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Northwest Corner is blessed with mild (and even ‘magical’) impacts from Henri

In the end, the impact of Henri (who was sometimes a hurricane and other times a mere tropical depression) on the Northwest Corner was mercifully mild. 

No one could have blamed area residents for expecting the worst; who could forget the damage caused by last August’s tornado, which pulled apart one of the large greenhouses at Paley’s Farm Market in Sharon and felled significant numbers of large trees in the Lime Rock Station section of Falls Village.

The storm on Monday was expected to bring intensely high winds and so much rain that it was thought the Housatonic River would reach flood stage.

Instead the winds were fairly mild, and the rain stopped before the river made it into the danger zone. 

At Falls Village, flood stage is 7 feet; the water peaked at about 6.5 feet. Make no mistake: That’s still a lot of water for this time of year. Even last year, when there was a tornado, the Housatonic never got about 2 feet at the measuring station in Falls Village. 

Flood stage farther south in Kent is 8 feet; the river never got above about 6.5 feet there.  

Photographer Lans Christensen ventured out to the edge of the falls at Bull’s Bridge in Kent and captured the ferocity of the water as it funneled itself between the high rocks on either side of the river there.

A roof over their heads — and three showers

Some outdoors-oriented folk, however, sensibly sought “shelter from the storm,” according to Noreen Driscoll of North Canaan, quoting from the song by Bob Dylan. 

Driscoll had seen the story in our Aug. 19 issue by intern Sadie Leite in which she interviewed a handful of Appalachian Trail (AT) thru-hikers.

She sent us an email describing what hikers refer to as “trail magic”: At an event in Falls Village before the storm, she met up with some hikers and invited them to wait out the storm at her house.  

All AT thru-hikers adopt trail names that they use while they are out on the epic walk. Driscollsaid she “met Batman and Destroyer in Falls Village on Friday night before the concert by the Joint Chiefs,” she said,  “and I told them this was the hottest show in town and that I would treat them to tickets. 

“When the talk turned to the impending weather I offered shelter and showers. I have a good amount of floor space here, in my workshop too, and a great loft guest room. Also: three showers.”

Driscoll lives on a property called River Haven that includes a separate building where she and her staff put together floral decorations for her company, Sweethaven Farm. 

“One of the guys, Sunshine, is a pro musician,” Driscoll continued, “so the offer of a guitar in the house sweetened the deal! And because I have music jams here myself, I have a load of percussion instruments, my own Button Box accordions, and it’s just been a lot of fun!”

Rounding out the quintet of hikers are Matador and Sitka. 

On Monday, at the height of the storm, Driscoll said, “In between some rain we picked all of the Roma tomatoes from my garden and are cooking up a nice sauce for tonight. Tomorrow morning I’m shuttling them to two different trail heads, where I picked them up on Saturday.”

Hikers are always (very) hungry

These days it’s not that common to pick up a band of five young strangers and invite them to spend a night or two at your home. This group of AT hikers was lovely, Driscoll said. And while unexpected acts of generosity on the trail are known as “trail magic,” Driscoll herself said the experience felt magical to her.

“It’s been a totally new, and rewarding experience for me! It wouldn’t have happened if the Saturday night Tanglewood concert that I was planning on attending hadn’t been canceled. My friend PJ from Kent and I had made up a bunch of food, and we were happy to share it with these very kind and grateful gentleman.”

The impromptu concert that the hikers put together was “musical magic and the icing on the cake for all!”

Speaking of cake, AT hikers famously need to load on calories and can often be spotted at lunchtime downing pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

“Yes there was ice cream,”Driscoll confirmed, as well as “blueberry pie and corn from Freund’s farm market in East Canaan, along with some beers, a treat for what they call ‘Zero days”’ — as in ‘no miles logged.’”

Next stop: Mount Katahdin

Hikers often start off alone on their AT adventure — but many quickly meet up with other hikers and sometimes form deep bonds of friendship. Such was the case with the five who stayed at River Haven.

“They all met at different spots on the trail,” Driscoll said. “Some are doing the whole thing, some are doing a little section that they missed last time. They’re usually not hiking together, but they sometimes meet up at shelters. 

“But they all are hoping to be at the northern terminus of the trail at Mount Katahdin in Maine by early October.”

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