Tag Archives: camping

Overnight Camping at Thomas H Burbine Forest

Burbine Forest (42.81569, -74.38742) is approximately 330-acres located on Pond Road, just off of Corbin Hill Road, Sprakers in the township of Charleston. During the great depression, many farmlands were abandoned and reverted back to state ownership.  Often these lands were reforested by the Civilian Conservation Corps and are now state forests. In 1930, Montgomery County purchased the piece of land from the Fort Plain Bank to create a County forest. The forest contains numerous tree species such as oaks, maples and pines, ample wildlife and a wetland. Thomas H. Burbine Nature Loop is a 1 mile loop trail located that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail portion was partially created as an Eagle Scout project.

With everyone locked down due to the Corona virus and clear weather with temperatures in the high 30s; Matt and Jim visited the forest and camped overnight. During the night we were visited by loudest Barred Owl I have ever heard. He must have been in the trees just above our tents. Temperatures overnight dropped to 18 degrees and created frost everywhere. We arose at 6:30am, packed up and headed home.

Kathryn’s 2nd Solo Canoe Camping Trip

Kathryn completed her second-ever Solo (+dog) canoe camping trip. Positioning a 100lb dog can make one a little nervous especially if she won’t lay down in the canoe, but other than that she was a perfect companion for 24 hours of wilderness and quiet. Kathryn had a fabulous time and pledges to do this more often. Jim and Eric came up today for lunch and escorted us back.

Little Tupper Lake to Lake Lila to Lows Lake

In 2002 Kathryn, Matt, Mark and I did an overnight trip from Little Tupper Lake to Lake Lila shortly after NYS acquisition of the Whitney Estate. At the time we were told that less than 75 people had completed the trip. For this adventure trip we planned to continue past Lake Lila and portage to Lows Lake per the schematic below.

It was a 2 hour drive from Floyd to the Little Tupper Lake boat launch off Sabattis Road in the town of Long Lake. We met Steve at the launch about 9am and unload everything from the truck for Skip and Paul to guard while Steve and I transferred my truck to a parking spot in the Lows Lake parking lot. We returned in Steve’s car to LTL boat launch and were paddling by 11am.  We headed to Rock Pond to find a campsite for the night.

Rock Pond to Lows Lake Traverse

Little Tupper is six miles long and at 2,300 acres, it is the 14th biggest lake in the Adirondack Park. Behind Lows Lake, it is the second biggest motor-free lake. There are 24 designated primitive paddle-in campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis. To the west is a low wetland and the outlet of Charley Pond. We paddled upstream towards Charley Pond as far as the Burn Road Trail bridge. One can continue paddling further upstream for ~mile before reaching private land.

The Rock Pond Outlet is 1.5 miles of fairly wide, gently-winding stream with boggy shores. Rock Pond has a total of six campsites. We stopped at the 1st available for a late lunch at 2:30. We debated the merits of staying on Rock Pond versus trying to knock off the 2 mile portage to Hardigan Pond and staying at the unknown campsite. The Rock Pond campsite won the debate. While snacking we saw people at site 26 – the island campsite. We decided to scout the other campsites and discovered the two people on the island site were day tripping and returning to Little Tupper Lake. We set up camp and the light breezes kept the bugs away. We also took this time out to unpack the package of hats we’d bought from some custom hat manufacturers. We distributed the hats amongst the group and made a campfire.

Looking at Salmon Mtn from Rock Pond

Day 2 we got up at 5:30am and were on the water by 7:30 as we had 4 miles of portages to accomplish to reach Lake Lila. We started off with a 2 mile portage to Hardigan Pond. From Hardigan Pond there was a .55 mile portage to Salmon Lake Outlet. From Little Salmon Lake there was another .5 mile portage into Lilypad Pond. Each of these portages included traipsing over beaver dams or flooded trailways resulting in soaked feet. Finally we concluded an .8 mile portage from Lilypad Pond to Shingle Shanty Brook. We paddled the meandering Shingle Shanty Brook for nearly 45 minutes until reaching Lake Lila. While all these portages showed footprints, the trails were overgrown with ferns and briars. The deer flies were a constant annoyance. While we tried to single carry portions of the portages, largely we leap-frogged our packs and the canoes. White caps were rolling on Lake Lila so we undertook tacking maneuvers to quarter the wind and stay near shore. We reached site 20 which was a large open site with a rocky beach. We went swimming, re-hydrated and cooked dinner. We set up a tarp due to rain projected in the forecast.

