The best time to row is early in the morning when the water is quiet and the only people on the river are morning fishermen and crabbers.
When I go there now, two or three times every week, I walk to the end of one road and trudge up a broken old
woods road into the state forest.
The first thing that hit me was the
smell—a damp, woodsy, uplifting
aroma that can only be described
as the scent of Christmas. After
several hours in the stale air of my
car, the pungent aroma of balsam
fir was invigorating
Everyone has a favorite place in nature. Ours is a rocky outcrop rising 300 feet above our village on the Connecticut River. Native Americans called these ledges above the stream valley Tomheganompakut, meaning “at the Tomahawk Rocks.” The hard, granitic schist was the source of their stone axes, or “Tomhegan.”
The Connecticut River meanders for almost 200 miles from north to south along the entire border between Vermont and New Hampshire. It’s a gentle river, beloved by paddlers of all abilities for its unspoiled shoreline, abundant wildlife, and ample public access points.
There’s good reason that magazines such as Outside and National Geographic have repeatedly recognized Northampton, Massachusetts, and the small communities surrounding it, as one of the best places in America for outdoor activities. The three counties hugging the banks of the Connecticut River in Western Massachusetts boast easy access to dozens of state forests and parks, a national scenic trail, dramatic views and, of course, the ever-present river, threading through the center of the Valley.
Can you take me fishing?” If you are a parent who fishes, that request from your child may prompt the proverbial happy dance. Most anglers pray that their kids will follow in their waders. However, if you can’t tell an improved clinch knot from a Windsor, or a yellow perch from a bullhead, you probably would rather be asked where babies originate.
When I was nineteen, I moved from Texas to Massachusetts to attend Hampshire College. I had lived my whole life up to that point in a hot, flat landscape, so when I moved North, I wanted to get to know the landscape as intimately as I could.
There is perhaps no better way to enjoy the outdoors—particularly the parts of it inaccessible by roads—than by canoeing or kayaking our rivers and creeks.
The first time I fished the Scantic River with my father, a great blue heron soared directly toward us through a gauntlet of sycamores, only yards away, his wingtips stretched seemingly from bank to bank. I can’t even remember how many fish I caught that day, but since then this small tributary of the Connecticut River has become my seventy-year-old father’s favorite stream.
A dreamed of trip becomes a reality— paddling down our Connecticut River
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