On the Connecticut River

Come paddle with us!!!!

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~ Day-paddling opportunities with the River of Life Pilgrimage ~

June 4, 2017
10-mile paddle from Canaan, VT to Colebrook, NH

June 19, 2017
12-mile paddle from White River Junction, VT to Windsor, VT

June 22, 2017
9-mile paddle from Springfield, VT to Bellows Falls, VT

July 1, 2017
10-mile paddle from Holyoke, MA to Springfield, MA

July 3, 2017
9-mile paddle from Springfield, MA to Enfield, CT

July 4, 2017
16-mile paddle from Enfield, CT to Hartford, CT

July 5, 2017
16.5-mile paddle from Hartford, CT to Middletown, CT

July 8, 2017
9.5-mile paddle from East Haddam, CT to Essex, CT

~

Click each week in the list below for full details.

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Our journey begins quietly, with a handful of pilgrims hiking into the remote headwaters of the Connecticut (Fourth Connecticut Lake) along the New Hampshire-Canada border. We will hike alongside the River where it is too shallow to paddle, and put in boats to paddle on the Connecticut Lakes and Lake Francis. Then, we put in our canoes and kayaks in Canaan, VT, for a week of paddling through agricultural valleys and beautiful northern forestland.

This most remote section includes numerous rapids (all safe for open boats) and we will be camping at river-access only sites. As we paddle with New Hampshire to one side and Vermont to the other, we’ll establish our daily rhythms of prayer, paddling, and camp craft that will guide us through the rest of the Pilgrimage. We finish by crossing Moore Reservoir, New Hampshire’s largest undeveloped lake. This section is recommended for paddlers with some whitewater experience.

Our spiritual emphasis at the beginning of this section is God’s call into the wilderness – for Jesus in the desert, for Abraham to leave his father’s house and journey to an unknown land, and for us. How are we called to enter into the wild unknown? What does it mean to seek God in wild places, and to let the wildness of God call us and change us?

Our spiritual theme for the remainder of this section is the River of Divine Grace. We will practice praying with the element of water, and meditate on the parallels between the flow of God’s grace and the flow of springs, streams and rivers. How can we learn to move in harmony with the flow of God’s presence in every day, and every moment?

 

SEGMENT #1 (MAY 31 – JUNE 3): Fourth Connecticut Lake to Canaan, VT

  • Hiking to the headwaters of the Connecticut River at Fourth Connecticut Lake for the start of the Pilgrimage [*passport required due to entering Canada]
  • Possible hiking along the Cohos Trail where it borders the Connecticut River
  • Possible paddle on Third or First Connecticut Lakes and/or Lake Francis
  • If you’re interested in this most remote section, please reach out to us to talk about options: river@kairosearth.org

JUNE 4: 10 mile day-long paddle from Canaan, VT, to Colebrook, NH – visit our Events page for more details

JUNE 4: Land-based event(s) in Colebrook, NH – visit our Events page for more details.

SEGMENT #2a (JUNE 4 – JUNE 8): Canaan, VT to Lancaster, NH

  • Put-in location = Canaan access point
  • Pull-out location = Riverside Campground
  • Mileage = 60 miles in 5 days
  • Longest days = 16.5 miles with 0 portages; 11 miles with 1 portage
  • Portages = 1 + a breached dam
  • Difficulty = Class I-III rapids
  • Camping = 4 nights (river-access only)
  • Indoor accommodations = 0 nights
  • Participation limit = 10 adults ≥ age 18
  • Event(s) during this section = TBA

SEGMENT #2b (JUNE 9 – JUNE 10): Lancaster, NH to Littleton, NH

  • Put-in location = Canaan access point
  • Pull-out location = Moore Dam Boat Launch
  • Mileage = 22 miles in 2 days
  • Longest days = 11 miles with 0 portages; 11 miles with 1 portage
  • Portages = 1
  • Difficulty = Class I-III rapids
  • Camping = 2 nights (river-access only)
  • Indoor accommodations = 0 nights
  • Participation limit = 10 adults ≥ age 18
  • Event(s) during this section = TBA

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Our journey continues from the southern side of Moore Reservoir, across Comerford Reservoir and down river through a mix of quick water and meandering oxbow lakes in the small agricultural towns of the Upper Connecticut River Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire. We will again be camping along the banks of the river throughout the week, and will settle into the quiet rhythm of pilgrimage as we pass river islands and prime habitat for ducks, blue herons, and bald eagles. Pilgrims on this section should be comfortable paddling and camping for a week, but do not need extensive whitewater experience.

This week’s spiritual focus is Baptism and being immersed in the life of God. ‘To baptize’ literally means ‘to immerse’ – what does it take to fully immerse ourselves in God, in every moment? We’ll work with the river itself to practice body prayers related to immersion, and also meditate on the image of baptism as ritual death of the old self and rebirth into new life.