We awoke at 6am with the sound of light rain and packed up our damp tents during a lull in the rain. On the water at 7:30am we set off for the Harrington Brook trailhead. The Harrington Brook trail was extremely muddy so we opted to make the short bushwhack to the railroad tracks and skip the Harrington Brook trail and pond. As we trekked up the 1.2 miles up the railroad tracks the rain transitioned from light sprinkles to an absolute downpour as we launched into Clear Pond. The portage from the railroad to Clear Pond was open with good footing – the best trail of all the portages. The deer flies at Clear Pond and Bog Lake were horrendous – causing us to paddle with head nets.

Lows Lake

Paul and I made a navigation error and prolonged our trip on Lows Lake; otherwise extending a 15 mile paddle. As the rain continued we decided to paddle out to the lower dam and head for home, rather than set up a campsite and leave the next morning. We were loaded up by 8:30pm (making a 13 hour day) and drove home to showers and dry clothes.

Stillwater Reservoir

Skip and Steve left on Thursday to scout campsites; ending up at Picnic Point, which they said was fine when breezy, but overrun with mosquitoes when the wind died down. So they picked an alternative (#37) for those of us that arrived on Friday. Kathryn, Gaie and I paddled in Friday afternoon, followed by Dave and Debbie Shoemaker.

After sitting up camp Kathryn and Gaie went fishing with Kathryn catching 7 small bass during the evening session.

Kathryn made Spanish Rice for dinner which was delicious and bountiful. It rained overnight but cleared out Saturday morning. We took the canoes out for fishing, but didn’t have much luck. The weather was highly variable with sun, clouds and wind all fluctuating throughout the day, but no rain. At night we had chicken and rice with vegetables. After dinner and another attempt at fishing the crew started playing pitch and looking over their shoulders at a pending thunderstorm. We settled until Skip’s tarp just as the heavens unleashed a torrential rain. It rained almost all night. Sunday morning we awoke at 6, packed up our gear, were on the water a little before 9am and off the water 45 minutes later.

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.

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.

Jockeybush Lake

Matt, Mark, Rick and I were yearning for a trip in the woods and selected an easy trip into Jockeybush Lake for an overnight camping trip.  With temperatures in the mid-40s our hike was pleasant.  Jockeybush Lake is a 1.1 mile hike up a 200′ grade with two small stream crossings.   Access to the trail head  begins across from Lake Alma on Route 10 with parking is adjacent to yellow and brown trail sign. The trail follows a stream ith several small waterfalls that flows from the Jockeybush Lake into West Sacandaga River.

We celebrated seeing a Unicorn – Mark finally participating on a winter camping trip-  we took pictures of the waterfalls on our hike in, and observed a “Joanie loves Chachi” tree carving from a previous trip that went bad.

Hiking In

The south east end of the lake has a log jam across it, allowing one to cross to an area of large, flat rocks.  We used trekking poles for balance and safely crossed dry on the way in.  In the morning on the way out, however, it was a different matter.  The logs were covered with frost and slippery.  Matt got his boots wet at the start of the crossing and then plunged his foot into the water after slipping on the frosty log.

Log Crossing

The view of the lake from this end is wonderful, however we found it devoid of wood and being cooled by winds sweeping down the lake. We followed an unmarked, but easy to follow trail around the north shore of the lake to another camp location where we deployed our various shelters.  I used my Black Diamond 1st Light tent, Matt used his tarptent and Mark and Rick used hammocks; Rick’s 4th attempt and Mark’s 1st use of a hammock for winter camping. Mark added a festive atmosphere by hanging holiday lights around his hammock.

Tenting at Jockeybush Lake

After setting up our tents we gathered firewood for cooking and an extended evening chatting around the fire; one of my favorite aspects of winter camping.  As the wind died down it actually felt a little warmer as the evening went on and we managed to stay up until 9pm before turning in.  Matt and Mark cooked brats on a stick over the open fire.  Rick used his alcohol stove to cook pasta and I boiled water from the lake over my Solo Stove.

