One Square Mile of Hope

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One Square Mile of Hope
For those of you in/near NY, anyone else doing this in September? We're going to pack up the canoes and take the kiddos camping at the DEC campground on Eighth Lake for that weekend. It's for a good cause and I thought it would be a neat experience. How many times does one get the opportunity to be part of a Guinness Word Record, right?
 
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Sorry to be negative on a good cause, but here are my thoughts...
They've been incredibly lucky to have pulled this off without incident in the past. That end of Fourth Lake is more often windy and rough than not. I simply can't imagine being in the middle of thousands of canoes and kayaks in such close contact on that lake, and the potential for disaster. It seems to me to be a dangerous and silly stunt. The SAR organization that I am part of will be manning safety motor boats around the perimeter, but I refuse to be part of the paddling mass.
 
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I appreciate your thoughts! I haven't paddled on Fourth before so I will definitely keep your warning in mind. I do wonder why they chose this spot if it's notoriously windy and rough. It's not like there are a lack of sites in the ADK.
 
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For the reasons above, I have refused to participate. The horror of a child falling overboard and being pinned under a boat long enough to drown because the other boats can't make a clear spot is something I never want to be part of.

For the same reason I avoid large crowds on Black Friday.
 
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Oh, that's simple, just wear dark shorts and pee in your pants, it'll eventually find its way to the bilge, and, with the prevalence of Kev inners, it won't show.

Agree totally with the Ys, P and C above. Pinning is an issue, and suppose someone in the middle has a heart attack, seizure. This stunt is not worth the safety risk. It's just 90 miles down the road, I won't be there.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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Go for it. It's a unique experience for a good cause. The nervous nellies will probably tell you it's too risky to go to Times Square on New Years Eve, and almost certain death to canoe alone or carry a heavy load on a steep portage trail. Besides, never trust anyone over 30.

Here's the Guinness world record Paddle at the Point in 2010 with an estimated 1800 kayaks and canoes.

 
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Don't put words into our mouths Glenn.. People do tip over even at the much more mundane and sparse gathering for the calendar picture at the WCHA Assembly. Its just something the OP ought to be aware of.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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Oh, I fully agree. No one should engage in an activity where they could "tip over", including the calendar picture at the WCHA Assembly. So also any paddling activity where one could "pin", such as canoeing on a river.

And the causal connection between "heart attacks and seizures" and paddle rafting is clear as a bell. If one is going to have a heart attack or seizure, it's much better to be paddling on a wilderness river or lake or driving a car.

As for "potential for disaster" and "dangerous", those scary opinion words would be more convincing if supported by empirical data. Are there any data of disasters occurring at paddle rafting events? It would be genuinely interesting to know. I suppose the organizers of and participants in these events don't think so.

The peeing issue is the biggest concern, in my opinion, and would certainly deter me from the event. But I'm way over 30 with a bad prostate and risk averse, so don't necessarily trust my perceptions.

Except: do wear PFD's and don't take any infants or toddlers or dogs in the boats.
 
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Go for it. It's a unique experience for a good cause. The nervous nellies will probably tell you it's too risky to go to Times Square on New Years Eve, and almost certain death to canoe alone or carry a heavy load on a steep portage trail. Besides, never trust anyone over 30.
Speak for yourself Glenn, do not speak for me. I regularly canoe alone, more often than not, and carry my canoe many miles into remote untrailed Adirondack ponds with multi-day heavy loads - solo. I've paddled 1000 miles on the Yukon River multiple times without incident, including through the same rapids on the same days that several fellow experienced paddlers capsized in the frigid waters. I'm way over 30, have regularly traveled wilderness backwoods and canoed alone all of my adult life, and I am not anywhere close to doing anything less.

A nervous nellie? Yeah, I am when a mix of a couple thousand very inexperienced kayakers jam themselves together in tight physical contact on the downwind end of a known rough lake with little hope of quick emergency extraction. But don't tell me I am afraid of doing risky things outdoors when I have at least some personal ability to exhibit control in the situation. As for Times Square, well you can have that one too.

I'll be with my SAR team with radios maintaining communication with the DEC and other safety providers watching the perimeter of the gaggle to lend whatever assistance we can for the fool-hardy. But I don't believe we can do much to very quickly aid the deep interior if someone in there panics. I will expect to see you there, right?
 

