STORIES OF LAWRENCE

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Sunburns, Blisters and Waterproof Bags

by Doug Sparks, Merrimack Valley Magazine

On the early morning of August 7, mvm joined a group of community leaders calling themselves the Merrimack River Valley Voyagers set out from the headwaters of the Merrimack River in Franklin, New Hampshire, to kayak its 117-mile length.


This is an ambitious undertaking and demanded multiple scouting expeditions and the support of local leaders. It also required obtaining a lot of gear: UV-protective hats, waterproof bags, solar cellphone chargers and a host of other gadgets. My boat came courtesy of Plum Island Kayak, and owner Ken Taylor was extremely helpful in getting me fitted for the appropriate vessel.


As the chronicler of the expedition, I wasn’t asked to make any phone calls or put together press releases during the planning stages. I did, however, study the river’s history. Theodore Steinberg’s “Nature Incorporated: Industrialization and the Waters of New England,” and John Pendergast’s “The Bend in the River,” were particularly helpful. I also started working out for the first time since my daughter was born in January. I didn’t have time for trial water runs, so I relied on barbells and kettlebells with the theory that I should target grip and back strength. Stay tuned to see if the strategy worked.



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