One look and anyone can attest that I do not have the best legs — and, of course, that is true for most older gentlemen — but my legs now appear they have been in a fight with an angry feline and, needless to say, my legs lost.

My legs have more scratches and cuts on them then a cat’s scratching post thanks to my poor decision making when heading off April 7 to cover the 39th annual Passagassawakeag River Race in Waldo County.

I had covered the St. George River Race for many of its 33 years the week before in the Searsmont and Appleton areas and that even always is an easy gig of shooting paddlers coming down near the Robbins Mill Bridge. Every year, I simply park my car on the side of the road near the bridge, walk down the bank to the river, find a good angle to snap photos and wait for the canoeists and kayakers to work their way through.

It is like shooting fish in a barrel, or, in this case, shooting paddlers in the river.

So, certainly taking photos at the “Passy” could not be much different, could it? So, my plan was to simply park my car, walk down the bank, stand on the side of the river and wait for the racers. Well, that is not exactly how it went.

I found my way down the Poors Mill Road to the bridge that covers the river. That was the easy part. Well, I decided I did not like the vantage point from the bridge, so I opted to take a trek through the woods, looking for the path of least resistance.

That sounds like a good plan if one does not do something stupid and decide to wear shorts on an early spring day. But this fool did not listen to his inner voice and sported shorts on that day.

That was my first bad decision of the day because bare legs and thorn bushes and sharp fallen branches sticking out of the ground do not, I have discovered, mix. And the cuts on my legs can attest to that.

But, not to be denied, I simply bulled my way through the thorns and tree branches (winching each step of the way as a new cut appeared) to find the best vantage point on the side of the river. With camera in hand and camera bag over my shoulder, I worked my way through the woods and down a slope, only to slip and fall on my butt and slide down to the river. Luckily, I never made it into the water (that would have been an expensive mistake with thousands of dollars of camera equipment in my hands).

Finally, I picked myself up and found a spot to take photos, but I quickly began to sink deeply in the mud next to the river. To get myself unstuck, I grabbed a branch and proceeded to slice my finger. As my legs began to sting from all the cuts I had suffered earlier in my journey, my finger also began to bleed uncontrollably. So, as the paddlers worked their way by my position on the side of the river, I continuously had to wipe the blood from my finger onto my shorts (those dreaded shorts) to avoid getting the red stuff all over my camera. It was a battle I was having trouble winning.

After I began seeing paddlers make their way back up the river and past my position, I decided it was time to leave the area. The only problem was I had to climb back up the steep incline I had fallen down earlier. After several tries, which including my camera around my neck and camera back over my shoulder, I managed to climb out.

But then I had to make a rush through the gauntlet of thorns that cut me to shreds on the way into the woods. Once again, I lost the battle with the bushes and trees and emerged from the thicket covered with mud and blood.

Ultimately, I ended up more battered and bruised then the paddlers I was photographing. Now, I wonder if worker’s compensation covers leg trauma from a battle with the woods — that I definitely lost?

Courier Publications Sports Director Ken Waltz can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at