Paddlers are in for an adventure this weekend, as water levels rise in advance of the Souadabscook Stream Canoe Race in Hampden.
Or, maybe they’re not.
That’s up to the individual paddler, said Renee O’Donald, who directs the race with her husband, Rick.
This year, the Souadabscook will feature two options. One course — the one racers are accustomed to — will tackle all of the big drops en route to a finish line at the waterworks in downtown Hampden. A second course will stop short of the largest rapids.
“Some people would like to try this river, but even when it’s low, it’s technical,” Renee O’Donald said. “When it’s high and raging and cold, it can be an event for some people. Too much of an event for some people.”
The O’Donalds will unveil the two-course option this year, but that step wasn’t taken due to the water conditions, which will likely be high.
“We’ve been trying to offer a short course on this river [for years] because of the technical whitewater farther down the river. We’re trying to accomodate all of the paddlers,” she said.
The shorter course will cover about 3½ miles of the stream, while the long course is about 7½ miles long, she said.
The short course will end before three Class IV or V rapids — Emerson Mill, Crawford’s, and Cement Plant.
Renee O’Donald said her husband has been working to clear the course, but cautioned paddlers that a few obstacles are still in the river.
“Rick has done a pretty good job of going down the river and clearing out trees, but there are still some trees,” she said. “We do our best to have safety on the river, but we can’t get every tree out, and there are some places [where there are trees] that you can’t see until you actually get there in a boat.”
Race registration will begin at 9 a.m. at Vafiades Landing on the Bog Road. The races will begin at noon.
Renee O’Donald expects the stream to challenge even the most accomplished paddlers.
“The warmer it gets, the more the water flows,” she said. “By the weekend we could have some pretty good whitewater.”