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Installing the Cooke’s Custom Sewing Canoe Cover on Wenonah Cascade

After a 2008 canoe trip down the Delaware River with Steve B., Skip and Bob Y. I bought a Cooke’s Custom Sewing canoe cover for my Wenonah Cascade.  I had researched the value of canoe covers after our 2003 Spanish River canoe trip, but one rapid on the Delaware convince me to buy.  At the end of the trip we paddled to the  Delaware River Family Campground.  Just before the campground we went under a railroad bridge which had some largish standing waves.  We all took on water over the sides of the boat – not bad, but it was sloshing around as we pulled the last few hundred yards to the Campground.  While some of the waves broke over Steve’s lap, the majority of the water came in just behind the front seat. A canoe cover would have prevented this.  I anticipated many more white water trips and bought a canoe cover.

The canoe cover languished in it’s box for several years, until this winter as Skip and his brother-in-law Steve began to make plans for another Spanish River canoe trip.  I dragged my canoe into the basement with the intentions of installing it during a winter weekend.  That didn’t happen.  So this weekend I once again moved the canoe and set up in the shade under the shed.

Dan Cooke’s instructions called for taping the cover in place using duct tape, but over the winter I had sprayed the canoe with 303 vinyl protection, which made it difficult for the tape to stick. After some trial and error Kathryn and I settled on using clamps to hold the cover in place.  We located the snap locations by a combination of measurements and direct transfer of marking the cover snap with a Sharpie and then pressing the cover snap onto the boat.  Contrary to the instructions we started at the canoe ends and worked to the middle of the boat.  It was definitely a two person process.  Once we installed the front section and got over the terror that comes with drilling holes in one’s canoe, the project flowed smoothly.   There were two sets of snaps that couldn’t be fastened due to the metal plate seat hangers.  Most of the snaps were installed 3/4″ -1″ below the gunnel plate.

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The finished product.

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National Bison Range

The National Bison Range is a National Wildlife Refuge located in western Montana established in 1908 to provide a sanctuary for the American bison. The range is one of the oldest National Wildlife Refuges in the US. The size of the bison herd numbers about 500 individuals. The range consists of approximately 18,800 acres with a visitor center, and two scenic roads that allow vehicular access. The refuge is approximately one hour north of Missoula at Moiese, Montana.

Range elevation varies from 2,585 feet at headquarters to 4,885 feet at High Point on Red Sleep Mountain, the highest point on the Range. Much of the National Bison Range was once under prehistoric Glacial Lake Missoula, which was formed by a glacial ice dam on the Clark Fork River about 13,000 to 18,000 years ago. The lake attained a maximum elevation of 4,200 feet, so the upper part of the Refuge was above water. Old beach lines are still evident on north-facing slopes.

It was stiflingly hot as we drove around the range and spotted single bison, bison in pairs and finally, a large group.  One smart bison cooled off in the river.

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Big Sky Mountain Zipline

Leaving West Yellowstone we drove to Big Sky Mountain Resort.  At Big Sky Resort you can soar past expansive views of Lone Mountain and the Spanish Peaks of the Madison mountain range on ziplines 30 to 60 feet in the air. USA Today ranks Big Sky Mountain as one of the top 10 zip line adventures in the USA.  The nine person group was given helmets, harnesses and instructions.  Then it was onto the ski lift and up the mountain side.

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The Adventure zip is designed for speed.  The zipline provides expansive views of Lone Mountain (elevation 11,166 feet) and the Spanish Peaks of the Madison Range. The zipline spanned 1,500 feet long and was 150 feet above the forest floor.

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Kathryn had a hang up on one section.  Going down backwards she missed grabbing her brake rope, slid back the zipline and had to be retrieved to the platform.

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Yellowstone National Park

Following our horse packing trip we toured Yellowstone National Park.  We entered the park from the east entrance (Cody). We drove through lots of the 1988 burned / regenerating forest.  Throughout the park the regrowth was uneven; in some places the regrowth was 25-30 high and very thick.  Coming from the east access the regrowth was much spottier and only a few feet tall.

Yellowstone is the largest high-altitude lake in the lower 48 states, and it is breathtaking; to the south we could see the Tetons.

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From Yellowstone Lake we drove to the Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon. At 308 feet high the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is the primary geologic feature in the Canyon District. It is roughly 20 miles long, measured from the Upper Falls to the Tower Fall area. Depth is 800 to 1,200 ft.; width is 1,500 to 4,000 ft. The canyon as we know it today is a very recent geologic feature. The present canyon is no more than 10,000 to 14,000 years old, although there has probably been a canyon in this location for a much longer period. The exact sequence of events in the formation of the canyon is not well understood.  We do know that the canyon was formed by erosion rather than by glaciation.  After the caldera eruption of about 600,000 years ago, the area was covered by a series of lava flows. The area was also faulted by the doming action of the caldera before the eruption. The site of the present canyon was probably the result of this faulting, which allowed erosion to proceed at an accelerated rate. The area was also covered by the glaciers that followed the volcanic activity. Glacial deposits probably filled the canyon at one time, but have since been eroded away, leaving little or no evidence of their presence.

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From there we drove to Mammoth Hot Springs a surficial expression of the deep volcanic forces at work in Yellowstone. Although these springs lie outside the caldera boundary, their energy is attributed to the same system that fuels other Yellowstone thermal areas. Hot water flows from Norris to Mammoth along a fault line roughly associated with the Norris to Mammoth road. Shallow circulation along this corridor allows Norris’ super-heated water to cool somewhat before surfacing at Mammoth, generally at about 170° F.  Kathryn and I had toured Yellowstone in 1977 as we drove to Seattle to attend graduate school.  As we approached Mammoth Hot Springs I said to Kathryn, “I remember these as being much wetter and prettier.”  Nearby on the boardwalk was a placard describing the changes to Mammoth Hot Springs over time and gave an example of the formation under wetter conditions in 1977 .

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We exited the park at the northern entrance and spent the night at Gardner.  We stayed at a nice long-stay complex.  We ordered pizza, watched the NBA draft on TV and then most of the group took off for the Boiling River. The Boiling River is located approximately 2 miles north of Mammoth and 2.9 miles south of the park’s North gate. The Boiling River is created where a large hot spring enters the Gardner River, allowing the hot and cool waters to mix into a temperature comfortable enough to bathe in. Moving just a few inches greatly changed one’s exposure to hot or cold water.

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About 50% of the tourist crowd were Oriental, German and some Australians.   Due to the crowds we decided to arise earlier and visit our Day 2 destinations in the morning before the crowds assembled.  We also felt we would have a better chance of seeing wildlife.  Skip, Eric and Jim took 1 car and Pam, Jim and Kathryn rode in the other.  We agreed to rendezvous at the Obsidian Cliffs.   We visited the Norris Geyser Basin, the Upper Geyser Basin and the Fountain Paint Pot.   Going out early meant there were fewer crowds to contend with.

Norris Geyser Basin is the the hottest geyser basin in Yellowstone. The basin is comprised of two distinct sections: The Back Basin is in a forest setting. It contains geysers and hot springs tucked among the trees. The Porcelain Basin is characterized by a lack of vegetation. No plants can live in the hot, acidic, water emitted from the numerous thermal features in the basin. Porcelain Basin presents a beautiful but desolate visage which is unlike any of the other geyser basins in Yellowstone.

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The Obsidian cliff was made famous by Jim Bridger’s stories and tall tales.  The obsidian from this cliff was used in spear and arrow heads and traded by Native American tribes distributed as far as Ohio.  In reality it is visually less than impressive.  We moved on, but lacking cell phone coverage our message(s) to the other car went unheard until later in the morning.

