The NFCT C-4 Crew (Mike Opuszynski, Erik Townsend, Christy Edgren-Opuszynski, Uncle Norm Simpson, Uncle Mike D, Chloe the Collie, Scout the Beagle) at the finish line.
What an experience! I am amazed at how a region can come together to pull off a great event. Much credit needs to go to the McDonnell’s, it was obvious that the whole family worked to pull this event off and I could tell that Brian was completely immersed. At the finish line Brian was announcing the names of everyone as they crossed, and more times than not he would tell a brief and interesting story about each boat’s paddlers (that’s about 300 people). There were volunteers everywhere, and any location that was accessible was loaded with community members ringing bells, rapping triangles, and shouting on the paddlers. It didn’t matter if they knew you or not, as soon as you were close enough for people to see your canoe number they would start chanting it and telling those in the boat that they were doing great. It always amazes me how much harder one can paddle when you are being cheered on. I wish I could get a recording of it and play it in headphones for all the sections we would paddle through that were void of intersection with road or town.
Getting hauled into the finish line at “The Crusher” DEC boat launch after the Day 2 portion of the race over Long Lake and the Raquette River.
The race has been described to me as a gentleman’s race, and it prove itself to be so. We placed our canoe in the open touring class, a group of mixed boat types that are not so much interested in being number one, but possibly trying not to be last. I can say it is hard not to get caught up in the heat of the moment and push yourself to your limits. Our boat pushed hard, wanting to see what our best time could be, but we were also faced with the challenge of four people learning to paddle together for their first time in a four person boat. The first two days we worked out quite a few kinks and on day three wound up with a respectable time. All in all we paddled 90-miles in 17 hours and 45 minutes over 3 days. Ibuprofen and moleskin were at a premium and there was no shortage of groans and grunts coming from our tents in the mornings as we tried to drag our tired carcasses to the percolating coffee pot. With this said, everyone from team NFCT was more than happy to exchange the aches for an opportunity to give our best to the 90-miler.
Fish Creek Campground Site
There are a few highlights that stood out.
One category for highlights would lie in the realm of comaraderie:
When you are paddling with a group of 250 canoes you eventually realize there are others traveling about the same speed as you and you continue to cross paths here and there. We did this with the Haulin Daulins, a family team that we not only saw frequently on the course but ended up camping next to one night: good folks. We realized after Day Two that we were two minutes behind them and the friendly “Open Touring Competitive Spirit” as we called it made us paddle our fastest on Day Three. We also enjoyed paddling around team “Save the Boobies”, a lively C-5 devoted to raising breast cancer awareness. The women in that boat were a riot and definitely spread their cheer as they paddled along.
When we hustled through Bartlett Carry and got on toward the middle of Middle Saranac Lake we were treated to the delightful surprise of a Bald Eagle dive-bombing a mere 100 feet away from us to grab a 20 inch fish right out of the water and fly away with it all in one motion. Unbelievable! Although Uncle Norm took quite a few pictures along our race route, it all happen so fast that he couldn’t capture the money shot. I’m sure he got plenty of good ones and when finds a tech savvy person (that would be you sister Michelle) to help him download the photos and send them along, I’ll be sure to put them in the blog and go into a little more detail about the adventure.