02 May Maine Guide: Todd Penobscotman Mercer
Name: Todd Mercer
Hometown: Grew up in Bucksport but now reside in Poland Springs, where the water comes from.
Age of First Rafting Trip: I hadn’t ever been in a raft until my first day of training, I was 23.
Year you started guiding at Northern Outdoors: 1994
What type of guiding do you do? Whitewater Rafting, Hiking
What do you enjoy most about working at Northern Outdoors?
You don’t work at Northern Outdoors, you become part of the Northern family. Working here means you’ve got your head on a swivel, looking out for your family all the time. We come together to celebrate each others success and we rally together when a family member needs help. Sometimes rather they want it or not. I’ve been there, knee deep in trouble on the river and all I have to do is make eye contact and I know everything is going to be all right. It’s the same off the river, if I’m in a tough spot, I know they are going to be there for me no matter what.
What is your favorite river to guide, and your favorite rapid on that river?
I'm a child of the Penobscot. I grew up in Bucksport Maine, watching the Penobscot River drain into the ocean. As a child my father brought me on fishing trips to places like Saboomook and Caucomgomoc in the upper reaches of the West Branch of the Penobscot River drainage basin and I watched the river pour from the spillway of Roll Dam and explode into a rainbow filled curtain of mist. The feel of the earth shaking in response to the power of the raging current was exciting in a way I'll always remember.
I feel the same mix of fear and exhilaration every time I stand in the canyon behind McKay Station feeling 3,200cfs of river pass under me, knowing that in a few moments there will be a pass fail exam at the school of Exterminator. Just thinking about it my heart races with adrenaline and my eyes well up with the yearning to feel that one more time…
Nesowadnehunk Falls is my favorite rapid on the river. It's a unique place where my kids can jump into a rapid and I feel safe about it. If you are interested in feeling the power, the fury and the beauty of moving water, this is an incredible place to immerse yourself.
What’s your classic Northern Outdoors memory?
Ask me on the raft, some things shouldn't be put to writing. Nice people might read this.
Where do you adventure when you are not working?
I adventure in Maine. Chasing my children, fishing, hunting and paddling around our state. The further from cell phone reception the better.
What do you do in the off-season when you’re not guiding for Northern Outdoors?
I teach at Gray New Gloucester High School, watch carnage videos, kayak videos, read about how to fish nymphs, shovel snow and count the days until I can return to the river.
Tell us about any certifications, special talents, guide awards.
I don't like to brag, but I was voted "Best Legs" by the bar crowd one night. I won a Jager t-shirt, size small which I wore the rest of the night. It looked like a tube top on me, really sexy.
What rivers have you run outside of Maine?
I've kayaked in the surf at Ormond Beach in Florida because my wife made me leave Maine, but really, I haven't completed all the things I want to do here so why travel so far. The adventure is right out my back door.
Todd talks about our Katahdin Adventure Base Camp on the Penobscot River: