The Struggle Is Real / by Coltin Calloway


After our beautiful day with the kids of Richford, we encountered a night full of heavy rain. The Missisquoi River grew higher and swifter. Being 5 miles from the Canadian border, the crew had no choice but to portage. Knowing we wanted to paddle into Canada, we decided to camp a mile away from the border in hopes the water level would lower. Luckily come morning, we were able to fight the upstream water into Canada we were welcomed by friendly faces at the border.

To our favor, the Missisquoi river became calmer and deeper, allowing for a more enjoyable paddle! Our paddling did not last for long, as we were faced with the Grand Portage. The Grand Portage is a 5.7 mile portage that gains 540 ft in elevation and descended 780 ft. The views of the portage were incredible, passing through farm land and Mount Owl Head.

At the end out the Grand Portage we were hot, sweaty and a little delirious. We were able to cure this with a refreshing and rejuvenating snorkel in Lake Memphremagog. As we paddled across this clear, breathtaking lake we were greeted by a playful group of otters enjoying their dinner time. This was our last memory of Canada as we paddled back into America.

We then reached the lovely town of Newport and were faced with the another upstream battle of the Clyde River.  The Clyde River entailed shallow water, rapids and beaver dams. Our shinning light on the Clyde was an amazing lean to, Alex’s Place, and homemade ice cream at the NFCT farm stand. We then paddled the Fen, which was a beautiful navigational challenge. 

After the Clyde, we came to the quaint town of Island Pond. From here we encountered even tougher upstream paddling as we entered the Nulhegan River. We battled intense curves, indestructible beaver dams and hungry leaches. We were forced to portage around some heavy rapids but found comfort in a NFCT hut

We then finally made it to the Connecticut River, our first down stream paddle in weeks. Boy, we did enjoy it! We left Vermont but were embraced with revealing views of the mountains of New Hampshire. As we now sit in the town of Groveton, New Hampshire, we are faced with more upstream paddling in a shallow rocky river. All we keep saying to ourselves is, “Maine is just around the corner.”