Tag Archives: canoe camping

Racquette River: Axton Landing

Steve, Skip and I ventured out for a 3 day 2 night canoe camping trip on the Raquette River. The Raquette River, sometimes spelled Racquette, originates at Raquette Lake; and is the third longest river (146 miles) entirely in the state of New York. The river is a popular destination for canoeing and kayaking. It passes through many natural and man-made lakes to its final destination at Akwesasne on the Saint Lawrence River. Historically, the river was a part of the “Highway of the Adirondacks”, by which it was possible to travel hundreds of miles by canoe with short stretches of portage connecting various waterways. This route is still followed by the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, a 740-mile canoe trail from Old Forge to Fort Kent in Maine. It is also the basis of the route of the Adirondack Canoe Classic, a three-day, 90-mile canoe race from Old Forge to Saranac Lake.

From the put-in at Axton Landing we proceeded north (left) upstream along the Raquette River. After about 0.5 mile Stony Creek came in on the left. This widening is easy to recognize, a bridge on Coreys Road can be seen just upstream over Stony Creek. The outlet of Stony Creek Ponds provides access to Upper Saranac Lake and routes north. To reach Raquette Falls, pass by Stony Creek and continue upstream. Axton Landing to Raquette Waterfalls is 6.5 miles. Going around the Raquette Falls involves a 1.3 mile portage around Raquette Falls. We dropped our gear off at leanto #7 and paddled our empty canoes to the falls. We hiked the trail along the falls, took the requisite photographs and returned back downstream to our campsite. Along the way we saw an immature eagle perched on a dead tree watching a mother duck and her little ones below and contemplating how to make them a meal. Steve fished his way back catching several nice pike and large mouth bass. Campsite 7 was well used and had habituated chipmunks, red squirrels and mice. The following morning we headed downstream returning to Axton Landing and to the Crusher. From Axton Landing, it is eleven miles to The Crusher launch site. From Axton Landing to The Crusher there are multiple spots where you can pull off for lunch or to take a break. We stayed the night at campsite 14. Leaving early the following morning we paddled two hours downstream past the outlet of Follensby Pond just before the Raquette curves north toward the Crusher. If you can find the outlet, you can work your way upstream to the causeway that marks the north end of Follensby Pond. We saved that adventure for another time.

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Four Days in St Regis Canoe Area

We packed on Monday and departed early Tuesday to meet up with Matt and Nathan at the McDonald’s in Tupper Lake. The weather called for rain and we had sprinkles on the way up, but we were counting on a break in the weather before getting a campsite on Long Pond in St Regis Canoe Area. We were to meet Skip at the trail head at noon. We were on time for both our meetings.

Eric, Kathryn, Scout and I were in the MN II. Skip paddled my Solo Prism and Matt and Nathan paddled their Coleman. As we packed up our canoes and started paddling across Long Pond the dark clouds rolled in behind us. It rained on us as we sought a campsite. In 2010 a major campsite work project was conducted resulting in closing some campsites. We were last in the area in 2008 and were using the original version of the ADK Paddlers Map. We ended up staying at campsite #10.

Concerned about pending rainstorms we quickly set up our tents and two rain flys for protection. We used Tarpology 101 to ensure a drain. Of course, by erecting a couple of tarps we were ensured that it would not rain.

Nathan and Eric entertained themselves by building a fire bow and trying to start a fire like Survivor Man to no avail.

Later I gave Nathan and Eric each took a turn starting the evening’s fire using a flint & steel shedding sparks onto a cotton ball swabbed with Vaseline and birch bark. Watching the boys making sparks was entertainment for the adults as well.

We did a baking each afternoon as a snack. Dinners were Pasta Primavera, Chicken and Biscuits and pasta.

Wednesday was a quiet day, below Kathryn and Scout take a snooze.

Wednesday afternoon Matt paddled the solo and Jim, Skip and Matt paddled over to Hoel Pond. Upon our return Matt took Nathan and Eric out for a tour of Long Pond.