 

SEGMENT #3 (JUNE 12 – JUNE 17): Littleton, NH to Hanover, NH

  • Put-in location = Waterford Bridge Boat Launch
  • Pull-out location = Ledyard Canoe Club
  • Mileage = 69 miles in 6 days
  • Longest days = 13.5 miles with 0 portages; 15 miles with 2 portages
  • Portages = 3
  • Difficulty = Class I rapids with a few short tricky sections
  • Camping = 5 nights (river-access only)
  • Indoor accommodations = 0 nights
  • Participation limit = 10 adults ≥ age 18
  • Event(s) during this section = TBA

JUNE 17 & 18: Land-based event(s) near Hanover, NH/White River Juction, VT – visit our Events page for more details

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This section begins at the great confluence of the White and Connecticut Rivers, an important trade junction for Native Americans, and later for the railroads that were built along both river valleys. We’ll paddle underneath the Cornish-Windsor Bridge, the largest covered bridge in the United States.

We’ll be paddling the Vermont-New Hampshire divide the length of this section, passing through a mix of forest and rolling fields. Finally, we paddle through southern Vermont and New Hampshire, encountering floodplain silver maple forests and wetland meadows along with rich agricultural fields. We paddle past the historic Fort at Number 4 in Charlestown, NH, originally constructed in 1745 as the northernmost English settlement in the region. As we continue down river, we’ll pass ancient Native fishing sites at Bellows Falls and early industrial era development in Brattleboro. The river is again gentle and easy to navigate in this section.

Our spiritual center this week will be exploring a new way of relating with Creation. We will reflect on the limitations of perceiving nature as object, and the ways in which we can begin to perceive the natural world as a community of life that shares our Divine Source. We’ll aim to enter into a relationship of reverence and mutuality with the river and all creatures.

 

SEGMENT #4 (JUNE 19 – JUNE 21): White River Junction, VT to Springfield, VT

  • Put-in location = Lyman Point Park
  • Pull-out location = Hoyt’s Landing
  • Mileage = 32 miles in 3 days
  • Longest day = 12 miles with 1 portage
  • Portages = 1
  • Difficulty = flat to quick water
  • Camping = 2 nights (river-access only)
  • Indoor accommodations = 0 nights
  • Participation limit = 10 adults ≥ age 18
  • Event(s) during this section = celebration at RM#205 (the 1/2-way point of the Connecticut River); possible visit to The Fort at No. 4 in Springfield on either 6/20 or 6/21

SEGMENT #5 (JUNE 22 – JUNE 24): Springfield, VT to Brattleboro, VT

  • Put-in location = Hoyt’s Landing
  • Pull-out location = Retreat Meadows
  • Mileage = 34 miles in 3 days
  • Longest day = 15 miles with 0 portages
  • Portages = 0
  • Difficulty = quick water to Class I
  • Camping = 1 night (river-access only)
  • Indoor accommodations = 1 night
  • Participation limit = 10 adults ≥ age 18

JUNE 24 & 25: Land-based event(s) near Brattleboro, VT – visit our Events page for more details

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Our journey downriver in this section begins as we paddle past the now deactivated Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, and shortly thereafter we say goodbye to Vermont and New Hampshire and enter Massachusetts. We pass through the dramatic French King Gorge at the heart of the 250-million year old geological fault that first created the Connecticut River. Although we’ll portage around 40-foot high Turners Falls, it’s an otherwise easily managed paddle through flat water and quick water for the first part of this week.

In the latter part of the week, we’ll paddle through the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts, crossing between Mount Tom and Mount Holyoke, where the River has cut a channel through the ancient, volcanic Metacomet Range. The rich farmland of this region was home to a large Native American population, and was settled by the English in the mid-17th century. In addition to an abundance of local history, we will pass through a mix of forest, farmland, and the bustling towns of the region. Paddling is again straightforward, and we’ll likely see a significant number of other boaters in this stretch.

This week our spiritual emphasis will be the beginning of spiritual transformation, symbolized by the springs of living water, which break forth in the heart of those who trust in God. How can we listen to this new, divine life within us, and learn to find our nourishment from this limitless source? What does it mean to let go of older, finite sources of nourishment to be fed directly from the divine wellspring?

 

SEGMENT #6 (JUNE 26 – JUNE 28): Brattleboro, VT to Turners Falls, MA

  • Put-in location = Retreat Meadows
  • Pull-out location = Barton Cove Campground
  • Mileage = 32 miles in 3 days
  • Longest day = 14.5 miles with 1 portage
  • Portages = 1
  • Difficulty = flat to quick water
  • Camping = 2 nights (river-access only)
  • Indoor accommodations = 1 night
  • Participation limit = 10 adults ≥ age 18
  • Event(s) during this section = TBA

SEGMENT #7 (JUNE 29 – JULY 1): Turners Falls, MA to Springfield, MA

  • Put-in location = Poplar Street access
  • Pull-out location = North Riverfront Park
  • Mileage = 44.5 miles in 3 days
  • Longest day = 23 miles with 0 portages
  • Portages = 0
  • Difficulty = flat water
  • Camping = 1 night (river-access only)
  • Indoor accommodations = 1 night
  • Participation limit = 10 adults ≥ age 18
  • Event(s) during this section = TBA

JULY 1 & 2: Land-based event(s) near Springfield, MA – visit our Events page for more details

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As we cross from Massachusetts into Connecticut, we’ll also paddle down river through the largest cities on the Connecticut River– Springfield, MA, plus Hartford and Middletown, CT. We’ll experience the unique perspective of paddling from forest and farmland into, through, and out of these major population centers. Paddling is easy, with little current, though the width of the river this far along will keep us from wandering from one side to the other. We’ll be paddling flat water as we pass by beautiful islands and under historic bridges in this section.

