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May 2016 trail and river update

Hi – I walked from Kent to Cornwall yesterday on the AT, an easy hike of about 8 miles.  The trail is in great shape, with freshly painted blazes.  Thanks CT AMC !  The streams and waterfalls flowing down to the Hoosie are magnificent.  You can put your tired feet in the water for ten minutes, and you’re ready to go again.

Remember the fire danger is high – no open fires are allowed.  During the past month, we have had two major brush fires in Kent.   They were caused by campers who had their small campfires get away from them due to wind gusts.   Each fire needed about one hundred firefighters (I was one of them) to put them out.

The Stewart Hollow shelter on the AT is in good shape, and the few campsites there, and further north at Stony Brook, haven’t even been used yet.

The Hoosie is full up, with clear water – the kayakers are having a ball, but thin wetsuit is a good idea in case of a spill.  Most all the rocks are covered by water.

The Rooster Tail Inn is out of business.  The Hopkins Inn vineyards are sprouting – the bicycler’s are out in force on the state roads, but the best routes seem to be empty.

Next month, our Northwest Rope Rescue Team will be at the St. John’s Ledges (on the AT, just west of where it runs into River Road in North Kent.

Some of the best swimming in mid summer will be South Gate, Stone Church, and Falls Village lower falls.  (The upper ones are dangerous and I don’t take groups there).  For small kids, the State Park at Lake Waramaug has a decent beach and calm water.  The park, along with the State Parks north of Cornwall Bridge are underutilized for camping.   The bridge over the Hoosie at Falls Village next to the hydro plant  has been installed and now we can cross there.

The fly fishermen are out in force, a few of them have found the best “local” “secret” spots, but not all of them.  Think “rock-rock-rock-bucket” for the best chances.   If you are interested in a dory or raft float for fishing, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with Guide Greg.

The golfing is terrific at Canaan Country Club – they had a tournament last Saturday, and the they did a great job grooming the course – it’s in the best shape I’ve seen it in 8 years.   The greens fees with a cart are less than 50 bucks.  It’s a wide, forgiving course.  For a challenge, try Hotchkiss School’s course – bring a lot of extra golf balls, as you will need them.

One of the best kept secrets are the free concerts given during the summer by classical musicians in small venues.  You can see them perform for free, or you can pay 30-45 dollars per ticket to see them perform in commercial venues the next month.

The Red Lion Inn and Mohonk Mountain House are offering sale lodging prices – I guess things are slow until memorial day.

The antiquing up route 7 is going full blazes, including our store in Kent (Rolling River Antiques).   Call my wife Karen at the store if you are looking for something particular, and check out Rolling River Antiques on facebook for pictures of items – 860-927-3100.

Come on up on the train when it gets hot and the city is telling you that life may be better in nature !  We’ll be here !

Best.  Jim Shaw  CCT   860-619-8060

WELCOME to 2016 SEASON

Hi everyone, especially our former adventurers.  In a few weeks, the weather will be ready for everyone who is itching to start exploring, hiking, kayaking, and biking.  We’ve been in Florida for a few months, and we’re back in Kent for the rest of the year.  Karen’s antique store, Rolling River Antiques, is all stocked up for summer – beautiful things – check it out at rollingriverantiques.com.   Within the next three weeks, I will be walking the entire length of the Connecticut Appalachian Trail segment, on a day-here-and-there basis, just to get into shape for summer – I had a torn meniscis in one knee and had it scraped out – it needs a lot of repetitions to dial in again.    Anyone who wants to hike for a day or two can take the train from NYC to Wingdale and we’ll pick you up.    Come on up and see us !   Jim and Karen Shaw

Housatonic Kayaking – Falls Village down to Kent

Hi all – for most of the summer, it was too dry to make this trip, and my vacationers had to settle for kayaking on Lake Waramaug, and I took a few to Satan’s at Farmington, since the inner tubes were still okay.   My guest kayaks are plastic, and I didn’t want to leave red plastic all over the rocks!  Once you hole a kayak, it has to be refilled with epoxy and carbon strips.   The good news is that our kayaks are unsinkable, as there are air bags in the back and front.  So we had to say no to about twenty groups that dearly wanted to kayak with mild currents.    However, they found a lot of fun in dunking under the waterfalls and swimming at Falls Village and Dover.  My friend Greg, a fishing guide, said his dory could get down the river sometimes when I couldn’t , and it was hole-proof.

