IF YOU WANT to experience the North Country, you may want to contact North Woods Rafting in Milan.
Located 10 minutes from the put-in point on the Androscoggin River, North Woods Rafting is owned by Mark Peabody and Kimberly Hockmeyer, who say whitewater rafting at Pontook Dam is their most popular adventure.
“This adventure is perfect for families, bachelor and bachelorette parties, groups, camps, couples, and anyone who wants to experience the thrill and excitement of whitewater rafting,” said Hockmeyer. “As we tell everybody, you will get wet.”
Regarding specifics, this trip takes people on a 2.5-mile section of whitewater.
“We run it twice for each trip,” she said. “We also feed people a great barbecue when they return to our base.”
North Woods Rafting also offers float trips on the upper Androscoggin River seven days a week.
“These can be guided or self-guided trips in our inflatable kayaks, known as duckies,” said Peabody. “Duckies are very stable, easy to swim off of, self bailing, and easy to maneuver through the quick water.”
He said wildlife is also abundant, which includes everything from turtles and waterfowl to eagles and osprey.
“Even bear, moose and deer have been seen swimming across the river on our trips,” he added. “Although the river parallels Route 16, it often times gets well away from the road and has the incredible wilderness feel to it.”
These 3.5-hour float trips end on “an exciting high note” at 7 Islands Bridge, which Peabody described as “deep and swift.”
North Woods Rafting also offers fishing tours on the upper Androscoggin.
“We have specially outfitted one of our rafts for fly fishing on the river with a more solid floor, similar to a paddleboard,” he said.
According to Peabody, the upper Androscoggin is “an unfound jewel of a New Hampshire fishery.”
“We have trout, landlocked salmon, bass,” he said. “The Connecticut River is also a great fishery, but come summer you will find the guides from the Pittsburg area over here, because this is where the fish are at.”
For those who would like to make this a multi-day adventure, Hockmeyer said she and Mark own nearby Mahoosuc Inn, a year-round, six-bedroom bed and breakfast.
“We offer adventures year round with 7 kilometers of groomed trails for horseback riding, walking, cross country skiing, snow shoeing and dog sledding,” she said. “Mahoosuc Inn also provides a great place for weddings.”
As for how they became involved in rafting, Peabody said it reflects a lifelong passion for both of them.
“Mahoosuc Inn was originally known as Outdoor People, which my family and I would stay at as an AMC group paddling the upper Androscoggin region,” he said. “I was raised on the river and always had canoes, kayaks, rubber rafts on the river — even before the days of the clean water act, which has dramatically cleaned up the river.”
Rafting has been part of Hockmeyer’s life for years, too.
“My family started the rafting industry in Maine with Northern Outdoors in the ‘70s,” she said. “I love rafting.”
For those maybe on the fence about rafting, Peabody said there is no better summertime activity.
“It is exciting, athletic, and who doesn’t want to get wet?” he laughed. “You have beautiful scenery, wildlife — especially osprey, eagles — fun guides, rush of whitewater ... This is a perfect introduction to fun adventures.”
To learn more about the outdoor adventures waiting for you and your friends, visit MahoosucOutdoors.com.