Jessie Stone 25/08/2019 | Posted in Whitewater
Beautiful hot summer days have made local paddling – in all local spots- an amazing treat this summer! In Switzerland there have been great water levels in my two local runs – the Saanen and Simme Rivers, and if that weren’t enough, the wave in Thun has been in! That is a fantastic dynamic surf wave that typically only comes in at colder temperatures and only with optimal flows! To surf that wave in warm weather is a special treat. Though there are many surfers who come out to share the wave, the line is never too long and the wave is worth the wait. I haven’t paddled a wave in Europe that rivals Thun when it’s in! I also have very fond memories of the 2009 World Championships held there. It was an incredibly fun World Championships of wave paddling and today the wave is still great! Lots of paddlers converged on the local Swiss runs which is great to see as some summers have been too low to enjoy all the fun in these runs. Among the visitors were The Holcomb family, and they enjoyed a day out on the Simme!
After a great dose of Post Worlds paddling in Switzerland, I headed to Maine to visit family and… paddle! My favorite tidal spot, Sullivan Reversing Falls, was just awesome my first day back! This time, I got to share it with two people I have paddled with on the Nile but who had never paddled in this part of Maine, Haley Buffman and Alex Nicks. My friend Brett Cicotelli joined us and he is responsible for introducing me to Sullivan Falls in the first place.
On this perfect summer afternoon, the Frenchman’s Bay Conservancy held a free afternoon concert just at the moment when the reversing falls were starting to be in play. A big tide of nearly 13 feet generated a number of awesome features during our 2-hour session. We started at the wave below which turns into a sizeable pourover as the water drops but goes through really fun surfable levels. Once we finished there, we walked “upstream” and did the mega ferry across the channel to the tip of the point where an awesome wave hole forms! Finally, running the wave train back to where started, we found more Nile size waves to surf – all with eddy access!
Though I have been many times to the Reversing Falls, I am always amazed at the variety in the features as well as the incredible beauty of this part of the Maine coast! And the best way to enjoy all this particular spot has to offer is no doubt from a play boat. Once the tide drops more, you can paddle back down to the original channel and surf completely new and different waves that have formed. The salt water definitely ads a lot more bounce to all your tricks and the variety of creatures that may be swimming with you while you paddle is pretty incredible too. All in all, it’s one of the best natural play parks I have ever been too!
The free concert and improved water access – all thanks to the Frenchman’s Bay Conservancy – meant that many people were out watching us paddle and many spectators came to talk to us about the paddling. That spot may also be one of the best to introduce people to whitewater paddling and showcase freestyle for those that have no idea what it is! If you find yourself in Maine, this is a spot not to be missed! And if the Maine coast did not have enough to offer, there is the north woods of Maine near Mt. Katadin.
The West branch of the Penobscot river offers amazing beauty with awesome whitewater and no mega shuttles! Whatever level of paddler you are and almost whatever kind of paddling you want to do; you will find it at some point along the West Branch of the Penobscot River. Even after 22 years of paddling there, I never feel like I have quite enough time to really enjoy everything – I always want to come back. This time Haley said she would come join me in Maine and she was willing to make the 12-hour drive from the Ottawa to meet me at the reversing falls and then at the Penobscot. We had a great four days of paddling there and on our last day, Paula Saaf came to join us on her SUP! Paula runs nearly everything on her SUP and she is a serious “bad ass” as Haley says!
Haley herself is no slouch and has put so much time and energy into improving her paddling skills since I met her several years ago on the Nile! Its impressive to see and inspiring! She helps me keep thinking about improving my boating and my physical and mental well-being on and off the water! I feel lucky to have such great paddling buddies and to share Maine with them. If you find yourself wanting to experience a great diversity of whitewater and beauty, come visit Maine. Chances are good you are going to love it!