In late July, I tore my left knee meniscus, and a torn fragment lodged in the joint.  So it was off to arthroscopic clean out,  and so far, it is as good as new.  I had to stay off the climbs and just cheer from waypoints.   It was fun to cook lunch on the tailgate when people came off the trail.

The fall colors have turned out to be spectacular.  I thought the dry summer would just end up turning the leaves brown, but it has been glorious.  It’s like a fireworks show every time you turn a corner on a trail.    I would say we are past peak now, but there are still some fabulous colors to be seen.

Thanks to all who enjoyed your time with us this summer and fall !  Now we can start to prepare for cross country skiing tours.    Jim

Welcome to Summer 2015

Hi  everyone !  Welcome to a new summer season in northwest Connecticut.   The lower waterfalls at Falls Village, above the kayak beach, are not accessible from the east roads due to the bridge being out.  You’ll have to come up from the south.  The kayaking is currently difficult on the Hoosie due to low water.  All kayaks are plastic, and after riding over rocks a dozen times, you’ll end up with JB Weld patches on the repeat scar marks when they leak.   The biking is fine around Waramaug.   Stop by the Hopkins Inn for lunch and stroll or bike through the vineyards.    This year, we are leaning toward providing an old fashioned New England experience.  For those who want to camp, we can recommend wonderful places where you can still get to town on foot, so to speak.

The through-hikers on the Appalachian Trail are passing through now in full force.  It’s nice to see people getting the most out of it – these hikers are pure muscle by the time they get this far north.

We just had a fire department rescue on the AT about three miles south of Rt. 341, on the ridge.  As an EMT, I had to hike up to the crest (about two empire state buildings worth), and treat and help carry down a very nice lady from the Bronx who was on her first hike.  She had a 50 pound backpack.  That combination isn’t ideal for the AT around here.  I hope that beginner hikers give me a shout by email and I can send them my hiking guide in terms of essentials and weight saving tips.  No cost, and big benefits.

The reservation system on the web page is proving to be difficult, for the simple reason that I am out all day taking folks to great places, and I forget to check it.  It would be best if interested outdoor people  just sent me an email to theshawfirm@optimum.net for a quick response.   I’m getting a lot of repeat customers this year who just sign up by email or phone, and I am neglecting to update the online board from time to time.  Do remember that I build the day around exactly what you want to do.

There is a new bear in our neighborhood, without red ear tags.   He was a cub last year, and he’s having a great time rolling around in our yard, fishing in our pond, and eating birdseed from our feeders.

One of our most popular destinations is actually across the NY border, in Dover.   Stone church is a great “cavern” waterfall and a nice little hike to get to.  We are also taking folks up to Lime Rock Raceway for the day.    We added GW Tavern in Washington to our list of favorite eateries to take customers to.

My tour business grew so much that I decided to not run for reelection as our assistant ambulance chief.  I also had to trim our own vacations to handle our customers.   But we do get to NYC once every couple of weeks; I like the opera at the Met, and the Roman wing at the MOA.  We also made it to Montreal in February on the train from Poughkeepsie.  What a cold place.  There were 2,000 underground mall stores so we could avoid the cold, but after the third store, we were bored, so we didn’t see the 1,997 rest of them.  Great French wine and restaurants in Old Montreal.

One last note – we won’t be around in January for ski tours because we bought a small home on a great salt water canal into Charlotte Harbor in Florida.   But we are around February for great cross country tours that end up at local lodges and pubs !

Be sure to visit Karen’s web page for her store – rollingriverantiques.com !   See you soon !