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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

What is the NH AMC paddling group?

NH AMC stands for New Hampshire Appalachian Mountain Club. The paddling group is made up of individuals, mostly living in New Hampshire and elsewhere in New England, who enjoy paddling all sorts of trips and water conditions. The group organizes trips most weekends during paddling season, and some longer trips. We welcome additional paddlers and hope that you will come paddling with us. The group is affiliated with the Appalachian Mountain Club.

Do I have to be a member of the AMC to go on a trip? Do I have to belong to the New Hampshire chapter?

No - you don't have to be a member of the AMC, or of the NH chapter. Many of our paddlers are not AMC members. The only qualification you need is to love paddling!

Is there a fee for the trips?

No - trips are organized by volunteer members who love to paddle and introduce new members to the organization. Overnight trips may require a small fee for accommodation and/or contributions to meals.

How long are the trips?

Most are day trips, typically meeting around 9:30 and ending in mid to late afternoon. Lunch is often scheduled for an especially scenic spot (or just after a challenging rapid) and is a good time to get acquainted with other paddlers, talk about which of your maneuvers worked (or didn't), and commiserate with those who went for a swim. Each season some weekend-length trips are organized, as well as longer trips to more remote rivers. Some day trips are followed by potluck dinners at a group member's house - a great way to get to know your fellow paddling enthusiasts.

How do I find out what trips are being organized?

The most common ways people find out about our trips is on our website using the Upcoming Trips link (found at the top and on the left side of most pages) or via our MeetUp Group. Sign up for our MeetUp Group here.

What benefits do I get from joining the AMC?

One of the many benefits of joining the AMC is that you'll receive the magazine, AMC Outdoors, which includes information about many other AMC activities . Your dues to the AMC help support the organization and its volunteer-run trips, so we hope you'll decide to join!

How do I find out more about what is going on in the NH AMC Paddling Group?

You do not have to join the AMC to get on the NH AMC paddlers mailing list. By getting on the NH AMC paddlers mailing list you'll receive the Wraparound, with more complete listings and lots of other good stuff (see below). The WrapAround is currently free ... supported by the AMC and contributions from members. You do need to contact and continue to paddle with us to remain on the mailing list.

What rivers are chosen for the trips?

We paddle all over New England: the weather and water levels (and trip leaders' preferences) determine which are the most fun rivers to paddle, earlier or later in the year. The most popular trips are Class II whitewater; there are also a number of Touring/Class I river trips and some more advanced (Class III and IV). Some rivers that show up on almost every year's schedule include: the Pemigewasset, Sugar, Souhegan, White (VT), Deerfield (MA), West (VT), Farmington (CT). The trip leader checks ahead to find out whether the selected river is running at an appropriate water level, to ensure paddlers have a good time.

How do I sign up for a trip?

Call the trip leader a few days in advance if you're interested in a trip. The leader can tell you more about the trip (location, estimated length, paddling skills needed, directions to the put-in) and will ask about your paddling experience and (for spring trips) whether you have adequate equipment (wet or dry suit and/or suitable warm clothing). If you need a paddling partner, it's good to call a bit sooner so the trip leader can try to put you together with another paddler.

Do I have to demonstrate or prove my paddling skills?

The leader must be sure that you can safely paddle the river. AMC trips are run by volunteers who are good paddlers and will come to the help of anyone who swims or gets into difficulties, but they're not hired guides - they're there to have fun and play on the river too. To be sure that everyone on the trip has a good time, the leaders may refuse to take along a paddler who doesn't have enough experience in whitewater, or who doesn't have the right equipment to paddle safely. Of course, by far the best way to be sure that your skills are adequate is to attend the Spring Whitewater School (see below).

Is food, equipment, etc. provided by the trip leaders?

Not usually - you should bring lunch and plenty of water on a day trip, plus your own PFD (life vest) and other equipment as recommended by the trip leader (helmets on some rivers, for example). The organization does own several whitewater solo and tandem boats and paddles which are available on loan - a good way to try out some equipment if you're thinking of buying your own boat. Here too you should make arrangements in advance of the paddling date to be sure of getting the boat you want. The Wraparound includes contact names and numbers for arranging to borrow equipment.

Will I be expected to shuttle boats or paddlers?

Yes - everyone pitches in to get the trip on the river as fast as possible in the morning, and to reunite (possibly cold and wet) paddlers with their cars at the end of the day.

How experienced are the trip leaders? What are their responsibilities?

All trips have a Leader, most also have a Co-Leader. They must have taken the group's Leadership Training course, and gone on a number of trips as Leaders In Training. When they lead a trip, they will already have paddled the river, maybe many times in different water and weather conditions, and will be able to alert the group to portages, good routes down rapids, good scouting spots (and good lunch spots and scenic photo ops!). If you would like pointers on paddling technique or help with a particular maneuver, they and other experienced paddlers along on the trip will be happy to give you their close attention - they are a tremendous source of know-how and friendly advice. However, as noted above, they are not guides or outfitters hired to look after you on the river; you should not paddle beyond your abilities and expect the leaders to be your rescue squad.

