First World GayOutdoors Gathering Was Amazing

By Mike Boisvert.

After lots of planning and registering folks, we arrived at Barton Cove Campground on Friday night, July 25. We chatted into the wee hours of the morning. Our campsite was secluded enough that we did not disturb our neighbors.

Saturday we awoke early. What a gorgeous day for whitewater rafting! Hot, sunny and dry.

Folks who did not raft with us explored the popular gay nudist swimming area in Rock River, VT; swam/sunbathe at the Glacial Potholes in Shelburne Falls, MA; went skinny-dipping at Bear Ass Beach in Greenfield, MA; and visited the historical homes in Deerfield, MA.

We found Zoar Outdoor without any problems. Our high adventure was to raft the Dryway section of the Deerfield River, rated Class III-IV. After our bus ride to the put-in spot, we met our guides (Justin, Jason, Mark and Sam...is that right?).

Eric and I took the front seats in our raft because we were courageous (Hah!). Actually we all took turns in the GOOD seats. I think our guide hit the biggest waves on purpose. We were commended for our ability to stick together and follow commands. What a blast we had!

Dodging huge sticky-uppy-things (rocks), going backwards in fast water, "surfing", and plowing through huge, splashing waves. A bit too much waiting at times and it extended the trip a bit. But we had fun.

We lost 3 people including myself in our raft, all on the left side, near the end of our trip at Labyrinth, the longest, most complex, and most interesting rapid on the river. 

We were trying to paddle to a new surfing area above Terminator Hole. We were commanded to back paddle. Our paddles on the left side of our raft hit "air" as we caught a wave that threw us off-balance.  It happened so fast. 

Eric, Ronnie and I found ourselves going towards the Terminator Hole; where the entire river drops into a large powerful hydraulic over a 4-foot ledge!

Eric and Ronnie surfaced but discovered they were under the raft. They both were smart enough not to panic, took another breath, and then surfaced on the outside of the raft. Eric was pulled into the raft but Ronnie and I were forced down Terminator Hole. The water was a wee bit more colder that I would like and I started to hyperventilate. The waves crashed over my head so I  submerged a couple of times. I swallowed some water; but not much. At the end of the hole we both swam to shore and dried off quickly. What a ride! Then the bus ride back to Zoar Outdoor, a slide show and BBQ, a group picture, and then a drive back to the our campground.

On the drive back, some folks went swimming at both the Glacial Potholes and Bear Ass Beach. Some found the showers at 25 cents wonderful with lots of hot water. We then drove to the Riverview Pavillion near Northfield Mountain that is alongside the Connecticut River for a great potluck dinner.

With the red sunset reflecting off the river and listening to 'reg-gay' sounds, we grilled marinated chicken (Jon, myself and bunch of folks), salmon (Charles), sausages (?) and asparagus (James). Side dishes of salads and pasta complimented the grilled food brought in by everyone. Rick brought 5 gallons of his delicious homemade beer. And a huge watermelon was offered for dessert.  Everyone did a great job bringing lots of food and making this a success!   

Back at the campsite, feeling warm and friendly, with pounding dance music in the background, Dale began to gyrate near the campfire trying to motivate us to dance. Ronnie offered to jump on the table and dance if we started to dance. We were all too chicken to dance. We'll have to change that around next year! We were never hassled for being noisy and a bunch of people partied again to the wee hours of morning.

Sunday morning we were focused on breaking camp. About ten of us decided to hike Northfield Mountain. It was a steady, relentless climb for 1.5 miles. When we reached the top, we saw the huge reservoir. It was very hazy with lots of humidity so we did not get much views of the surrounding peaks. I made a wrong turn somewhere on the way back and we found ourselves inside the fence that said "No Trespassing." After some scouting we discovered that we were actually outside the fence and found a trail that led us back to our cars.

We took a dip in the Connecticut River alongside the Riverview Pavillion where we had our potluck the night before. Really refreshing and perfect for the ride home!   

Thanks to all for making the first GO Gathering so great! We will be having this again next year. Perhaps one on the East Coast and another on the West Coast for the same weekend!

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