Thursday, May 23, 2024


I put in at Indian Well, one of two possible starts for this section of the Housatonic. Downstream is a the 1870 Shelton Dam, and upstream is the Stevenson Dam, completed in 1919. The reservoir is quite small by modern standards and runs a current which can be quite noticeable during high water although today it is pretty much nonexistent.

It is cloudy, with a very light wind and a temperature around 70F. The weather report has a chance of thunderstorms and there has already been a couple of light sprinkles that did not last long. I head upstream with a plan of going dam to dam, taking in the entire section of the river.

About 30 minutes out, it begins to rain hard enough that I dig out the rain gear that lives in the bottom of my pack. It rarely sees the light of day. After a few minutes, it is raining enough to be called a hard rain. I don't mind and in fact I enjoy rain paddling, up to the point where electricity comes into play. Much of this trip is in between high ridges, but as I approach one of the open areas, I hear a couple of distant thunders. I decide to head back where I have a bit more shelter. The rain increases and there is more thunder, so I land on a small beach. There is 200 feet of forested ridge above me, so I feel reasonably protected. I bail some water out of the canoe and then roll it over, as otherwise, I will have to bail it again when the storm passes. I stand on the beach and watch it rain. It dumps like crazy for about 10 minutes - all that is missing is hail. We get some excellent rolling thunder. Rolling thunder is common here. It will start far off to one side and the rumble will travel across the sky to the other side. It is easy to see where the old folktale of elves bowling in the sky came from.

All in all, it makes for a surprisingly good canoe trip.

I'm onshore for 45 minutes before the thunder moves off. As I continue, the rain stops and the river becomes glassy smooth.

The last mile before the Stevenson Dam can have a stiff current when they spill water out of the next reservoir. I'm curious to see what the river is doing with the recent heavy rain. I pass the shelf without any trouble (this is a shore to shore shallow shelf where the current gets accelerated, enough so that at times it is impassable in an upstream direction). Just as the dam comes into view, there are three horn blasts, no doubt signaling the release of water. Sure enough, one of the gates has been opened and a good dump of water is starting. With that, this is a good point to turn back.



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