My Book!!

One opportunity that the blog has brought me is the co-authoring of a guidebook, Paddling Southern Maine! It is something in which I take a lot of pride! My writing partner, Sandy Moore, and I have created a book with 54 amazing trips that are within about an hour of Portland! Our motto as we wrote the book was wanting to 'get people to spend the day on the water and not in their cars!'

If you want more information on our book please click on the image of the book below.

Sandy and I are available to attend/present various functions/events. Please email me at mainekayakgirl@gmail.com for more information!

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Gladys's First Paddle of the Season! Tenny River


Hello Paddlers! 

I was away on vacation this week.  I went to Denver.  It was a great trip, although the weather there was colder, and snowier than it was here!  Go figure!  


While I was away I missed Gladys like crazy!!! Though I did have two other dogs who were content to give me some love!  

In the meantime, Gladys was with my parents and was spoiled with lots of love and bacon.  I think sometimes she equates bacon with love!  
 
Anyway... I got back on Friday afternoon and was so happy to be reconnected with my girl.  I am so grateful for the love and care she got while I was gone.  (My dad and stepmom are pretty awesome!) 
Saturday I had planned to relax and get my kayak cradles back on the truck as well as adding a second set of cradles for when I transport both my single and tandem kayaks.   (And will be helpful when I transport other people's kayaks.) 

Gladys was happy to be outside with me while I puttered.  Our friend Donna came by and saw that I had my tandem up on the cradles (I was making sure they were spaced out properly.) And asked, "Where we going?"  Ha!  It didn't take much arm twisting for her to convince me to go out for an afternoon paddle.. but since Gladys and I had been separated for a bit, I could not go without her!  

A couple weeks ago I had her sit in the kayak in the driveway, just to refresh her memory.  
 
She got right in and laid down.   I was happy to see that, and knew she would do well!  
So we got to the launch site for Tenny River.  (Click here for more details about how to get there.) 
 
She seemed ready to go - and was a little impatient even!!  When I told her to, she jumped right in the kayak and waited so patiently as I got in.  
 


She settled in pretty easily.  I had forgotten treats, which I always try to have on hand for her... but luckily I Had some beef jerky that helped her throughout the trip when she did get a little antsy. 

Look at that sky over Crescent Lake!

 

Donna got this photo of me going through the culvert.  I love this pic!

Tenny River never disappoints me... The sun was a a great angle and the reflections were awesome!  

This is Donna - in the midst of the trees and water!



We enjoyed exploring Tenny.  I got to see a decent size snapping turtle, but did not get a photo, but still cool to watch.  Gladys did well, she got a little antsy a couple of times, but settled back down.
As we approached Panther Pond she seemed to be in a good place and enjoyed looking out at the sun getting low in the sky. 

On the way back from Panther, Gladys got up close and personal... realizing the beef jerky was in my life jacket pocket that she hoped to get to on her own.  (Denied!) 
 
Donna was ahead of us a bit and this photo just had to be taken.  Look at that tranquility!


Not long after that we caught up to Donna and Gladys heard some rattling of something... and the two of them had a conversation about snacks and sharing....

Donna never says no to Gladys.  Ha! 

The sun was setting and made for pretty amazing lighting on this girl.  She is beautiful.  (I know I am a bit biased!)
 

 
Another photo that shows the amazing scenery!
 
Gladys gave me this look... and I am pretty sure she was saying, "So... you go away and leave me for a week... you come back with smells of other dogs... and you think THIS is gonna make up for it?" 
 
I reassured her she was the only dog for me. and gave her some jerky.  She knows she is spoiled! 

 
Returning to Crescent Lake through the culvert...


We paddled back to the launch site and she gave me this look... 
"Done so soon?"  
Oh baby girl... we have so many adventures in store this season!

I have plans to explore new places and will of course share them with you.  For now, as water temps are still low, I go to familiar places.  I hope if you are getting out to paddle you are taking safety precautions, remember dress for the water temp, not the air.  
 
I will be 'hosting' a couple of group paddles this summer, follow me on Facebook, Mainekayakgirl, for these events.  

And if you want to see some fun videos of our adventures... Gladys and I have both joined TikTok! 
I am MaineKayakGirl and she is MaineKayakdog.  
If you follow us there, say hello!  




Monday, April 19, 2021

Spring Paddling, Honoring Mom & Empowering Each Other

Welcome to Spring!!  
The water temperatures are still cold and if you are getting out on the water make sure you are being safe! 
Despite some unusually warm temps, please wear your pfd and proper clothing!  

Today's post is about kayaking, of course!  It includes some other important things too, honoring my mom and working to empower each other, especially women paddlers! 

This is me!  For those new to the blog, I am MaineKayakgirl, aka, Kim Bennett.  I am an avid kayaker, photographer, blogger, and author.  (I do have a career to, but not relevant here!) 