Glenn MacGrady

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Yknpdlr, I've done two things.

First, I haven't spoken for anyone. I've quoted you and them directly. And I haven't seen those quotes defended with facts.

Second, I'm a writer being ironic. I know very well what you and other experienced paddlers on this forum do for sport -- and you all know I know it. It's for that very reason that I find it ironic, if not oxymoronic, for wilderness risk takers to be so nervous nellie sounding about a simple group raft-up in a commonly paddled lake with SAR teams around and rescue possibilities in abundance.

My claim is that the activity that JustPaddle is proposing is less "dangerous" and has less "potential for disaster" than my daily solo (and alone at age 69) canoe outings on my local river and lake -- or, if I were allowed to speak for you, than yours.

Feel free back off the defensiveness and admit you were engaging in a bit of cautionary hyperbole. I like hyperbole and use it all the time, but that doesn't make it true.
 
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Glenn, rescue teams plan a long time ahead for every possibility. Yknpdlr and I are thinking not from a paddlers perspective ( and forgive me YP if that is incorrect) but from a rescue planning view.

While you did what you did for a long time, I also did my thing for a long time..and that was rescue and EMS. If we couldn't get to them we couldn't help. Not every event has ideal circumstances.However you try to plan for the most efficient method of help possible and make people aware of the risks peculiar to the event so that participants can be prepared. Being in the middle of the flotilla is no place to find out you left your epi pen or inhaler in the car.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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YC, I of course value and appreciate the experience of the posters and this board and have the greatest respect for people who have participated professionally or voluntarily in the medical, EMS and SAR communities.

I always try to read an OP carefully and put myself into the person's shoes. A small percentage of the time I will push back on some of the responses an OP is getting. Sometimes it's because I don't think the specific topic is being addressed. Other times I think the OP is getting an "agended" answer and that another perspective is needed. In this case I was concerned about the tone of the responses.

I don't know JustPaddle, but he started this thread to announce his enthusiasm for a camping and paddling event for himself and his family, what he felt would be a unique and "neat experience", and asked whether anyone else would be attending. In response, he got three senior members (who engage in all manner of true wilderness paddling risks) sort of telling him, in effect, that he is exposing himself and his children to "danger", "horror", potential "disaster", "pins" and medical emergencies. Now, I don't know how JustPaddle interpreted these responses, but if I were in his shoes, my feeling would have been that I was being called careless or negligent with my children's safety or a darn fool.

I'm sure no one meant it that way, but the words being used were overly aggressive, in my opinion. So I pushed back a little with my own rhetoric. I certainly agree with the sentiment that all the participants in the event should think about the risks and take reasonable precautions. I would hope the organizers would cancel it if the weather conditions are dangerous. That said, I think it should be a neat and memorable experience, and I would likely have taken my family to it when I had one.

No rhetoric: I have never and will never shop on Black Friday, go to Times Square on New Years Eve, or paddle the Yukon River.
 
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I'm sure no one meant it that way, but the words being used were overly aggressive, in my opinion. So I pushed back a little with my own rhetoric.

Glenn, you may have thought you were being ironic, and in retrospect I can see that. On first reading, though, you came across as sarcastic. There's a big difference: irony generally involves humor, while sarcasm is a form of verbal violence, though you, too, may not have meant it that way. I'm not poking at you, just sharing a neutral perspective.

Now here's a decidedly non-neutral perspective: There's no way on this earth I'd participate in a mass watersport event, for the same reasons the other "nervous nellies" have given. I've been on rivers with inexperienced paddlers (mostly kayakers) who couldn't recognize a hazard if it fell across the river. What happens is one boat gets cockeyed, another one gets caught up, and then there's a chain reaction. I'm just glad I've been behind the clusters that I've seen form on the upstream side of strainers and the downwind ends of lakes. It isn't pretty when you come around a bend and see half a dozen people standing in the river, some in contact with their boats, others not. It gives me shivers to think of that happening in deep water with a much larger group.

This seems a good time to point out that it's complacency that kills. The attitude of "It'll be OK" leads to mistakes, and when there's a risk of drowning, or freezing, or falling off a cliff, or getting caught in a snowstorm or avalanche, the too-common result is a lack of breathing, which is generally considered non-habit-forming (now that's irony).

I guess I've said enough, which is probably too much. Next post .....
 

