paddling on the Connecticut River

“What need of details? Miles in a voyage are of no more a count than years in a life: they may be filled with a common place. Men live by events and so they paddle.” Quote found in “Canoeing circa 1888” from Athletics and Manly Sports by John Boyle O’Reilly found in Titcomb Cabin.

A cold and heavy downpour begins to fall on us as we approach Hanover, N.H. The rain is exciting at first as we face off against Mother Nature, but the novelty of paddling through the rain quickly wears off. I now understand why we haven’t seen any other canoers.

Rain aside, I’ve been looking forward to arriving at Hanover from Day 1. I’ve been traveling here since I was a kid to hike on the Appalachian Trail, which runs through town or to visit friends and watch frisbee games at Dartmouth. In addition to the history, I’m really excited to stay at Titcomb Cabin on Gilman Island, operated by the Ledyard Canoe Club at Dartmouth College. Titcomb is available to all paddlers as long as you call ahead and make a reservation with the Ledyard Canoe Club. The original Titcomb Cabin was built to replace two cabins that were flooded after the construction of Wilder Dam downstream, but burned down in 2009 and was rebuilt in 2011.

The Ledyard Canoe Club is named for John Ledyard, a Dartmouth student in the late 18th century, who cut down a pine tree near campus in 1773, built a dugout canoe, and paddled down the Connecticut River to Long Island Sound. Ledyard never returned to campus, but did continue his adventures, sailing the world with Captain Cook. Maybe I’ll follow in his footsteps and never return home.

After checking in at the cabin, we paddle to town and eat a filling dinner with my parents at the Canoe Club in Hanover.

The cabin is a fantastic place to dry out and warm up and feels very sturdy and comforting after 5 nights in a tent. We build a small fire and stay up late reading old entries in the log book and “Canoeing Circa 1888”, an article by John Boyle O’Reilly on canoeing the length of the Connecticut. O’Reilly had a very different journey down the river, hunting wild bird for food, leaving his tent at home (though he warns others not to follow in his footsteps), and feasting with farmers who lived along the river. I am happy to find the article and love being connected to this rich history of trips down the Connecticut.

Dispatch One of paddling in New England.
Dispatch Two of paddling in New England. 
Dispatch Four of paddling in New England.