This pic was taken a week ago at Runaround Pond by my friend Donna!  Thanks lady!

 Today's post is about yesterday, paddling on North Gorham Pond in Gorham Maine.  (This is a trip that is in the book, Paddling Southern Maine, if you want the details about how to get there and where to launch, check out the book!)  


Yesterday was a day that varies for me in terms of how I feel.  It was the anniversary of my mom's death.  Twelve years she has been gone!  Mom and I were close... really close.  I was born on her birthday and despite being unsure about having another kid, later in life mom said I was her best birthday present - ever.  Maybe she had to say that, but I think it was true...  For those who do not know Mom is the person who got me into kayaking.  She called me one day when I was in college and told me she had been kayaking, she loved it and was going to buy two kayaks for our family and I was going with her.  

I thought she was nuts.  My idea of kayaking at that time was sea kayaks and I had zero interest in trying to fit my ass into a tiny hole and then being stuck should I flip over.  Mom told me she had a different kind of kayak and she was sure I would love it.  

She was right!  It has become my passion.  When she died I inherited her kayak and it has taken me on quite a journey.  This year, on the anniversary of her death I wanted to kayak ... some years I want to spend the time alone on the water... and other years I like to share it with other people.  This year I had plans to travel for a few days so planned to do a quick trip in the morning so I would have time to get ready in the afternoon.  So I chose North Gorham Pond.  And I chose to invite a few people. 

We got there and the sky was interesting...  

I thought this image was pretty meaningful, since I do feel the darkness of the anniversary, but also see the light breaking through and finding ways to embrace the day. 

 

We paddled up the length of the pond. Finding peace along the way.  

It was fun to talk with the other women I was with and also really good to have a few moments to myself here and there.  

As we got closer to the end of our paddle we heard the water rushing.  I had told the other people we would see a small waterfall.  I could feel the anticipation and I was excited to share this with my friends.

 The water at the base of the falls is moving, so you need to be mindful of that and stay safe.  We all took time in front of the falls just enjoying the sound and watching the movement of the water. 

 








and then we got a group selfie!  (Thank goodness for long arms!)  

 

After spending a lot of time at the falls we started paddling back, but not before visiting the old hydro dam.  






As I paddle places Mom never got to explore, I think a lot about her and wonder if she would like it.  She would love this place.  She would love the group dynamics and would get a kick out of our shenanigans as we paddle.   

As I was paddling back I got a nice text from someone in my life acknowledging the significance of the day and it did make me a bit emotional... but I paddled off by myself for a bit and took some time to just be... Looking at things I know my mom would see things similarly... the details, the colors... the lighting... I am my mother's daughter!  

 
So peaceful! 
 
 
One thing mom did with her kayaks was always provide opportunities for other people to try kayaking.  I have kept that alive and have invited many people to join me on adventures.  Many of those people have since bought their own kayaks and have shared many adventures!  
 
The women I paddled with today have all had various experiences kayaking, and two of them just bought new kayaks!  Now that they have their own kayaks they need to find ways to load them themselves.  (No damsels in distress in this crew!)  This group of women came to my house after we were on the water and worked together to learn and support each other. 
 
 What a crew!
 
After we had one person practice loading and unloading her kayak using the seawings on someone's car, another woman had purchased the seawings and needed help installing them.  
This crew was awesome -
Working together to install the Malone Sea Wings! 
It was really cool to see everyone helping each other while also making each other do things independently... 'you gotta do it by yourself, but we are here just in case!' was something said multiple times.  
My mom would be impressed that we all did this in a way to support each other.  She would love that we are each capable of loading/unloading our boats on our own.  (That doesn't mean we don't help each other... we do, of course, but we also want to make sure that we can each do it by ourselves so we can do it when needed.  You never know when that may be.)
 

 
I expected to have a day where my focus was on my mom... and while she was in my mind today, I was focused on enjoying this journey with friends and I really enjoyed seeing women helping women, empowering each other to do new things independently.  

Oh... and as I type this from a airport, I was sent a pic of my girl, Miss Gladys.  She is in great hands this week, but man am I gonna miss her!  Look at that face!  She misses me too, I can tell!!



Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Nezinscot River, Turner Maine

 

Body of Water: Nezinscot River, Turner, ME [Maine Gazzetteer Map 11, C4]

Directions: From Portland, head north on 95 to Exit 75.   Take a left after the exit onto Rt.  4/202.  Stay on Rt. 4  for about 16 miles into Turner.  Turn right onto Rt. 117 and the municipal building is on the right, just after the municipal building there is a short 'road' that goes down to the water. This is the boat launch. (See map below)

Boat Launch:  Gravel Drive down to gravel slope into the water. 

