Paddling home

Eastman Brook wetlands, Underhill Campsite.
Eastman Brook wetlands, Underhill Campsite.

We are fortunate to live on the banks of Connecticut River, in Lyme NH.  Our kids grew up on these shores, swimming and boating in the summer and poking at the river’s icy crust in the winter.  So, three years ago I thought it would be interesting to visit the source of the river, and do a little paddling in its wild upper reaches.  We thus found ourselves walking along the Canadian Border in early September 2012, and visiting each of the Four Connecticut Lakes before paddling through the shallow swift waters near North Stratford NH.  This trip inspired us!  read on.

We enjoyed it so much that we returned in August 2013 to the spot where we left off, and continued downriver through the meandering river bends, ending at Gilman Dam.  In August 2014 we put in a mile downstream of the dam and spent another series of beautiful days on the river, enjoying numerous sightings of bald eagles and struggling over four portages before ending at Haverhill, NH.

With great anticipation, this year we returned to Haverhill and headed downstream.  The water here is slower, all part of the 20-mile lake formed by Wilder Dam.  With the experience of the past three years, the kids were old hands at paddling and the routines of canoe camping.  We enjoyed three days of beautiful sunny weather, many bird sightings, and the late summer wildflowers. See photos!

Underhill Campsite in the early morning fog.
Underhill Campsite in the early morning fog.

We stayed at Underhill Campsite and at Roaring Brook Campsite, both of which offered pleasant camping, shallow swimming, and nice views.  Underhill is next to the outlet of Eastman Brook, with extensive wetlands to explore and all the wildflowers and wading birds to enjoy.  We had lunch at a pleasant riverside rock on the first day, but on the second day we docked at a mysterious location just upstream of the Fairlee-Orford bridge and surprised the kids with lunch at the Fairlee Diner.

There was much excitement as we approached our home dock, about 200 miles from where we began three years earlier.

Home is in sight!
Home is in sight!

Not sure what’s on for next year. Maybe we’ll continue downriver, or maybe we’ll head back north to paddle some of the section leading from the lakes to North Stratford. Very pretty up there!

Our route:

Author: dfkotz

David Kotz is an outdoor enthusiast, traveller, husband, and father of three. He is also a Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.

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