aka the Connecticut
One of the most present features of living in the Upper Valley, indeed much of New England, is the Connecticut River. It acts as a natural border between Vermont and New Hampshire, and extends all the way to the Long Island Sound, passing through Massachusetts and Connecticut in addition to our familiar states.
A favorite “road” trip of mine is to get into our trusty, old canoe, at any number of boat landings in the Upper Valley. The one closest to my home is in North Thetford, where you can still see the old pilings as twin statues, representing the former bridge that connected North Thetford, VT and Lyme, NH. Less than ten minutes from our home, this spot is not only an easy in and out for boats, but also provides a fishing platform, and steps for folks who just want to plunge into the river on a hot day. It is my dog’s number one choice on a hot day, especially if it also involves a drive north to Whippi Dip for his favorite treat, a hot dog.
Paddling, or motoring on the Connecticut gives you a real perspective on the wildlife, terrain and history of this great waterway. For many years, this river was the main artery for providing wood from the northern woodlands to the factories and ports to the south. If you ever want to see a depiction of the men who logged and drove these felled trees down south, watch Where the River’s Flow North, the lovely film directed by Jay Craven, based on the late Howard Frank Mosher’s book. As you can see, this shows what was happening in the exact spot that I and many others now boat in.
This past Sunday we put in the river on the New Hampshire side. Just before the Pasture’s campground heading north on route ten, we pulled into the Orford boat landing, one of my favorites. If you head against the current, north, you are soon under the Fairlee/Orford Bridge, which includes some graffiti underneath. This section of the river, much like Bradford VT, is more dramatic, with the mountains almost rising up in front of you. If you are lucky, you may see a Peregrine Falcon or Bald Eagle, regular visitors to this stretch of the river.
Don’t have a boat? There are places you can rent one. Fairlee Marine will rent out boats, and if you have a large group I highly recommend renting a Pontoon. They will bring the Pontoon boat to the Orford landing, give you some instructions and send you on your way. They will then meet you and assist you when you return. If you live closer to Hanover, the Ledyard Canoe Club has kayaks, canoe’s and paddle boards to rent. And, they also handle reservations for camping at Titcomb Cabin on Gilman Island.
The Connecticut River Conservancy is celebrating its 65th year and has many fun events through all the states. There is an opportunity to participate in a splash mob to honor the Source to Sea activities. And if you are looking for maps or other helpful information, another great resource is the Connecticut River Joint Commission. Did you know that large tracts of the Connecticut River are part of the Silvio Conte National Wildlife Refuge? And, part of this refuge comprises some of the trails at the Montshire Museum.
So go ahead, be adventurous. Get out on one of the most current “roads” in our area. Swim, fish, boat or hike, this river has much to share, even a dinosaur if you know where to look.