Thursday, January 1, 2015

Freedom, New Hampshire

Esther at home in North Creek missing her mother who went to Freedom, NH for the holidays
 Posing in front of the Conway Scenic Railway with my brother and mom - Photos below by Allegra Boverman
An Esther look-alike was spotted while walking the main strip in North Conway, NH
Owner reported this griffon is also very affectionate
The next day we went to Great Glen Trails in Gorham, NH for "Eyes on Owls: Whoo's Watching You?"

For information about owl experts Mark and Marcia Wilson, check:

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Lit up on the Longest Nights of the Year

Ellie posed outside before winter covered the ground. Happy Winter Solstice.
Celebrating light returning to the days at North Creek Rafting Company

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Granite Rapid, Mile 93.9 and Lava Falls, Mile 179.7 in the Grand Canyon

Granite Rapid (Photo taken by Greg Casto) is an unusual rapid because of the huge lateral waves that come at you from the right - Guide to the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon: Lees Ferry to South Cove, Fourth Edition by Tom Martin and Duwain Whittis

Check out video of five rafts running Granite Rapid:
Scouting Lava Falls, December 1, 2013 (Photo by Greg Casto)
Excerpt below from "The Very Hard Way: Bert Loper and the Colorado River " by Brad Dimock

Bert Loper described: "And while I've been doing this  - on and off - for more than fifty years that is my first capsize so I should not feel bad and it makes me feel quite proud of the old boat. But while Don was following me he never knew - until I told him - that I had been up-side down."

Don Harris made a small note on the edge of his journal: "As we started on from Gate-way Rapid Bert yelled back to it, 'Kiss my %&$.'"

An hour later they were on shore, scouting Lava Falls. As far as they knew it had only been run once, by Buzz Holstrom the year before.

"After looking it over from both sides, we decided that we could run it," stated Loper, "and did so."  As it turned out, that was a good year to run Lava Falls, 1939. Less than two months later a gigantic debris flow thundered down Prospect Canyon, choking the rapid into a steeper, more difficult cataract.

"Although I had my first up-set of my whole career," journaled Loper that evening, "after running lava falls I feel very satisfied - so ends the day-"

A year ago, December 1, 2013, we ran Lava Falls.

Check out video:

Lava Falls Part I:

Lava Falls Part II:

Happy Birthday Mark, our son, brother and stalwart companion! 
Mark along Granite Rapid

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Enlightened on Thanksgiving - Grand Canyon 2013

Before we stopped to camp for Thanksgiving, we found Buddha and spirits (center) in Bedrock Rapid. Word got to Buddha's owners downriver that he was part of a shrine upriver at Below Tapeats Camp. Eventually we caught up with the party who launched with Buddha and returned Buddha.
"It's people who pause to appreciate life and give thanks who are the happiest."
- Brittany Maynard

Monday, November 24, 2014

Little Helpers

Esther, at nine months old, helps her dad with the big rig.
Camryn and Jackson explore our 18' expedition raft.

"I think that this is the hardest letter to get started that I have ever written," wrote whitewater addict Bert Loper to Julius Stone after his Salmon River trip (Idaho): 

for I have wanted to write it different from all the rest. You know that I took your book along with me so I could get an idea of just how to write but I have given up all hope of ever becoming a writer - the first obstacle is the lack of education and the other is my inability to handle the English language in a proper manner. I have read your introduction to your book several times and the beautiful language in it makes me despair.

"Please don't bewail your lack of education or redundancy in the use of words, " Stone replied, "because you have a forthright way - even though it might sometimes seem crude to highbrows - of expressing yourself. The whole essence of any narrative, whether fanciful or factual, is to have something to say, and then to say it."

- from "The Very Hard Way: Bert Loper and the Colorado River" by Brad Dimock

I am disappointed to type that I started 2014 with the expectation of going through Grand Canyon. Something happened to stop our trip from launching next month. 

