Kayaker maps out journeys

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Kayaker maps out journeys

By Patricia Breakey
Delhi News Bureau

Dennis Squires knows the ins and outs of whitewater kayaking well.

So well, actually, that friends and even strangers call to ask him for advice on where to go and what to expect when they get there, according to his mother, Barbara Fairbairn.

About a year ago, Squires returned home to Margaretville, sat down at his mother’s computer and began recording everything he knows about the north-flowing rivers in New York.

“New York Exposed: The Whitewater State — Volume One” was published in October.

Squires, 44, said he has always loved the water. When he was younger, he said, he used to go fishing in rowboats. He canoed down the west branch of the Delaware River when he was a student at the State University College of Technology at Delhi.

He even competed in the General Clinton Canoe Regatta, but he didn’t fall in love with kayaking until 15 years ago.

“My brother and I decided to try whitewater in a canoe,” Squires said. “We really beat the canoe up, so we decided to try a kayak. It worked much better, and I was hooked.”

Squires said he has lived a nomadic lifestyle, wandering the United States and kayaking wherever the opportunity presented itself, but he always returned to the Adirondack and Catskill mountains to seek out the rushing water in the gorges. He has worked as a raft guide and as a safety boater, guiding others down the rivers.

“Kayaking is a good excuse to travel. I have been all over the country, to Idaho and California,” Squires said. “Probably the most spectacular place for kayaking is in the Canadian Rockies, but come springtime, I wanted to be in the Adirondacks. I knew the rivers there so well.”

Mike Feldman, Squires’ friend and fellow whitewater enthusiast, wrote in the introduction to the book, “This is the most comprehensive regional guidebook I’ve read, and, amazingly, Dennis has paddled virtually every run listed.”

Squires said he set out to write a guidebook that gave the reader insight into the secrets of the rivers, but he also wanted it to be a resource that offers information on where to find things such as food and campsites.

“Most guidebooks are a little too cold,” Squires said. “I wanted mine to have a lot of information, some stories about my experiences, both good and bad, and humor. I don’t even know when I actually decided to write the book, but once I started, the writing took over.”

Fairbairn said her son, who had no computer experience, had to master the machine before he could begin writing. She added that, at times, she thought he might be bald by the time he finished.

“He learned the computer the painful way, and was often ready to pull his hair out,” Fairbairn said. “You can’t imagine the number of times we had to resort to calling friends with computer know-how to help us figure out where his files had disappeared to.”

Squires said he initially planned to include all the rivers in New York in one book, but soon realized that the book would be too large and unwieldy to be convenient. He settled on putting the north-flowing rivers in the first volume and is working on a second volume outlining rivers that flow south.

The new guidebook debuted at the Moose Festival, a paddling festival in Old Forge, just two days after it arrived from the printer. Squires said he quickly sold 200 books and is still receiving requests for copies.


This article was originally published December 17, 2002 in The Daily Star

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