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The Course of the Merrimack

by Doug Sparks, Merrimack Valley Magazine

My Time Among the Voyagers

Early on the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 7, a group of kayakers began its journey down the length of the Merrimack River, starting at the headwaters in Franklin, New Hampshire, where the Pemigewasset meets the Winnipesaukee. It would cover approximately 117 miles, with stops for lunch and events over the four-day course.

With the exception of a handful of portages around dams and other obstructions, the Voyagers, as the group called itself, would stay on the river and its banks nearly the entire time.

The idea for the trip originated with Northern Essex Community College President Lane Glenn and expanded from a purely recreational adventure into an opportunity to highlight economic and environmental issues related to the Merrimack and the towns and cities of the surrounding valley.

The roster included kayakers attempting to make the entire run and others who would participate in sections. The Voyagers who went from start to finish were, in alphabetic order, state Sen. Diana DiZoglio (1st Essex District), Lane Glenn (President, Northern Essex Community College), Dan Graovac (president, Merrimack River Watershed Council Board of Directors), state Rep. Jim Kelcourse (1st Essex District), Heather McMann (executive director, Groundwork Lawrence), state Rep. Christina Minicucci (14th Essex District), Derek Mitchell (executive director, Lawrence Partnership) and Dougan Sherwood (president, Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce). Others joined for sections, including state Sen. Edward Kennedy, Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday and state Reps. Andres “Andy” Vargas (3rd Essex District) and Linda Dean Campbell (15th Essex District). I joined them on the river for the first two days.


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