Day One Of My 2022 Walk Across Connecticut

Kayaking the Housatonic. Hiking the Appalachian Trail. A visit to Great Falls. A local cafe and an electric bike shop tucked behind the West Cornwall covered bridge. Dozens of conversations with friends and local residents along 20 miles of river and road. Day one of my 6th annual Walk Across Connecticut is officially in the books.

Crossing the Falls River Bridge in northwestern Connecticut.

Here’s a recap of the first day.

This year, my walk across Connecticut actually started in a kayak. In Massachusetts. While some may call that cheating, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to paddle the beautiful Housatonic on a day like today.

We quickly crossed into North Canaan, Connecticut, opting for the shorter class one rapids over the longer class two rapids, and after about 90 minutes, I was once again land-bound and starting my walk.

Kayak launch on the Housatonic River in Ashely Falls, Massachusetts.

On the first leg of my walk, I met a guy doing some yard work on his front lawn. He was a Guatemalan immigrant who has called Connecticut home for 24 years. He’s a carpenter who has done work all over the state while raising his family. But he’s undocumented. He told me that he was getting ready to celebrate July 4th “because I love my country.”

A little further down the road, I met Ted and Casey at their family farm in Falls Village. Ted drives an hour each way to work and wanted to talk about gas prices. He said that thankfully he has a union job that pays a good wage, but the extra he’s been paying for gas has taken a big bite out of his paycheck.

Falls River, Connecticut.

After a few hours of walking, I took a quick break for lunch at Falls Village Cafe with Falls Village First Selectman Henry Todd and Salisbury First Selectman Curtis Rand. The cafe is a new spot, and it was great.

Stopping for lunch at Falls River Cafe in Falls River, Connecticut.

After lunch, a few area friends joined me for the portion of today’s walk that took me on the Appalachian Trail. State Representative Maria Horn, who represents Connecticut’s 64th House District, joined us and we talked about the real need to get more high speech internet access to northwestern Connecticut. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, which was signed into law last November, includes millions of dollars for broadband infrastructure across our state. Pretty soon, Connecticut families in rural areas like Falls Village will start to see the return on investment when it comes to high-speed internet access.

Hiking a portion of the Appalachian Trail in northwestern Connecticut.

A little while later, I met a nice couple from Fairfield who are staying at the beautiful Mayflower Inn for her birthday and spending the day learning to fly fish. So far, they told me, she’s caught the biggest fish. A nice reminder that there is no better weekend getaway than the picture-perfect Litchfield County.

For my last stop of the day, I dropped by Covered Bridge Electric Bike, an electric bike shop tucked away behind the West Cornwall Covered Bridge. I met Bob and his family, who have run their shop for the past three years. In the summer months especially, when there’s no shortage of warm afternoons to bike around the (admittedly steep) Litchfield hills, demand for their bikes surge.

Covered Bridge Electric Bike with shop-owner Bob.

In an era of nonstop mass murder, the world gets small. Outside the bike shop, I met two couples visiting from suburban Chicago. They live near the parade route. One friend was shot in the foot. Another of their friends heard a bullet whiz by his ear.

I’m confident that the bipartisan gun safety bill we passed into law a week and a half ago will save lives. But what unfolded today in Illinois is a reminder of the work still ahead.

Talking with a family from Illinois after news of the shooting in Highland Park.

The day ended with a visit from a longtime friend, Cornwall farmer and First Selectman Gordon Ridgeway, who found me along the route and brought me some squash and maple syrup from his farm.

4 miles of kayaking and 15 miles of walking. Every time I do this walk, I relearn just how beautiful this state really is.

Day two starts tomorrow morning! See you on the road.

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