Category Archives: camping

Killarney Provincial Park

Sunday – 6am and I am in Skip’s driveway and he is in mine as we got mixed up on our departure. A quick phone call and we got straightened out and headed north on Route 12. We had 9 hours of driving time and 11 hours total travel time including lunch and meeting at Walmart, to get to Killarney Outfitters. Conrad and Jack rented a canoe and accessories. We finally found a place open to give us dinner and returned to squeeze 4 tents into our small site; so snoring was an issue.

Monday- We sorted out our gear and got packed.  We were on the water at 0945.  There was over a mile (1.6 km) over 4 portages.  After the 1st couple I got more organized and carried two packs and the lawn chair then doubled back for the canoe.  We stayed at Muriel Lake for night 1.   Steve thawed his beef stew only to discover it was Skip’s chili.  We were lucky to avoid the rain or high winds which predicted in the forecast. However, it remained cloudy and the temperature dropped at 0600. Skip’s chili dinner was good.  During the night Skip awoke from a dream convinced a bear had taken down out hung food.  He yelled ‘There’s a bear getting our food’ and got everyone to go look.  Of course, there was no bear and the food was fine.

Tuesday – After a leisurely breakfast we were on the water by 0930. We had difficulty finding the 1st portage and portaged into a weed choked Artist Lake.  The day was dominated by “The Pig” a 3 hour portage with 1,000 meter elevation gain. It was a rough portage with lots of cobblestones; fortunately the stream bed was dry.  Conrad and Jack took a side trail to Topaz Lake and enjoyed lunch and a swim. We got off The Pig at 3pm and spent two hours paddling for a campsite, ending up on Site #50 Doris Island.  We all did a swim before dinner washing off the day’s sweat.  We had Steve’s beef stew for dinner.  We turned in at 8pm.  I read for 1 hour and slept the night. I heard a lot of Barred Owls during the night.

Wednesday – This was our lazy days.  Conrad and Jack took a hike while Steve fished, and Jim & Skip read.  Conrad made pancakes and pre-cooked bacon for breakfast.  We saw a black bear swim from our island across a span to opposite shore.  Conrad had packed a small box of wine in the food barrel which sprung a leak during the Pig portage.  The only food affected was the boxed spaghetti, but the accident necessitated a through cleaning of the food barrel.  Spaghetti dinner was moved up in the order of meals and greatly enjoyed.

Thursday – We were on the water at 9am and paddled back across three Narrows Lake past The Pig, hit seven small portages along Kirk Creek to come out onto Georgian Bay.  We decided to skip site #137 and paddle another 45 minutes to  camp on Crown Islands.  Total paddle time from 9am to 3:30!  Dinner was that San Francisco treat; Rice a Roni supplemented with additional rehydrated vegetables and hamburger.

Friday – Rather than take the 800’ elevation gain portaging over the Baie Finn we opted for the Split Rock portage.  We paddled continuously from 0830 – 0430. – 8 hours! Our campsite on Muriel was the best swimming site I’ve used.  We were all tired.  We did stop a couple of times (Jeff’s Point) to stretch, snack and drink.  I went through a gallon of water during the day.  Dinner was rice and Indian spices.

The portage song…. Sung to “Itsy Bitsy Spider”
Itsy Bitsy portage, everyone get out.
To carry all this stuff you must be strong and stout.
Follow the trail with all its twists and bends;
because itsy bitsy portage, it will never end.

Whether it was the location, the food, the sensory overload several members of our group experienced hallucinations.  In addition to Skip’s Bear Dream, Steven was convinced there was a kayak fisherman anchored across the bay who was fishing a prime location.  In fact, Steve was certain he saw him pull in a fish.  View from another vantage point the kayak fisherman turned out to be a rock cairn piled on a small ledge.  Paddling out across Three Narrows Lake on Day 4 Conrad alerted the group to witness a mother loon and her chick sitting on a rock just ahead of us.  Upon closer inspection, the “loons” turned out to be two proportionately sized rocks.

Sung to “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”
Somewhere in park Killarney, there we’ll be;
‘Cause in park Killarney hallucinations you’ll see.

There’s a kayak fisherman, I cannot see him, but Steven can,
Oh Killarney!
A mother loon and her first child, they do not move, don’t look too wild
Oh Killarney!
Skip is sure he saw a bear, but when we looked there’s nothing there.
Oh Killarney!

Somewhere in park Killarney, there we’ll be;
‘Cause in park Killarney hallucinations you’ll see.

Best things about the trip:

  • The company. It was with trepidation that we joined an established group with the unknowns of group dynamics, leadership styles, food tastes, camp protocol, paddling speeds and sense of humor.  Despite long days and occasionally arduous conditions we operated well.
  • Awesome weather that allowed us to enjoy our surroundings.  We covered some big, open water that could have been dangerous in windy conditions.
  • Fantastic landscape with white granite cliffs at the shoreline.
  • Clean accommodating campsites.
  • We did it and survived to tell about it.  Although everyone suffered aches and pains along the way.

