Summer on a Shoestring

October 9, 2013, 4:02 pm
Filed under: Recreation

By Joe Kendrick


The heat wave that has lingered for the past two weeks finally broke on Saturday night. I’ll certainly be sleeping easier, and field work will be a lot more pleasant, but I’m sad to say that the cooler temperatures might make tubing a bit less attractive. This past Saturday and the one before, every crew member who was around grabbed a cheap, colorful plastic inner tube and eagerly jumped into the Saco River. Both times we put in just above the Second Iron railroad bridge and floated down past the slabs until we felt like getting out. The ride takes somewhere between two and three hours, but you hardly notice the time going by.

The effects of Irene on the riverbank are still pretty obvious. In many places the river follows a channel in the middle of a barren field of boulders. The rapids here can be a bit shallow, and a couple of us definitely hit our butts pretty hard on the rocks. If it hadn’t been such a wet summer I don’t know what we would have done at these spots, but as it was we were able to make the entire run without getting out of our tubes.

None of the rapids on this stretch of the river are at all dangerous, but a few do feel pretty intense while you’re going down them in a tube. Just after second iron, five minutes into the trip there’s a spot where you shoot down the river and get flung around a bunch of big rocks, which is always a blast. At the slabs, the water rushes over a smooth sheet of granite, and you slide right on down into a big splash at the bottom. We’ve become experts at running the rapids, but it’s really a wonder that no one’s tube has snagged on a rock and popped. So far there’s only been one wipe out; at the very end of our last run, Craig was going down a rapid backwards and flipped completely over. His tube was spotted floating empty down the river and retrieved. A minute later he was spotted a hundred yards upstream stumbling towards the bank looking dazed but otherwise unscathed.


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