There was a little wet snow falling over the Rangeley Region last Saturday morning, April 20, but that wasn’t going to stop the best steep creek kayak race in Maine, at Smalls Falls, in Township E, just north of Madrid. Last year’s race had been cancelled because of an insurance situation. But this year it was back! Sponsored by the Great Falls Foundation and Maine Whitewater Championship, there were two races instead of the usual one.

The first race was on Chandler Mill Stream, which flows into the Sandy River only a few yards past Smalls Falls. There were 19 participants: 15 men and 4 women. Each kayaker took two runs, and the competition was fierce, with a tie for first place (52.3 seconds). The second-place time was 53.2 seconds — a tight race, for sure.

The second race, of course, was the headline event, down the six precipitous drops of Smalls Falls. This time there were 15 participants: 14 men and one woman. Again, each competitor took two runs, with the best time of the two as the one that would count. The first-place time was 33.58 seconds; second place was 33.59 seconds — another very tight race!

The winning records are all well and good, but most of us were there simply for the spring thrill of watching each kayaker navigate the steep drops. The photos will tell you a bit of that story. If you’ve never seen the Smalls to the Wall event, it’s a sure cure for the cabin fever blues of a long Maine winter.

The watchers are gathering. Wess Connally

Kayak parking lot. Wess Connally

Lining up. Wess Connally

Off and running! Wess Connally

In the slipstream. Wess Connally

The bottom drops out! Wess Connally

Nose Dive!

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