or more out of the water. It has a twin partner (I’ve never noticed before) across the channel where the little wave usually is. This far ahead of the release, between these two rocks is a four or five foot vertical drop into a what looks like a nasty boat munching hydraulic. I have never seen this intense side of this feature before and I am transfixed.

Another guide and I were at the front of our group, both of us having the intention of surfing Bubble Beater, until we saw it. You never saw two rafts change speed, direction, and intention so fast. We were both able to sneak around the drop and pull in behind the rocks on either side. There were a couple of other guides in play boats with us as well. They each had also pulled in behind the now giant rocks and had climbed up on top of them to offer encouragement. I sat in the eddy behind my rock and and the other guide sat in the eddy behind her rock, both of us staring at the churning behemoth hydraulic between us.

The guys standing on the rocks were laughing and yelling at us to “Go for it!”. The other guide and I were laughing and yelling back “No Freaking way!”. Our guests were also highly weary of putting themselves into the boiling frothing convulsing hydraulic.

We waited. We watched. The water rose. The character of the hydraulic shifted, morphed into something more surfable, and we both went for it! It was one of the best surf ever!

The water rose some more and with it other rafts started coming through the rapid above us. The hydraulic changed some more and spit us out into the calm pool. Our guests were completely pumped and so were we! What an amazing experience!

Dress Up Day

7-21-2018

WOO HOO! Its here! Dress Up Day 2018! The guides are all in high spirits. The guests are all on board too. I have a big bin of “costume” clothes that I let people help themselves to. They loved it! I have my shiny gold mermaid fish scale leggings on, a bright colorful tank top, a frilly pink tutu, and of course a necklace and earrings from the mermaid jewelry I made. The rest of it went to the mermaids who will be in the mermaid boat. I cant wait to see their pictures. Sometimes I get so excited I can’t contain it and end up jumping repeatedly as if skipping rope (with no rope), silly grin and all, quietly repeating the word bounce bounce bounce with every jump. Its either that or run around like a wild woman for no reason. When I feel this way, I understand why some kids can’t ever sit still. It was a great day. Had a fun group of good paddlers, enjoyed seeing all the costumes come through the rapids, had a blast rafting down the Hudson River. I love my job!

Morning Sunlight On The River

5-19-2018

Golden yellow morning sunlight streaming over the tree tops, a vague humidity haze hanging stealthily on the periphery, insects humming, a droning buzz just above the threshold of consciousness, the flowing water, gurgling over rocks, reflecting the blue of an infinite cloudless sky turning white in the already oppressive heat. I sit calm and still on a shady rock, feet dangling in the cool river watching the sunbeams dazzle blindingly off the small rippling waves of water rushing over and around rocks. Water, trees, sun, and sky, feels like Summer is here early! Glorious and free, I am in my happy place.

Dress Up Day

7-22-2017

Every summer there is one day when all the white water raft guides on the Hudson dress up in a costume to run the river. This is dress up day, highly anticipated, actively enjoyed! This year, Fate was on my side and I ended up guiding a raft full of some amazing women including our photographer. Our costumes were varied, colorful, and fun. Mine was a combination of several costumes from previous years. I looked absolutely ridiculous, which was the point. It was a blast! We stopped at the Narrows so Mel could take pictures of all the rafts. We all sat on the rocks beside the rapid and cheered at everybody who came through. It was like a white water parade! Its the kind of fun where happiness just emanates from every pore, the essence of your being is full and content, where you know that right now, right here, all is good and right with your world. It is the kind of feeling that I tuck away into my psyche to use later in the coldest darkest days of winter to remind myself that the sun will shine again!

Maiden Voyage (Again)

5-27-2017

Two best friends and a new (to me) raft! What could be a better day for its first trip down the Hudson with me as its owner?! We three took turns guiding, playing the whole way down the river. Overcast but warm enough. Thinking it was going to be a sunny day, we didn’t top the boat off before getting in the water so it was a little mushy making all the waves bouncier, all the hydraulics stickier! Ended up accidentally surfing in a couple of spots, one trying to flip us, but we all high sided keeping our weight out of the hole. Floating out the last couple of miles, we laughed, talked, enjoyed each others company, lounged, relished another beautiful day on the River. This big blue raft is making many happy memories.