I think I spend too much time dreaming but since rafting Grand Canyon the past two years, I believe in dreams. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Town of Johnsburg and North Creek Rafting Company Awarded Adirondack Park Upper Hudson Recreation Grant

A ducky ride through heavy whitewater in the Hudson River Gorge. Photo by Jim Swedberg. North Creek Rafting Company,, will offer new ducky trips on a section of Hudson River above the Gorge.The section flows through some of the newly-acquired state land. This trip will be suitable for beginners and available in 2015.
Governor Cuomo Announces $500,000 in Upper Hudson Recreation Hub Grants for Six Adirondack Communities

Albany, NY (November 6, 2014)

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $500,000 in grants will be awarded to communities in the Adirondacks to enhance business development and access to the State's newly-acquired former Finch, Pruyn & Co. lands. The Adirondack Park Upper Hudson Recreation Hub grants, provided by The Nature Conservancy, will be used to fund nine projects that increase tourism opportunities, support small business growth and expand recreational offerings, strengthening the region's local economy and supporting jobs.

"Preserving the wilderness of the Adirondacks while promoting access and growth within the region is a generational legacy that continues today," Governor Cuomo said. "These projects will make it easier for visitors to hike, fish, hunt and enjoy the unparalleled landscape of the Adirondacks, while boosting communities' economies all across the region. I thank The Nature Conservancy for their important and continued support of the Adirondacks and New York State."

The Adirondack Park Upper Hudson Recreation Hub grants support business-oriented community development projects ranging from equipping a new guide service in Newcomb and inflatable kayak trips on the Upper Hudson River, to establishing equestrian staging areas in North Hudson and Long Lake. To promote emerging opportunities for recreation and tourism-related businesses in the area, Essex County will establish a microenterprise grant program using a portion of the grant funding.
The Nature Conservancy acquired the former Finch lands in 2007. To protect the land for future generations, Governor Cuomo announced in 2012 that the State had reached an agreement with The Nature Conservancy to acquire 69,000 acres of the lands and other The Nature Conservancy holdings over a five-year period.

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said, "The Adirondacks have long been a popular destination for individuals and families of all abilities, and the former Finch lands will significantly expand outdoor recreation opportunities and support the regional economy. Governor Cuomo is committed to protecting critical natural resources and developing additional public access to outdoor recreation and these grants will help to achieve these goals. Under the Governor's leadership, and with strong partners like The Nature Conservancy and county and local officials, we can realize the full potential of public lands in the Park."

Michael Carr, Executive Director of The Nature Conservancy's Adirondack Chapter, said, "We applaud Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Martens for historic conservation action in the Adirondacks. The Conservancy is delighted to continue its work with local communities, regional tourism offices, and State agencies to unlock the potential for spectacular lands to play a new role in the park's outdoor recreation and tourism economy."

Essex County Board of Supervisors Chairman Randy Douglas said, "This is great news for all of us. We sincerely appreciate Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Marten's commitment to enhancing outdoor opportunities for our visitors and our residents. These funds will help provide an economic development boost, and to help attract a wider range of tourists."

Hamilton County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Farber said, "I applaud these efforts to connect communities with the vast lands here in New York State. The forest preserve is a tremendous resource. These grants will go a long way in developing meaningful recreational plans in Hamilton County and I'm eager to get started."

Town of Newcomb Supervisor George Canon said, "We are very supportive of Governor Cuomo's initiatives in support of the Adirondack economy. These grant awards are another important step toward receiving the full benefit of the Finch land conservation. Personally, I am very appreciative of the Governor's leadership and believe this funding shows his commitment to the Adirondacks."
North Hudson Town Supervisor Ron Moore said, "The Town of North Hudson is delighted to be one of the recipients of this grant. With it we will be able to take advantage of the new recreational opportunities that will be available with the acquisition of the former Finch Pruyn and The Nature Conservancy lands. This will increase business opportunities and create much needed economic growth in our towns. We thank The Nature Conservancy for funding these grants and are deeply appreciative of both Governor Cuomo's and Commissioner Martens' continued commitment to the Adirondack Park and those of us who live here."

Town of Minerva Supervisor Stephen McNally said, "The Town of Minerva is delighted to have been one of the recipients of this grant. This is an exciting time for the Town of Minerva with the new State land acquisition. With the help from The Nature Conservancy, Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Martens this will create opportunities for economic growth and make this area truly outstanding destination."

