Terrific And Unforgettable Time At The 2004 Gay Outdoors Gathering

By Mike Boisvert.

It's really quite amazing that people would travel great distances, and spend their valuable time and money to hang out with people they (in many cases) haven't even met. But Gay Outdoor Enthusiasts are such a cool and diverse group of people. I can't imagine associating with such a disparate group of people and being so at ease, and having such a good time, in any other circumstance. It was a really great bonding experience, and so much fun! We were happy to host the Gay Outdoors Gathering at the Barton Cove Campground in Greenfield, MA, for its second year.

Special thanks to my partner, Jon Normand who hosted this event with me and took over as Rafting Director. Thanks also goes to Tim Buchanan for being this year’s Registration Director. A big thanks goes to all the trip leaders who ran trips: Jonny Rosenfield, Pat Monihan, and Rich Dezso. Thanks to Carlos Davila and Aaron Horne for starting up the campfires at night; to Hy Ludmer and Brad Stowell for running a biking trip and cleaning up the campsite before leaving on Sunday morning; and to Rick Taft for helping us set-up Sunday’s potluck. It was a great success, lots of fun, and I'm looking forward to next year’s GO Gathering.


Registration. Nice to see Rick Taft, he totally rocks. He brought up some of his homebrew again to share with everyone. It was great to see Rick McCurdy, (who is not a big fan of water activities but makes it anyway); Dan Weiss (who's even more adorable than last year, if that's possible); Pat Monihan (our local representative) and other returnees (sorry, I'm bad with names).

It was a cool setup as it was right along the Connecticut River and private. People could go out for a night swim and then return back to the campfire. Very nice. A few people stayed up till 2:30 am.



I was not too hung over from the night before--but coffee was a nice pick-me-up. At 8:30 am all trip leaders gave an overview of the activities planned. Jon Normand gave an overview of what to expect for whitewater rafting at the Deerfield River. Mike Boisvert then described how wonderful the glacial potholes are for swimming at Shelburne Falls that was planned for late Saturday afternoon. Next up was Rich Dezso who was leading a trip to the gay nude swimming hole at Vermont’s Rock River and a kayak trip on Sunday morning. Then Jonny Rosenfield gave some good insight on the gay nude swimming hole in Cummington (short version: beautiful and not so cruisy). Hy Ludmer went over the road biking trip he was planning along the Connecticut River and I filled in for Pat Monihan and explained what to expect on the hike up Northfield Mountain.

For nine of us, whitewater rafting on the Deerfield River was next. I loved it--it was great to have some new folks joining us that normally wouldn't have done this—it was hot, hazy and humid. Perfect for whitewater rafting. There were plenty of hot young guys to check out and the guides were yummy. There were two rafts, six of us were together in one raft and three of us shared a raft with three other women (we swear that these women are lesbians wanna be’s…they just don’t know it). We had Wes as a guide for one raft and Claudia as the other. Ernie felt that Wes was the third cutest guide on the river with top honors going to Mike. We had to raft thru Class III rapids such as Factory (where we had to steer around pieces of an old factory that feel into the river) or Left Turn where we had to zig zag around many rocks. There was one rapid where a photographer was there to capture all the excitement from each raft. Our favorite was Dragon’s Tooth at Class IV, where powerful water forced us thru this narrow gorge with high waves splashing all around us. It was the weekend of the Deerfield River Festival where there was at least a hundred spectators lined up on both sides cheering us on.

After a barbecue lunch provided by our outfitter, Zoar Outdoor, we met up with a few more people at the glacial potholes in Shelburne Falls. These are some of the world’s largest potholes (one is 39 feet in diameter) where you can go swimming in. The largest pothole was fed by two cascades above it each with its own swirling pool of water. This natural made waterpark is very, very nice. One feature is watching the cute local boys making flying leaps off the rocky edges while we prayed that they landed in the right location.

Some folks stayed in town for dinner while others went back to the campground to grill some food. Chicken seemed to be the common theme.

Back at the campsite, the reports I received from the other groups indicated they had good trips. Folks loved Rock River even if it had a smaller group than usual (about 35) due to the overcast skies. There was some sexual activity going on in the woods, which is the norm here. Others enjoyed the hike up to Northfield Mountain with its view of the huge reservoir at the top. A few people went paddling down the Connecticut River. They were disappointed that there was not much of a current and small rapids to play with. By now, a nice breeze was happening and it was very pleasant all around.

We had a surprise guest, George, who stumbled onto our group, since he thought we were the "BiCampers." George waited until the last minute to register with this group so he missed the deadline and decided to search a bunch of campgrounds near the Cummington swimming hole hoping to find them. When he discovered that there was a group gathering being held at Barton Cove and saw rainbow flags, he thought he found them. He was a bit disappointed he was not with the right group but asked if he could pitch his tent and join us. Since he was so cute, it was hard to say no. He pitched his tent and hung out with us the rest of the night. As we got to know him better, we discovered that he was straight, recently divorced, who was looking for bisexual chicks so he could have a threesome with him and two women. Hmmmmm………

The campfire was lit again as we gazed at a blue moon reflecting off the Connecticut River.

Next up was outdoor trivia. Nobody is really good at this but it was fun trying to get the correct answers. Jon did a good job with the questions while competing with the sounds of fireworks being shot from a nearby town. Glenn Schellinger is this year’s champ and won a $25 gift certificate to REI.

Folks were exhausted from the activities, food, beer and being up late the night before so many people crashed early.


Next was the riverside luncheon potluck at the Riverview Pavillion at the Northfield Mountain facilities. Many people decided not to attend after enduring pounding rain overnight and waking up to soggy tents and gear. Overcast skies also did not make it that appealing. But a few optimists attended and were rewarded with clearing skies and sun in the afternoon. There were a very nice variety of grilled and cooked foods to choose from and the view of the Connecticut River from here is stunning. I skipped over the outdoor T-shirt swap since I felt there was not much interest only to later find out that there actually was. Sorry guys…I should have asked. We then held the drawing for the door prizes and these were the winners: $50 Gift Certificate to REI went to Greg Flynn, next year's GO Gathering and paddling trip is free to Richard Corzo, $25 Gift Certificate to REI went to Rick McCurdy, a weekend for two at the Gay Outdoors Adventure Center in Waterville Valley NH went to Jonny Rosenfield and the last $25 Gift Certificate went to Dominic Lampasi.

Most of us were up for a swim before the ride home and since it was so humid, it was very refreshing. After some good-byes, we began to pack up and head back home.

As mentioned, everyone was soooooo nice. Some were more shy than others, some weren't--hey Dan, how ya doin'?--but there was a really good mix of people. Jon can't be praised highly enough for doing a lion's share of the work. The Barton Cove Campground on a peninsula along the Connecticut River had plenty of room for all us, the food was plentiful at the potluck and yummy, and the activities fun and inclusive. Gay Outdoors RULES. A big *HUG* to all.

What a terrific and unforgettable time! Thanks, guys and gals. Jon and I enjoyed meeting, talking, hanging, and playing with you all.

See you in 2005.

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