We drove on to Old Faithful geyser.  Old Faithful erupts more frequently than any of the other big geysers, although it is not the largest or most regular geyser in the park. Its average interval between eruptions varies from 65 – 92 minutes. An eruption lasts 1.5 to 5 minutes, expels 3,700 – 8,400 gallons of boiling water, and reaches heights of 106 – 184 feet. Although its average interval has lengthened through the years (due to earthquakes and vandalism), Old Faithful is still as spectacular and predictable as it was a century ago.

While awaiting Old Faithful we were informed that the adjoining Beehive Geyser was preparing to erupt as well.  The Beehive Geyser is larger and more powerful than Old Faithful, but also not as predictable – erupting every 9-15 hours.  There is a ‘indicator geyser’ right next to the Beehive Geyser that precedes the Beehive eruption.  We were able to witness both geysers erupting simultaneously.  Afterwards we hung out in the lodge and waited for car 2 to arrive.

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We saw wildlife through out the park; mule deer, elk, black bear and bison.  Usually the wildlife were preceded by scores of vehicles in various stages of off-road parking as everyone vied for a picture.  A couple of the larger bison groups had tourists walking up to dangerous distances for pictures, despite ranger’s warnings and two reported bison gorings earlier this year.

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Yellowstone was nice to see, but there were always crowds to contend with.  We agreed we were thankful that we visited before the big summer crowds post-4th of July.

Horse Packing in the Shoshone National Forest

Our discussion with Helmers was to tour back country Yellowstone National Park via a horse packing trip.  We decided on a four day/three night pack trip and I began contacting 20+ outfitters in the fall of 2014.  Our plans shifted as we learned

  • Yellowstone Park didn’t issue horse packing trips until after 4th of July
  • Continuously moving our camp would be cumbersome and a lot of work for the outfitters

We settled into discussions with 7D Ranch and horse packing into the Shoshone National Forest just east of the Yellowstone Park.  Prior to our trip we shipped two boxes containing our boots and horse packing clothes to the ranch via UPS.

Our trip out to the 7D Ranch was uneventful.  We got up at 4am, met the Helmers at the Syracuse Airport for our 7:01am flight to Minneapolis – a larger airport than we anticipated.  We had a 30 minute lay-over to Billings, MT where we met Skip (wearing a conspicuous Syracuse t-shirt).  Skip preceded us by a week, having flown into Salt Lake City and rented a Dodge Caravan for a month.  This turned out to be the perfect vehicle for our trip as it offered Skip shelter while he was camping alone and plenty of gear space when the four of us were traveling together.

We grabbed lunch at a little Mexican place in Billings and then drove 2.5 hours to the 7D Ranch. From Route 212 we took the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway crossing the Shoshone National Forest through the Absaroka Mountains to the Clarks Fork Valley.  The trailhead for our subsequent pack trip was located at the bottom of the valley. Directly across from the Dead Indian Campground.

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7D Ranch Map

We arrived at the 7D Ranch at 3pm, located our boxes and unpacked them, transferring items to our duffel bags for the horse packing trip.  We ate a steak dinner with the other guests (i.e. dudes) and met Andrea (manager) and Chris (our head guide).  After dinner Skip, Eric and I walked down to see our horses which were kept up next to the barns for morning’s departure.  We turned in early and slept 11 hours from 8:30pm – 7:30am.  The next morning we ate breakfast with Andrea, her son Lash and baby girl Zoey.  Marshall Dominick and his wife Betty were at the table as well.  The 7D Ranch got it’s name from the founder who had 5 kids; the parents and 5 kids were the 7 Dominicks (7D); Marshall was one of the children.  We told Marshall we were riding to Trout Peak and he said we would see some beautiful country.

We left with three trucks and trailers hauling two guides (Chris and Josh) and a cook (Andrea); 5 pack mules and 15 horses – 9 saddle horses and 6 pack horses.  We drove the short distance to the trail head.  The panniers were loaded onto the pack string and we were on the trail by 10:40am.  Below the gentle giant, Marcus, awaits his load.

