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DuctTape

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  1. Set out Wednesday morning to the 5 Ponds Wilderness. I picked up Dan aling the way. It had been quite a few years since I have ventured into this portion of the 5 Ponds, and never from this direction. After driving 10 miles on a seasonal dirt rd, we found the trailhead for the unmarked trail system. Parked a little ways back and headed up the trail. Immediately we were greeted with mosquitos. Not long after fording the Middle Branch Oswegatchie did we stop to put on bug dope. This unmarked trail was part of an old rd. Some recent (illegal) ATV tracks could be seen as well. The trail was wide and obvious spur trails were frequent. After winding around Grassy Pond, we took a smaller spur off the old rd towards Rock/Sand Lakes. The trail was easy to follow for most of the way. A few spots it would disappear into marshy areas. As it approached Rock, we lost it entirely. Knowing we needed to traverse the esker between the two lakes, we bushwhacked to the esker, climbed up and found the trail on its ridge. It was mostly invisible, beung obstructed visually by undergrowth but still followable. Not that one could get lost with lakes on either side. As we neared the ends of the lakes, the trail dropped off the esker towards Sand Lake. Bear scat was in the area, old though. We took a break at the lean-to. Hung a line with extra food/supplies and continued on to Wolf Pond. Dan suggested we drop off the trail and "cut the corner" to Wolf, saving about a mile. As we got closer to he edge, we found the wetlands. Dan, with his knee high rubber boots would look for beaver dam access, while I headed inland back to the trail. We planned to meet at the Wolf Lake lean-to. Moving much faster on the trail than the marsh, I arrived at ge lean-to only a few minutes after Dan. Our usual routine of him hanging a bear line, and me collecting firewood happened naturally. A nice spot in a pine forest. Many downed trees scattered about. Some new, mostly older. Some from the '95 microburst. The ily real downside to the location was water access. It was about 75m away, down a steep hill. The morning rains made getting tinder for the fire a slight challenge. Using my knife, I made shavings and feather sticks to get the damp wood going. With a fire lit, we took the opportunity to swim and dry our clothes soaked from the bushwhacking through wet undergrowth. We had expexcted an afternoon thunderstorm and we pleased to not have one. I ate the rest of my lunch as dinner as well as a little of the venison Dan grilled up. I slept terribly. Not sure why as I was tired enough. Lean-to #79. Today's plan was to first day hike to Cage Lake followed by returning to Sand Lake to meet Andy. The trail to Cage was easy except for the part which traversed a long old beaver dam. It was challenging due to the tall grasses hiding the deep mucky spots. As we neared Cage, a section of the trail was continuous moose scat. I referred to it as "moosemallows". We joked a little about it, remembering the "moose turd stew" joke told to us by another Lean2rescuer. Cage lake is a very nice spot. It gets much more use due to its proximity to a private inholding to the North. I will come back here at some point for sure. It was too early for lunch, so we snacked and poked around the lake. Neat shoreline, almost hourglass shaped. There was a nice breeze which kept the bugs away. Pleasant way to spend the late morning. With our fill of Cage lake, we headed back to Wolf to get our gear and go back to Sand Lake. I remembered to get a walking stick just prior to the beaver area to help avoid the deep wet sections. Back at Wolf we had our lunch, still a nice breeze. Dan wanted to poke around the shore of Wilf a little more, so we planned a rendevous on the trail just west of the lake. I stopped to harvest some chicken of the woods fungus I spotted yesterday. Most was too old, I picked the least old specimens. Hopefully they will not be too dry already. I stopped at Dan's pack which he left on the trail and waited for him to finish his exploration. We then cintinued back to Sand Lake. Based on the time it took us the previous day, I estimated Andy would arrive around 3pm. Dan took a swim while I gathered some firewood. As I was collecting wood atop a rise, I saw Andy arrive to the lean-to. As luck would have it, 3pm on the nose. I cleaned up in the lake and we hung out for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Our plans for the next day were to bushwhack to Emerald Lake then go back to the cars, and hike into the Pepperbox Wilderness. I slept much better in lean-to #80. The 'whack to Emerald waa in easy open hardwoods until it wasn't. As we got close we found ourselves in an open marshy area. It looked easy enough, but the giant carpets of moss were more or less floating. Needed to pick our way close to trees and downed logs. It was sliw going but eventually the marsh gave way to anl scraggily piney woods with Emerald Lake at its edge. With little desire to retrace our steps, we decided to head west to pick up the old rd from which we diverged from the first day. First we needed to get past the potentially wet outlet of Emerald. Fortune was on our