The river has been run, the buffet at Miller's has been digested, and 14
road Gonzos have returned to the frozen north.
Various persons (Sungod, Dipper, and Scrounger so far) have volunteered
to review the weekend from specific, different angles, these articles
will forwarded for reading interest and inclusion on the web page in the
This article is an overview of the 60 hour excursion, hopefully with
minimal editorial comment. I am sure there will be lots of that to come.
The trip began Friday, April 14, 2000, at 5:00 am where 13 of the 14
travellers met at Timmies in Elmsdale; Dipper, Scrounger, and Sarah
Duffy travelling with the Sungod, Mountain Dancer, Kevin Wentzell, and
Darrin Gray snuggled in the canoe trailer toting of the IMAX station
wagon, while Geezer, Fireball, Andrew Warnica, and the Viking were
strapped into the Suberbun bus of Ian Ross. (Popeye was waiting in
The trip to our southern neighbours followed a time proven tradition of
breakfast at Mickie D's in Sussex, gas and goodies at the Irving Big
Stop in Calais, and down the much improved Airlines, better know as the
I-9, to our accomadations at the Twin City Motel in Brewer. Canadian not
at par anymore but still a deal if you use Canadian money. For those
that reminisce, Stacy's is still burned down and no one knows where
After checking in and having lunch, it was off to the river, the
Viking/Popeye Consortium heading to the start line in Kenduskeag to time
the running start to save 1 or 2 seconds. This practise was totally
useless as at the real start the next morning, three of their
competitors were in front of them and the boys went under the bridge 4
seconds after the gun.
The rest of the paddlers went to Six Mile Falls, a spot 10 miles from
the start and 6 miles from the finish, where there is a reasonably
technical white water run. Decisions were to be made whether it was a)
quicker to run or portage and b) if quicker to run, what the risk.
Probably at this time it would be best to note who is doing what.
MANY THANKS ARE IN ORDER TO IAN, SCROUNGER, AND THE GEEZER who were to
perform the most important job of shuffling cars, hopefully providing
splits for the internal races, run the video cameras and, in general,
take care of us. Ignoring any comments that may be made in jest, these
guys performed heroically. THANKS.
The paddling teams were VIKING/Popeye, Kevin/Darrin, Fireball/Andrew,
Sungod/Sarah, IMAX/Mountain Dancer, and our lone kayaker, the Dipper.
IMAX and Mountain Dancer, our white water experts, ran the two different
possible routes through the falls, determining the best and safest
lines. After this was done Kevin and Darrin looked like experts, sort
of, as they ran the falls successfully at least three times in Kevin's
14 foot white water Cascade. The Sungod was a bit timid to take his new
river racing 16 foot Penobscot, and daughter Sarah hitched a ride down
with IMAX in his bedecked 17 foot Penobscot. They looked "good". As this
was all happening, the Dipper was playing in some level 1/2 water above
the falls (the falls itself was probably level 2 with some 3), got
caught in a run and away he went down the falls. To everyones pleasure,
and his amazement, he handled it like a pro, actually getting sideways
at the bottom of the big tounge and getting himself out of trouble.
There was no stopping him as he then did the run a number of times.
After Viking and Popeye returned and left us in the wake of their
"Stealth" canoe, we then paddled 5 of the last 6 miles of level 2 white
water to the first mandatory portage, looking for the best routes
through these areas. This was a ball and everyone, other than IMAX and
Mountain Dancer who just toyed with this stuff, learned a lot.
On a personal note it was a pleasure to paddle with my daughter on this
trip. It is neat when your kids still want to do things with you, even
when they make fun of your 54 years, pacemaker, bionic knee, arthritis,
and other infirmities of age. I look forward to my trip to Cape Cod with
my other girl next month.
After taking out at the portage, we went down to look at the "Thunder
Hole", a non-portagable section of difficult white water. It didn't look
that bad, IMAX and Sungod had run it the week earlier on our canoe
buying trip in his Appalacian white water canoe in "much" higher water
with minimal problems. Forgetting that none of us were running an
Applacian this weekend, it was decided not to test run it----Big
mistake. Everyone had some problems with it the next day having to at
least bail, a couple taking on enough that they had to stop and dump,
and the VIKING/Popeye "Stealth" going down twice.
