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As 2016 comes to an end I wanted to try something new and take a look back at this season’s expeditions to review the great paddling trips I had. Unless the stars align and I get one more trip in this season I can proudly say I put in 30 trips and created 25 videos in 2016. We hit up a few new waterways,finally had a chance to get a big crew together for two big group trips, got some first time paddlers hooked on the sport and brought a whole new group of friends out for some memorable trips. I was incredibly lucky through the whole season with weather and paddling conditions. We avoided downpours and high winds and had some of the most perfect conditions Ive had a chance to paddle over the last few years. As a kayaker it doesn’t get much better than 2016.

25 videos this year! Pretty incredible, if I do say so myself. Let’s quickly review this season’s locations, in order.: Milford Pond, Lower Nemasket River, Palmer River, Lake Rico, Swansea Dam, Shingle Island River, Segreganset River, Central Nemasket River, Lake Rico, Snake River, Upper Nemasket River, Group Trip to the Lower Nemasket, Southern section of the Taunton River, Lake Rico, Seapowet Point, Sawdy Pond, Stafford Pond, Lake Nippenicket, Group Trip on Upper Taunton River, Lake Rico, Shingle Island, Palmer River, Swansea Dam, Snake River, and Assonet River! You can see we hit a few places multiple times this season. Lake Rico is Desmond’s favorite spot, so we always visit there several times a year. 2016 paddling was all local waterways. I didn’t venture out this year as I have in the past. I had a big shift in focus this season towards getting friends out on the water with me so they could experience for themselves how amazing it is to kayak. Keeping it local made that much easier for sure.

So let’s go though some of these trips! I will give you some of my choices for various _____ of the year for all the trips we took. If you have a favorite video of mine from this year, leave it in the comments below. Without further ado, let’s get on to 2016!

Longest trip of 2016:

With a staggering time of 4 hours and 15 minutes, our July 20th trip to Lake Rico was by far the longest trip of the season. I know it's not the grand 7-8 hour full day trips I've done in other seasons, but it's the longest this year. Now this wasn’t due to a long paddling distance. Nope. On this trip it was 90+ degrees out and we were on the lake for so long for one reason, swimming. The water at Lake Rico is amazing for a summer swim. As you have most likely seen in a number of my previous videos on Lake Rico, the lake is dotted with a few sandy beaches that we stop at every trip. The crystal clear water and soft sandy bottom really is amazing. This particular trip, Desmond and I bounced back and forth between a few of these beaches, swimming at each for about an hour before moving to the next. We also doubled back and hit a few of them for a second time before ending the trip. This day the water had to be near 80 degrees. The shallow beaches just suck in the heat from the sun and the water in these spots is perfect for sitting in on a hot day. This is probably the trip which prompted Des to ask to paddle Lake Rico for every other outing this season. I can’t say I blame him. It’s one of my favorite spots too!

Largest Trip of 2016:

This one is an easy call. Not only was it the most people I have taken out at once for 2016, but the most people I’ve taken ever! The work crew group trip to lower Nemasket River tops the charts. 10 kayaks, 11 people with Des doubling up in my yak! This was a trip I had been dreaming about for a few years. Only a few people at work knew about my kayaking obsession. This season, with our new store opening and loads of new crew members who I became very close to, I made it a point to start a Facebook group for those who were interested in giving kayaking a shot. This particular trip took a few weeks of planning. I was in close contact with Jim from Kayak Barn to help supply the crew with boats and gear, and I posted weekly on the group with sign ups, safety information, paddling how to’s, directions and any other information I could think of to get the group prepared. We set a date of June 30th, the day before my birthday! What a great early gift it was to have such an awesome and fun crew come out on an adventure. It was a struggle for some, but everyone blew me away at how quickly they picked up the basic skills and how smoothly the trip went. I still smile when I watch this video because of how great an experience it was. Hopefully next season we can top this, and break a new record for me!

New Locations for 2016:

With my focus being so narrow this season on getting people out on the water with us, we only had a chance to explore a few new waterways this season. Ironically these 2 trips were back to back, with our virgin paddles on Stafford Pond and Lake Nippenicket (sort of).

