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Well, while the rain on Saturday dampened some spirits, I was actually gleeful since it meant the rivers would be running higher on Sunday. Better yet, the river in mind -- the Assabet -- was only about 40 minutes away in Maynard, MA.

So yesterday, with the guage reading just under 3.5', and the sun threatening to break out at anytime, Tommy T., David L and I launched just under dam into a tail race rapids a mile upstream of downtown Maynard. This put in was actually one of the better playspots on the river. Several big pushy standing waves and an eddy on either side. We spent a good 15-20 minutes just playing here -- ferrying across current/rapids/foam from eddy to eddy, peeling out, surfing a couple of the big waves, and doing stern squirts. Both Tommy and I score our first rolls here -- "yeah, yeah... that's the ticket... We didn't dump! We just wanted to practice rolling!"

After that, we started down the river. Both David and I are new to this stuff and were were more than satisfied to practice catching every river bank eddy and those "trout lies" behind midstream boulders. We certainly got practice doing that. But there were several more sections with really pushy water and standing waves to surf in. We milked every one of them 'til we were (or I was) drained by the anaerobic output of sprinting like mad to get on and stay on the waves. At one point, we were surfing a wave just in front of a bridge in the center of town. I looked up and saw this woman looking down at us with this sort of -- "I can't believe these guys..." kind of look. Well, we were in downtown Maynard and not in the middle of the woods in ME/NH/western MA. A little out of context, I am sure.

Somewhere near the takeout, the sun broke out. We had only ran 1.5 miles of the Assabet and took over 90 minutes doing it. But my arms and shoulders were feeling the exertion of trying squeeze everything out of the playspots. I was more than happy enough.

The Assabet is no fancy river. Just a nice easy class II (depending on water flow) that one nevertheless would not expect to find so close to home. The Assabet is certainly not a BIG challenge for the hardcore white water folks looking for big drops, rapids and keeper holes. But as Tommy said, you can make the river as hard as you want by doing and practicing the more technically challenging moves on the relatively easier rivers. This provides good preparation for the harder rivers to come.

Boat control, edging, split second timing... these are the things to learn. I do more and am more conscious of these in one white water run than a whole year of seak kayaking. It can only help with my kayaking later on. Aside from skills development, the diversity of the kayaking experience is something I am enjoying much as well.

Let it rain, and keep an eye out on those river guages. :)


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