 



 Parking: Parking area at the launch is small.  I was able to pull over to the side and it left room for another vehicle to get in if needed.  I reached out to the folks at the Turner Municipal Building and they said on weekends they welcome folks to park in their lot and walk over to the launch.  They were super friendly!  I am not sure what they think about parking there during the week, but it is worth a call! 

Fees: None
 
Bathroom: None (There are a few gas stations/businesses along 202/Rt 4 you could take advantage of including a Hannaford very nearby!)  

Wildlife: Turtles, Blue Heron, beaver, eagle, fox!!! and possibly deer. 

Notes: The Nezinscot!  This is only my second time paddling here!  Last time I was here I came alone and admit at times I was a bit nervous.  This river goes on for a long time, with a few twists and turns and places where you can easily get sidetracked... this time I brought a friend.  I felt more confident with two of us making sure we knew where we were going and how to get back.  The Nezinscot is surprisingly uninhabited!  I love that... but it can also mean that if you were to get lost or need something, it is hard to find that... so.. having someone else there was great.  (Plus the laughter and fun!). 

I remembered enjoying the Nezinscot but had forgotten how nice it really is.  I have only paddled here in the fall and  I am sure it is equally as beautiful earlier in the paddling season.  

I want to start with what may have been my favorite part of the trip... even though it happened at the end.  When I paddle I try to be a good steward of the waterbodies... so.. if there is trash, I try to remove it.  (unless I have Gladys... because I do not want her licking things that she shouldn't be!) So.. not far from the launch I see something floating in the water... it was a kids 'floatie'... a kickboard of sorts used when swimming.  It was in decent shape but since I did not want to keep it with me the entire trip I moved it from the water to a place on the shore under an uprooted tree.  The tree had been blown over or had fallen years ago... the grass had grown on it, so I know it was not a newly fallen tree... and then we happily paddled on our way... on the way back I remembered where I had put it and came back for it.  I paddled up close to the shore and used my paddle to try to reach for it.  For some reason I looked up towards the top of the roots and noticed fur... some kind of animal fur... Oh no... I thought for sure that there was something dead up there... it reminded me of last winter when a friend and I were walking the dogs and we came upon a dead raccoon that had lost its battle with a porcupine... we names it a racupine or a porcucoon... I thought this was another incident of a dead animal... and I noticed a paw... so I said to Donna, "Aww.. I think there is a dead animal up there."  Just then... the dead animal... which was not dead... sprang up and looked down at me from the top of the roots.. it was a stunning RED FOX!  Oh my gosh, it was so pretty, so healthy looking!  We stared at each other for a moment... me trying to comprehend what I was seeing and it... trying to process who had just woken it up from a nice snooze in the warm sun... and then it ran away... and I paddles a bit to the side and Donna and I both got to see it run across a log and into the woods.  Unfortunately I did not have my camera ready, neither did she... but despite having no photo of the beautiful animal, it is truly one of the coolest experiences I have had paddling.  I mean.. who gets to look up to a fox staring down at them? So beautiful.  I am so grateful to get to see these animals in their natural habitat.  

Ok... so before the fox... there was so much else to see and appreciate!!  
 
We got on the water early... about  7:15 or so.  I do like to get on the water early and wish I could get out even earlier, but... realistically I am exhausted these days.  I work in a school and things are hard... and my energy is low... so getting up any earlier than 5 a.m.  just is not happening at this point!   (This is a good point to give a huge shout out to ALL educators and school workers out there... that includes teachers, ed techs, administrators, bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers, etc... we are working incredibly hard trying to do things that are really hard... the intensity right now, for educators, is something I have never seen.  So even if you disagree with what schools are doing, please be kind to those working in schools.) 

When getting on the water early things can appear a bit dreary... we got here and there was still some mist on the water, but not much compared to other morning paddles!  
 This was taken from the launch... looking left you see a bridge and a dam...
 
Water was not moving over the dam so we could get close to look at it and look over its edge.
 
Looking from the dam, back under North Main St... and the bridge further back is Rt. 4.
 

There were many upturned trees along the river with exposed roots.  It is amazing to see how a strong tree can fall like that, but it is beautiful to see that life continues and becomes habitat to more plants and critters!
 
 

 

Not long after we were on the water we saw an eagle.  We saw it go down behind a group of trees and we paddled quickly to see where it had gone.  We were lucky enough to see it close to the ground, on a log.  It was eating something.  It was beautiful to watch. 

 
The eagle flew away and landed in a tree nearby. 
 
There were a lot of trees overhanging the river.  I love paddling beneath them.  And.. the reflections were incredible. 
 
And there were amazing stumps and roots!
 
This is Donna doing what she does... taking photos!  (Check out her pics at Donna Knowles Photography!)
 
