The Adventure Begins

Merrimack River Valley Voyagers Expedition, Day One

Early this morning, a group of adventurers will set out at dawn to kayak the length of the Merrimack River, starting at the headwaters in Franklin, New Hampshire, at the confluence of the Pemigewasset and Winnepesaukee.

The idea for the trip originated with Northern Essex Community College President Lane Glenn and expanded over time from a purely recreational adventure to an opportunity to highlight the economic and environmental issues relating to the Merrimack and the towns and cities of the surrounding valley. I have been invited to go along.

The journey will cover approximately 117 miles. The crew will make stops for community gatherings at various points over the four-day course. At various times, we will portage around dams and other obstructions. In Lowell, we will be forced for a brief distance to transport the kayaks by trailer. Otherwise, the Voyagers, as they have come to be known, will stay on the river and its banks the entire time, sleeping in camping areas at night. None of these areas are true camping grounds and we had to receive special permits and permissions for our overnight stays.

During the journey, I will be posting images and updates on mvm’s Instagram page and live streaming on Facebook. You should also follow #mrvvoyagers on Instagram and Twitter to see and read reports from the other participants, the support team and spectators. You can expect a full account in the September/October issue of Merrimack Valley Magazine.

The journey ends Saturday afternoon on Plum Island, where RiverWalk Brewing is providing much-desired liquid refreshment to the Voyagers and crew.

Photo by Adrien Bisson.

The roster includes kayakers attempting to make the entire run as well as those who will participate in sections. As of this writing, a few are awaiting confirmation. So far, and in alphabetical order, the Voyagers include:

– Linda Dean Campbell, Mass. State Rep., 15th Essex District
– Diana DiZoglio, Mass. State Senator, 1st Essex District
– Lane Glenn, President, Northern Essex Community College
– Dan Graovac, President, Merrimack River Watershed Council Board of Directors
– Charlotte Harris, Outreach Coordinator, N.H. Congresswoman Annie Kuster
– Jim Kelcourse, Mass. State Rep., 1st Essex District
– Edward Kennedy, Mass. State Senator, 1st Middlesex District
– Mindi Messner, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Safe Water Alliance
– Heather McMann, Executive Director, Groundwork Lawrence
– Christina Minicucci, Mass. State Rep., 14th Essex District
– Derek Mitchell, Executive Director, Lawrence Partnership
– Gene Porter, Chair, Lower Merrimack River Advisory Group
– Daniel Rivera, Mayor, City of Lawrence
– Dougan Sherwood, President, Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce
– Doug Sparks, Editor-in-Chief, Merrimack Valley Magazine
– Andy Vargas, Mass. State Rep., 3rd Essex District

Plum Island Kayak are generously supplying boats and equipment.

Our launch point will be serene, but Garvins Falls Dam is the site of a hydroelectric plant and a waterfall – You will not want to sail over on your kayak. Photos courtesy Lane Glenn.

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