It was now going on 5:00pm and time to prepare for tommorrow, people
going their different ways in getting ready. A side trip to Old Town
Canoe Factory, Saucony Outlet, meals in various spots from the "greasy"
spoon next door, to Friendly's Family Restaurant.
A couple Gatorade's, Cokes, and brews were quafed over the evening and
early to bed.
We were on the road at 6:15, chauffered by our beloved support crew, to
the town of Kenduskeag, 16 miles up the river, where we registered, got
our bib numbers, had breakfast, just hung out, and prepared our gear for
the 8:30 start. The over 400 canoes start 5 at a time, within their
catorgories, in 1 minute increments. In general the faster, higher
classes start first, with the slower divisions leaving later. This is
done for various reasons, the main one being so there won't be a traffic
jam at Six Mile Falls with faster boats over taking the slower ones.
For those not in the know there was a special challenge race between the
Levy/Levy Foundation and the Warnica/Cameron Consortium which will be
described in a future special feature story.
For all the other participants the day was an unqualified success. Since
I obviously didn't see the rest on the course, with the exception of
Fireball/Warnica whom we passed-Hee Hee, these comments are from talking
to them or just observing their post race struts.
First our team race results, in relation to each other and also in their
own divisions. Not having an accurate number of how many were in each
division, that number is only an estimate from those of past years.
Times are in hours/minutes/seconds.
1.) 2:47:11---Levy/Levy--C2 Medium Recreational (5th out of 70)
2.) 2:48:34---Warnica/Cameron--Century Class (5th out of 14)
3.) 3:12:30---Gray/Wentzell--C2 Short Recreational (5th out of 50)
4.) 3:14:11---Duffy/Duffy---C2 Mixed Beginner (1st out of 25)
5.) 3:27:30---Vail/Warnica--C2 Short Recreational (9th out of 50)
6.) 3:32:16---Murphy----K1 Short (12th out of 32)
Really looking forward to when the official stats come out and we can
compare our times as to how they fit from 1 to 400+
Darrin and Kevin were estatic, after going into the race with minimal
preparation (on the water couple times) they had a great time and
placing. And that was with a "short" 14 foot white water canoe. There is
already talk of a 16 foot Penobscot in the future. That and a bit of
training next February and March and they could be devastating. Big,
Strong, and "YOUNG"
As far as the Duffy's are concerned, Sarah earned her trail name on the
water. Welcome "Motor" to the Gonzo kennel. The dozen times or so we
spent on freezing Lake Thomas, doing intervals and long paddles in
sleet, rain, and wind, some while the lake was still frozen, paid off.
She established our cadence from the beginning, and with the exception
of me calling "hut" changes, she maintained this pace for the entire 3
Vail and Warnica went into the race with "no" water training and planned
on having a good time. They ended up having both a good time over all,
and a great time, time wise in the race. Looks like Greg's cross
training, biking to work over the last year(s) has built a great base
and Andrew is just sooooooooo strong.
The Dipper will be writing his own journal, my only comment being how
much fun it was watching him enjoying himself, like playing with a new
toy. Bruce, who just started paddling a kayak in the past few weeks,
none in white water, showed an natural ability to learn the skills in
After having our own internal awards presentation-article forthcoming,
we attended the awards ceremony, back to a nice shower and beveridge,
bit of TV for some, trip to Old Town for others, we went for Team dinner
at Miller's buffett--BURP!
After that some of us went back to bed, some did a night hike up the
river for an hour, and Popeye and IMAX accompanied Mountain Dancer to
the hospital to be treated for what turned out to be minor dehydration
and mineral depletion.
All were tucked into their little beds by 11:00, some much earlier, for
their journey over the long established return route Sunday. Coffee at
Dunkin Donuts in Brewer, breakfast at Mickie D's in Calais, lies to the
game warden at the border, lunch at Wendy's in Sackville NB and on to
our home kennels.
Cheers to all and hope to see you on the night hike this Tuesday.
Sungod and Motor