The more I have gotten into kayaking the more I seek different experiences. As I look to see different things from my kayak I also find myself making sure that safety is my top priority. For years I have wanted to kayak in a river when hot air balloons were taking off and hoped that I would get to see the beautiful balloons dip down into the water. I had seen photos of such experiences, but of course there is nothing like seeing it in person. Locally (well somewhat local for me!) we have the Great Falls Baloon Festival in Lewiston Auburn. You can click here to access their website. The balloons launch from a park adjacent to the Androscoggin River. I have only attended the festival one other time, a couple of years ago. I went with the intention of paddling, but it was a year where the water levels were high and I was nervous to put in, especially because it was not a river with which I had any familiarity. That year I chose to not observe from my kayak, but did stay and watch the balloons from shore. It was beautiful and made me want, even more, to experience it from the water.
As people who are familiar with my blog know, I prefer very slow moving rivers and prefer to paddle when waters are calm. So the idea of paddling in a river in which the movement of the water was easily visible was a bit intimidating. I encourage people to paddle within their skillset. If it makes you nervous, take that into consideration. If there are places where I am not confident I worry that my nerves could lead to stupid mistakes, which, when kayaking, could be big mistakes, dangerous mistakes. So, it is important to reduce risks as much as possible. For the two trips described below I made sure to consider safety and my concerns before participating. For the balloon trip, I had decided it would be important to paddle the part of the Androscoggin I would be paddling on for the balloon festival BEFORE the day of the day of the event. I knew that I would be in awe of the balloons and wanted to have some familiarity with the river so that I would know when I could safely stop and take pictures. (I am VERY glad I made that choice! I would encourage other people to do the same if this is a place/adventure you think you want to do.) For the Full Moon Paddle, I went with a group of people. Sebago Trails Paddling (Click that link for their website) is a small business located in Windham Maine. They rent and sell paddling equipment and are great people, just really great people. In addition to the store, the owner, Bill Allen, runs a Meetup group called Windham/Raymond Paddling Club. (Visit meetup.com to find the group.) Bill organizes trips and invites anyone to come. If people don't have their own equipment, they can rent it from Bill. It is a GREAT way to test equipment and get a feel for the sport before investing money into it. I love the idea of paddling later into the day and am envious of posts I see on social media where people are paddling at night, but I get easily disoriented at night, especially when there is no light pollution. So, going with a group of people is very helpful. Plus, paddling people are good people in my opinion, so getting a chance to socialize a bit with other people who enjoy this kind of activity is always fun!
So, before striking out on an adventure, especially one with which you have little to no experience, make sure to really take into account, the safety aspects of the trip and plan accordingly. I think, at the very least, having a paddling partner when going to new places or trying something new is wise!
Ok, enough of the safety talk... here are some pics, and some narratives about them! Enjoy!
We sat for quite a while, awaiting the rise of the moon. I kept my eye on the clouds and noticed one edge of a cloud was pretty bright and knew where the moon would be rising. It took some time, but it made its appearance over some trees!