 
 

 
We also saw a heron. and got to watch it on a log for a while and saw it again, at least I think it was the same one, later in the trip.  Love seeing them.  The sun also started coming out so the lighting changed... it is so cool to see how things look so different as the sun comes out. 
 

 
This was a cool area to explore.  In the spring the water  must be so higher.  We scooted in here and explored, but it got pretty shallow. 
When we paddled out of here I saw this bottle... I was so excited!  Could this be a message in a bottle???
 
It was a message in a bottle.  
I was hoping to find a note of love or a note talking about a kid doing a science experiment, trying to find where the bottle traveled... it was not.  
Sadly, it was a note... a page from a journal maybe... from a distressed adolescent. The kid wrote about their depression, how hard this pandemic had been... and indicated thoughts of suicide.  
It was also dated... April 2020... 
I take notes like this seriously.  
While I knew there was nothing immediate we could do... I knew it was a kid that needed help.  So... I put the note back in the bottle... and before we went home we stopped at the Androscoggin County Sheriff's department and gave it to them.  I hope this young person is getting support.  
This note is also a reminder that we all need to make sure we are supporting each other, checking in on each other... and being kind to ourselves.  Please take care of yourself.  And... reach out when you need help.  We all need help... given the state of the world... how could we not?
 
After finding the note we paddled on... knowing that we would take the note to the police after we paddled and knowing the note was from April... but.. I think that note made me appreciate the rest of our adventure a bit more... paddling is my therapy... I have shared here before that I have anxiety.  It has not gone away.  It is there, every day... as the election gets closer... it is getting worse... I am scared for our future.  so.. for me, right now, paddling is a priority. I NEED to paddle... as much as I can for as long as I can.  I am trying to put these images, this beauty in my 'reserve' tank to get me through the months where I can't paddle. 


 
Because the water levels were a bit down... finding places to stop for a stretch break was challenging.  Many places were very muddy, deep mud and then drop offs... but we found a place... a place with sand.. and we took advantage of it! 

 
We got to a place where we had to decide whether to go left or right... we chose right and ended up near a campground... we learned is Martin Stream Campground.  So.. when we made that right, we were choosing to explore Martin's stream.  I will definitely check them out sometime! 
 
We decided at that point we would turn around and head back.  I had not brought Gladys with me because I could not remember if there were places to easily get out and give her a break.  So I had to get home for her.  I have no idea how far we paddled, but it was a good distance!


 
One of my favorite parts of this trip was the high banks and canopy of the trees... it created such contrast in the lighting... light and dark... and the colors popped.  I love Maine!
 
Have you ever seen these mushrooms? From what I have learned it is called Chicken of the Woods.  (Please do your own research though!!). Apparently it is edible and... tastes like.... yup you guessed it.. chicken!  I cannot attest to this because I do not like mushrooms.. but... I do love the colors and texture!



 
I loved seeing my fellow paddler along the shore with the tall trees and reflections... being reminded that we are, in the scheme of things, small... can be helpful. 

On the way back we paused at one of the arches we had paddled under.  We had noticed this inner tube stuck on a branch, but didn't want to carry it the whole way.  I thought it would just pull off, but it had a lot of water in it and was pretty heavy.  Donna had brought a knife with her and we were able to drain the water out... and it came back to the launch site with me... paddling with it on my kayak was TIRE-ing.... the fact we found it in the river, trash, was deflating... we had a lot of other play on words as we paddled... I may have even broken into a few verses of  'Rolling on the River...'  doooo whahhhp doo doo doo doo doo......



Donna going under one of the arches...

 
On the way back we saw this turtle... 
She stood proudly in her position... she looked like she was presiding over the water, if you will... so.. I named her RUTH!

 
I think her name is definitely Ruth! 
(Couldn't resist!)

 
After seeing Ruth this heron allowed us to watch it for a long time.  
It was preening and was doing a great job!!  It was fun to watch it. 



 
As we were watching the heron Donna asked me how I felt about snakes... why was she asking? because this snake was coming up behind me!  Truthfully I do not like snakes... I do not want one in my kayak with me... I do not want to get too close.. but... they are cool in their own way.  This snake had beautiful coloring and it was one of the longer snakes I have seen here in Maine... it was easily two and a half feet long! 

 
After having lunch with the heron... sssstopping to vissssit with the sssssnake... we paddled back towards the launch... we saw a couple more turtles... 
This turtle.. looks like it has lost a back foot... maybe a snapping turtle?!

 
Again, on the way back we had the encounter with the fox... so incredibly fortunate to have the wildlife sightings on this river.  
 
We were worried about the water levels of the Nezinscot being low, because so many places are low right now... but the level was plenty high.  We did have a backup plan... we were going to head to the Androscoggin River, Riverlands... we know plan Bs are important.. but.. the Nezinscot welcomed us with open arms!  It was another great day on the water!