Hackensack River Canoe & Kayak Club

paddling for over a third of a century

Farmington River
Hogback Road, Riverton to Satan's Kingdom, New Hartford, CT
by Bob Rancan

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Over the years, many people have asked me "what happens if it rains?" The answer is, "you get wet." Without any rain, as happened this March and into April, you often have to stay home. These rocky rivers need the water. So like everything else this Spring, the Farmington hadn't been running too well until recently. The people who release water from Hogback Dam to move it down to the state capitol in Hartford have kept the flow steady, just above the recommended paddling minimum but I've found over the years that minimum is not realistic if you want to keep your boat in some kind of decent shape. The real key is how much water the flow of the Still River adds to the total and that reacts almost instantly to rain. And finally, as the end of May approached, we had some good amounts of rainfall. There were some heavy thunderstorms in the days after Memorial Day and more on Friday night, June 1. Unfortunately, it continued well into our Saturday morning drive and although light, it kept coming down through lunchtime. The Still was contributing just over 100cfs to the 290cfs or so coming down from Hogback Dam for most of the week and that amount kept dropping slowly. Then came the Friday night front and by late morning 220 cfs brought the total for most of our trip up to 538. Plus, as it was still raining, it kept rising throughout the day. As we neared the end of the journey, readings of 251cfs (Still) and 569cfs total made it quite nice; a good, rapid run. And of course, a beautiful day with friends on the Wild and Scenic River.

Seven of us made the trip: Henry Degenhardt made his usual journey across many rivers to be there from Queens but the distance prize went to Chris Meyers, who left the banks of the Delaware, crossed the Raritan, Passaic, Hackensack, mighty Hudson, Saw Mill, Housatonic and lots of others to join us. Thanks also to Mark Grossmann, Ben Hershfield, Ralph Dalo, Rocco Lovascio and our Connecticut hosts, Matt McCay and Sharon Abramczak. As always, Matt took almost all the photos while standing up poling (or snubbing) the canoe down the river.

Lastly, I can't close without the birding report: Lots and lots of catbirds, grackles, yellow warblers (seen and heard), several phoebes, a kingbird, mallards and common mergansers, several females with their broods in tow (one with at least a dozen ducklings), an osprey, red tail hawk and of course Great Blue Herons and Belted Kingfishers. My highlight was a small bird being chased by a female American Redstart, probably away from her nest.