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The solo stove consists of a main burn chamber, for burning the twigs, and a separate pot stand which a metal ring with three feet and a gap that lets you add twigs and small pieces of wood – roughly finger sized. Rising hot air pulls air through the bottom vent holes. This air movement fuels the fire at its base while also providing a boost of preheated air through the vent holes at the top of the burn chamber. The double wall Solo Stove is a natural convection inverted downgas gasifer stove. The air intake holes on the bottom of the stove channels air to the bottom of the fire while at the same time, channels warm air up between the walls of the stove. This preheated oxygen feeding back into the firebox through the smaller holes at the top of the stove causes a secondary combustion.  There is also a heat shield between the ash pan and the bottom of the stove which protects the ground under the stove from scorching.

This was my 1st time using the Solo Stove which I intended as a winter camping backup stove.  It worked well for one person, boiling 20 oz. of water for my freeze dried dinner in ~10 minutes.  It used 3-4 handfuls of twigs.  For an optimal burn it requires constant feeding, but it burned well with a mixture of dry and damp sticks.  The stove balanced well and I did not feel a need for a separate wind screen.  The usual issues with soot covering your pot exists – just like cooking over any wood fire.

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Overnight the temperatures dropped below freezing, causing the lake to freeze over with interesting ice patterns.

Frozen Lake

We encountered “Frost Flowers” on our hike out; something I had never seen before.  These are one of the stranger ice formations found in the woods; crystallofolia  are delicate ice formations that form from water emitted along a stem during a hard freeze in late fall/early winter. From Latin crystallus for ice and folium for leaf these are commonly called “frost flowers” or “feather frost”.

A typical example looks like a small puff-ball of cotton candy, a few inches across, made up of clusters of thin, curved ice filaments.   The petals of frost flowers are very delicate and will break when touched. They usually melt or sublimate when exposed to sunlight and are usually visible in the early morning or in shaded areas.

Frost flowers usually grow on a piece of water-logged wood.  It’s something of a rare find with conditions having to be just so before it will form. The formation of frost flowers is dependent on a freezing weather condition occurring when the ground is not already frozen. The moisture in the plants or dead wood expands when frozen, causing cracks to form in the stem. Water is then drawn through these cracks via capillary action and freezes upon contact with the air. The capillary action pulls moisture up from damp ground which continues to freeze and adds to what’s already frozen there. As more water is drawn through the cracks the thin ice filaments are essentially pushed out from pores in the wood as they freeze.

It’s something of a misnomer to call this frost since it freezes from liquid water, not water vapor. None the less, they were beautiful to see.

Frost Flowers

Spanish River

2015-07-31 Spanish River

During our 5 day trip down the Spanish River Skip had several ‘songs’ composed in his honor.  It gave Jim something to do while paddling and proved mildly entertaining to the rest of the group.  There were variations of Canoeing in the Rain, and 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall (became 30km to Paddle Today) and this summary of the trip.

Spanish River 2015 (with apologies to New Riders “Henry”)

Every year about this time we plan a canoeing trip,
bringing all our canoeing buddies the group is led by Skip.
Heading north to Spanish River, there are sights to see,
paddling down those Spanish rapids, classes II and III.

The Spanish landscape is beautiful and a wondrous sight,
we saw ducks, ospreys, moose and the full moon at night.
But the lure of the river was running down those waves,
we ran all the rapids except those named as graves.

Now we’re paddling the Spanish River going fast splash, splash;
if we dump at this one it will be our last.
Paddling Spanish rapids, classes II and III;
help me keep this canoe straight through these rapids if you please.

Paddling down Spanish River for all of five days
Skip consulted all the maps we thought he knew the way.
Lakes and swifts and rapids, the water ran downstream
We paddled 30 kilometers every day ‘cause Skip was mean.

Bouncing off the rocks and boulders paddle Steve and Ski,
Following right behind them paddle Tim and me.
Jack is ruddering, Skip is prying, trying to keep them straight.
At the bottom of the rapids we will quietly wait.

Now we’re paddling the Spanish River going fast splash, splash;
if we dump at this one it will be our last.
Paddling Spanish rapids, classes II and III;
help me keep this canoe straight through these rapids if you please.

Now it’s looking dire for our boys and their sideways canoe,
They are floating towards the rocks and we don’t know what they’ll do.
Watching beers and chocolates floating down the waves.
Leaving Jack and Skip alone, it’s snacks and beers we’ll save.