We took a short hike along the shore line. The picture below depicts the group just before Eric stood on a ground wasp nest. He was stung 5 times while none of the rest of us were stung. The wasps got into his clothes. Even after he got back to the tent for Kathryn to apply medicine he got stung on the belly by a wasp hiding in his clothes. Fortunately the medicine (Anti-Bite and Benadryl) and a quick swim in cool water calmed the stings.

In the evening our campsite was visited by a beaver that swam along shore and nibbled on the lily pads. The boys got a close up look and pictures.

Wednesday night we improved on our design for hanging our food by suspending the food between two trees. Having a carabiner or two is critical to the design.

Thursday AM Matt and Nathan enjoy a breakfast of heated up something.

After breakfast Matt and Nathan packed up and headed home.

We, on the other hand, packed lunches and water and headed out to paddle what is called the Floodwater Loop in Dave Cilly’s Adirondack Paddler Guide Book. Skip paddled the solo. Kathryn and I paddled the MN II with Eric and Scout as passengers. It was a good opportunity to give Scout an entire bay in the canoe and get her more familiar with getting in/out and laying down in the canoe. We headed east from our campsite and did the short portage into Slang Pond. We had to line our canoe into Turtle Pond and carry over the railroad tracks into Hoel Pond. Traveling across Hoel Pond I got a little nervous as Scout shifted around and wouldn’t lay down. From that point on, however, she got comfortable and would sit still or lay in bottom of the canoe.

After a short misguided portage out into the golf course we did a course correction and carried into Polliwog Pond. We portaged up and over the esker into Follensby Clear Pond where we took a break for lunch and a quick swim on the 1st island. Leaving the island we paddled south and portaged over the esker into Fish Creek. We paddled Fish Creek north westerly passing Little Square Point and went into Floodwood Pond. Fish Creek and Floodwood Pond had a lot of casual boaters and we passed many, many people. In total we probably saw 100 people during our paddle – not exactly a wilderness experience. From Floodwood Pond we portaged back into Long Pond and turned to the west to retrieve additional food and beverages from our cars in the parking lot.

We left our campsite at 9:30am and were back on Long Pond six hours later completing what the guide book touts as a 3 day camping trip involving 10-15 miles.

Lunch time on the island in Follensby Clear Pond.

Mama and baby loon on Follensby Clear Pond.

 

 

Upon our return to our campsite we decided to take a quick swim to cool off. Eric wanted to jump out of the canoe so we emptied the boat and I paddled out to let him jump out. We did three trips. Notice how lax the canoeist is at holding his paddle in the water.

On the 3rd jump that lax paddle position caused the following result. Fortunately we all wanted to swim.

Friday we packed up and headed out after breakfast. Our timing was good as it started to sprinkle on our way home and Friday afternoon it rained hard.

Camping in Croghan Tract

In 1999 the State of New York purchased 29,000 acres and an additional 110,000 acres of conservation easements from Champion International Corporation. This acquisition consists of three noncontiguous blocks, known as the Santa Clara Tract, Tooley Pond Tract and Croghan Tract, covering portions of ten towns in Franklin, St. Lawrence, Herkimer and Lewis Counties.

Skip and I explored the Croghan area and camped on night on Long Pond. Barbara Martin’s Discover the Adirondacks series showed a shelter located on Long Pond. Skip and I used the public boat access on the south end of Long Pond and found the lean-to located above a sandy beach.

It was too good to be true. The lean-to was immaculately clean with a stocked wood box. The lean-to was located on an esker between Round and Long Ponds.

We spent the afternoon enjoying the cross breeze between the ponds and reading. I worked on editing my Guide to Winter Camping book.

During the afternoon a family group of 10-12 came to swim at the beach below the lean-to. They admired the canoe and paddles, but did not venture up to the lean-to or spot us.

After further examination it turned out the site and land were owned by the NYS Future Farmers of America (FFA).

