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Commodore ‘Just Around the Bend’

"I’m paddling away and paddling away, and I said, ‘How far is it?'"

Carla Hauser Hahn—then Carla Hauser—was a 26-year-old member of the National Park Service (NPS) in 1980, its first year of operation in the Upper Delaware area.

One day, while receiving training from the National Canoe Safety Patrol, her boss turned to her and said, “Carla, are you going on the river?”

“What I heard was, ‘Carla, you’re going on the river,’” Hauser Hahn, who still works for the NPS, recalls with a laugh. “So they put me on a canoe with a really great paddler, down by Skinners Falls, and I was hooked.”

That experience led Hauser Hahn to join the NCSP as a volunteer. Chris Nielsen was the commodore at the time, and would arrange for the young paddler to go on trips with his group.

“My first solo paddle was in a head wind in a rain that, when it hits you, feels like needles,” she said. The group put in at Balls Eddy, PA, and was en route to Hankins, NY. “I was determined I was going to make it, and I’m paddling away and paddling away, and I said, ‘How far is it?’ Chris said, ‘It’s just around the bend.’ I’m getting so tired and [I ask again] and Chris says, ‘It’s just around the bend,’ and they hand me a double-bladed paddle.” The cycle repeats a few more times, and each time, the destination, according to Nielsen, is “just around the bend.”

“I can see these guys laughing,” Hauser Hahn recalled. They were all clearly familiar with the commodore’s catch phrase. “I was with the NCSP five years, and Chris was my mentor, my guide… Commodore ‘Just Around the Bend.’” 

For the full story on Chris Nielsen's early recollections of canoeing on the Upper Delaware, click here.


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