In early June of 2007, my friend and reenacting partner, Jim Poole, and I began our river journey by hiking to the headwaters (or 4th lake) of the CT River at the US/Canadian Border. We paddled briefly in the 2nd, 1st and Lake Francis lakes before putting in just below the Canaan Dam in an authentic birch bark canoe and outfitted in 18th clothing as well as equipment. Unfortunately we hit a rock at Bloomfield, VT (as a friend likes to say, “a river ran through it”) and had to postpone our trip for a year. We were extremely disappointed to say the least.
On June 1, 2008 we picked up where we left off at the site in Bloomfield, VT, but this time in a fiberglass canoe with more modern equipment and dress. The first part of our trip was rainy and cool. We enjoyed camping where we could as well as the quiet of the upper reaches of the river. At times we spied the daily lives of those who live on the river which broke up the monotony of paddling and the locals we met were friendly. Some of the portages were fairly easy and others a bit more difficult, but that was all part of the experience. We did appreciate the power company taking us around Holyoke, however, as trudging through the city wasn’t appealing.
As we got closer to home through Massachusetts and Connecticut, the sights became more familiar as well as an increase in the number of boats we encountered. Most days we averaged about 12-15 miles with the longest trip being 23 miles when we left our camp site above Hartford and ended at Hurd Park. From there the trip was busy with river traffic-speed boats, sailboats, jet skis, etc.. Maybe because we knew this was our last day on the river after 19 days in a canoe, it
seemed the most difficult part was the last stretch from Essex to the sound with a strong wind in our face and choppy water. We were glad to see our wives and a friend at the Great Island Landing in Old Lyme where we shared a bottle of champagne and relaxed on dry land. A great time all told and one that will be remembered always.