After dinner I was contemplating a swim before turning in when a group of boats with camp counselors came for a bonfire and swim. They stayed from 9-11pm and noticed our presence while hunting for wood.

Skip and I decided discretion was in order and planned to depart upon first awaking. Sunday morning found me awake at 5am and us packed up and canoeing out by 5:30.

We drove to Sand Pond and then along the Beaver River Flow to High Falls Pond where we spent the afternoon lounging on one of the island campsites. During the late afternoon we paddled upstream to Belfort.

For dinner I made corn bread and heated up Dinty Moore beef stew. We went swimming in the evening and turned in early as the mosquitoes came out about 8:45pm. We slept well and had a slight shower as we awoke in the morning around 6am. We drove into Croghan for breakfast. I returned home to re-stock for our next camping trip. Skip left for Saranac Lake with plans to meet us Tuesday noon at Long Pond.

Return to Rock Lake

With temperatures predicted in the high 80s we headed back to Rock Lake to spend the weekend swimming and staying cool by the water. Scout joined in for some swimming but going out to the rock was too much for her.

We were plagued by deer flies and stable flies aka ankle biters aka Adirondack Meanies. The deer flies were annoying, but mainly buzzed about our heads and they were slow enough to enable swatting. The stable flies were another matter. They were numerous, fast and vicious – especially attacking Scout.


The stable fly or biting house fly is a blood-feeding pest known to attack almost any kind of warm-blooded animal. It looks like the common house fly except that its mouth parts are adapted for biting and sucking blood. The stable fly feeds by inserting its proboscis (beak) through the skin and then sucking blood from its host. The proboscis is long enough to penetrate some clothing.

Females can live up to a month and may require several blood meals during this period in order to continue laying eggs. It is a daytime feeder, with peak biting occurring during the early morning and late afternoon. Stable flies prefer to attack people around the ankles; hence being called ‘ankle biters’. Fortunately, it does not appear to be an important vector of any human diseases. The immature stable fly (maggot) can be found breeding in many kinds of moist, decaying organic matter. The variety of breeding sites, and the fact that the adults fly several miles to feed but spend little time on the host, make it difficult to manage stable flies. They didn’t seem to be daunted by repellents or the bug lantern employed by Kathryn.

Eric worked the fire to provide a full on smoke attack which worked, however.

Speaking of the fire pit we pulled broken glass, aluminum foil, cans, Coleman propane bottles, and a broken golf club out of the fire pit and campsite; yielding about 10-15 lbs of trash. Below is the before and after versions of the fire pit. We ended up leaving six metal grates as Kathryn expressed her limit of what she was willing to pack out.

Dinner consisted of chicken and fresh baked biscuits – a definite keeper. In the evening we were treated to an evening sunset.

On our way out we experimented by putting the dog in one of the last sections in the canoe. We paddled over to the site where we stayed last week to see if the bugs were as bad there. They were less annoying, perhaps due to less vegetation or a more open site. We saw a rough legged hawk hunting over the swampy inlet, although Kathryn had to consult her bird book to be sure.

After lunch we paddled across the lake and loaded up for the portage out. Eric astounded us by volunteering to double carry the kitchen backpack and the cooler backpack the last 2/3rds of the way out so Kathryn could continue to pack the Bill’s Bag and trash.

4th of July Weekend

We took Friday and Saturday and went camping overnight near Piseco Lake. We managed to pack light and single carry across the portage. We found 4 other fisherman staying on the lake with a considerable amount of gear: chainsaw, tents, a canoe and a small boat with an electric motor. For lunch we had sandwiches. Friday night we made 1 pot pasta. Saturday breakfast was instant oatmeal that was past it’s prime and Saturday’s lunch was bagel/cheese/pepperoni sandwiches. Eric convinced us to go swimming on both days. The water was “refreshing” to be kind. There was a lot of loon activity. The fishing was poor. We heard, but did not see, the Piseco Lake fireworks as we went to sleep Friday night. We took Scout with us and she definitely got more comfortable riding in the canoe the more we paddled.

