Kayakers and rafters drawn to Franklin First Day

Kayakers and rafters drawn to Franklin First Day

Union Leader | John Koziol | January 1, 2022

A pair of kayakers make their way toward the standing wave in the Winnipesaukee River in Franklin on Saturday.  

FRANKLIN — In celebrating the start of 2022 on Saturday, Dana Glow also ticked cold whitewater rafting off his bucket list.

Glow, 60, of Tilton, and his daughter Dakotah were among dozens of rafters and kayakers who, in a tradition more than 30 years old, put into the Winnipesaukee River off Cross Mill Road shortly after 10 a.m., and eventually ended up at Trestle View Park in downtown Franklin.

Known as Franklin First Day, the event saw boaters travel a mile and a quarter downstream and through 10 sets of rapids before they got out to repeat the process.

“This is a fantastic way to start the New Year,” said Glow, a computer programmer and a car-service driver. Having rafted other rivers in warmer times of the year, getting the chance to be on the Winnipesaukee in winter was “a gotta do it” thing in terms of life priorities, he said.

Dakotah Glow said that all things considered, she’d prefer to have been curled up in a warm bed Saturday morning, rather than in the elements and on the Winnipesaukee with her dad.

“That’s how I feel right now,” she said, adding, however, Franklin First Day was “something different, but will I do it again? Probably not.”

Along with Scott Burns of Franklin, the Glows were clients on Saturday of Outdoor New England, an outdoor clothing and equipment shop in Franklin, whose owner, Marty Parichand, is a driving force behind Mill City Park, the first whitewater park in New England.

Phase 1 of Mill City Park is nearing completion. One of its main features — a permanent “standing wave” in the river — was open Saturday.

Burns said he has hiked in Colorado and seen how communities there have used natural assets to attract visitors.

“It’s about the economic growth,” said Burns, before getting into a bright red raft that was steered by Rick Gammons from Outdoor New England.

Marty Parichand of Outdoor New England waves while steering a raft under a railroad trestle on the Winnipesaukee River in Franklin Saturday morning. 

Prior to launching the craft into the water, Burns got a whitewater primer from Parichand, who explained the right way to sit and the right way to act.

“When people fall out (of the raft) it’s because they don’t paddle. Period,” said Parichand. “What you’re trying to do is create where the boat pulses through the water,” and its path becomes “predictable.”

“We have to paddle in sync and together,” he said, adding that the paddler’s hands must be “glued to the T-grip of their paddle all day.”

An uncontrolled paddle “is the most dangerous thing in the raft,” said Parichand, who also informed his clients about what to do to “bend” a raft around rocks and what to do in case their raft capsizes.

“If you’re in a cold, dark place you’re not in a nightclub in Manchester,” said Parichand, “you’re underneath the raft,” with Burns interjecting that “you have 2.6 seconds to figure it out.”

Jim Jones, co-president of the Franklin Outing Club, which operated a warming tent for the rafters/kayakers on Saturday in Trestle View Park, said Franklin First Day and Mill City Park are putting the city on the map and helping to attract visitors.

Some of those visitors end up staying, he said, smitten by the number and variety of outdoor offerings and a high quality of life.

Franklin is “everything outdoors,” said Jones, who urged people to “Get off the couch and breathe some fresh air.”

Kayakers and rafters drawn to Franklin First Day | Outdoors | unionleader.com 

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