Paddle your Bike!

By John Little, Missisquoi River Basin Association

Wahoo! Two weeks ago, I got a chance to run the Trout River, and introduce a friend to his back yard river. Yesterday however was not a paddle in the sun, but an adventure in cross training and an opportunity to watch some wild life. I left my home in the high hills of Montgomery, just as the more or less dry atmosphere started into snow flurries. By the time I got to Davis Park in Richford, it was back to drizzle. I launched my boat with my bike in the middle. I threw my dry bag in the bow, and loaded the bow down further with rocks. I prefer to weigh the bow down rather than sit more amidships. The river was up high enough to spill over the top of the coffer dam below the falls, and I decided to run the slot and go around the left side of the island, rather than take the main channel. Immediately I flushed a pair of mallards, and two pairs of wood ducks.

By now you’re probably wondering why I’d throw the bike in the canoe. Well, there’s a wonderful technique for exploring parts of the Missisquoi River. The idea is very simple. Take your canoe down stream, and when you’ve covered enough distance, you pull out, turn over the canoe with your paddles tucked underneath, and hop on the bikes. The Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail parallels and periodically crosses the river conveniently between Sheldon and Richford. So, I pulled out at the East Berkshire bridge, and left my canoe on the grass at the back of Dick and Pam’s (a local gas station and convenient store with great sandwiches) parking lot. My pedal back to my truck was very enjoyable.  A stretch of open vistas, into a secluded section of woods, and then through the back of the Parson’s farm yard alive with dozens of new born lambs gamboling and bleating for mom. The farm is on the outskirts of Richford, and after a total of 25 easy minutes, I was back at my truck and headed back to my canoe. The wild life high lights of the trip were watching a mink dive repeatedly and eventually come up with a shiner to munch on, a Hooded Merganser, lots of Canadian Geese, and a Northern Harrier quartering a field beside the river.  Happy paddling, the season is begun, and the skis are hung up for the season.    – John

Kate can’t help but add: If you like this cool pedal – paddle idea, check out the Pedal-Paddle itinerary we’ve created for the the Northeast Kingdom.  So much fun to be had!

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