We returned from camping on Saturday afternoon and put away our gear, got showered and went to Red Lobster for dinner.

Sunday morning we cut several ash trees along the far edge of the back meadow – adding about 1 face cord to our wood pile. It was hot, sweaty work and we cooled off with a quick dip in the pond afterwards.

In the afternoon we leveled an area for the swimming pool Kathryn bought the previous summer.

In the evening we met Jack, Chris and Jennifer in Boonville to watch the fireworks. Below Eric and Jennifer chilling before the show.

I used my new camera to try to capture some of the fireworks. I got a lot of pictures of black night skies, but also managed to luck into several nice firework explosions.

Monday we finished installation of the pool. All it needs now is 4,000 gallons of water, more than I plan to provide from our well. I replanted two new rows of peas, made another planting of yellow wax beans and tied up my tomatoes. The tomatoes are showing golf ball sized green fruit. I got my grape arbor wires put up. Finally!

Upstream on the Jessup and Spy Lake

I picked up Skip at 10am and we headed for the Jessup River. Usually, we just get Bounce House Rentals and invite the neighbouring kids to our place but this we wanted to spend some time in nature. We were in the water a little before noon. With the three days of rain mid-week the river was really high and we were able to scoot over almost all the beaver dams and dead fall. We paddled for 2 hours and then found the river to be choked with logs. It was only 2pm on a bright, sunny day and we weren’t ready to sit around in a camp all afternoon. We turned around and headed down stream arriving back at the Route 30 bridge in only 40 minutes. On our return trip we came up with Plans B, C and D.

  • Plan B was to explore the Miami River leaving from Lewey Lake. We talked to the ranger at the Indian Lake boat access who informed us that a day fee would be necessary and he wasn’t optimistic about the Miami or camping opportunities around it.
  • Plan C was the north side of Lake Pleasant so we drove back to Speculator and investigated the possible launch site at the bridge. With the high winds, high water and steep rocky shore we decided to pass on Plan C.
  • Plan D was Spy Lake as we noticed the gate was open. As we drove in there were four kayakers coming off the lake so we traded rides to/from the highway as I drove out to leave my car and they drove back in to pick up their kayaks.

We checked out a couple of campsites but stayed in our usual site, but up in the woods to get out of the wind. I tried three new items this trip – neoprene socks, two sleeping pads and the Megamid tent.

  1. Neoprene socks because I thought we would be getting wet crossing beaver dams and logjams on the Jessup. The socks were warm – in fact my feet were sweaty when I took them off arriving at our Spy Lake site. They were easy to put on and off with my sandals and I think they would work well with cold water.
  2. Megamid tent. With cooler temperatures there no bugs to worry about. The Megamid tent is only 5 lbs and is spacious. I have used it for winter camping in the past. On this site we were faced with uneven ground and strong winds through out the evening so there was LOTS of ventilation…. The Megamid is light, but then one has to bring a space blanket or other ground cloth. We didn’t try cooking inside the tent. The jury is still out.
  3. RidgeRest foam pad on top of an inflatable Thermarest. I am a side sleeper and getting a Thermarest pumped up hard enough to provide support, but still provide give to my artificial hips is problematic. By putting the foam pad on top I was warmer, got more support and slept comfortably. More testing is needed, but this is very promising.

Meal time was a treat. Skip made dinner; carrot soup, garden salad, BBQ chicken with salt potatoes. I made breakfast; coffee, apricot scones in the Outback Oven and omelet in a bag.

I got home shortly before noon.