Friday before departure Eric and I assembled the Yakima racks for my truck; a vex some process, but it enabled us to carry most of the gear, two canoes (Wenonah Cascade & Old Town Camper) and three passengers.  Tim drove his Jeep with his gear, Steve’s Mad River canoe and three passengers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We met at my house at 7am and were on the road by 7:30am – headed to Buffalo, Toronto and NW to Agnew Lake Lodge.  Toronto was hosting the Pan American games and traffic was unbelievable.  We lost 1 hour in heavy stop and go traffic and almost got rear ended.  We stopped in Perry Sound (home of Bobby Hull) due to a traffic accident. We overheard the accident lawyer, who was a famous florida accident attorney,  say that the accident had killed 2 and left 4 others injured. To the other side, another personal injury lawyer was assimilating the grim scene on the accident spot. We call Agnew Lake Lodge and informed them we would arrive the next morning instead.  We rented a campsite and turned in at 9pm.  We arose Sunday at 5:30am, packed up and drove to Agnew Lake Lodge.

Google Directions to Lake Agnew

At Agnew Lake Lodge we got our shuttle drivers, fishing licenses, camping and parking permits and headed to Duke Lake – a three hour drive.  We were on the water at 1:30pm and headed out looking for an early campsite.

2015-07-31 Spanish River

We camped on a sandy point after paddling on 9th Lake for a little over 2 hours.  We were hopeful the exposure on the sand spit would provide a breeze and keep the bugs away.  It did, occasionally.  We had some mosquitoes, but mainly biting flies – stable flies / ankle biters.  We all took a quick swim to clean up but didn’t stay in long due to the leeches.  We agreed that each of us would be responsible for our own breakfast and lunch but we took turns making dinner.  For the 1st night Steve made turkey meat burritos for dinner.

I slept OK – not great.  I overfilled my NEOS air mattress and it was hard, but my charcoal pillow gave relief, though. We had mosquitoes in the tent and I had to get up to pee.  We got up at 6pm.  Skip made coffee and eggs.  We packed up our tents, damp with condensation and were paddling by 8am.

2015-07-31 Spanish River1

Our routine was to paddle for 60-90 minutes and then stop for a drink and snack.  Skip’s plan was to get us to the head of Agnew Lake on Thursday night so the paddle across the lake could be done early Friday morning while the lake was calm.  To achieve this he set paddling goals of 10km on Sunday and 30km every day thereafter.  We paddled from 8am – 3pm – all lake paddling with a couple of little swifts in between. Leaving 1st Lake we followed a series of swifts and easy rapids.  Tim and I put our canoe cover on as we left our lunch site anticipating rapids.  Tim and I went 1st through the first rapids we encountered.  Skip and Jack went next; followed by Steve and Ski.  There was a large rock towards the bottom of the rapids.  Skip and Jack tried to cross to the right side of the stream and broadsided the rock and dumped.  They used the home made bailer I issued to each canoe to empty the water from their boat – it would be used again.  Tim and I saved the beer and chocolate which escaped their canoe.  We took pictures at one of our break points that coincided with a campsite that Skip, Steve, Bob and I had used as our day 1 campsite on our trip 12 years prior.  It was more overgrown by bushes.   We fell just short of Skip’s goal for the day when we decided to stay on a point in Expansia Lake.  Skip and Jack made dinner: steaks, potatoes and fried squash.

2015-07-31 Spanish River2

Our water filter got clogged despite our pre-filtering of the lake water.  We back flushed multiple times and got minimal improvement.  Tim declared out Expansia Lake campsite to be ‘Squatchy” and claimed to hear several Sasquatch noises.

Our 3rd day was a marathon day of paddling from 8:30am – 6:30 pm with a one hour break to portage around Upper Albion Rapids.  We ran the Lower Albion Rapids, Railroad Rapids, Bridge Rapids and Cliff Rapids.  We were going to stay at Cliff Rapids but the 1st site was too muddy and dark.  We ran the rapids (past the nude sunbather) and found the lower two sites were taken.  About 3pm we stopped at an old campsite and Jack, Tim and I went for a swim to cool off.  I felt like I was overheating and needed to cool down.  About 4km below Cliff Rapids we found an island campsite where we stayed for the night. It was buggy, but home for the night. Tim and I made carrot sticks and celery sticks stuffed with peanut butter or cheese spread as our snack and cooked hot dogs and beans for our dinner.  Jack & I took a swim off a nearby sand bar after dinner but the hordes of large horse flies were a menace and kept us from being out long.