Town of Long Lake Supervisor Clark J. Seaman said, "We certainly appreciate this funding that will allow us to create a new recreational opportunity in Long Lake. This will help us make Long Lake, along with the other four communities of the Upper Hudson Recreation Hub, a unique destination for equestrian riders from across the Northeast. "

Town of Indian Lake Supervisor Brian E. Wells said, "Governor Cuomo has once again shown his commitment to the economic revival of the North Country. He stated that when these lands were bought that not only would they be protected for future generations but that they would also be used for economic growth of Adirondack towns. The awarding of these grants to the various municipalities, established businesses and entrepreneurs shows a flexible approach to this renewal. The Town of Indian Lake looks forward to the implementation of these projects and thanks Governor Cuomo for his leadership and commitment to the Adirondacks."

Town of Johnsburg Supervisor Ron Vanselow said, "The Town of Johnsburg is thrilled to be receiving this grant and I express my appreciation to Governor Cuomo and The Nature Conservancy. This grant will surely enhance our local economy by providing another way for visitors to our area to experience these newly acquired lands. This is a great opportunity for all of us." 

The Adirondack Park Upper Hudson Recreation Hub Grants are administered by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and the New York Natural Heritage Trust. The grants include:
  • $100,000 to the Town of Newcomb for equipment to be used by a local guide service, Newcomb Guides Service LLC, to provide a shuttle service and guided fishing, hunting, whitewater rafting, mountain biking, camping and canoe/kayak trips into the backcountry. These services would primarily be within the Essex Chain Lakes, Upper Hudson River and, in the future, Boreas Ponds
  • $30,000 to the Town of Newcomb to install horse stables at the High Peaks Kitchen and Campground that can be used by visitors to the area.
  • $13,250 to the Town of Johnsburg for equipment to be used by a local guide service, North Creek Rafting Company LLC, to provide guided inflatable kayak trips on the Upper Hudson River between Newcomb and the confluence with the Indian River. This trip is suitable for beginners and is made possible by take-outs at two locations south of Newcomb – the iron bridge about seven miles from the Lake Harris put-in and the Indian River property, upstream of the confluence of the Hudson and Indian Rivers and the heavy whitewater of the Hudson Gorge.
  • $356,750 to Essex County for partnership projects that leverage previous planning efforts, including the Adirondack Parkwide Recreation Strategies, Hamlets 3 and local community comprehensive plans:
    • Essex County Industrial Development AgencyMicroenterprise Grant Program
      The program will provide assistance to eligible expanding or startup micro-enterprises that will serve and attract visitors to the Upper Hudson Recreation Hub. The program will offer access to capital to help businesses modernize and improve goods and services, become more sustainable and create and retain jobs.
    • Town of Indian Lake - Indian Lake Core Improvements and Acquisition
      The grants will be used to acquire and demolish a targeted downtown building, and install water and sewer infrastructure for future development of the parcel. This will help Indian Lake enhance its downtown area by creating a development district that will have great potential for commercial, residential and cultural redevelopment, plus infrastructure and business improvements.
    • Town of Long Lake - Equestrian Pole Barn and Staging Area
      The grant will be used to construct an equestrian staging area at the trailhead to an existing equestrian trail, which will allow the Town of Long Lake to take advantage of expanding and new horseback riding trails and opportunities. The staging area will be designed with the flexibility to accommodate other recreational activities.
    • Town of Minerva - Minerva Lake Campground Upgrades and Expansion
      The grant will fund improvements to visitor services at the Town of Minerva-owned campground through the installation of water and electrical hookups, creation of new full-service campsites and installation of a new dumping station and new, high-efficiency LED lighting.
    • Town of Newcomb - Information Center Upgrades & Implementation of Marketing Plan
      The Town of Newcomb will use the grant funding to make improvements to its Hudson River Information Center and implement a multi-phased marketing and branding strategy.
    • Town of North HudsonRoute 9 Multi-Use Trail Access Improvements
      The Town of North Hudson will create trailhead parking and equestrian facilities to access State lands via an extensive system of multi-use trails located on municipal property on the east and west sides of NYS Route 9