St Regis Canoe Area – 11 Carries Trip

St Regis 11 Carries Route

On Sunday 16 August Kathryn, Eric, Skip, Bob & I embarked on a tour of the St Regis Canoe Area via the 11 Carries Route. The 7 Carries and 9 Carries Routes are popular ways to tour through Fish Pond. We lengthened the trip and did it counter clockwise by leaving from Upper St Regis Lake on Sunday afternoon. Our plan was to be arriving as other campers were leaving from their weekend trips, but frankly we didn’t see a tremendous difference in attendance. I have read various theories; including that the early summer (July) was so rainy that many people postponed their camping trips until later in the summer. As mid-August approached they decided to get out camping. We had a similar approach two weeks prior at Lake Lila; coming in on Sunday afternoon; and although not all sites were occupied we certainly didn’t have the lake to ourselves.

We set up our car shuttle by returning one car to Long Pond (far lower left) and were paddling across Upper St Regis by 2:30pm. We quickly crossed Upper St Regis and made the 150′ portage into Bog Pond. We had pre-determined this would be a leisurely trip. In other words we were going to bring comfort items (chairs, books, backpacker’s oven, etc) and hopefully spend some time relaxing in camp – perhaps even stay two days in the same place. This meant that we would double carry each portage. Below Skip completes the 2nd carry of an early portage.

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As the trip wore on we consumed drinks and food and packed more efficiently such that not everyone had to double portage. Usually everyone made one carry, including Eric who carried his knapsack and three canoe paddles, and three people returned for a 2nd load. We took my kevlar MN II (43 lbs) and fiberglass Jensen (54 lbs). I fit a clamp-on portage yoke onto the Jensen, but it was never really comfortable. We all took turns carrying this boat, but Bob & Skip carried the Jensen the most. Below Bob demonstrates his technique as I follow with a 2nd load.

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From Bog Pond we did another 150′ portage into Bear Pond; crossed Bear Pond and portaged the 1/4 mile into Little Long Pond where we made camp for the 1st night. Our tent sites were up the hill in the woods, but our kitchen and living space was down near the water where we had an excellent view. We were concerned about mosquitoes, but were never really bothered by bugs. Kathryn attributed the lack of bugs to her diligence attending to her bug lamp. Below Eric relaxes in the evening sun after a long swim in the lake.

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Kathryn relaxed in her lawn chair reading and watching for birds. Despite being somewhat bulky the aluminum lawn chairs are light and offer supreme comfort (and back support) in camp.

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We were rewarded by seeing and hearing loons on every water body. At night we not only heard loons but also Barred Owls (Who, Who cooks for you?).

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The 2nd day we left Little Long Pond, portaged 1/4 mile to Green Pond and then portaged 100′ into St Regis Pond where we came upon a lean to site shortly after it was vacated. We saw a solo canoe paddling along the edge of the lake and believe he just left the lean-to site. Eric was enamored with the lean-to, having never stayed in one before. It gave him a clean flat surface to play with his Legos and lots of left items to experiment with.

Other than the curious chipmunk and normal ‘lets leave stuff at the lean-to for others’ it was a pretty nice site. Kathryn and Eric went for a long 40 minute swim while we organized our gear. Throughout the trip we had constantly sunny, hot days that made swimming a refreshing activity we enjoyed each afternoon.

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Skip relaxed and worked on his ideal 10 team volleyball schedule.

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Kathryn read her Lee Child murder mystery. She was proud of being able to finish an entire novel on this trip

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In the evening Eric and I took the canoe out for a little paddle. Eric has his own junior-sized bent shaft paddle now and is getting more adept at paddling. He still paddles primarily on one side, but that’s OK.

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The hot weather encouraged another swim by Bob, Eric and myself, which broke down into water splashing games.

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The additional time encouraged us to try some artsy photos such as the paddles leaning against the tree.

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The next day we loaded up bound for Fish Pond.

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It was a short paddle up St Regis Lake into the outlet.