side in the form of an old beaver dam we used as a bridge. The route continued through easy hardwood stands until it intersected another old rd which we followed to our navigation target. If someone desired to go to Emerald, this was the route. The rest of our hike would be on the old rd. Easy going with a few mud pits to avoid. We had lunch at the cars and drove to the Tied Lake trailhead. From here we would enter the "trail-less" Pepperbox. A few minutes down the (gated) road towards Tied Lake, a marked trail veered off to the,left. The maps showed a few old rds in this area all of which could be used to get to Gregg Lake. A few strange intersections compunded by someone tearing down markers (and tossing them into the woods) and Gregg Lake appeared. The campsite was bushy and in the open. We poked around the lake looking for something better. Found the remnants of an old fire ring overtaken by the duff. With nothing better than the bushy site, we set up camp. Using some dead pine ww constructed a bench so as to not have to sit in the blackberries by the fire. After dinner we were in bed before dark. The sky was clear and the temp was already falling. Got cold last night; in the 30s. Next trip I will have to switch out my gear for fall temps. We were all up early. Not teally sure why as we had a short hike out, less than an hour. As we drove back along the dirt rd, we would stop and check out other pull-offs, campsites, and lakes. We did not do a ton of miles, but it sure felt like it. Plus we got to see and explore some new territory. View the full article
  2. Day 7 A slight chill in the morning kept the bugs away. Made yeast bread and eggs florentine w/mushrooms and swiss for breakfast. The dried spinach worked great in the eggs. We alao pre-cooked the onions and fish for lunch.Of course this process took extra time not just because it was two meals, but all 4 parts needed the skillet. We would save time at lunch though. After breaking camp we fished the drop-off between our island and the next. Soon we were catching good sized walleye. We had our daily limit quite soon so most were released. With quite a few miles to do now that our route had changed we set out. With lunch pre-cooked we could spend time fishing when a spot looked good. We ate our lunch in a shady spot atop a small rocky island covered with blueberries. We had berries as an appetizer and again as dessert. Not long after lunch we fished a spot where the Cache River entered the lake. Dan got a hit on his first cast. It took me a few extra but soon we were both landing smaller walleye. The catch and release was ongoing. What occurred next happened so quickly I will intersperse my thoughts with the events as they occurred... At one point I was in the process of landing one and began to comment I could see another fish below it. As I was commenting, my thoughts were this profile was a large pike swimming below and it reminded me of an aquarium view. I did not even finish my sentence when the pike surged at the fish I had on. He grabbed and turned. My reel was screaming out line. I now had two fish on. The pike grabbed my fish and we both watched ot happen a few inches below the surface. This pike was big. Dan estimated it at 15 pounds. The pike was trying to swallow the walleye, and I was trying to land them both. At one point the pike moved his grip and it looked like I might have hooked him too. As the line got shorter and the fish neared the boat, a giant whip of the tail sent a huge splash of water over me as the pike let go of his grip on the walleye. I could see the gash on the walleye's head and wasn't sure if it was even still alive... the he pulled a bit. I finished landing him to release the hook and the fish. What an extraordinary experience. I said to Dan, "no one will believe what just happened." Coming down from the adrenaline rush, we fished a little more before heading towards camp a few miles away. We paddled through a very pretty channel connecting the farthest bay with Kawnipi proper. Located a beaver lodge for firewood. As we neared our desired camping area we saw it was occupied. This meant we would take the portage to Montgomery Lake. The carry was only 380meters. It took almost as long getting the packs situated and finding a goid stick to carry the fish than it did to walk the trail. Montgomery is quite picturesque. We found a nice spot atop an island with a great view. The tent/hammock locations were not great, but with our eyes closed it would not matter. Camp setup, a swim, dinner, and in bed before the skeeter fest. Day 8 The bugs were out in full force around 10 pm, just like clockwork. Was glad to have made it in before. Slept well. I restarted the fire. Usually we would have decided on our breakfast plan the night before, but in our haste to beat the swarm we forgot. We had keftovers from dinner still, and two more walleye to be cooked. We chose a quicker breakfast and saved the leftovers for lunch. It was the right choice as the skeeters came back in full. This time we did not hesistate to deploy the chemical warfare. The fog lifted as we finished our breakfast and broke camp. Montgomery is a "T" shaped lake with some neat geology. We fished the arm on which our campsite was located and had a great time catching and