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Scooby 11/11/00 - 11/12/14

Scooby and I in a raft outside our barn in 2008

In March of 2002 I adopted Scooby from the Tri-Lakes Humane Society in Saranac Lake. I met him there a few weeks earlier and we spent some time getting to know each other in the visiting room and on the streets of Saranac Lake as we walked around town. I picked him out of a room full of dogs because as the rest barked and fussed, Scoobs lay peacefully with his front legs crossed, one over the other. He was at the humane society for the first year of his life. He left for a year and a half to live with a young family. The technicians at the humane society knew and loved Scoobs. During my visits with Scoobs, cats strolled by as he sat leaning on my leg, the way he always did with folks he trusted. They let me take him to meet my landlord at the time in Lake Placid. My landlord agreed he was a nice boy and allowed me to follow through with the adoption. 

I was three days shy of twenty seven the day I picked up Scooby. He was a birthday present to myself. The humane society warned me that he didn't like riding in cars. I remember looking at him in the rear view mirror as I drove home, thinking how he cute he was. He was more than two years old and had endearing puppy-dog eyes. I wanted to show him off so I brought him to the health food store in Saranac Lake where I worked. As we walked down the ramp into the store, Scoobs silently bit a customer. I left the store and called the humane society from my car to tell them what had happened - Scoobs had bit someone. They were surprised to hear the news and told me I could bring him back but they wouldn't adopt Scoobs out again. I continued home and looked back often.

Scoobs bit several folks throughout his long life. A person walking around Mirror Lake, a jogger at John Brown's Farm, the owner of the guide house/our former boss, the handyman who wanted to fix something and then wanted to shoot him, another guide who came to the guide house with news of a fellow river guide's death, our river photographer's banjo hand, our friend's Drew's hand, my cousin's leg, his co-owner/dad almost thirty times as he pulled out quill by porcupine quill from his face, and a few other unfortunate folks felt his wrath. One day I bumped into a woman while walking Scoobs around Mirror Lake. She said, "YOU'RE A SAINT". Did she know Scoobs? I met his former owner pushing a toddler in a stroller as Scoobs and I walked between the Olympic Center and Cunningham's Ski Barn in Lake Placid. She recognized him and said she was nervous about having him around her young children. 

I tapped into local trainers regarding Scoob's behavior. One felt because he was an adult dog with a behavior occurring without warning, he was not trainable. The old "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" type deal. One never knew what Scooby would do. Another offered some insight after watching Scoobs hide behind me when he met him. He concluded Scoobs had been abused somewhere along the way and was scared of certain people. He seemed to be particularly afraid of men. All the bites happened to men. Well except he bit me about six months ago as I yelled at him angrily for eating another bath towel or bed sheet. Scoobs eventually began biting his dad when he cared for him, clipping his toenails or brushing his coat. I was about to introduce him to a muzzle so we could care for him in his elder days. We knew his days were numbered for other age-related problems had crept in. 

My advice to anyone who wants to adopt a dog, look at the characteristics of the breed, rather than the way the dog looks or how sweet he/she seems. I was naive and it came back to bite me for nearly twelve years. Scoobs was an adorable dalmation-lab mix. If he wasn't so faithful, he wouldn't have lasted so long in our household. He never bit another animal or anyone who sued us or got seriously injured. We kept Scoobs under close watch - kept him safe from others and others safe from him. Scoobs was hard to love but he was part of our family. We were committed to him. As it turns out he loved riding in the car. He did not enjoy riding white water in a raft. Though he did on occasion when we took the clan in by raft for an over night along the Hudson River. In the raft he'd climb to the highest, most internal point and lick the splashes off his coat.

Many years passed. Scoob's favorite pastimes were eating anything he could get his jaws on and running like a puppy from our back yard to the house several times a day. These were the times in his life when he felt free. 11/11/14, this Veterans Day, Scooby turned fourteen. The following day his back legs gave way for good as he ran free in our back yard one last time. He let out a shrill cry. Nate gently tried to pick him up. Scoobs bit him one last time. Eventually we said our goodbyes and with the vet's help, we were all set free. 
The Black and White Boy Club - Scooby, Rondeau and Herman  - lost it's founding member and president this week.