Roaming Rob: Whitewater Rafting 

I’ve been told by adrenaline-junkies and nature enthusiasts that no Maine experience is complete without the thrill of whitewater rafting. Even though I can’t swim, I didn’t want to miss out on this breath-taking adventure. Our quest-for-thrills began at the Northern Outdoors Headquarters in The Forks. There we met up with our guide Mike Mcconnell, who provided some instruction on how our trip would unfold.“Right now we’ll concentrate on getting geared up for the river.”Our gear included wetsuits, booties, life-jackets, and helmets: all items that would keep us warm and safe on this cold day. We then hopped on a bus and made our way to the Kennebec station for a last-minute safety briefing. “We also have the command ‘hold on,’” or some other colorful-type language. You may want to hold onto the rope. So, if I call ‘hold on,’ the hand from the T-grip goes for the hold rope in the center of the raft and the other hand lifts that T-grip up and out of the way.”Our TV5 rafting team of: “Roaming Rob,” “Caitlin Burchill,” “Jackie,” “Nick,” and our photographer, “Kenn Tompkins,”was pumped! Before we could shove off, we had to work as a team to carry our raft down to the water’s edge.“We’re here at the base of the Kennebec. We’re joined with Mike Mcconnell. Nick and I, this is our first time doing this. Caitlin and Jackie have actually been before. So overall, the question on everybody’s mind is what can we expect today, Mike?”“A lot of paddling. Tremendous amount of water coming out of the Harris Station dam behind us. A lot of paddling, whitewater, emotions. Should be pretty fun.”“Adrenaline?” “Adrenaline.”The first rapid we encountered was named “Taster,” giving us a taste of what was in store.We passed by the “Rock Garden,” which featured some shallow, jagged rocks, before coming to what is known as “Big Momma.” “Happy Mother’s Day!”We paddled through Big Momma and The 3 Sisters (which are 4 waves in succession) and then made our way through “The Alleyway,” which splashed more co ld water on our faces.After making the turn through what is known as Z-turn rapid, it was time for the big one: Magic Falls Rapid. We paddled full steam ahead to build up momentum before we braced ourselves and held on. I was nervous and was prepared to do whatever I could to stay in the boat. The raft was tossed up and down and the adrenaline was flowing. Cold Kennebec water came crashing up above our heads and brought an exhilarating sense of accomplishment. We had made it throughout without anyone falling out of the raft.Swimmers rapid, a little further downstream, gave us the chance to get out of the raft and float around in the Kennebec with our life vests. Since I can’t swim and the water was melted ice, I decided to sit this one out…in the raft.I helped to pull everyone back into the raft and then we paddled downstream to Dead Stream Falls, a beautiful waterfall that allowed us to show our TV5 spirit in a new way.After making through the upper gorge of the river, it was time to stop for a break.“We’re just about at the halfway point here. The adrenaline was pumping…it was a great ride down, especially through Magic and some of those other rapids. We’re re-charging the batteries now with some cowboy coffee and also some trail mix. Some more rapids to come.”We paddled through some smaller rapids before floating for a few miles down the Kennebec. The lower gorge was no doubt different from the white-capped waters at the beginning of our journey. It was a pleasant and peaceful end to our rafting adventure, though we did find ourselves paddling to keep warm on such a cool day. “Well, there you have it. Nick and I (and everybody else) survived our rafting adventure. For Nick and I, it was our first time. Good experience, right?”“I made it!”“We made it! And Mike, thanks so much for being our guide on this trip. This is available for anyone to check out Northern Outdoors for some rafting all summer long, right?”“Absolutely. We’ll be rafting the Kennebec, the Dead, the Penobscot Rivers. So go to”“For now, I’m Roaming Rob. We’ll see you next time on WABI-TV5 News.”