We’ll begin to see the effects of the ocean tides, as the river rises and lowers up to two feet in this section with the changing tides. As we depart Middletown, the Connecticut turns to the southeast. Through this section, we will paddle along with the outgoing tide to ensure ease of passage as we navigate the transition from freshwater into the saltwater tidal marshes at the mouth of the river. The Tidelands have been marked by the Nature Conservancy as one of the ‘Last Great Places’ on earth, and we’ll take some time to explore and celebrate the beauty of the fresh and brackish tidal wetlands as we pass through this unique region on the way to our destination and pilgrimage-concluding celebration in Essex, Connecticut. While there will be no rapids to contend with, on this wide section we may face winds and larger boats traversing the river.

Following our major celebration in Essex, CT, a smaller group of experienced paddlers will complete the final six miles of our journey, finishing with a dramatic entry into Long Island Sound where the Connecticut River enters the ocean. We’ll base the timing of this final stretch around the tides, and depending on the weather we may experience dramatic waves as we definitively move from river to ocean.

Our final week brings with it a spiritual focus on transformation and resurrection. The ultimate aim of faith is participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, and our pilgrimage brings us naturally to this ultimate act of self-emptying. As the Connecticut empties itself out into the sea, we aim to empty ourselves into the eternal mystery of God renewing all things.

 

SEGMENT #8 (JULY 3 – JULY 5): Springfield, MA to Middletown, CT

  • Put-in location = North Riverfront Park
  • Pull-out location = Harbor Park
  • Mileage = 41.5 miles in 3 days
  • Longest day = 18.5 miles with 0 portages
  • Portages = 0
  • Difficulty = flat water
  • Camping = 0 nights
  • Indoor accommodations = 2 nights
  • Participation limit = unlimited
  • Event(s) during this section = TBA

SEGMENT #9 (JULY 6 – JULY 8): Middletown, CT to Essex, CT

  • Put-in location = Harbor Park
  • Pull-out location = Essex Town Dock
  • Mileage = 24.5 miles in 3 days
  • Longest day = 9.5 miles with 0 portages
  • Portages = 0
  • Difficulty = flat water with tidal effects
  • Camping = 1 night (river-access only)
  • Indoor accommodations = 1 night
  • Participation limit = 10 adults ≥ age 18
  • Event(s) during this section = Pilgrimage concluding celebration on July 8th!

JULY 8: Land-based event(s) near Essex, CT, to celebrate the conclusion of the Pilgrimage – visit our Events page for more details

SEGMENT #10 (JULY 9): Essex, CT to Long Island Sound

  • Put-in location = Essex Park
  • Pull-out location = TBD near Old Saybrook
  • Mileage = 6 miles in 1 day
  • Longest day = 6 miles with 0 portages
  • Portages = 0
  • Difficulty = flat water with tidal effects and possible high waves in open water
  • Participation limit = experienced paddlers only due to tidal effects, current, and waves

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For application information and to submit an on-line application, click here.

 

For a sample daily schedule of paddling with the River of Life Pilgrimage, click here.

 

Keep scrolling for a brief overview of the spiritual themes, by week, for the Pilgrimage:

WEEK #1a: Fourth Connecticut Lake to Canaan, VT
Spiritual Theme: The Call to the Wilderness
Key Scripture Passages: Call of Abraham (Genesis 12), Jesus in the Wilderness (Matthew 4 and parallels)

WEEK #1b: Canaan, VT to Littleton, NH
Spiritual Theme: Water, Grace, and the River of God
Key Scripture Passage: The Wonderful Stream (Ezekiel 47)

WEEK #2: Littleton, NH to Hanover, NH
Spiritual Theme: Baptism and Immersion in God
Key Scripture Passages: The Baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3 and parallels), Passage Through the Sea (Exodus 14)

WEEK #3: Hanover, NH to Brattleboro, VT
Spiritual Theme: A New Relationship with Creation
Key Scripture Passages: Jesus Calms the Storm (Mark 4 and parallels), Jesus Walks on Water (Mark 6 and parallels)

Week #4: Brattleboro, VT to Springfield, MA
Spiritual Theme: Drinking From Our Divine Source
Key Scripture Passage: Streams of Living Water (John 4)

Week #5: Springfield, MA to Long Island Sound
Spiritual Theme: Transformation and Resurrection
Key Scriptural Passages: The Wedding Feast of Cana (John 2), The New Heavens and New Earth (Revelation 21), The Resurrection (John 20 and parallels)

 

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