Return to Moshier

Eric spent the night at BillieJo’s playing video games with Stone while Kathryn, Skip, Matt, Nathan and I camped overnight at Moshier Reservoir.  The fishing wasn’t quite as good, but the company and weather were superb.  We heard lots of Barred Owls during the night and managed to sleep for almost 11 hours.

Overnight on Cedar River Flow

Matt, Skip, Steve and I took an overnight canoe camping trip to Cedar River Flow on Sunday – Monday.  The threat of rain and beginning of the work week combined such that we only saw one other canoe as we paddled in on Sunday afternoon.  The black flies swarmed us as we loaded our boats so we sought a campsite with lots of exposure to wind.  We lucked out with the weather with only slight showers and no rain while we set up camp and cooked dinner.

Broomstick Lake

Matt & I exchanged emails about our desire to get out for an overnight camping trip.  We settled on Broomstick Lake, about an hour’s drive for each of us.

Our initial plan was to meet Saturday afternoon and camp Saturday night, but with no one else joining our trip we discussed the possibility of meeting Friday evening for the short snowshoe hike in.  We met at the trailhead at 5pm, hiked up hill to a level knoll and set up our shelters and gathered wood while it was still light.  I brought my Black Diamond Hilight tent and Matt brought two tarps which he set up using bent over branch.  In the morning he reported there was more a slope to his site than originally assessed.

We managed to find dry standing wood including a two flat chunks of pine that served as a base for our fire and a dead ash that yielded logs approximately 8″ across.  Matt’s chain saw was handy for cutting the larger logs.  Our fire lasted for hours.

As I got the fire going Matt set up his stove and heated water for our dehydrated meals. The fire, meals and waning light all coalesced around 6:20.  We sat up around the fire and talked until 8pm when we decided on an early turn in time.  We received 2-3″ of snow overnight and I heard it repeatedly slide off the tent during the night.  We were awake a little after 6am, packed up and headed home.  I was back home by 8:30 and had the rest of the weekend.

Camping Room

Our room over the garage was primarily used to store all our camping gear, hence the name “camping room”.  The room is a generous 14′ x25′ / 350 square feet, but unfinished.  We had insulated between the ceiling of the garage and the floor of the camping room, but the walls were not insulated and the ceiling was left open.

The addition of a door, ceiling and insulation finished it off.  I bought a medium size electric heater and I spent two weekends priming and painting the room.  Today we moved most of the camping gear back into the room; still to come is additional furniture, about 6 sleeping pads and some backpacks/daypacks.

There is more organizing to be accomplished and I am trying to discard old and infrequently used gear as I go.  The plan is to leave room for cots / small bed to enable kids and guest an additional room to stay over during 3 seasons.

Hudson River

Skip and I planned an overnight trip down the Hudson River from Harris Lake, Newcomb to the Gooley Club take out neat Indian Lake a distance of about 14 miles encompassing several Class II and III rapids.  There are two designated two takeouts. The first is 7.3 miles from the launch at a steel bridge (just below the confluence with the Goodnow River). The second is six miles farther downstream, at the confluence with the Indian River.  There is a designated camp site at the confluence with the Cedar River.

There are two designated two takeouts. The first is 7.3 miles from the launch at a steel bridge (just below the confluence with the Goodnow River). The second is six miles farther downstream, at the confluence with the Indian River.  There is a designated camp site at the confluence with the Cedar River.

After dropping off our shuttle vehicle at the Gooley Club take-out we launched from Harris Lake at 1100 under perfect weather conditions.  We were hoping for water levels at or slightly above the 3 foot mark, but began the trip at 2.8′ and ended up at 2.6′.  Depending on the water level, the white water  can range from nearly Class III rapids to rocky riverbeds that require lining.  In total there were about a dozen rapids of various difficulties.

We ran the Long Falls easily, but spent and hour scouting and portaging the .5 miles around Ord Falls.  The remainder of the 7 or so rapids we were able to comfortably run with only glancing rock encounters.  After four hours and ~7 miles we pulled out at the Polaris Club (aka Iron) Bridge. This site provides a hand launch site just downstream of the bridge and is reached via a 0.3-mile carry from the Polaris Bridge Parking Area located along Drakes Mill Road off the Chain Lakes Road North. The bridge and the roads on either side of it serve as the northern boundary of the Hudson Gorge Wilderness on the western bank and the Hudson Gorge Primitive Area on the eastern bank. The bridge is located just downstream of the confluence of the Goodnow River (43.8952°N, 74.1690°W) Google Maps

We wanted to camp at the confluence of the Cedar River which we estimated would entail another 2 hours of travel.  What we didn’t anticipate was the effort in portaging around the old log dam a few miles downstream from the bridge.  We exited river right but didn’t find a carry trail and spent another hour exiting, scouting and carrying our canoe and gear.  Below the dam we lined our boat further downstream until we could achieve a clear line of passage. Surprisingly quick it seemed we were at the Cedar River campsite. The Cedar River campsite is located immediately below the Cedar River on the river right (western) bank of the river. (43.8522°N, 74.1894°W) indicated on maps as being on the point at the confluence of the Cedar River.  This was a nice campsite, but the steep banks and fast current made the landing and exiting of our canoe challenging.  Adding to the drama was a set of rapids which motivated one to not miss exiting.