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Located in NW Wyoming, the Shoshone National Forest is the first federally protected National Forest in the United States and covers nearly 2,500,000 acres; making it the seventh-largest national forest in the continental United States.. Named after the Shoshone Indians and originally a part of the Yellowstone Timberland Reserve, the forest is managed by the United States Forest Service and was created by an act of Congress and signed into law by U.S. President Benjamin Harrison in 1891. Never heavily settled or exploited, the forest has retained most of its wildness. Shoshone National Forest is a part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, a nearly unbroken expanse of federally protected lands encompassing an estimated 20,000,000 acres. Shoshone National Forest has virtually all the original animal and plant species that were there when white explorers first visited the region. The forest is home to the Grizzly bear, cougar, moose, tens of thousands of elk as well as the largest herd of bighorn sheep in the U.S.  The altitude in the forest ranges from 4,600 feet to 13,804 ft (4,207 m) at the top of Gannett Peak. Due to the altitude and dryness of the atmosphere, vigorous radiative cooling occurs throughout the year, and exceptional daily temperature variances are not uncommon

Our trail led 8 miles along Dead Indian Creek which got it’s name from an incident in the 1878 Indian wars.  A small Bannocks war party were attacked by General Miles’ troops just south of Clark,  shortly after the Nez Perce outbreak. The Indians retreated over what is now known as Dead Indian Hill leaving one of their wounded behind. The following day the Bannock was found by some of the Crow Indian Army scouts, who promptly killed and scalped him. From this episode Dead Indian Hill and Dead Indian Creek got their names.

  • Eric – Native, a black BLM mustang about 20 years old that used to be ridden by Marshall Dominick
  • Kathryn – Red, a chestnut who would threaten and sometime kick if pressed from behind
  • Jim – Tipi, dark brown with a small blaze and two white hind feet; he was sturdy and deliberate crossing obstacles
  • Skip – Hoodoo, a paint with a habit of over-jumping obstacles
  • Pam – Cinnamon, a bay that gave threatening looks when crowded from behind, but never kicked
  • Jim – Ponch (AKA Death Trap) a sweet chestnut

The ride in had lots of down timber which required the horses to step or jump over the logs. Eric has some issues with Native not wanting to jump obstacles that were chest high.

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We took a short lunch break on the way in where Jim entertained us with demonstrations of his bronc riding style.

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We got to camp at 3pm and we heard a horse whinny as we arrived at the meadow which was to become our camp, but we could not locate the horse.  Our saddle and pack horses were tied to trees unpacked and unsaddled with the tack arranged along downed logs.

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We set up our tents and sleeping systems as the guides set up a kitchen, toilet and an electric fence corral for some of the horses.

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After dinner 6 of the leader / bunch quitter horses were led to the electric fence area while the remaining dozen were hobbled and turned out.  Some horses – like Chris’s buckskin mare were nimble and adept with the hobbles; almost attaining a slow lope, while others, like Native, needed to re-learn their hobbling gait.

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We again heard a horse whinny;  the guides took off up the hill returning leading a dark brown mud covered horse.  They claimed someone had a wreck, left garbage all around the site and the horse half buried in the mud and left for dead.  The horse had struggled free and they brought it back down along with a foam pad and a partial case of mini-beers.  The horse was set free with the thought it would hang around the herd, but after a few nuzzles and squeals it took off headed back to the trail head.  We never saw the horse again, although upon our return to the trailhead there was a note on each truck that someone had picked up the horse and who to contact for its return.

Despite turning in early we slept in until 7am – Eric until 8am.  It was cold at night.  The temperature reacted greatly to the sun; when the sun went down in the evening the temperatures plunged, when the sun came up in the morning the temperature climbed quickly.  We ate breakfast, packed our own lunches and were on the trail up by 10am.  We went up Morning Creek to Trout Creek.

