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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.