Rowing disappointment

The beauty of sculling on the river.

Last summer when I moved to Switzerland I was, despite the excitement of the new adventures I’d encounter there, sad to be leaving New Hampshire during the prime season for rowing (sculling) on the river. So I was, this summer, looking forward to returning to the river to resume rowing in late July. The first few weeks were wonderful, as I slowly built up my strength and re-tuned my skills for rowing on the Connecticut River where it flows beside our home. It was not to last.

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River trip – to Massachusetts!

We have completed the entire journey of the river through New Hampshire and Vermont!

Pam and Mara on our annual canoe trip.For the past six years we have been canoeing sections of the Connecticut River from its source at the New Hampshire-Canada border toward its mouth on Long Island Sound.  Each year we pick up where we left off the previously – so this year we launched our canoes just below Bellows Falls, and paddled three days to the first take-out inside Massachusetts. As a result, we have completed the entire journey of the river through New Hampshire and Vermont!  We’ve been fortunate to follow the string of campsites organized by the Connecticut River Paddlers’ Trail and their excellent map.  This year we paddled through a beautiful section of river, with good weather, albeit with some strong headwinds. We passed the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant (now being decommissioned), and the city of Brattleboro, and portaged around Vernon Dam.  Continue reading “River trip – to Massachusetts!”

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.   Continue reading “Connecticut River canoe trip”

Clyming Lyme from bottom to top

I’ve lived in Lyme, NH for almost 20 years, very close to its lowest point along the Connecticut River.  I first climbed to the summit of Smarts Mountain, Lyme’s highest point, 35 years ago this fall. Now, when I row my shell up the river and past the mouth of Grant Brook, I can see Smarts in the distance, looking regal in its oversight of this wonderful town we call home.  I knew that Grant Brook’s source lay high on the slopes of Smarts Mountain, so it occurred to me: could I travel from Lyme’s lowest point to its highest point, completely off-road?  Yes! Read on, and check out the photos.

The mouth of Grant Brook, with its source, Smarts Mountain in view at rear.
The mouth of Grant Brook, with its source, Smarts Mountain, in view at rear.

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Connecticut River canoe trip

Four years ago the kids and I visited the Canadian Border at the northern tip of New Hampshire, where the Connecticut River is born.  We hopped through the four Connecticut Lakes and paddled for two days downriver.  Each year, since then, we’ve returned to our stopping point and continued to paddle homeward, eventually reaching home last August.  After that climactic moment, what can be done next?  We decided to keep going.

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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. Continue reading “Paddling home”

Connecticut River paddle

Passing the Vermont town of Barnet.
Passing the Vermont town of Barnet.

We just returned from our third annual Connecticut River canoe trip [photos].  Two years ago we began at the Canadian border, visiting the river’s headwaters and the four Connecticut lakes; we put in at North Stratford (skipping the lakes and 60 miles of the river’s life as a shallow stream), and paddled for two days.  Last year we put in where we left off, and paddled for four days, ending at the Gilman Dam.  This year we launched below the dam and paddled for four days to Bedell Bridge State Park. Next year we hope to reach home! The trip gets better every year, as the Connecticut River Paddlers’ Trail expands its network of campsites and published an outstanding new map. Read on!

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Eagle photos

Bald Eagle along the Connecticut River.No sign of “my” bald eagle on this morning’s row upriver.  Tonight I hopped in my kayak at sunset, armed with a tripod and my camera, and paddled downstream toward the site of last week’s amazing moonrise encounter with the eagle.  Within a few moments I could tell I was in luck: the eagle was clearly visible on the same tree.  The eagle watched me as I paddled around, seeking the best angle, shooting a hundred photos.  Gosh, this bird is big. When I came close, apparently too close, he became nervous and took off for a different roost.  In the photos (Smugmug gallery) I can tell that he (she?) is wearing a metal band on the right ankle.  I’ll try again in a few days, before sunset, when there is more light.

Sunrise: the eagle has landed

I rowed upriver in the chilly morning air, the river calm and sprinkled with the first fallen leaves of autumn. As I neared the Grant Brook confluence, where I usually turn around, the Vermont shore began to glow. After my long sweeping turn to point myself homeward, the sun completed its climb over Smarts Mountain in New Hampshire, momentarily blinding me. As I began to row, a solitary figure flapped its way in from the sunrise, following those first sunbeams as they reached the river. My friendly neighborhood bald eagle was back, swooping low over the water, skimming the spot where I had been thirty seconds earlier. He landed powerfully but only momentarily on shore; perhaps he caught his breakfast, as he immediately climbed again, circling over the river and landing in a solitary tree, soaking up the morning sun. 

See you again soon, I hope.

Rowing the Connecticut

Summer is a wonderful time on the river, in part because the lengthy days allow me ample time to get out rowing.  I like to row well before breakfast, because the river is as still as glass and there are rarely any other boats.  Today, three days after returning from our canoe trip on the upper reaches of the river, I was treated to an unusual abundance of bird life.

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