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We were told the 7D Ranch was ~6,000′, our camp was at ~7,500′ and the we topped Trout Peak at about 10,000′.  Trout Peak Lat/Lon: 44.60120°N / 109.5253°W  Elevation: 12244 ft,  The summit of Trout Peak is at the apex of three ridges; the north and east ridges form a bowl, where the headwaters of an unnamed creek are located;  the north ridge drops four miles into the Dead Indian Creek drainage.  We stopped for a break on an overlook and then rode to another overlook for lunch.

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We saw one spectacular scenery.  We spotted one elk and two big horn sheep.  There were snow banks on the sheltered north facing faces.  After lunch I picked up a snow ball on my walk back to the horses and was met by Eric who also had a snow ball creating a Mexican Standoff.  While Tipi wouldn’t eat apple core or snow, Eric’s mount, Native, happy munched on a snow ball.

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The ride back we rode down stretches so steep we led the horses.  Eric’s horse, Native, was slow.  My saddle slipped forward twice to the point I was riding Tipi’s neck.  When we returned to camp we put a crupper on the saddle to keep it in place.  We returned to camp at 4pm after 6 hours of saddle time. After our day’s trail ride we would water the horses in Dead Indian Creek then tie them to trees for the remainder of the day.

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The horses that didn’t go out during the day stayed tied all day.  About 6:30pm the horses would be hobbled and released and/or turned out in the electric corral with halters and lead ropes dragging.  After a couple of hours we would retrieve the horses from the corral for another watering before returning them to the corral for the night.

We had tacos for dinner.  We slept warmer at night by closing up the tent, using our sleeping bag liners and sleeping in our long underwear.

Tuesday morning we had eggs, sausage and fixings.  Eric swapped horses and rode Hoodoo and Skip rode a tall sorrel.  Chris rode a mule and Andrea rode Barron, a Clydesdale cross.  We, again, made our lunches and were on the trail by 10am.  We went up Dead Indian Creek to Damnation Basin,  it was a rough trail; there was lots of blow-down to jump or go around. The pine bark beetle has killed large portions of forest; with 50-50% of the trees girdled and dead.  In places one could envision dead trees burning like large torches.

We did several stream crossings with fast moving water running over fist sized cobblestones.  It was a 3 hour ride to a spectacular basin surrounded by cliffs.  We had lunch and hung out for 1.5 hours.  We saw large raptors and scanned for sheep, but didn’t see any. On our way back we saw big horn sheep on the cliffs and two grizzly bears.  Chris’s mule smelled the bear and stampeded for 20 yards.  Eric, Josh and Andrea also got to see the bear. On trail we passed a small shelter used by a fur trapper to overnight at the end of their trap line.

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We had steak and corn for dinner and played pitch with Josh and Chris.  One of the camp chairs broke and we made a quick patch and switch while Andrea was retrieving something from the kitchen.  While Chris is stoking the fire in preparation for cooking dinner he is noticeably grinning through-out and almost gave it away, waiting for the failure of the chair.

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The fourth and final day we packed up our tents, sleeping systems and clothes while the guides broke down the kitchen and packed up the panniers.  It was a bittersweet ride out to the trail head where we transferred our gear from the pack string to the trucks.  We all said an appreciative goodbye to our mounts and rode back to the 7D Ranch.

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Back at the 7D Ranch we unloaded the pack and saddle horses, retrieved our duffel bags and retrieved our clothes left at the ranch.  We said thanks to our guides and Andrea Meade, the manager and left for the hotels, laundry and restaurants of Cody.  Our horse packing trip was one of the best adventure vacations we have done.  Eric declared it “Amazing and fun!” and I believe we heartily agree.

HP Gold vs New Hartford

We played New Hartford’s select U12B team for our final game of the season.  New Hartford had only lost to Oneida (who beat us by several goals on Wed and played us to a 0-0 ties at the Frankfort Tournament).  We played to 0-0 tie after 3 quarters and then ran out of energy in the last quarter and lost 3-1. We held a season wrap-up party at Ward’s Drive-In.  Eric played one of his most intense, motivated game,  He played one quarter as goalie and delivered a couple of excellent crossing passes as a striker.