2015-07-31 Spanish River3

We were on the water at 7:30am and paddled Zig Zag and Little Graveyard rapids.  We emptied the boats and carried around Graveyard Rapids.  At Agnes Rapids, Skip & Jack carried, Tim & I lined and Steve and Ski ran.  We played leap frog with a family group who stopped to swim at the Elbow.  One of the swimmers lost their Croc while swimming.  Tim and I managed to retrieve it from the fast moving water and toss it up on shore for them to retrieve.  We saw two moose swimming across the river and they stood on the shore and watched us approach for a long time.  We stopped to camp for the night on top of a very large rock with an outstanding view although it was a pain to haul our gear from the canoes up the slope.

Our water filter has failed.  It has gradually slowed down to the past few days we have had to back flush every 16-32 oz.  We finally got enough water by letting it drip all night long into the big collapsible water bucket and by using the water from the 1/2 gallon ice blocks which melted.  I also had 2 dromedary bags filled with water from melted ice.  It was nice drinking clean water that we didn’t have to add Crystal Light flavoring.

Wednesday night I made Spanish rice  using Kathryn’s recipe and preparations.  It came out great and everyone had 2nds and 3rds.

2015-07-31 Spanish River4

Thursday morning we were on the water at 8:15am, ran a couple of swifts and then ran the Cascade Rapids.  Cascade Rapids were a series of ‘cascades’ with the last of the rapids being large standing waves.  Tim got a chestful of water, but little made it’s way into the canoe.  The canoe cover worked well.  It was easy to access the snaps stayed on and it shaded our lower legs and feet.  It saved us on at least two occasions from getting serious water in the canoe. We paddled until 2pm and camped at the head of Agnew Lake.  There was a lot of wind and white caps as we set up camp.  We staked our tents down securely and enjoyed some camp time.  Skip and Jack made dinner from freeze dried vegetables and rice.  Bored by 6pm we turned in early at night. We were once again blessed with a full moon at night.  We got up early, had coffee and granola bars and packed up for our paddle across Agnew Lake.  The lake was dead calm to start, but we ended up paddling into waves on our return.

Spanish River Last Day Collage

On our return ride home (13 hours !!) we had plenty of time for trip assessment discussions.

  • The Spanish River was a good choice for our skill levels.  The Class II & III rapids were challenging but not threatening.  Both Tim and Jack, as well as the rest of the group, gained more confidence in running rapids and maneuvering the canoes around obstacles as the trip progressed.
  • Traveling with 6 people / 3 canoes was ideal.  The group fit the available campsites and we all traveled at a similar pace.
  • The truck and Jeep were ideal for transporting 3 canoes, gear for six people and six passengers.
  • The Mad River and Wenonah Cascade canoes were well suited for the trip.  The canoe cover was a nice feature.  The 16′ Old Town Camper canoe lacked a little freeboard in the middle and that’s where Skip & Jack shipped most of their water.  Bailers for each canoe were useful.
  • Despite planning a 6 day trip the group decided to try and return on Saturday.  We spent 1/2 day on the water Sunday; Monday-Thursday as full days on the water and 1/2 day out on Friday.  While a little more “down time” would have been appreciated on a couple of the long days paddling when given the extra time on the last day we got bored.
  • Despite planning to fish the group didn’t invest as much time in fishing as perhaps planned.  Even with a license and bringing fishing equipment Jim never fished at all.  Steve and Ski did the most fishing, but much of that was trolling while paddling.
  • The next trip should have a ‘transportation officer’ responsible for road maps and alternative routing to/from our destination.  We relied too heavily on our GPS which routed us through Toronto and heavy traffic.    The drive to/from Agnew Lake Lodge was excessive.
  • Our water filter issues were troublesome.  We had another Basecamp filter and a small emergency Sawyer water filter if needed.  We did multi-layered pre-filtering of our water, but probably should have let our water settle in the camp bucket for 10-15 minutes before pre-filtering.
  • Our meals worked out great and we had an abundance of food and snacks. The two burner propane stove worked out well.  We agreed next time that the cooks shouldn’t also be responsible for washing dishes.  We should have squeezed our food supplies to reduce  from 4 to just 3 coolers.

Plans for a summer 2016 trip are being considered.

1st Weekend of May

Kathryn (and Scout) did an solo overnight canoe camping trip to Moss Lake on Thursday / Friday.

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Friday Eric was home sick with a sore throat.  In the afternoon I got our riding lawnmower fired up and did a 1st time mowing of the lawn.  Saturday we cut trees along the meadow.  Kathryn sprained her ankle and got Hawthorne thorns in her leg.  I got a wagon load of manure from Weslie Hughes for the pumpkin patch and planted tomato plants in the garden.