releasing walleye and bass. As we paddled around the lake was like glass. We left for the other arm of the lake. As we came through the channel we heard splashing. At the far end we saw a moose, and then a secind one. We paddled slowly and quietly in that direction. I had readied my camera if we were to get close enough. As we neared the moose began to swim to a different weedy section and I began taking pictures knowing I was likely still to far away. The moose exited the lake at the next marshy area, the view was mostly obscured by a few trees, but we could see the calf "shake off the water". We hoped some of the photos might come out, but we were not expecting it. This artifact from our campsite will have to suffice. Our shore lunch was made a short ways from the portage. A nice sunny rock. In retrospect, we should have found some shade. We fished a bit more and then made the 280m carry to Shelly Lake. It is amazing how easy these portages are after the earlier 3+km portages. At the narrows of Shelly we saw a large bass "get air" as it leaped from the water right near a small rapids. We paddled slowly to the right side, passed through the current into an eddy to start fishing. The rapids were a shallow drop off ledge into a deep pool. The bass were plentiful right after the drop. I then hooked a big pike, it took some time to tire him out to land. Just above the ledge was another deep pool preceded by another ledge. From it Dan pulled a small walleye. We both fished that upper and lower pool catching more bass and walleye. A canoe approached from "downstream". It was two park rangers. They asked how everything was going and checked our permits. We chatted a bit. They said no one goes to the lakes we did the first few days because of the portages. Those that do are trying to "complete the map". They continued on and we fished some more. After a short time, the distant sound of a buzzing chainsaw could be heard as the rangers cleared some blowdown on the portage. The last few days we had been joking about "camp tipi flower" after passing 2 summer camp groups of three canoes each and the popular campsites having an area where the TP blooms. From Shelly to Keats Lake (the poet lakes section which we visited 3 years ago) was a short portage ending at a significant waterfall. Paddling out one could see it was 3 distinct waterfalls spread out, A group of boys were swimming at the nearest falls. Another group was camped on the island with a view of the falls. At the narrows was another campsite which we claimed even though it was early b/c this area gets much more traffic. With camp made early, Dan went to fish the narrows. Day 9 Nice starting the day catching fish. After breaking camp we fished the narrows and caught more walleye. It was bright and sunny. Looked to be a hot day. As we headed up the lake the sky turned. Then a light rain, some wind and thunder in the distance. Dan said we have done dumber things than hunkering down. So we made our way to shore and pitched the tarp to wait it out. When it seemed to clear, we set out again. Then it started to rain more than it did when we were under the tarp. At least Dan got in a little nap. The sky cleared and out came the sun. We visited Chatterton Falls and had it to ourselves. We walked to the top of the series of cascades to where it exited Chatterton Lake and flowed to Russell Lake. Back at the base of the falls, we swam and had a snack. On our way to Sturgeon Lake we grabbed some wood from the local lodge, and ran the swift water between Russell and Sturgeon. While looming for camp, we could see another rain storm approaching. The weather could not decide whether to be sunny or rainy today. The rain began before we found camp. I set up a tarp on the island for a base. We sat there for a bit until the sky cleared. Dan went to get water and fish while I readied camp. He called to me as he had a huge pike on the line. He paddled towards camp and landed the monster from shore. Had dinner and as has been the routine, the bugs came out. Day 10 Got up late (for us) at 7:30. The air was still damp. Got fire for coffee going. Pre-cooked lunch and had granola for breakfast. Opted to take the longer route to Sturgeon North by way of Antoine and Ram Lakes. The 1 km portage to Antoine started in deep muck, gradually going uphill. A lot of blowdown and side bushes. This carry had not been cleared in a while. The end was a nice sandy shore with bass minnows swimming about. Looks promising. We were drenched and looked for a spot to swim. A nice rocky island was found to be perfect. We explored the lake and caught a few bass. As we paddled away from a grassy bay, Dan's trolling line went screaming. Something hit and took off. Our immediate reaction was, "has to be a pike". Whatever it was was heavy. It took a while but Dan finally hauled in the first lake trout of the trip. She would be dinner and breakfast. We were looking for a place to have lunch when another fish hit the trolling line. It was another laker. Eventually we made it to a lunch spot on a rocky outcrop in the shade. Another late lunch, then two short portages and we were back on Sturgeon Lake. A campsite was chosen, a swim, set up camp,ate dinner, cleaned up, had another swim and into the hammock with minutes to