Family Paddling at the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge

On a morning that found me leaving my house at 5am and climbing over the pass at Jay Peak in strong winds and lightening it did not feel good for the first annual Family Paddle Day at the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge.  We along with our partners for the event did say, “rain or shine” but this was troubling.  So with coffee in hand I arrived at Mac’s Bend in the refuge to set up for what we hoped would be a great day of introducing new paddlers to the sport and a gentle section of the Trail on the Missisquoi.

At about 9am just when the day was to begin and as if on cue, the sun came out, the wind died down a bit and people started arriving!

family paddling day_2015_web1Five families, from towns and villages along the river came out to learn a new skill, build confidence and spend some quality time with the kids on the water.  From Richford to Swanton, it was clear that people want to paddle!  A free lunch waited for us back at the refuge headquarters, (as well as really cool displays on the region’s wildlife and more) and we hit the water after a talk about safety, and some basic paddling do’s and don’ts.  What great fun to see families paddling together for the very first time!  While the kids showed no fear, the parents slowly got into the groove and soon enough paddlers were changing bow and stern position and having a great time.  To keep things lively we did “rescue” Elliot and Alex our two Northern Forest Explorers interns and showed how easy it is to rescue a capsized boat and paddlers.  It was also nice to know that they were the only two to get wet that morning.

family paddling day_2015 _webAll in all it was a great morning of paddling (seeing a Black Tern flying upriver), making new friends and showing how easy a day on the Trail can be.

Big thanks to our partners the US Fish & Wildlife Service, Friends of the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge, and Montgomery Adventures.  The morning was part of our series of summertime events celebrating the Missisquoi, its people and their river.  LL Bean was on hand as well as part of the summer series and in continued support of our work on the Missisquoi.