68 Yr Old Solo Through Paddle ended in 3 days but it’s not over

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    My name is Larry Scalf from Seymour, TN just outside of Knoxville. I am 68 years old and I am paddling a Hurricane Santee 116 that weighs only 36 pounds. I started my solo through paddle on Thurs May 23 at 11:50 AM. That day was windy and started raining off and on by mid afternoon. Spent the first night at Eighth Lake State Camp Ground. Fri and Sat was strong winds out of the NE, heavy rain and waves about two feet high resulting in very slow speed. Spent the next night (Friday) at Boucher Point. On Sat I was within 10 feet of the take-out for Buttermilk Falls on Raquette River when I bumped into a submerged rock because the water was jet black and I just couldn’t see it. Didn’t think much about it because it was only a light bump. Portaged around the falls and put in again. After a minute of paddling I felt my feet getting wet. I looked down and saw about two inches of water in the bottom of my kayak. Got my sponge and started to bail out the water. Couldn’t keep up with the water that was coming in and had to go to my bilge pump. I would pump for about 30 seconds and then paddle for a minute. I kept this up for the half mile until the next take-out. Turned my kayak over and saw the damage. The impact created three 6″ cracks starting from a central point. I taped them all using Gorilla Tape both inside and out. I decided to portage to the tip of Long Lake before attempting to put in. The tape held and I paddled the 5 miles to the city of Long Lake. The outfitter there said it would take 1-2 weeks to get the material shipped in to repair my kayak. I decided not to wait and went back to TN the next day.
    Got home and couldn’t stand not doing the NFCT so I have purchased a Current Designs Vision 140 and I will drive back to Old Forge next week and start my second attempt on Wed June 5th. Wish me better luck this time.
    PS: I know where that rock is this time . . .


    Good luck Larry! You sure started during some wild weather and returning in June should be better with the river levels, which were at flood stage last week after you left. I think you will still need to pick your way carefully or avoid some rivers altogether to keep from damaging your kayak again. The Saranac River between Union Falls and Separator Rapids by Redford is boulder-strewn. And from Cadyville to Plattsburg. If the water is high enough yet in early June, Clayburg to Plattsburg may be a fun ride. I just did Clayburg to Cadyville on May 29 and the water was flowing over 99% of the boulders–compared to July 2011, when I was constantly getting in and out and walking over gravel bars or avoiding boulders when I could paddle within the same section. The lower Nulhegan and the S. Br. of the Dead River will be other tricky rivers to run. Make sure to stop in at St. Regis in Saranac Lake and other outfitters along the way to get river advice. Good luck! Please post a trip report when you are done!

    Chris Gill

    Too bad about the weather and the rock, I’m glad you were able to do the temporary repair and get to Long Lake safely. Like Katina says be careful on the shallow rivers. Depending on water levels you may want to avoid the Spencer Stream section as well as being careful on the sections Katina mentioned. Good luck, I hope I have the energy you do when I’m 68.

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