UPTON — Aldro French peels off his shirt and saunters toward the edge of the aptly named Rapid River.
Kicking off his giant-sized, baby blue Crocs, he stands shin-deep in the water.
“I haven’t done this all summer,” says French with a slight grin, just before shallow-diving into the current.
French takes a few long, Australian-crawl swim strokes, pulling his head up once to look at the churning rapid below. He gives one strong scissors-kick, sliding head-first into the full force of the river’s current, arms forward, belly down like an otter.
French is barely visible as he shoots through the boiling turbulence and into a pool of slower-moving water below. He comes up slicking his silver hair back with his hand and smiling as he breast-strokes slowly to the side of the pool and the rock ledge leading to it.
A pair of helmeted and life-jacketed kayakers, who were playing in the whitewater, sit in their boats, nose clips on, watching. They shrug at each other as if to say, “What was that?”
French, 68, has lived on the Rapid River for 52 years. The waterway is literally in his backyard, and each bend and rapid are as familiar to him as an old friend’s face. He is the curator and caretaker of Forest Lodge. The lodge was the home of author Louise Dickinson Rich and the inspiration for her novel “We Took to the Woods.”
On the National Register of Historic Places, it is one of dozens of sites along the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
Click on the link for the rest of this story by Scott Thistle in the Lewiston Sun Journal.