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Bob had been told that with the wet summer conditions there was enough water flowing in the outlet that one could mostly paddle to to Ochre Pond and avoid the 7/10 mile portage. I am always willing to drag over a couple of beaver dams to avoid a long carry. From Ochre Pond we had a 1.4 mile carry into Fish Pond. This was a killer, mainly due to expectations. The carry route is interesting, up and down along an esker that extends into Fish Pond, but the carry continues long after one sees Fish Pond on both sides of the esker. I was expecting to be able to drop the canoe into Fish Pond, but noooo….. must carry more. We were all tired and thirsty at the end of the double carry. Below Bob carries a food pack and the growing garbage bag while I carry our backpack, life jackets and lawn chairs.

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We camped that night at the lean-to on the north shore of Fish Pond. After a swim we had a wonderful one-pot pasta meal inspired by Tamia Nelson’s “In the Same Boat” article on Paddling.Net. A word about our cooking arrangements, if I might. Bob is a wonderful cook. We usually pre-agree that we will each do our own breakfast and lunch meals and Bob cooks dinners. In exchange for dinner we set up tents, cut wood, wash dishes and do pretty much all the other camp chores so Bob doesn’t have to. Our meals included franks and beans, pork and sauerkraut, and vegetable pasta. For some reason Bob’s one pot vegetable laden pasta really hit the spot that night. The basic recipe was to mix sauce and water together, break the pasta to ensure it gets covered and then, in this case, add vegetable soup for extra veggies and flavoring. Yum. Thanks Bob!

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In addition to Bob’s meals we brought along our Backpacker’s Oven and made each day we made blueberry, corn meal and triple berry muffins or brownies. It was a nice treat.

It was at this campsite that Kathryn and I heard Barred Owls the most clearly. They were so close we could hear a long purr at the end of their call, “Who, Who cooks for you, purrrr?”. It was the loudest and clearest owl call I have every heard. Very cool.

Wednesday morning after a brief sprinkle we left Fish Pond. Our plan was to journey down to Bessie Pond and examine the campsite there. If it met our basic criteria; clean, enough room for two tents and decent swimming opportunities; we would stay there and then do the 1.6 mile portage to Long Pond the next day.

We were disappointed to see the Bessie campsite trashed. The fire pit was still smoldering with food wrappers and fiberglass tent poles in fire. There were Jolly Rancher candies and AA batteries scattered around the site. There was toilet paper and excrement on the ground near the campsite. There was a tarp and some cooking pots stored under an old picnic table, probably left by other campers. We picked up the most toxic items (batteries) to pack out and hoped that we would be able to confront the pigs that left the mess on our portage to Long Pond. Unfortunately we did not. Later we unsuccessfully checked the trail register in the parking lot for anyone signed into Bessie. We did encounter an Assistant Ranger the following day and told him about the situation.

Back to the 1.6 mile portage…..in a break from previous portages we decided to use a leapfrog approach; carry the canoes part way down the trail, drop them and return for gear, bringing the gear to the previous drop spot and then move the canoes the next increment along the trail. This worked great. The 1st 5-10 minutes of a canoe carry go easy. Then there are 5-10 minutes of it becoming a chore. Finally you enter the “why am I doing this” zone. Mentally it was easier to put a canoe up and say to oneself “I only need to do this for 15-20 minutes”.

Other than Skip leaving his Nalgene water bottle at the 1st stop, the trip quickly proceeded in three increments and we were at Long Pond before expected. At the put in we encountered a couple from Indiana who were going up the trail on a hike. We talked about trail conditions and where to find blueberries. They told us they had a blueberry cheesecake set into a pot which was cooling in the lake and if Eric could find it he could have a piece. Naturally that sparked Eric’s interest and he was determined to find a pot along the lake shore while we were more interested in finding an open camp site. We gave them our trail description and told them about the Bessie Campsite and the lost water bottle. The following morning they came across our campsite as they were paddling out and we were finishing breakfast. They had found and returned Skip’s water bottle.

Once on Long Pond we checked out a couple of empty campsites and settled on the one Skip & I had used last fall when we did a scouting trip to St Regis/Long Pond. It was a nice site with white birch trees, good swimming and it was clean. That night we skipped a formal dinner to finish up all our snacks: nuts, cheese, pepperoni, summer sausage and bagels made a nice treat.

