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Flow State

An incredible stroke of amazing luck allowed me to fully enter the “Flow State” in the last couple weeks. Fellow paddlers Andy Kuhlberg, Scott Barnes, Dave and Paula Saaf, and Brett Lanier joined me in some truly awesome late Spring paddling on the local rivers of Connecticut. The crazy temperature fluctuations alongside a substantial Memorial Day Weekend storm meant that big water returned to the Farmington and Housatonic Rivers. There could not have been a better moment to be in the area! Low temps around 48F with rising water levels on Memorial Day weekend at the Farmington River provided levels I have not seen in years. The hole section became the big wave section of T’Ville gorge and reminded me of my last paddling days on the Nile recently.

All of this coincided with with finally getting to paddle with people and in particular my good friends again – instead of solo – as had been the case for the winter and early spring! It was so much fun to feel free again to see people and return to a semi-normal paddling life. This ability to share the joy of paddling allowed me to be fully immersed in the flow state of mind – eating, drinking, sleeping, breathing paddling to soak up every drop of available water for a few weeks while the high water lasted. Solo paddling had become my new normal and while that presents its own meditative and special experience, I had sure been missing being with people and my friends in particular.

The water peaked on Memorial Day as the temperatures rose. T’Ville had the best surfing at the hole section. Babylon was a large fluffy wave hole – near perfect size and speed to set and through anything you might want to try! By Tuesday, the Housatonic had nearly 5,000 CFS flowing through at Bulls Bridge and that along with the fact that the hydro dam was being worked on meant that no water was being diverted out of the flow! Tuesday warmed up and the sun came out. Andy and I met Brett and saw Scott at Bull’s Bridge and set out. Everything was BIG and really Fun! The Flume had a crazy curling wave at the top of the drop that you had to climb up and paddle over, but there was so much water going downstream that there was no danger of anything except going downstream.

Lots of play waves and catch on the fly features popped up. S-turn was big (the eddy was tiny but still there), and pencil sharpener had huge surfable waves nearly everywhere – it really felt like Nile paddling with all that water in a much smaller river bed – what a treat! By the time we got to George’s, we were pretty knackered and good thing because it was impossible to surf from the eddy onto the surf wave – the hump you usually have to jump over was so much bigger and a true barrier to surfing the wave. It really didn’t matter at all because I knew that the best surfing was yet to come as the water dropped. (Next runs down provided the best surfing I have done there in many years – A super dynamic steep and breaking wave Georges formed – so so fun!)

The following weekend, near perfect levels at T’ville meant the hole surfing was going to be primo! There was also a slalom race scheduled for the weekend and warm weather in the forecast!.What a great way to get the summer paddling season started. It was the most fun after lockdown paddling I have done. So meaningful to see the paddling community come together and enjoy completely after so much time apart. I thank the weather gods and all my really game friends who were up for as much paddling as possible during our incredible 14-day local paddling safari. (My physical therapist and acupuncturist are now loving me too – and I am loving them!)

Extra fun bonuses were re-connecting with Brett Lanier who I had not paddled with in 20 years and getting many consecutive paddling days with Andy Kuhlberg who is paddling better than ever after shoulder surgery. And none of my paddling adventures would be possible without Dave and Paula Saaf – ever supportive and generous with their time and their guest bedroom as well as the flexible schedule for those with this unquenchable addiction like me.