Connecticut River canoe trip

Our annual canoe trip on the Connecticut River – this year, we reach Bellows Falls.

Pam and Andy on our CT River paddle trip.Every year we paddle a little further down the Connecticut River.  Five years ago we started at its source, on the border with Canada, and two years ago we reached our home in Lyme NH.  Not satisfied, we decided to keep going!  This year we paddled from Wilgus State Park (near Ascutney, VT) to Bellows Falls VT.  Although a short trip – two short days with a beautiful sunny Saturday in the middle – it was a lovely trip.  We camped riverside the first night, arriving after sunset and “making do” with a less-than-ideal location.  The second night we stayed at Lower Meadows campsite, a pretty location on a spit next to Meary’s Cove and the lake formed by the dam at Bellows Falls.  

A re-enactor shows us the typical 'kit' for a frontier beaver hunter.On Saturday we stopped at The Fort at Number 4, in Charlestown, a recreation of the frontier village and fort built in the middle of the 18th century to support the northwestern-most British settlement.  As it happens, they were hosting a special encampment of re-enactors that weekend, so we were able to learn about the skills used by frontiersmen who hunted beaver and other game.

A beaver rests in a niche of the riverbank along the Connecticut River.Beaver?  indeed, we saw many beaver along our route, especially on the first day.  We passed a couple who were resting in niches of the sandy bank, each of which slipped into the river as we passed, slapping their tails in alarm as we left.  Overnight at the first camp, I heard more beaver-tail slaps in the middle of the night, followed by the sound of a mid-sized tree crashing to the ground.  Those nocturnal beavers were busy!

Ken and Karen and Eli joined us on Saturday, paddling from the Fort to Bellows Falls.  The water was smooth, the wind was light, and the sun was bright.  A glorious day to be on the water!   A bald eagle swooped by to check us out.

Sunday morning we awoke to rain, as expected.  We took advantage of a brief break in the rain to pack up and head out, but the rain resumed as we paddled the final mile to Bellows Falls.  A bald eagle – the same? – swooped overhead through the light rain as we approached the boat ramp.  We’ve been lucky to see one every year!

We closed out the trip with a fine breakfast at the Miss Bellows Falls diner, a warm and inviting spot for breakfast on a rainy Sunday.

Check out the photos.   Next year: onward from Bellows Falls.

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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