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The next morning was foggy and the trees were draped with visible spider webs.

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A note about our water purification system. At each campsite I would scoop up water in our collapsible water bucket and filter it through a bandanna into the Katadyn Base Camp water filter which we would hang until departure. From here we would fill our cooking pots and water bottles as needed. If we needed more water during the day, Bob carried a Steri-Pen to cleanse individual Nalgene bottles. Kathryn brought along crystal light and tang to mix with the drinking water and Eric carried his own water bottles and did a good job of keeping hydrated.

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Usually mornings Skip, Bob and I were the 1st to awake and get the hanging food bags, make coffee and watch the morning. Kathryn would follow shortly and Eric was the last to arise. Below Eric wakes up slow and snuggles in Kathryn’s lap before breakfast.

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After breakfast we began the process of packing up and paddled across Long Pond to our takeout car. While left in the parking lot someone scraped against Kathryn’s car and relocated the tail light such that the hatch back couldn’t open. This made loading the car a little more problematic (not to mention the $200 repair bill). Kathryn, Eric and Skip reversed the car shuttle process to retrieve Skip’s Outback from Upper St Regis as Bob & I played Sherpa and moved gear from the Long Pond access to the parking lot. It just began to rain as we were loading the canoes on the car and it rained most of the way home. Perfect timing!

Kathryn, Eric and I stopped at the McDonald’s in Tupper Lake for hot, salty, quick food, while Bob & Skip stopped at the Hard Rock in Eagle Bay for something more thirst quenching. We got back in time to shower, change our clothes and attend the year end volleyball awards party. The following day, Friday, was spent washing clothes, unpacking, and cleaning the camping gear.

This was a nice trip despite our conflicting objectives. Our goal of a leisurely comfort trip (chairs, books, baking oven, etc), conflicted with our desire to do the 11 carries route and traverse the longer portages. We really thought we would spend two nights at the same site, but Fish Pond wasn’t as spectacular as we had thought. Our weather was ideal, couldn’t be better – except maybe cooling off more at night, but that is a quibble. No one suffered any cuts, scrape, dings, or missing fingers. Eric helped out on the portages and did great for being 6. All in all a nice trip.

Lake Lila

On Sunday 2 August Matt, Kathryn, Eric and I went to Lake Lila for a canoe camping trip. K & I used to go to Lake Lila in the late ’80s and early ’90s when it was considered a “remote” location. No one wanted to portage their canoes in the 3/10ths of a mile required to reach the water. Lighter canoes, the popularity of mass-market kayaks and more participants have increased the pressure on Adirondack waterside camping locations. As we drove in the Lake Lila access road we passed two outward bound vehicle with Vermont license plates and talked with another Vermont couple in the parking lot.

Our plan was to go into Lake Lila as weekend campers were exiting on Sunday afternoon. It rained on Saturday night and most of Sunday morning as we drove to Long Lake to rendezvous with Matt at Hoss’s Store at 2pm. We were on the water and paddling by 3pm.

Below Kathryn, Eric & Jim posed besides the loaded MN II canoe.

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We found a nice campsite with a sandy beach perfect for Eric to play and swim and a prevailing westerly breeze.

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We set up our tents and Matt cooked beef stroganoff on Sunday night. Monday morning I was awoken by an eagle chirping at 6am. I got up and read for an hour as the mist cleared off the lake. We saw several mature and immature eagles cruising between Lake Lila and Lows Lake.

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We had a leisurely breakfast including scones baked in our backpacker oven. On Monday morning we paddled over to Mount Frederica for the short climb to an excellent view.

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We had lunch on Mount Frederica and took scads of pictures.

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In the afternoon we hung around camp, swam and played with the canoes. We let Eric jump off the canoe to go swimming and Kathryn took the solo Prism out for a little spin in afternoon.

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Matt was stressed by the whole affair.

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