Have you ever rolled out of bed on a Sunday morning and thought to yourself “I think I’ll go snowshoeing in the Pequabuck River Basin?” Nor have I. I actually hatched the plan a few days earlier and recruited my daughter to drive me to the RT 6 Bridge that spans the river. She complained loudly due to the early hour, but when I pointed out that she should be happy that I was not dragging her along she settled into pouting quietly as we drove to my drop zone.
For years I have driven over the river on RT 6, marveled at the expanse of open marsh grass, and wondered if it was too wet to hike. I always enjoy how it turns into Pequabuck Lake after heavy rains, especially in the spring. I calculated that the winter with likely frozen earth and a layer of snow would afford me the wiggle room I needed to avoid sinking up to my knees in muck. I calculated correctly as I discovered that although the banks of the river are quite stable there are at least four creeks that feed into the Pequabuck and thankfully they were frozen. In warmer weather you would need waders to hike the Western bank of the river—which is the route I took.
Getting from RT 6 down to the river was a slightly precarious undertaking that, by my estimation, would result in sliding down the steep hill on your backside every other trip down to the river bank. I’m saving my fall for the next time, but I came darn close to some private personal embarrassment.
Once on the bank of the river I was excited to discover the tracks of another snowshoe adventurer that were no more than a day old. I am pleased to know that I am not the only crazy person in town. The tracks of my intrepid friend took a westerly track away from the river much to my disappointment. I ended up following the fresh tracks of a lone coyote that hugged the bank. I cut several corners as the river makes abrupt jogs to the East and West from its generally South-to-North flow as it approaches the mighty Farmington River. Each time I came back to the riverbank the coyote’s tracks were there.
The scenery was uniquely beautiful yet austere. The deep grass was matted down by the snow but peeking up in many spots. I headed for a lone tree in the middle of the basin and wondered how it came to be there all alone, yet apparently healthy, in an area rather inhospitable to trees. I paused for a few photos before walking over to a much less healthy looking Birch tree that made a valiant effort at life in the basin only to succumb to the high water table.
My eyes then came to rest on the tall marsh grass that grew taller and taller as I approached—eight feet high as I finally plodded to the edge of this sea of bronze beauty. After snapping a few photos I continued on, relishing the solitude and the fact that I was someplace so close to home yet so far from my typical journeys.
Finally, the Pequabuck Forest loomed large and I paused to adjust the straps on my snowshoes that had become loose. I then felt some hesitancy before entering the wooded leg of my journey and a snippet of the 23rd Psalm played in my brain: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil…” No, wait, never mind, that’s the feeling I get as I enter the Forever 21 store at the mall with my daughters. I was actually relieved that the forest was open and free of vines or brush that would have wreaked havoc with my snowshoes.
I emerged at the power lines next to Meadow Road where the Pequabuck splits into two tributaries and passes under the two bridges. I call this the Pequabuck River Delta. The cars whizzing by signaled the end to my walk and I shuffled towards the road with my phone to my ear trying to raise my daughter for a lift back home. As we drove home I described the adventure and the new perspective it afforded to a scenic area so many take for granted. She was not biting and happily reminded me that she had no snowshoes. “Perhaps you can borrow some it would be—“ she interrupted with an irritated tone “—No thanks Dad.” The best I could achieve was her further indulgence to take my picture as I posed with my snowshoes.
I may not be able to hike the basin in the warmer weather, but I did observe that the river is perfectly navigable for a kayak. I have already started making inquiry of my friends with such toys and will report on that excursion later this spring. In the interim, take your snowshoes somewhere new and give the Pequabuck River Basin a try. You will not be disappointed.