Two miles downstream from the confluence of the Cedar River and eight miles downstream of the Polaris Bridge is the Hudson River Take-out, located 0.2 mile upstream of the confluence of Indian River. The final take out is located on the right side of a sharp bend of the Hudson River just before he confluence of the Indian River.  The metal roof of the Old Gooley Farmhouse (43.8275°N, 74.2008°W) Google Maps may be visible from the Hudson River.  Portage is up the hill through the field.  A 2nd ‘official’ portage is located a few hundred feet downstream and marked with a sign, however, the sign may be obscured by vegetation.  The river at the take out is deep and the trail up requires climbing some steep ledges. Parking at the ‘official’ take out is limited to one vehicle. Shown below left is the confluence of the Cedar River and the Gooley Club take out site just north of the confluence of the Indian River.  The image on the right provides a close up of the Gooley Club take out.

 

 

We were hoping for water levels at or slightly above the 3 foot mark, but began the trip at 2.8′ and ended up at 2.6′.  Depending on the water level, the white water  can range from nearly Class III rapids to rocky riverbeds that require lining.  In total there were about a dozen rapids of various difficulties.

Henderson Lake and Scouting the Hudson

Skip and I took a short camping trip on Henderson Lake.  We were looking for a previously unmarked campsite (site 3) which was easily found now that it is marked, but it was wet, sloping and not very attractive.  We ended up staying in the lean-to, which worked out to our advantage as the day had intermittent showers.  It cooled off over night but there were still a few mosquitoes in the evening, so we went to sleep wearing head nets.  The next morning was clear and sunny and gorgeous.

The view from Henderson.

We were up early and left Henderson by 9am.  On our way out we passed several hikers headed to summit Mt Marcy, including one young girl hiking solo with new boots.  She said she had no hiking experience, but wanted to accomplish something similar to her friends that lived in Colorado and did frequent hiking.  I wonder how her day turned out.

We left a parking lot filling with day paddlers and more hikers to scout the upper Hudson River – particularly the Blackwell Stillwater section.  After a a long drive into the Polaris Bridge we re-considered, as our shuttle vehicle was not equipped to carry a canoe.  Poor planning on our part.  So we scouted the Hudson River with an intent to plan an overnight trip in September.  We checked out the put-in, Polaris Bridge, the Deerland lean-tos, and the take out for the Hudson on the Gooley Club road.  We planned to hike into Sprague Pond for an overnight but were unable to find the trailhead based on the scant information we had.  In review we were probably at the right location, but deterred by posted signs.

St Regis Lakes

Exploring the Upper St. Regis Lake, Spitfire Lake, and Lower St. Regis Lake Lakes provides views of historic Great Camps. These lakes are connected by wide channels. These are a large lakes vulnerable to weather, which can create choppy water. Three accessible boat launches and one carry that is only .6 miles long adds up to a classic loop.

Launching Points:

  • Keese Mills Road Latitude: 44.43212271 Longitude: -74.29987192
  • Paul Smith College Latitude: 44.4339341205 Longitude: -74.2532661930
  • Upper St Regis Lake Boat Launch Latitude: 44.3949091528 Longitude: -74.2698393948. Access to Upper St. Regis Lake is from a small town launch at Upper St. Regis Landing, just off Route 30, between Paul Smiths and Lake Clear, off St. Regis Carry Road.

Upper St. Regis Lake along with Lower St. Regis Lake and Spitfire Lake, became famous in the late 19th century as a summer playground of America’s power elite, drawn to the area by its scenic beauty and by the rustic charms of Paul Smith’s Hotel. It is the site of many grand old summer “cottages” and Great Camps. Upper Saint Regis Lake is part of the original Seven Carries canoe route from Paul Smith’s Hotel to Saranac Inn. Upper St Regis Lake consists of connected water bodies full of historic great camps and boathouses that make for a great tour. The lake is 742 acres in size. Average depth is 25 feet with a maximum depth of 90 feet.

Skip and I drove up in the morning and launched from the Upper Regis Landing about 11am.  We proceeded north along the western shore and stopped at a small waterfall coming out of Spectacle Ponds.  Walking along the stream we saw stone carvings and a tribute to George Francis Raymond. A search discovered his obituary but no described connection to the Adirondacks.

