For Leg 2 of the Connecticut River Expedition, my friend Mike N. and I wanted to paddle from the Maidstone Bridge (way the heck up there) to Littleton, a distance of about 43 miles over three days and two nights. The plan was to go up to Brighton State Park up in Island Pond, VT on Thursday night, June 30, hike the next day, and start paddling on July 2, 2022.
There were so many logistical questions to answer, from where to rent a canoe to where to stay. We thought of everything, except how we would get a ride back from the car spot at the end of the paddle.
“No problem!” I thought, how hard could getting a ride be?
I posted on Views from the Top, and got a shuttle suggestion. I called the gent, he was too far south.
I texted an ex-girlfriend who lives in N. Woodstock and knows a million retirees. She reached out to seven, no luck.
I called the Littleton Public Library, thinking someone there might know a teenager or a retired person. No luck, but they did give me the number of a hiker shuttle.
I called said hiker shuttle. No reply.
I called a taxi service in Littleton. No reply.
I called another woman who does shuttling. She wanted half up front on a credit card, half in cash, and if we didn’t have cash, it was an extra 10%. Plus, she charged 50 cents for every minute if we were late. She asked for $160. Thank you, but no thanks.
I this point I went onto the Littleton Buying and Selling Facebook Group. Two dudes replied, but when I reached out to them, one said he learned he was busy, and the other never got back to me.
We passed a fishing guide service while heading up to Mt. Magaloway. Left a message, asking if he knew someone who could give us a lift. No reply.
Went to an outing store in Colebrook, NH. The saleswoman had no idea, but said we should go next door to a foofy gift shop. “The owner knows everyone in town,” she said.
The owner told us to give her a few to think about it. A jar of maple syrup and chocolate and cranberry cookie later, she gives us a number for a boat rental place down the road. “Tell them I sent you,” she said.
We drove there. Boats and paddles out front, with a sign that said, “Leave $75 in the bin for a half day.” No joke. We called. They never got back to us.
It got to the point where it was about 4pm the night before we were supposed to start paddling, and we still didn’t have a lift from the end to the start point. I suggested we just drive down the route and stop at every store along the way.
We came upon a general store right next to our start point, and we saw a gent in his 60s walking towards an old truck, early 1980s, maybe late 1970s. It looked newly painted; it literally glowed. I told Mike, “This guy needs money! He’ll give us a ride.” I went over and explained our situation, said we would pay generously, and asked if he knew someone around who could give us a lift the next morning.
He kind of sighed and said we looked in a bad way, and that he would do it. I thanked him, and we agreed to meet at the store the next day at 7:30. After dropping off the boat at the start, we drove down. No truck the next day, just a Nissan something. On the drive back up, I asked the gent if he was retired. He said he had retired three times, and was in semi-retirement. He owned an engineering firm that was removing three dams from the Connecticut River, and we had a fascinating conversation about how much trouble the communities that rely on the Colorado River are about to face.
Yes, the gent I thought was poor was possibly the wealthiest person in Coos County! Super nice man.
Wouldn’t take anything for driving us close to 90 miles, so I’m making a donation to the Connecticut River Conservancy in his honor.
Point being, we go out on adventures to experience Mother Nature, but in truth, the most interesting encounters are often still with the humans we meet.