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Frankfort Soccer Tournament

Congratulations to the HP U12 Boys finishing 2nd in the 8 team Frankfort Tournament, After playing to a 0-0 tie the Championship was decided by a 5 shot shoot-out with Remsen prevailing for 1st place. Hard fought, close games in a nicely run tournament that featured teams from Oneida (3rd), Frankfort (4th), Canastota, Whitestown, Mohawk, and Herkimer.  HP Gold got to the championship game by playing Oneida to a 0-0 tie (the same Oneida team that beat us badly Wednesday night in our next to last regular season game.)  We beat Canastota 5-1 and eked out a last minute 3-2 win over Whitestown.  We advanced over Oneida due to the fact that we scored one more goal than they did.

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2015-06-13 Frankfort Soccer Tournament

Brush Hog RIP & Eric’s Hat Trick

Saturday I finished mowing the lawn, hooked up the brush hog and began to mow the pasture.  I purchased the John Deere Model 205 Rotary Mower from Nick Clark nearly 30 years ago. It weathered multiple welding and repairs. After five circuits I heard an unfamiliar clunking and headed back to the barn to investigation.  I opened the gear box and found a broken gear and sheared teeth through out. The gear box finally broke apart and neither JD or I can find replacement parts. We spent many hours together mowing pasture and trails during the summer months.

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Sunday I attended an all-day Wilderness 1st Aid Class in Woodgate offered by the NYS Outdoor Guide’s Association. Their definition of Wilderness First Aid was any 1st aid given with expectations that medical assistance is busy (e.g. disasters) and/or at least one hour away.

I missed Eric’s soccer game where they won 4-0 and Eric scored a hat trick of 3 goals.

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Fort Ticonderoga / Fort William Henry

We took an overnight trip to visit Crown Point on Lake Champlain, Fort Ticonderoga and Fort William Henry – learning a lot about the French-Indian Wars in the process.

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Crown Point a fort located north Fort Ticonderoga on a narrow peninsula, averaging about a mile in width; the peninsula closing the lake down to a width of only half a mile. The Crown Point Banding Station was operating a the Banding Station at its location on the Crown Point State Historic Site just 300 yards southwest of the British fort,  at the edge of the Hawthorn thicket.  The volunteers offered an educational program, however, they did not catch any birds while we were visiting.

Fort Ticonderoga, formerly Fort Carillon, is a large 18th-century star fort built by the French at a narrows near the south end of Lake Champlain where the outlet of Lake George, known as the La Chute River, flowed into Lake Champlain.  Since Lake George is 240 feet higher than Lake Champlain, this river is full of rocks, rapids, and falls necessitating a three mile portage  which came out on Lake Champlain at Fort Ticonderoga. it was strategically placed in conflicts over trade routes between the British-controlled Hudson River Valley and the French-controlled Saint Lawrence River Valley. Both lakes were long and narrow, oriented north–south and flowing northward. The name “Ticonderoga” comes from the Iroquois word tekontaró:ken, meaning “it is at the junction of two waterways”.

The fort contained three barracks and four storehouses. One bastion held a bakery capable of producing 60 loaves of bread a day. A powder magazine was hacked out of the bedrock beneath the Joannes bastion. All the construction within the fort was of stone.  There were soldiers, a shoemaker and a tailor on site working and answering questions.

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Fort William Henry (also known as Fort George) was built at the southern tip of Lake George beginning in 1755. The place was begun following Sir William Johnson’s victory of the French general Dieskieu in 1755. It was besieged by Montcalm from 4 August 1757 to 9 August, when its garrison of 2200 men under Lt. Col. George Munro surrendered. The Indians began massacring the prisoners and Munro reached Fort Edward with 1400 survivors.

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2015-05-23 Fort Ticondaroga

Middle School Track Meet

Eric participated in the Middle School track meet by running the 300 meter race. He ran 5th for much of the race and put on a kick to capture 3rd place in his heat of 8 contestants.

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