spare before the bugs arrived. Day 11 Was up early at the break of dawn. Appeared it was to be a hot sunny day. Readied the fire for coffee and the rest of the lake trout. We used the tortillas from another meal to make trout tacos (I mean wraps, apparently the term taco makes Dan think we are using crunchy corn tortillas). Today we would have our last two portages, a 750m, and a 520m. Due to all the late lunches and leftovers, we had extra food. Which meant we had options instead of whatever is left. We fished a bit in the twin lakes with no luck and headed to Dore Lake. This 750m portage is one of ge few with a name, portage des mortes. It was an easy carry and busy. There were two groups at each end by the time we finished. At Dore, we fished there a bit, but I was tired. There were some big winds last night that woke me up a few times. Found a nice campsite to take a swim and have lunch. Just as we got out of the water a family (of 3) paddled by. They asked if we were camping there. We said, just lunch and also gave them some info about the other sites we had seen. As we ate our lunch (late of course) we noticed the family was circling about. Dan motioned for them to come in. We said it was fine if they set up camp while we ate. Their little girl had been trying to fish and had made a mess of her line. Dan helped her out and even taught her the palomar knot. She was a quick study. The family was in the middle of an 8-week vacation touring all around the country. Just a few days before, they were in the rockies. On the way to our final portage Dan hooked another laker 200m before the portage. It threw the hook just as he was netting it, and it got away. He was really bummed out. The portage to Pickerel Lake was gorgeous, like a manicured path in the park with beach at both ends. Quite a contrast to the carries which started the trip. It was later in the day and it appeared we had this bay to ourselves. We chose a decent site. Dan hung the bear bag and I started the fire as was our routine. Since we had time, Dan did some more fishing while I prepared dinner. With food in the pot, I took a swim as did Dan when he returned. Again we had leftovers so we hung it with the rest of the food and went to bed. Tomorrow would be our last full day in the Quetico. Day 12 Slept great. Up at 7am. Slighlty cool in the morning, not enough to need a layer but enough to keep the bugs away. A quick an easy breakfast, camp broken and we set out trying to make up for the missed laker. We have a long paddle east to our eventual take out. With the winds behind us the miles came easy. We fished as we made our way down Pickerel Lake. Dan caught a walleye (first of three). We stopped at a rock island for a snack. As we approached a bald eagle took off from a nearby tree. After snack time Dan got the 2nd walleye right near the island. We continued down the lake stopping to eat our leftover stroganoff for lunch. Though we paddled, it was the wind and waves which did the heavy lifting. We fished the shoreline as we were pushed along it. We passed by the campsite we used 3 years ago. As we neared the "busier" section of the lake, many of the sites were occupied. The waves were really beginning to roll now too. We crossed to the N. side of the lake where our map showed a series of 4 sites in close proximity. At one, the group there told us the site just west of them with our own private beach area. With the waves pummeling the shore, I had to jump out of canoe as we neared our beach landing with a pfd onto which I would pull the canoe. Camp set up and dinner prepared a storm was brewing. We could see the distant rain and hear the thunder. As we ate I could see the sky was clearer to our direct west. I hesistated to say this aloud. A few raindrops and followed by a cool lightning show to our west and south. The storm was powerful. Fortunately for us it did pass to our south not before I was able to steal a shot of a lightning bolt. Due to the approaching storm, we had everything done early. So 9pm I was in bed. This was by far our earliest bedtime. Day 13 Last day on the water. Coffee and granola. At one of the easternmost bays we had a nice time fishing. Caught some good sized walleye to end the trip. We would buy ice and take them home with us. The trip ended with a lazy paddle up the river to the campground from which we started. Glad we made the decision to modify the route. We talked about a trip going directly to Kawnipi Lake and spending a few days just on that large body of water. I am under no delusions that I will have a pike grab a walleye on my line again. The entire trip was an experience, even the parts which were terrible as they happened are now good memories. View the full article
