I was invited to join the Onion River Race and Ramble with some friends who had an extra kayak. It’s a 10.5 mile paddle down the Winooski River that benefits Friends of the Winooski and you can sign up in multiple categories but it basically boils down to racing (competitive) or rambling (lazy). We rambled, of course.
We started just below Bolton Falls. It was a beautiful day and there were at least 100 people setting up their boats. The ramblers started an hour earlier than the racers so that everyone could get to the after party at about the same time. We all met up for the safety talk, at which I was surprised to be told we’d be going through rapids and how to avoid the rocks. I’ve mostly kayaked on small lakes before and never had to deal with that.
There was a bunch of standing around but then it was finally time to get in the boats. I pushed off from shore, paddled a few feet, and immediately got stuck on a sandbar. After a short walk, I was off again.
The rapids were actually not bad at all (no photos). There was definitely some splashing, and I can see how someone could get into trouble if they steered into a rock, but the rocks were very easy to avoid. We paddled for quite a while before remembering that we were rambling, and then stopped to just float.
It was neat to paddle under the Winooski River Footbridge, which I just walked over last week. There were a bunch of people up there to watch the boats go by.
Just as we reached the bridge in Richmond where we were to finish, the winning racer zoomed by us. Considering he started an hour after us, I can’t imagine rowing that hard. His boat was of a much sleeker design than any of ours though.
Much like I’d had trouble getting in the water, I fell several times trying to pull my boat out of the water and up a steep little dirt ridge. I just kept sliding down when I tried to pull the boat up.
There was an after party with lunch set up for all the participants at the park there. We were expecting cold cuts but were pleasantly surprised to find a bunch of volunteers had made various dishes for lunch instead. Everything was delicious and I had to stop myself from going back through the buffet a third time.