Matt & I planned a day trip paddling the County Line Flow. A short gravel path leads from the 4 vehicle parking area to the south shore of County Line Flow. One can paddle the flow but are not allowed to step onto the shore except at the put-in. Paddlers are allowed to get out along Fishing Brook upstream of the flow. The transition from the flow to Fishing Brook took a little scouting but paddling the brook was very rewarding.
RiverFest is an annual fun and relaxing paddle down the Black River. The 2021 Riverfest started at 8am at the Lower Lyons Falls Canoe Launch. This years route was 8.6 miles on the Black River. The event ended in Glenfield by the canoe launch near the bridge on Greig Road. There was a midpoint at Burdicks Crossing.
Paddlers were urged to participate in a trivia contest on their way with questions provided by Lewis County Soil & Water on large pool floats positioned along the river. There was food available at the mid-point and a shuttle was available in the morning so paddlers have their vehicles waiting for them at the end. RiverFest is a fundraising event held by the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce.
Kathryn and I left early such that we could leave a vehicle at the take out and not have to rely on the shuttle. At the launch we observed 6 canoes and many dozens of kayaks. Based on the 30 vehicles in the parking lot at the take out I estimated at least 50+ vessels over all.
We launched at 0835 behind about a dozen other boats. Due to recent thunder storms the river was bank-to-bank high and the current was strong; estimated flowing at 2 mph. We saw a few birds: herons, cedar wax wings, an osprey and a bald eagle that stoically sat as we floated by.
Kathryn set a healthy pace and after one hour we arrived at Burdick’s Landing where we found the LaMont’s Food Fair food truck and bought drinks and shared a hot dog. The on-site volunteer stated the water was the highest she had experienced in her 6 years of service. The 55 minute paddle to the destination was uneventful. We loaded up and hate lunch at the Pioneer Cafe where the service was slow, but the food was delicious.
Skip and I made a 3 day/ 2 night trip to Stillwater specifically to scout the conditions of campsites 39 – 46. We utilized the water access off Moose Road and had a short paddle to site 41 where we set up out base camp. The 1st day we were hampered by high winds and merely relaxed in camp. The following day we located and inspected each campsite with an eye towards future use.
I joined a local paddling group that has a day trip planned for every Tuesday. The group is mainly retired females paddling kayaks, but there are a few men paddling as well. The past two weeks we have paddled around ponds in Madison County. The black flies and mosquitos are still problematic in the Adirondacks so the group all these early trips in the southern tier. I have been impressed with their organization and ability to schedule trips from May through October. On my 1st outing I took my Prism Solo canoe but yielded to group norms for the 2nd outing and used the 12′ kayak. I worked out entry and exit procedures but was uncomfortable in that I couldn’t move my legs. After and hour of paddling I was desperate to shift my legs.
Steve, Skip and I ventured out for a 3 day 2 night canoe camping trip on the Raquette River. In such situations, carrying a can crusher will be a good idea. 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.
Matt and I took a day trip on Cedar River Flow. We saw an eagle and lots of yellow swallowtail butterflies. Black flies were nasty at put in and take out but not on the water.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. There were a couple of very nice rv parks nearby, probably due to this lovely location, so we decided to take ours there. Then Kathryn, Gaie and I paddled in Friday afternoon, followed by Dave and Debbie Shoemaker. I’ve always thought this is one of those great family activities for when you want to outdoors, have fun, and get some fresh air.
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.
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,
A mother loon and her first child, they do not move, don’t look too wild
Skip is sure he saw a bear, but when we looked there’s nothing there.
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.