  3. Quetico 2019 can be summarized in a few words: mud, mosquitos, storms, and fishing. Dan and I talked a few times about why we keep a journal. For me, it is way to remind myself of the details which are tagged with emotional experiences so that I can recall those feelings in the future. In general each day was get up, pack up camp, paddle, fish, portage, make camp. It is the minor details and events within the daily routine which I want to recall. Day 1 Scheduled a Lyft to drive me from home to the Megabus stop @3:05am. Lyft driver arrived early so I had to wait an hour for the bus to arrive. When it finally arrived, a few ppl including the driver got off the bus to take a break. We did not pull out until close to 3:30. First stop was Buffalo for another 30 min break, then a shorter stop at the airporr, then another in Buffalo to switch drivers. At Niagara Falls all passengers needed to exit bus with their luggage to go through customs. All of these breaks had us arriving in Toronto just as rush hour started. The scheduled arrival time was 7:30 the actual arrival time was a little after 9am. My flight from Toronto would not leave until 2:30 so I still had plenty of time. I took another Lyft to the airport. The ride and flight was uneventful. I was able to get a little sleep in. Texted Dan when we landed, he picked me up and drove to Steve's in Thunder Bay. Had some dinner, hung out, walked to the lake for a music festival. The headliner was excellent. 10-piece band complete w/horn section. The style was a mix between R&B, funk and rap. Mostly original tunes with one cover of Chicago's 25 or 6 to 4. Great band. Day 2 We packed up and drove the few hours to Quetico. Checked in at the ranger station and filled out paperwork. As the ranger entered our route into the system she commented on the portages in that section and how few people go there. We had heard the carries were wet (and long). Today we would have a few short ones, longest being 400m. The real long ones would be in the next few days. We set out @11am and turned up the French River. This meandered for miles. It reminded me of the Oswegatchie. The first portage was only a couple hundred meters; which we needed to double carry. The first portage always allows us to test out the load and rebalance the packs. In typical fashion, we would need to adjust the food weight into different packs. Even with the short carry I could tell I was out of shape. We had lunch before we set out again. We had a total of four portages today. During the 1st leg of the 400m portage my boot sunk into the mud and got stuck. Really stuck. It took me almost 10 minutes to get it out. I used a paddle to allow air within the mud to release the suction. By the time I finished the next 200m, I was exhausted, and I still needed to go back and get my second l8ad. At the top of the hill with only 100m to go, I had to take a break to catch my breath. I am really out of shape, and these were the easy portages. We have a few more short ones in succession. At one of the rapids, we walked up the canoe. I am not sure this was the answer. We eventually made it to Baptism Lake. Fishing gear was readied. I spotted an old beaver lodge so we stopped to get firewood. Dan caught the first fish. A small 12 inch pike. He called it a "hammer handle". We paddled around a few islands looking for the campsite. We stopped at one a source had ranked a "3", with the others being worse. We unloaded our gear and paddled a bit more jyst in case one of the other sites was better. The wind was picking up out in the open so went back and set up camp. Took a swim and mae dinner. The first day on the water and already we deviated from our menu plan. As we ate our bean&cheese burritos the first raindrops fell. We closed up the dry bags and finished eating. As the rain seems to have disipated and it was only 7:30, we figured we could paddle and fish for an hour. We were out for maybe 15 minuted beforethe sky opened up and tbe winds began gusting. We made a bee-line back to camp. I had zero visibility with wind and rain in my face and on my glasses. Even with raingear on, my face/head was soaked and my waist was damp.Since we had already hung the food, we secured the boat and headed to our tents (hammock for me). The rain would come and go with a few thunderclaps. The echoing thunder would roll for what seemed like a full minute. It was quite a neat sound experience. After today and with this weather, I was sure to sleep well tonight. Day 3 As predicted I slept soundly. A few more rains and light rolling thunder throughout the night. Both Dan and I were awake early, though Dan was first to emerge. We made the "mexican breakfast" burritos using some chanterelles we found fruiting near the campsite. It was quite filling. These OvaEasy eggs are great. We took the canoe around the lake, poking up an inlet stream to see if it was navigable to its lake source. A beaver dam soon impeded our progress. We had much more to explore, so we turned back. Caught a few pike during the morning. None were huge.The next stream was navigable and provided access to a different lake. Quite pretty, but sub-par fishing. Headed back to camp for lunch. We still had moose steaks which were still frozen last night. We made a vegetable stir fry with peanut sauce and rice noodles to go with the moose. Good teamwork prepping and cooking. Made a ton. We put the leftovers in the pot to save for dinner. With camp all packed up we set out for another stream and an 80m portage to Trousers Lake. Once on Trousers we located a beaver lodge for firewood including 3 staves for a tripod. The wind and clouds hinted at changing weather. We headed towards the islands with the campsites. The plan was for me to set up my tarp as a dry base of operations. The site was large and open. Remnants of downed trees