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CT RVR portion of NFCT

Thursday Aug 17, 2006
Participants:
Kayak: Steve & Jim Garanin
Organizer: Steve Garanin
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium

Section 4: Bloomfield, VT to Maidstone Bridge Drove to Maidstone State Park in just over 3 hours. Actually made good time as there was little traffic and the roads were dry. We arrived around 9:30 am. We checked in and dropped our camping equipment off at the lean-to we will be using for the next 3 nights. We changed into our paddling gear and headed out. The beginning of the first section, 4, was only about 9 miles from our campsite so it didn't take long to get there. I dropped Jim off at the Bloomfield/North Stratford put in at the mouth of the Nulhegan River on the CT Rvr at 10:44 am. Dropped truck at the Maidstone Bridge and biked back.

The first 2 or 3miles of the CT are very quick to Class I. Nothing very tough, but a nice way to get back in the seeing the water and paddling mode. Neither of us have an opportunity to do other than flat water, so we need to get the rhythm back for this kind of paddling. (Tomorrow we will have quick class I and class II.)

Lots of islands, 6 - 10, until we reached the bendy part of the river. We tried to take the shortest way for this was often the fastest water. One stretch, Horse race, was class I and very wooded and pleasant.

As we worked our way down, we saw the 100 foot esker cliff on the VT side. Quite different from anything we have seen on the CT. Just before it was the Brunswick Springs Brook. Small but pretty with the smell of sulfur in the air. About 5 miles farther down river we passed Paul Stream. This is the outlet stream for Maidstone Lake, where we are staying at the state park. We saw several Kingfishers, lots of crows, a few ducks and mergansers and many small song birds.

At one point, I saw an otter scramble up the bank and disappear into the grass. This is the first one we have seen on the CT, though we suspect there are many more.

Where the river opens up and does lots of bends, the banks are lower. Once again, the ubiquitous corn is growing right up to the rivers edge. I would guess that the CT Valley grows more corn that many Midwestern states. We have seen it from Northfield, Ma north to Canaan, VT, some 200 miles.

Approximately 2 miles from the MS bridge, we found an Osprey nest with both parents and most likely, though we could not see them, youngsters. They both flew around as we moved by, obviously upset with our passage.

We also found several places where the former bed of Glacial lake Hitchcock was exposed. The blue-grey clay being laid down in very neat layers ranging from a millimeter to a couple of centimeters. One area had lots of wood sticking out of it. I managed to pluck out a small piece of a branch from approximately 20 feet below the preset day field surface. I will try to preserve it and send it to Ed Klekowski for identification and dating.

All in all a good warm-up paddle to get the muscles back in shape. Paddling time: 2:26:11 hours 11.28 miles. Bike: 33:20 min, 9.5 miles, 17.2 MPH Ave.

Section 5: Maidstone Bridge to Guidhall, VT.

On the water by 8:20 am. This was not a particularly easy put in. The rocks run don to the river, but with no clear path and a bit of current it makes for a bit of adventure. Once in the yaks everything was fine. We missed most of the fog and as a consequence, had plenty of sun for the entire section.

After looking at 4 different maps, I came to the conclusion that no one knows howlong this section actually is in miles. I found everthing ranging from 10 to 13 miles. If I was to put a number on it, I wouild say 11 to 12 miles. I will do a map mileage check to get as close as possible for the record.

As we pulled up to the bridge we saw two beautiful red doe in the farm's field. We took this to be a good omen. I also had seen a Great Horned Owl on the ride back. There were more Canada Geese than we had seen anywhere else on the river. At least two flocks of 30-40 on different stretches of the river. We also spotted a muskrat crossing the river just as the 7 or 8 loops started. The river wends it's way back and forth across the valley for the next couple of miles.

This was our single longest paddle in terms of time and, most likely distance. Given the flat water nature of the river we were on at this point, it was a relatively slow section.

As we got to, what has now proven to be approximately the 9 mile mark, the river became a "t". we both thought that this was a bit, no, quite strange. After a minute or two of hesitation, we decided to go right, as that is the apparent direction of the minuscule current.

One of the more unusual aspects of this section of the Connecticut River is the multiple opportunities for Vermonter's to see the sun set on New Hampshire. We noted it in several places because the shoreline appeared to change from VT to NH and back with the same side of the kayak never changing. An odd feeling, but kind of interesting in an Escher kind of way.

After e completed this section, we wondered why we did not see the Upper Ammonoosic entering the CT Rvr. Upon checking the detailed maps, we determined that the "t" was where that particular river entered the CT. Given the lack of significant water and the fact that it looked like an oxbow cutoff, we suspect that there will be many paddlers whom will miss it. How a through-paddler, from Old Forge east bound, would fair is beyond me. There was a serious lack of water during Memorial Day and even less now. If not portaging, then you would be doing a significant amount of lining. Even with a light kayak, it would be unpleasant at best.

One other item of note for this section was an island about ¼ mile downriver from the mouth of the Upper Ammonoosic. Jim stayed to the right of the island in the main part of the river. I decided to venture to the left side. While a bit shallow and gravelly, it was a small diversion which proved to be worthwhile. Just before the end of the island, I put up a couple of Bald Eagles, one an adult and the other a fledged juvenile. We had not seen any eagles prior to this point, and had earlier in the day remarked on that fact. (We also saw a first and only, Great Blue Heron as well as a cormorant.)

It may have earned me a new Indian name - Two Eagles. I think I like that a lot!

The Wyoming Dam came up short after that, approximately 1.5 miles later. We were able to pull out just before the current became overwhelming and pulled us over the dam. There are steps going up the bank and along a residential fence. We portaged over the road and down the other side to a broad sandy beach looking out on the dam.

From where we stood, it looks eminently runnable. At least during times of high water, there appears to be enough water to cushion the kayak from the rocks. However everything I read said to say out of the water at this point. I presume that there are sharp and large items in the water which prevent an easy and more importantly safe passage. It would be great if they could get in here with a crane or dynamite to open the channel up and allow for paddling over the site.

Paddling: 2:53:25 hours 11.19 miles

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