Glenn MacGrady

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Glenn, you may have thought you were being ironic, and in retrospect I can see that. On first reading, though, you came across as sarcastic. There's a big difference: irony generally involves humor, while sarcasm is a form of verbal violence, though you, too, may not have meant it that way. I'm not poking at you, just sharing a neutral perspective.

Now here's a decidedly non-neutral perspective: There's no way on this earth I'd participate in a mass watersport event, for the same reasons the other "nervous nellies" have given. I've been on rivers with inexperienced paddlers (mostly kayakers) who couldn't recognize a hazard if it fell across the river. What happens is one boat gets cockeyed, another one gets caught up, and then there's a chain reaction. I'm just glad I've been behind the clusters that I've seen form on the upstream side of strainers and the downwind ends of lakes. It isn't pretty when you come around a bend and see half a dozen people standing in the river, some in contact with their boats, others not. It gives me shivers to think of that happening in deep water with a much larger group.

This seems a good time to point out that it's complacency that kills. The attitude of "It'll be OK" leads to mistakes, and when there's a risk of drowning, or freezing, or falling off a cliff, or getting caught in a snowstorm or avalanche, the too-common result is a lack of breathing, which is generally considered non-habit-forming (now that's irony).

I guess I've said enough, which is probably too much. Next post .....

Gavia, I appreciate your perspective on rhetoric. We all struggle with tone when using keyboards on the internet, and just about all of us who post a lot fail not infrequently.

Irony involves using words that mean the opposite of what one usually thinks. It can involve sarcasm, satire or parody. I called YC, Yukonpaddler and Charlie Wilson "nervous Nellies" because that's the opposite of what they are as paddlers. They are all confident wilderness and adventure paddlers of great experience, who take well-planned and well-calculated risks in canoes and kayaks. If one didn't know that, my irony surely backfires.

On substance, virtually your entire water risk paragraph involves river paddling in currents. The subject event is on a lake. In addition, no cliffs, snowstorms, avalanches or (in September) freezing are likely. Are you using irony, satire or hyperbole? Whichever, you're not really on point.

I agree with you that complacency can kill. I feel confident that JustPaddle will not be complacent.

Take a look at the picture album of the 2011 One Square Mile of Hope event. Does it appear dangerous?

And here's a video slide show:

 
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Well, not to quibble, but irony and sarcasm are lexically synonymous. (But I always thought irony was the juxtaposition of two otherwise unrelated ideas, which is the basis of all humor; guess I was wrong. How ironic.)

I did not intend either irony or sarcasm; I was writing straightforwardly and decidedly on point. I noticed you excluded the one example of lakes in my earlier post. That's disingenuous, and enough to make me not want to comment on, or perhaps even read, future posts from you.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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I was writing straightforwardly and decidedly on point.

With all due respect, neither you nor anyone else in this thread has made any convincing argument that this event, to be held near a shore of a commonly paddled Adirondack lake, presents any sort of danger beyond the intrinsic risks of paddling itself.

This site, for example, is devoted to canoe tripping in the wilderness, often alone and by older paddlers. There is an intrinsic risk level in that sport. Yet this site not only accepts that level of risk as a normal baseline, but encourages the activity. How is that logically consistent with discouraging participation a routine paddle gathering, surrounded by relative civilization, under carefully controlled safety conditions?

I have seen no factual presentations as to why this One Square Mile of Hope event presents a paddling risk that even approaches the normal paddling risk of the wilderness paddling activity that this site is dedicated to. I claim that participating in this group event -- with rescue boats all around, hundreds of fellow paddlers with cell phones and PLB's, and thousands of helping hands a few feet away -- is far safer than the average solo canoe trip that posters here enjoy and extoll.

My claim is, I believe, substantively supported by common sense logic, pictures, videos, and the absence of any reported problems in prior canoe gatherings. No facts to the contrary have been presented, and the few arguments to the contrary in this thread are off-point or grossly exaggerated. People who make controversial public claims should be prepared to defend them, with facts and logic, against counter-arguments on a discussion forum. That's not happening in this thread.

I have nothing further to add on this topic. Perhaps some lurkers were entertained, though the topic lacked the visceral excitement of the vigorous gun and bear arguments of yore. I appreciate PM's but more people should actually enter the discussion. Safety is important, but it should be measured out in proportion to the relative risks, not be dogmatic, and not paralyze us from engaging in the very sport we love.
 
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