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Paddling pursuits

  • Marty Wareham (left) and Christie LaValley paddle down the Suncook River in Center Barnstead on July 6.

  • Marty Wareham of Manchester glides along the Suncook River in his kayak in Center Barnstead on Friday, July 6, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) ELIZABETH FRANTZ—Monitor staff

  • Sandy Blanchard talks about the Suncook Valley Friday Night Paddlers group from the Suncook River in Center Barnstead on Friday, July 6, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) ELIZABETH FRANTZ—Monitor staff

  • Sandy Blanchard paddles her kayak on the Suncook River in Center Barnstead on July 6. ELIZABETH FRANTZ photos / Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Sunday, July 15, 2018

Seated in their yellow and grey kayaks, Christie LaValley and Marty Wareham drifted along the Suncook River near a boat ramp in Center Barnstead.

“What better way to spend a Friday night, honestly? It’s relaxing and it’s friendly and community based,” said LaValley.

For at least 10 summers, the Suncook Valley Friday Night Paddlers have been meeting at the end of the work week and getting out on the water. With a very mellow “just show up” mentality, the group of no-pressure kayakers and canoers of all ages leisurely paddle the Suncook River, lakes and ponds in Chichester, Epsom, Northwood, Pittsfield and Barnstead for an hour or so each week.

Sometimes the group is small and intimate. Other times 15 to 20 people fill the calm, flat waterways.

Some people find solace on the water while others enjoy good conversation, said long-time paddler Sandy Blanchard of Loudon who followed LaValley and Wareham down the river and said afterwards that the people in the group saw quite a bit of wildlife including a muskrat, great blue heron, kingfisher, painted turtle, and even a bobcat.

Organizer Paul Oman isn’t participating this year, but his website and reminder emails still alert paddlers to a chosen launch site each week, so numerous in this region that the club almost never hits the same site twice during a season.

“It’s pretty cool. You get to see the area,” said Wareham, of Manchester.

LaValley, who moved to Pittsfield from Concord two years ago, says she has learned about the local waterways through the informal club. Some locations paddlers have already been to this year include Brindle Pond, Northwood Lake, Jenness Pond and two different sections of the Suncook River.

The group always meets on Fridays, launching at 6 p.m. from the location listed at huffnpuff.info, and typically runs from June to August. Information about signing up for the email reminders is also on the website.