were scattered about. I located a spot with a nice windbreak of younger growth evergreens and hastily set up the tarp. By now Dan had brought up the gear from the canoe to stow under the tarp. Then the storm rolled in, not before chanuing the wind direction 180 degrees making the tarp set up in the wrong direction. The storm was intense. Rain pummeled the area, the winds ripped up some guylines and blew rain under the tarp. Dan and I held onto the guylines as buckets of rain fell leaving pools of water all around the site. Thunder boomed and lightning struck nearby. Then came the hail. We were now mostly holding the tarp above us by hand with Dan's head also propping it up. At least his standing position would give him a view to find a tent spot in the campsite which was not pooling water. That is assuming the storm ever let u and we survived. There was a small break in the storm so I used the moment to retie a guyline. The sky looked like the majority of the storm has passed which it did. I found a new spot to rig the tarp after I bailed out the canoe. It was almost laughable how much water was in the canoe. We probably recieved 4 inches of rain in that hour. Dan put up the bear bag lines and ate our leftovers for lunch. I wasn't hungry. At bedtime the mosquitos were horrendous. It was crazy how many there were buzzing around the netting. A little more rain would fall overnight. Day 4 The air was damp in the morning and the bugs were still out. I restarted the fire for morning coffee. Today would have a big 3.5km portage with a river crossing at 1km to break it up. We were able to adjust the pack's loads to 1.5x carry instead of the usual double. Even with the heavier loads I felt much better than the first day. Thinking back, it was more likely dehydration which caused my struggle. The mud on this portage was intense. A wrong step and it would be over the top of our knee boots. I had a few wrong steps. By the time we reached Cache Lake my boots were full of mud and water. We hoped for better fishing at Cache having heard it has excellent lake trout. The only fish to be seen were very small perch. We paddled to the end of a bay where a nice beach campsite was supposed to be. We found it half washed out into the lake. The firepit stones were hanging precipitously over the washed out sand. We left that bay to find another. The next site was "ok" but we paddled on to find a super one. Neat rocks and a point to watch sunsets. We set up camp, went swimming, washed clothes and some more no-luck fishing. We ate dinner on the point followed by a decent sunset and then to bed before the swarm of mosquitos attacked. Tomorrow would have another long portage over 3km. Sources refer to middle section as "The African Queen". Not looking forward to that! We looked at the map to see if we could do a loop instead of our planned out-and-back route. We would have to up our mileage, but so far the fishing in this area has been terrible. We will need to decide tomorrow. Day 5 Woke up close to 7am. Looked to be a beautiful day. Fished a little; no luck. We headed to the portage to Lindsay (and Mackenzie) Lakes. The carry began at a nice sandy spot. Just a tease as we knew a bit of what was to come. Dan decided to break up the long carry with canoe by bringing it first halfway. I followed with my pack, and the food pack strapped together along with the spare paddle, pfd and fishing net. The trail was generally pretty good until it wasn't. We hit an open area through a wetland. The forest trees gave way to a forest of reeds over 8 ft tall. If the path through was not already trampled down into the swamp below, I do not know if we would have been able to follow it. Basically it was a wet slog through the reeds. With careful footing on the major root hummocks we could avoid the water going over the top of our boots. The route wound its way through intil we reached the far side and re-entered the forest. We had successfully traversed the african queen section, or so I thought. A few minutes later the trail gave way to a flooded section of alders with deep boot sucking mud. For much, Dan would stand in the canoe and shuffle it forward. I avoided the center as the paddle would not reach the bottom of the muck. I picked my way through, testing each step with the paddle. At the end of the true African Queen section Dan dropped the canoe and went back for his pack. With my recommendation he took one of the paddles with him. I pressed on. So far the portage had taken 38 minutes. A sharp uphill and then nice trail for another 28 minutes. As I headed back to the African Queen to relieve Dan of his pack, I cleared debris and some blowdown from the trail. Dan had gone a little further with his pack so I didn't have to do the uphill section. As Dan and I neared I commented I am in no hurry to do that again, and you already did the sucky part 3 times. As I neared the end of the portage two other canoeists were heading in. They had come through this way earlier so knew what to expect. Lindsay was a smaller lake connected to Mackenzie by a small cascade which had a 50 meter carry. As a reward for the sucky portage, we decided to have a snack of brownies with milk. As I got out our reward, Dan asked me 3 times to pass him his powdered milk. I heard him, but