Last year we attended the Housatonic Valley Association Benefit Auction and witnessed a gymnasium full of passionate people raise thousands of dollars for the HVA – aiding the continuation of its important work; protecting land and water throughout the 83 towns in the tri-state Housatonic River Valley. The HVA also provides education and training programs to our schools and community on conservation awareness. And, among the countless other things the HVA does, they produce this awesome Paddling Guide to the Housatonic River.
We were honored to be invited to experience a paddle trip adventure organized by the HVA. The Source-to-Sound 10-day paddle trip is led by 3 expert canoe guides. The 149 mile stretch from Muddy Pond, MA, to Shelton, CT, is split into 26 sections with different difficulty rankings, from beginner to expert. No, we did not do the 10-day excursion (though some we met did) – just section Q – beginner; a 4.2 mile stretch from Kent School to Bulls Bridge, Kent. Having paddled part of this section many times, I could reassure Lora that no, she would not capsize, and no, she would definitely not lose her camera over the side [Lora’s note: I did believe Bev, however I brought my little back up camera instead of the 5D Mark II – a girl’s gotta be safe!].
It’s one thing to drive alongside the Housatonic river on Route 7, winding its way through Litchfield County; it’s quite something else to get in a canoe and row down it with a group led by HVA river experts. What an experience. Lora and I got our own expert each, and though we tried to pull our weight as far as rowing, there was a fair bit of picture taking and note writing to be done. You understand.
We’ll share a few things we learned along the way, and some we grabbed off their website 🙂
After enjoying a generous lunch on the side of the river at the Kent School, it was time to gear up, go over some safety bits, and hit the river.
Funnily enough, we each thought to take a selfie with our new friends, Dennis Regan, and Tim Abbott.
The Housatonic River Valley is home for 200 threatened or endangered plants and animals and to more than 650,000 people!
A paddling we go, past the imposing Kent School.
The first settlers, the Mohican Indians, named the river “usi-a-di-enuk,” meaning “beyond the mountain place.”
I was rowing very steadily right up until this point.
And so was Lora…
The HVA monitors water quality of the Housatonic River (which is polluted, like more than 1/2 of the rivers in the US). The water quality has improved dramatically, however, since the 1972 Clean Water Acts. Today the Housatonic River is a nationally ranked fishing, boating, and hiking destination.
The HVA uses computer mapping to help towns measure the impact and benefits of land use and development.
They add sections to the Housatonic RiverBelt Greenway linking preserved land space along the river corridor with hiking and biking trails,
and, work to combat climate change by promoting low impact development.
Although we didn’t see one on this trip (we did see an awesome blue heron swooping just above us) bald eagles are often spotted along the river. Once federally listed as endangered, they were removed from this list in 2007. In CT, they are listed as threatened.
Time to get out and canoe portage 😪
Native Brook trout only survive in the coldest and cleanest of water and often act as the “canary in the coal mine” signaling a healthy river or potential water quality problems.
Everyone is all smiles – we SURVIVED the most gentle, peaceful, lovely row, down our beautiful Housatonic River.
We portaged those canoes all the way to the truck (which is why this post is getting listed under FITNESS) so yes, I did deserve to blow the whistle! Which was given to us btw, as part of the river safety code.
Yes, Lora, we carried 2 canoes.
A big thanks to our canoe guides Dennis and Tim and to the HVA for all the work they do!
Housatonic Valley Association
Pics: Lora Words: Bev