Essex Chain of Lakes

The Essex Chain Lakes Complex is comprised of the 19,600 acres of lands and waters of the Essex Chain Lakes Primitive Area  located in the central portion of the Adirondack Park.  Essex Chain Lakes  were acquired by the state in 2012, opened to the public officially October 2013 and made accessible for camping in June 2014.  Thirteen designated tent sites along the shores of the waters of the complex require a free permit between May 15 and October 15.  The permit system is administered through a partnership with the Student Conservation Association Back Country Stewardship Program and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) facility.  Campers must call 518-582-2000 or visit the AIC facility at 5922 State Route 28N in Newcomb, NY, to reserve a tent site. Campers can pick up their reserved permit at the AIC facility between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. any day of the week. Tent sites may be reserved no more than 10 days in advance.  Campers may visit the AIC web site  ( http://www.esf.edu/aic/ ) for maps and information about camping, the tent sites and the permit system. The AIC website will track tent sites that are occupied or reserved to assist campers in choosing a campsite.  The camping is restricted — no campfires — as these campsites are located in what are the Essex Chain Lake and Pine Lakes Primitive areas. More campsites are in the works with fewer restrictions in other areas.

Essex Chain of Lakes Campsites

It’s about an 11-mile drive from Rt. 28N to the Deer Pond parking lot. Take the Goodnow Flow Road approximately 4.3 miles and turn right onto Woody’s Road. Follow Woody’s Road for approximately 1.5 miles. Turn left onto the Cornell/Deer Pond Road and travel 4.4 miles to the Deer Pond parking area.  The first seven miles are through private land until you reach the new Forest Preserve boundary. From there, it’s another four miles on a dirt road. A car with good clearance can make this trip under current road conditions.

Essex Chain of Lakes Access

essex-chain-lakes-sign

Much of the portage trail is old  road which can accommodate a wheeled cart.  Paddlers can carry their canoe or kayak from the parking area at the end of the Cornell/Deer Pond Road less than 0.25 mile to Deer Pond.  Below Kathryn and Eric arrive at the Deer Pond launch site.

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The 0.5 mile carry from Deer Pond to Third Lake is located directly across the pond on its southern shore.  Once in Third Lake paddlers can access Second Lake by water and from there travel to First Lake using a short carry trail. On the northern shore of First Lake near its western end is the 0.4 mile carry to Grassy Pond.

We chose  the other direction and traveled from Third Lake to Fourth Lake and then to Fifth Lake can be reached by paddling through the culvert under the roadway, or during high water portaging over the road. Paddlers can reach Sixth and Seventh Lake directly from Fifth Lake.  We chose to camp at the only site on Fifth Lake assuming seclusion but were unaware of the dirt road passing behind the campsite.  On our 1st day there were bikers and one lost hiker.  The campsites were a little rough but the lake was pretty.

Eric worked hard at fishing and was finally rewarded when Kathryn suggested he use pieces of hot dog near the downed tree.

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Eric caught 25+ sunfish and shiners (some possibly more than once).  Kid fishing at it’s best.

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We toured Sixth and Seventh Lakes on Tuesday evening.

 

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Matt and Skip

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Generally good weather, although rained one day. Bugs were not bad except for deer flies on the portage.  We heard and saw lots of loons; swimming, fishing, flying from pond to pond and making defensive displays to distract Skip and Matt when they inadvertently got too close to a family unit.   At least 5 of them  swimming, dancing and flying past our campsite all the time.  Very cool.  Heard owls and various warblers.  Because the campsite hadn’t had a lot of use (we think we were actually the first), no black bears in evidence.  Leeches in the water were a deterrent to a lot of swimming, though we did swim some and the water was very warm.

 

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Kathryn doing a little tent house-keeping.

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After breakfast Wednesday morning Matt and Skip hiked out to the parking lot;  Matt to return home and Skip to meet his brother-in-law, Steve.  Skip and Steve paddled around the Chain of Lakes Rain.  Mid-afternoon rain moved and we sat under the tarps and played cards and cooked our dinner of Mac & Cheese and hot dogs.  The evening cleared out and the next morning displayed a clear and calm Fifth Lake.

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Thursday morning we opted to portage out along the road rather than paddling back to Third Lake.  It took about 60 minutes of easy walking.