in my exhaustion what he was asking did not register and I made him a cup of the NIDO milk. Thus began (and ended) the powdered milk fiasco. We would joke about this later. At yhe short portage, we carried the packs and then doubled the canoe together. The path was short but very steep. In the small bay of Mackenzie I immediately landed a smallish pike right next to the portage. Like many of the lakes, Mackenzie had a lot of bays and islands all of various sizes. The wind was quite strong in this bay, so we paddled across a channel to get to a more protected side. A rock point jutted out. This was not uncommon, but the rock here just looked a little different. We fished just beyond the end of the point and started to land pike. We decided to keep a few since the walleye, trout and bass were apparently not to be found. We explored more of the lake, catching more pike along the way. After the sucky portages and no reward fishing in the previous lakes there was no reason to go back the way we came. So the decision was made to do a loop and exit via Pickerel Lake. We stopped at a nice island campsite for a late lunch (pasta salad). Except for breakfast when we left Steve's the first day, this was the first meal that coincided with our planned menu. It was a lot, and almost 4pm so I knew I would not need dinner. The milk fiasco came up again when Dan went back to the canoe to get his spoon for lunch. It was in the canoe because he took it out to make his powdered milk. I was still confused at this point about the whole situation. We joked about it. I said someone will ask me "why don't you camp with Dan anymore? Well it all started with the powdered milk and went south from there." We both laughed. We continued down Mackenzie and found a terrific site to set up camp. Of course we had collected wood from the local beaver lodge and we now had a grill liberated from the lunch island. After camp was set, a quick swim to get rid of the grime and sweat. A snack on the point and into the tents before the skeeter hordes. Day 6 The first thing I noticed when I awoke was the absence of mosquitos. This was not to last. By the time I got to the firepit to get the fire going the blood suckers were upon us. Dan donned a head-net to clean the fish. I got the fire going so the smoke would provide a minimal respite. Having our coffee on the point we realized we needed a chemical solution. The deet was applied. Without it, I would likely be either institutionalized for craziness of dead from loss of blood. It was without a doubt the worst mosquito infestation I have ever experienced. The WMDs (weapons of mosquito destruction) did the trick and we were able to cook breakfast without another drop of blood loss. Dan cooked the fish while I toasted the tortillas and sliced the avocado. Strange to be day 6 and this would be our first fish meal. After breaking camp we fished a bit before heading to the portage. We had two more pike for lunch (or dinner). The 650m portage to Kawnipi Lake was the nicest and driest we have seen so far. 12 minutes end to end slightly awkward portage carrying two fish. I told Dan I was happy to carry them, but would not be portaging the rock (anchor). A reference to our 2016 Quetico adventure. As we entered the mackenzie bay of Kawnipi Lake, a new anchor rock was selected so we pushed out aways anchored and fished the sandy/weedy bay. Dan hooked the first bass, a huge one. Probably 4 pounds. We added it to the pike. He soon landed another, not quite as large. Pondered whether to keep or release it. The next one was not as lucky. I then hauled in a monster, close to 5 pounds. We both landed a few more, all in the 3-4 pound range. They fought well. Amazing how strong these bass can be. We drew up the anchor but continued to fish as we made our way to the main lake. The bay itself was large enough to be a lake on its own. The wind and rain kept teasing us; this would continue all day. At the channel entering the main lake there was a slight current so of course we fished it. Immediately I got a hit, and just as quickly it was gone. Line severed. We put on leaders and fished for pike. We landed a few trying to find the one with my lure; no such luck. Then my jig got snagged in the bottom in not so deep water. I stripped off my clothes to dive for it. I could barely get below the surface, not for lack of trying. I commented that my recent weight gain has made me too buoyant as I now was my own pfd. I tried a few more times to Dan's amusement. Then he told me to get dressed and he went in for the lure. We ate lunch (more fish tacos) at a very nice campsite. The rain and wind had picked up as I was lighting the fire so I paused to do another crappy tarp set up. We didn't really need it, but it did block the wind at least. From here we still had a few miles to go on the main lake and it was already 5pm. Amazing how quickly the hours get away from us. We made camp at another gorgeous spot. It was quite windy, hopefully will keep the mosquitos down. I set up my tarp (well this time) and we prepared dinner, sweet and sour fish using one of the bass. It was 8:30 before we were really eating and again the sky teased us with rain. Twice we moved under the tarp to eat. As the sun set, we got a little color. There war still some wind when we retired. I anticipate we will not be so fortunate in the morning. View the full article
