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Welcome back my friends.
Come here and sit with me.
I shall tell you where we’ve been,
and all that we did see.

The sun is raining down today, feeding all the little green things, as we settle back into our routine here at Kroka campus. Last Monday, the other semester students and I gathered our gear, gave hugs goodbye, and set out down the road for the Connecticut River. Misha drove us along winding roads, all the while pointing out old mills and waterways. En route, we were treated to lunch at T.C.’s Pantry in Claremont (owned and run by Kroka’s business manager Theresa), and set off again, stomachs full of chicken pot pie and many well wishes.

After a relaxing car ride and much enthusiastic conversation, we arrived at Wilder Dam, nestled neatly into the Connecticut. “LETS GO! LETS GO!” Misha hollered, and on command we sprang to our feet. James climbed to the highest reaches of the trailer to untie Sara’s clever knots which were securing our canoes. And off we went!

After a night of rest on Burnap’s Island, we awoke to stretch, swim laps, and try to dispel the morning chill. Then off to the water we returned. As the fog rolled out we were greeted with a sky so clear and blue only Zeus’s lightning could have made it more electric.

Willow and Finn stoked for what’s ahead.

Diego and James honing their skills.

At Sumner Falls camp we practiced self rescue with throw ropes and swam laps through the rapids, all the while refining our canoeing skills in the rapids and eddies. We learned the J-stroke, draw, pry, and learned to work in careful precision with the river Goddess S.A.L. (Speed Angle Lean).

Willow plunging into the Connecticut River.

Learning about throw ropes for river rescue.

After three days, we hopped back into the van and headed to the Deerfield River in Massachusetts. Along the way we stopped to pick apples and blueberries at Green Mountain Orchards.

At the Deerfield River we spent four more days canoeing with Misha and Samuel as our guides, and flipping, flipping, flipping through our studies and through our days. We spent our time here applying the skills and motions we learned on the Connecticut. We traveled under a railroad track next to the river, as if through a tunnel portal to dancing waterfalls.

Patrick and Zef sizing up Zoar Gap.

Patrick and Zef in Zoar Gap.

Hand in hand we stepped into the dark, like ink,
Foot over foot, we moved our way through water you could drink.
The tunnel was low, the current strong,
The train above shook the walls,
And all the while we sang along,
To reach the waterfalls.

Jasmine and Ave skillfully steering along the Deerfield River.

As the light started to fade, we made  our way up the mountain stream, to Dunbar Brook campsite. All helped work as a single body, in unity, to get ready for dinner.

Every night we sat to eat
The skillfully crafted food,
Our Cecily sang so soft and sweet enough
To lift any sour mood.
She sang of lovers, of pain and theft,
And explained the stories of old,
And we drank the bliss,
Those stories had left,
Knowing there’s more to be told.

Patrick working on hydrology studies while dinner is cooking.

As morning came, we went to bathe,
to wash our clothes,
and sing of riddles and fea:

Down, down to the clear mountain stream, where thy maidens are washing, the water runs clean. Down down to the clear mountain stream, the water runs clear, tis nothing to fear. For the demons are far, and the fairies come near, down to the old mountain stream.

And our buddy Zzyn turned seventeen! Zzyn and Cecily learning paddling technique.

Finally, it was time to test our skills, sharpened with days of paddling, by braving the Zoar Gap rapids. The Zoar Gap is a class III rapid, hugged by flatwater on either end. With a warrior’s spirit and a fluid mind, we disappeared around the riverbend in pairs of two, to face the sloping waters.

“It was an amazing feeling, catching air and eating water.” –Diego

Drenched and happy, in struggle, in strength, and in the spirit of adventure, we have made our way home.

Your scribe,

Avelea

Aeron and Sara navigate down the Deerfield River.