We continued north and began what we thought was a short portage leading to Black Pond. However, after a portage and hike of a mile we decided to return and approach Black Pond from  Lower St Regis Lake.  We continued our clockwise tour of Upper St Regis Lake, sticking close to the shoreline  as the wind was causing breaking white caps on the lake.  Somehow we missed the access to Spitfire Lake and made a complete loop back to the boat launch.  We decided to use the access to the St Regis Canoe area and portaged to Mud and Bear Ponds looking for a suitable campsite.  As shown by the picture below the water levels were unusually high due to the frequent rains this summer.  Our search for a dry and bug free campsite was not successful so we decided to return to the truck and camp in one of the Floodwood campsites for the night. We stayed at site #3, set up our tents, relaxed and read, and had a dinner of hot dogs, beans, bagel, fruit cup and Oreos.

The next day we found the boat launch at Paul Smith’s College.  The 350-acre Lower St. Regis Lake has as its northern edge Paul Smith’s College, There’s five miles of shoreline to explore around this lake. The narrows that access the lake offer scenic paddling in the region and are a destination themselves. There are several dirt floor lean-tos scattered along the shoreline.  There is a trail to St. Regis Mountain provides a view with only a moderate climb, however we did not choose to hike.

We paddled from Paul Smith’s to the outlet dam and examined several available lean-tos along the way; most had dirt floors.  On our return we visited Peter’s Rock which had a huge sloping rock to the water and a fine lean-to.

Upon our return we will paddle Spitfire Lake.

 

Labor Day Weekend at Massawepie

Kathryn, Eric, Matt and I took advantage of the Massawepie Scout camp being open over Labor Day weekend.  We camped Friday – Sunday and had perfect weather; caught several large bass, went swimming, explored adjoining ponds and the Massawepie Mire.  We found a GeoCache which we opened to inspect the contents – mainly toys and knick knacks.

2016-09-005

Because there was no portage and we had three canoes we were able to pack a lot of amenities; drinks, food and chairs for our comfort. We went fishing at dusk and Eric had great success catching large mouth bass in the weeds using a white tube bait.

Matt and I portaged into Boot Tree Pond and then hiked to see the Massawepie Mire – the largest in eastern US.

2016-09-04 Massawepie Lake1

 

I am not sure how it could have been better.  Re-entry into regular day life was rough for a day or so.

MISSING MASSAWEPIE

No caterwauling owls nor loons wailing through the night.
No chattering red squirrels dropping cones from pine tree heights.

No fog lifting slowly burning off in morning’s light.
No canoes along the shoreline glistening golden bright.

No canoeing adjoining ponds shaped like a Boot Tree
Returning to our camp in time for shared High Tea.

These things once were; and in our mind they will be
Until we return again to Massawepie.

 

 

Eight Strokes A Side

You might remember a Tennessee Ernie Ford hit song called “Sixteen Tons” with the chorus “You load sixteen tons, what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt. Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go, I owe my soul to the company store”.

Skip, Steve and I went canoe camping at Stillwater Reservoir and up the Red Horse Trail to Salmon, Witchhopple and Clear Ponds. Usually time spent paddling results in a “Skip Song” and this was no exception.

EIGHT STROKES A SIDE
(With apologies to Tennessee Ernie Ford and “16 Tons”…..
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRh0QiXyZSk )

Well let me tell you the story of our camping trip; me and Steve but this tale’s about Skip.
We canoed across Stillwater Reservoir; it’s a place we all have paddled before.

Well, Skip he is a paddling man, he paddles just as fast and hard as he can.
He knows all kinds of paddling strokes, Skip is one paddling bloke.

Eight strokes a side and then you switch, Skip is a paddling son of bitch.
Eight strokes a side and then he calls hup, you better pull hard if you want to keep up…..

Skip can paddle the stern if you want him to steer, but if he paddles the bow you better stay clear.
His paddle starts flashing in the sun, ‘cause Skip is a paddling son of a gun.

Eight strokes a side and then you switch, Skip is a paddling son of bitch.
Eight strokes a side and then he calls hup, you better pull hard if you want to keep up…..

We got up early before the wind starts to blow, it makes the big waves that are dangerous you know.
Paddle an hour, then paddle some more, I hope we all make it safely to shore.

Eight strokes a side and then you switch, Skip is a paddling son of bitch.
Eight strokes a side and then he calls hup, you better pull hard if you want to keep up…..

Skip’s paddling fast and his boat leaves a wake, it goes a little faster with each stroke that he takes.
I’m paddling out and what do I see, Skip and his boat go flying by me.

Eight strokes a side and then you switch, Skip is a paddling son of bitch.
Eight strokes a side and then he calls hup, you better pull hard if you want to keep up…..