I'm a novice paddler - should I attend the Spring Paddling School if I'm interested in paddling whitewater?

Yes, we highly recommend it! (It is not required to come on our trips, see below.) The Spring School is designed to get you onto Class II rivers, even if you've only paddled flatwater before. It's the best way to meet members of the Committee that organizes all the group's activities, as well as other paddlers. After attending the School, you can go on Class II trips: the trips scheduled on the weekends after the School are mostly on easier Class II rivers where you'll be able to work on your technique and get more experience (and more of that friendly advice). After you've successfully completed two Class II river trips with the group, you will be certified as a Class II paddler and able to sign up for any trips from then on.

I missed the Spring School ... can I still paddle with the group?

We would really like you to join us at any time on rivers appropriate to your skill level. Seeing you paddle at the School gives us a good idea of your ability, but it's not a requirement! If you've paddled class II rivers in the past, and can describe your skill level to a trip leader (what river maneuvers can you perform comfortably, are there techniques or strokes you're working on improving), the leader will be able to judge whether a trip is right for you. If you're keen to improve your skills, often leaders will be willing to paddle tandem with you to show you how to navigate ever more challenging water.

I'm already a class II paddler - can I learn more skills by joining this group?

We have several other courses that we do not publicize outside the group. One is our Spring Rescue School, which teaches self-rescue and how to rescue others. Another is a Class II-Plus School. And on any trip you are encouraged to ask the leader or another good paddler to give you some pointers. Often the Touring/Class I and Class II trips are led by paddlers with more advanced skills (some of them have "retired" from Class IV paddling). They will be happy to demonstrate tricks and techniques, and discuss different ways to perform advanced maneuvers.

I'm only interested in flatwater canoeing - is this group for me?

Yes, absolutely! The group runs Touring/Class I trips almost every weekend during canoeing season, and almost all of them require only basic boat handling skills. You don't have to complete the Spring School to go on these - but beware! These trips may get you so hooked that you decide to upgrade your skills and get out into that white frothy stuff. Then you're the perfect candidate for the next Spring School - or to ask trip leaders to start teaching you right away.

I'm a kayaker - is this group for me?

Yes, absolutely! In response to requests from many kayakers, the Spring School welcomes kayakers as well as open boaters, and kayakers can join any trips on the same terms as other boaters. Most trips have a mixture of canoes and kayaks.

I'm a tandem paddler - will the trip leader find me a partner?

The trip leader will try to help you find a partner, and may even be able to recommend a more experienced paddler who can give you tips on technique along the way. However, it's your job to follow up the contact names the leader gives you, and be sure you HAVE a partner before you turn up at the put-in. In order to aid the trip leaders in finding you a partner, you should notify them as early as possible to give them time to match you up with someone.

What's the minimum age for joining a trip? For example can my 12-year old come?

That depends on the trip, the trip leader, and the experience of the parent. If the parent is an accomplished paddler and can handle the boat well, then they can bring a less accomplished youth on the trip. If the parents are novices, then bringing a youth on any trip other than a flatwater trip is inappropriate. We will try to be flexible, but we will have a reasonable concern for you and your child's safety. We have found that youths under the age of 16 are inappropriate in the whitewater school, unless the parent is an accomplished paddler who had given the youth plenty of flatwater and moving water experience. If you are considering bringing a youth (or any inexperienced paddling partner) on a trip, please discuss it with the trip leader ahead of time and be prepared to accept his/her decision.

Can I bring my dog?

That depends on the trip leader, the dog, and the trip. Generally it is discouraged because many people would like to see the wild fowl and animals. It is also very hard to keep a dog in the boat. It is inappropriate for dogs to come on whitewater trips because of the danger of the dogs getting caught in strainers or their claws puncturing airbags. If you have a barking or easily excitable dog, you will make yourself very unpopular by bringing it. Also, if by chance more than one paddler brings a dog along on the same trip, the interactions between the dogs can be unpredictable; dogs that are very well behaved on their own often become aggressive or excitable when other dogs are around.

So what kind of people run this operation anyway?

Here's a testimonial from a regular paddler who isn't part of the official committee:

"There are at least two great things I've noticed about the organizers of this group. One is that they all love to paddle and to do it well, and they love to get other people excited about paddling well and having fun on the river. The other is that they work together in an amazingly no-fuss, relaxed way to put together a really ambitious program - dozens of day trips, instructional sessions and a newsletter, not to mention great food at the Spring School, potluck dinners and overnight accommodations... If every organization was as efficient, friendly and cooperative as this paddling committee, the world would be a much better place."

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