Life begins to change

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This was one of the last sunsets I saw from my usual viewing spot. I talked about going to college for over a year now. The time has finally come. 

Saying goodbye to rafting is hard. On some of my last trips after going through a particular rapid for the last time or visiting the ice caves for the last time I would say goodbye to it. Having to shift from being a guide and doing all these cool things to living in my dorm already and attending classes and meetings is a little weird. I keep running into people who I have either guided or have been rafting and when they talk about it I get all excited. I will still guide on the occasional weekend in September but for the most part the season is over for me.

Moving onto college is exciting too though, the dorms are a real step up from the tent life. No bugs in your ears, showers exist, bathrooms exist, it's awesome. I don't really know anyone here but I'm not too worried about that, my roommate seems like a cool guy and he has a bunch of friends here so I figured I might integrate with them a bit. I do alright on my own even if that doesn't work out so well. College here represents some big opportunities to really find out what I'm capable of and interested in.

Even though I'm sad to be saying bye to rafting for now the future looks bright in my mind and full of great possibilities.

The Penobscot

Lately I've been pretty busy, but things are starting to calm down now. Over the next few days I'll try to catch up on everything that's happened. A lot of changes have gone down but there are a few stories to tell before I get to the present...

I finally got to guide on the Penobscot river! I have been waiting a long time to be able to guide here. After guide training you have your level one license or a level two if you did really well. When I went through training I actually had to go home briefly to graduate from high school. This year I finally got my level two license and I had been waiting to guide on the Penobscot. The day finally came.

One of the guides told me they almost shit themselves the first time they had to take a regular crew down the river. Another said they flipped in the gorge. These thoughts going through my head as I lead six people down to the water. They look down river and see the sheer rock walls climb up either side. One of them is nervous, and rightly so. I tell my crew as much, "That feeling you have in your gut, well I have it too." I covered my ass by saying if you didn't get that feeling then there is something wrong with you, which also happens to be true. I try to look confident, but inside I'm going crazy. I debate checking to see if the water is running high or low, praying its low.

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The day went amazingly. We made it through every rapid, I caught every surf on the first try, and I was the only boat that didn't flip. I can't say enough how glad I was that my friends were there to back me up. They made a huge difference. I thought about one of the guides who helped me in my level two training. She swam the Cribworks twice (pictured above) and was willing to keep going. Fortunately after that there were no more swimmers for the day but to swim through that boulder field twice and say lets keep going shows a huge amount of support.

After the trip I went to text this person to say thanks for the support and training but they of course wouldn't take a compliment and deflected it back. Seriously though, those people I work with, the guides and my bosses, we become like a family and it becomes hard to say goodbye.

The Ice Caves

These last few days I've been bringing people out to the Ice Caves. The Ice Caves are about two hours away, and the miles you drive are dirt miles, none of the nice paved roads most people are used too. We actually keep our tires slightly under inflated to help avoid flat tires. One time we passed three cars with flat tires. You just have to be really careful on these roads.

So after one and a half hours of bumps and wilderness we arrive at the West branch of the Penobscot river. Looking through the trees you can see rapids every now and again. Katahdin rises in the distance. The mountain's official name is actually Mount Katahdin but the word Katahdin literally means "The Great Mountain" or " Great Mountain." So whenever someone says Mount Katahdin they are actually saying " Mount Great Mountain," so I just call it Katahdin.

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After about two hours of driving you get to the trail. It is an awesome trail with twisted and gnarled roots growing over everything and boulders strewn throughout the trail. Climbing over rocks and walking under the canopy you can hear the occasional bird or buzz of insects. After about one and a half miles you get to the caves.

The caves are awesome. When you stand at the entrance you can feel the cold air welling up from the cave. To descend you climb down iron rungs that are imbedded into the rock wall. Ice creeps up the sides of the cave and covers the floor. On the hike you start to sweat but in the cave you can see your breath and some people start to get cold. Water drips down the icy walls making everything look silver. After descending into the first chamber there are a number of holes in the wall, if you're willing to climb through them they open up again to make new rooms. To get to one room you need to slide along the icy floor on your back between two huge boulders. Once you're through it widens up and you can start to climb upward until you can see light shining through an alternate entrance. You can hear the drip of water in the cave and the rocks feel like ice. Emerging from the caves I always feel refreshed, I like the cold, and I don't get cold very easily. I soak up the chill while I can before I hike out, I don't lead many trips out here. So I said bye to the caves on the way out, just in case.

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