Stafford Pond is located about 5 minutes from where I grew up in my hometown of Tiverton RI. My elementary school and middle school were both located right by this pond, yet all this time that I have been paddling I have never explored there. We dropped in there on August 4th, right in the middle of dry season. Water levels were pretty low on the pond, but that wasn’t a huge concern for us in the kayak. It just meant we’d bake in the sun for a few hours as we wondered around the pond. Swimming is frowned upon in this pond since it is a water supply, but we managed to find a nice quiet spot to get our and swim for a while in the shallows. We were greeted at the put in by a family of swans that Desmond made friends with. It was pretty neat exploring this pond I had been looking at for 30+ years. There were some cool locations and unexpected inlets that’s made the trip all the more exciting. I get a big kick out of the exploration portion of paddling. It’s really one of the driving factors for my love of the sport.

Lake Nippenicket was our other chance to explore something new this year. The “sort of” comment that I made above is due to a trip I took several years ago. Back in 2011 we used this lake as an entrance point into the famed Hockomock Swamp on a canoe adventure through the swamp to the Town River. We only saw a small portion of the lake that day, and it really wasn’t our destination point, so I wouldn’t have really considered it as a day of exploring that lake. But this year on August 17th, Desmond and I circumnavigated the whole lake, exploring everything we could. It was pretty damn windy that day which made for a bit of an adventure getting across the lake on the first half of the trip, but that’s part of the fun. This trip also reinvigorated my interested in exploring Hockomock Swamp again. Maybe in Little Red, my short kayak? You can see the “entrance” to the swamp at 1:38 in the video. In August it is not exactly the easiest pass with all the overgrowth from the swamp plants hugging the river. That trip is really meant for early spring. Maybe in 2017 I will get out there early and see if we can explore the haunted swamp!

Most Popular Video of 2016:

Most likely due to how long it has been posted, my very first trip this season to Milford Pond on March 9th is currently the most watched video from 2016. This was a fun trip and was only my second time to this pond. I rarely see anyone else paddling on this pond. It’s sort of secretly tucked away in Swansea MA, with a difficult put in that prevents many from boating there. It was a cold trip though, as we managed to get out there just as winter finally broke.

Runners up for this year’s most popular videos would be kayaking the Lower Nemasket River with the Clancy family in second, and Swansea Dam with Des in third

Favorite Trip of 2016:

This one was incredibly hard for me to decide. Narrowing down 25 amazing trips to a favorite was pretty tough. So tough, that I had to choose 2 trips.. Both were my favorites for different reasons, so I think both should be recognized here. As I mentioned above, I had dreamed about the big group trip we took this year for a long time. For this reason and for how amazingly fun it was to have so many close friends out on the water with me, the Work Crew Trip to Lower Nemasket is at the top of my list for favorite trips this year. The experience was amazing, and it was a day to remember.

With that being said, my other choice was not only my favorite trip, but also my favorite video I made this year. Who would have thought it would top my list.. Kayaking Seapowet Point with my great friends Jackie and Mckenzie was my favorite trip/video of the year. This day was amazing. The weather was perfect, the water was absolutely stunning, the swimming was superb, and to top it off I was surrounded by two absolutely amazing ladies. The video does the trip some justice with the stunning views, and my favorite short clip of the year was captured here as we passed under the Seapowet bridge and a big farm tractor drives over just as we approached at 1:30 in the video. The timing was perfect, and the chances of getting that shot are like slim to none. But it was the amazing company I had, and the perfect conditions that really took this trip over the top for me. Everyone has their own favorite, I’m sure. For me, this was pretty much the perfect trip.

2016 will be a year to remember. Every year seems to get more exciting, with new adventures around every corner. There is one big equipment addition which is making me anxious to begin next years paddling season as early as possible. The addition of my amazing DJI Mavic Pro drone will add some incredible footage to my videos next season. My mind is flooded with killer shots that I cant wait to take.

Thank you to everyone who helped to make this such a successful year for kayaking! See you next season! Keep paddlin'!

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