Over three days last weekend, 9 intrepid volunteers traveled in 4 canoes and 1 kayak over 72 miles via an historic Native American water route connecting Massachusetts Bay and Narragansett Bay along the North and Taunton Rivers. This biennial event draws attention to how we are all connected by water and helps to raise more than $30,000 in funds to keep our waters clean and healthy for everyone. This year’s group of 9 had some veterans including Peter Kelly-Detwiler, Cabby Tennis, Clay Tennis, Caleb Estabrooks, Brian Taylor, Sloane Graff and Nick Lefferts, and new paddlers Jake Buckley and Andrew Gadbois. 

When asked why anyone would want to do this paddle, Sloane Graff responded, “NSRWA actions model for all of us the stewardship, generosity and long term view that simply put make us better citizens.”

Cabby Tennis commented, “As a member of the biennial Schwack (short for “Heinous Bushwhack”) team, aka the “72 miles? Are you nuts!? Club” it has been a privilege to paddle three days through thick and thin (mostly thick) and experience these life filled and life giving watersheds. We encountered myriad wonders, among them swans minding their enormous eggs, osprey feeding young, a beaver slide behind its dam, and a tiny fawn jump and swim the river to join its mother. Remarkable joys. Thank you members for all that you do. And thank you Peter and Julie Kelly-Detwiler for being the eye of this wonderful three day storm and NSRWA HQ for the amazing support.

Caleb Estabrooks who is an NSRWA board member said of his experience upon completing it, “I just never wanted to get off the river.”

And Brian Taylor said “I participated in the Wampanoag Canoe Challenge because of the adventure and historical significance. I lead many canoe and kayak trips for the NSRWA. I feel the rivers and the watersheds have taught me so much the past few years. I especially enjoy sharing the experience of these waters with others. Yet even as a leader of many trips, I am just a guest in these special places. I paddled this route to learn and experience the journey the native Wampanoag people did for thousands of years before me. Through this adventure, I hope to share with others a sense of appreciation and respect of those who once called these rivers their home.

Peter Kelly-Detwiler observed, “This is my tenth time on this trip, twice as a Boy Scout in the 70’s with ScoutMaster Tom Clark, who ‘rediscovered’ the route, and eight times with the support of the NSRWA. It’s always a strenuous voyage, while marvelous to be out amidst nature even as we paddle through a relatively densely populated region. The swamps and downed trees are a challenge, the fellowship and camaraderie is always remarkable, and the trip never gets old.”

All proceeds support NSRWA’s work for clean waters and healthy rivers! Thank you for caring about our waters and for making a difference locally, right here in the places we love.

Click here to see photos from their send off.

Click here to see more photos from the paddle.