Bantam and Shepaug Rivers
by Bob Rancan
Saturday, April 5, 2014
About one percent of the HRCKC had a heckuva whitewater paddle on Saturday, April 5th. Finally a real Class II run, with snowmelt, thawing groundwater and rain all combining to fill the mighty Shepaug. All the usual rocks were covered and instead of struggling through the frequent shallow spots we found plenty of nice holes and good sized standing waves. Most downed trees were pushed to the bank and the few constricted spots did not cause much trouble. A dislodged hat was even found under an airbag at the end of the day. We paddled from the Rumsey School in Romford on the Bantam to the confluence with the Shepaug and then down to Steep Rock Reservation in Washington Depot, a distance of about 7 miles. The hope for nice spring weather was not to be as it was a bit cold and quite windy, but the strong, fast current kept us working and therefore warm.
Nature highlights: There were still juncos around in this late spring; phoebes were in and lots of breeding pairs of common mergansers were spotted. The most amazing sighting occurred on the shuttle upriver when a mature red tail hawk crossed the road in front of Mark’s truck carrying a freshly killed, full sized gray squirrel. The hawk struggled with the heavy load managing to only get a few feet off the ground. Mark braked and the hawk got under the opposite guardrail into a ravine and probable lunch spot. WOW!
Thank you, Mark Grossmann, Sumonnat Kongchatree and Ben Hershfield. Great day.