  4. With 5 days to play with, I planned to also do some trail maintainance on my adopted section of the NPT. As plans began to take shape an email blast went out for Lean2Rescue in the same area. It worked out that my trip would start with helping L2R rehab the Pillsbury Lean2 which was only 3 miles from "my" trail section. I did not see Dan's name on the "going" list for L2R and before I could contact him, he called me. So the plan became: Saturday carry in materials still at trailhead for L2R and meet crew at Pillsbury and help finish/prep Sampson L2. Spend first night at Pillsbury and then the next 4 days completing the French Louie Loop, visiting Brooktrout Lake and clearing my section of the NPT. I arrived at the Pillsbury trailhead around 9am, picked up the gallon of wood stain for the lean2 and began my hike up "old military road". My pack was filled to capacity with 5 days of food and fishing gear but was not too heavy. As I neared the junction a group of 3 passed by inquiring if I was "Russ". They also helped with the lean2 on Friday and let me know the stain was still needed. Donna recognized me (from fB). We all continued on our way. Arriving at Pillsbury most of the crew had relocated to Sampson to begin the site prep for the new lean2 location. The skeletin crew remaining at Pillsbury was putting on the finishing touches. I began helping out at Pillsbury. As we finished the rest of the crew returned from Sampson. We had a full crew to hang out with and have dinner. We were all tired and went to bed rather early. It rained over night. On Sunday the main crew headed back to the trailhead while Dan and I continued West back towards Sampson.We put on our rain gear as the trail would be "bushy" and with the rain would be wet. I would deliver the gallon of stain and then press on to South and West Canada Lakes. We took a snack break at Sampson and lunch at West Canada Creek. We also spent some time exploring the shoreline of Mud Lake outlet. We stopped again at South where Dan explored the shoreline. While he was out, a rainstorm developed and he got soaked. I had moved our packs into the lean2 to keep them dry. The rain would come and go all afternoon. At West Lake we decided it would be camp. The cloudy sky looked to provide a potentially nice sunset over the lake. I was not very hungry but knew I needed to eat something. Again we retired to bed early. Monday would be a day trip to Brooktrout Lake for some fishing. Dan explored the shore of West Lake on the way. At the Brooktrout Lean2, I noticed in the log book it was exactly a year to the day I was here last with Jeff for that sweltering hot weekend nn 2018. Dan and I fished all day and returned to West Lake. While getting things ready for dinner a snowshoe hare wandered nearby. He spent some time in a little depression in the forest floor popping his head up every once in a while. Again I was in bed relatively early. Tuesday, Day 4 we would continue along the NPT to the Cedar Lakes stopping at Mud Lake, Cat and King Ponds to explore. Once past the wet section, the trail opened up and was easy walking. Some on an old roadway. We made good time getting to the Beaver Pond lean2. We set down our gear and went exploring. Dan took Beaver Pond, while I took Cedar Lake. While I waited for Dan to return, a couple backpackers stopped at the junction. We chatted a bit and continued on to the first lean2 instead of joining us. Dan then arrived and we went out fishing. As we were out a couple from NH (Jonathan and Danille) arrived to camp. Also joining us was Asher and his two boys. It was getting late and I still was not very hungry. I usually enjoy eating on these trips but for some reason food was only fuel; except for the fish tacos we had at West Lake. I did eventually make dinner. It was after dark before I finished eating and went to bed. Our last day and I still needed to do my trail maintainance. I got up early, packed up and took only a waist pack with snacks etc... and my saw. The plan was for Dan and I to meet at the dam at 11am. I headed out just before 6am. It was slow progress as I dug out waterbars, cleared drainages and cut minor blowdown. 3 hours later and I had done just over 3 miles. I stopped for a snack break and figured I needed to turn around so as to make our scheduled rendezvous. I was about 20 minutes early and Dan had already arrived. I made myself a late breakfast and rearranged jy pack contents for the 4.5 miles out to the car. The entire rest of the way would be on old road. We would first have to climb the shoulder of noisy ridge, cross the "fun house bridge" (named by Justin which apparently is catching on as many are using it) and then the remaning 1.6 miles from the junction on Saturday would be all downhill. We would do the last two miles in 40 minutes. As we drove out we decided we deserved ice-cream from Stewarts. A great way to cap off a 5 day trip beginning and ending with volunteer work. As my buddy Chuck (also from Lean2Rescue) would say, "It's camping with a purpose."View the full article
  5. A trip planned with my college room-mate was increased by two other backpacking friends, Rob and Kalie. I have been introducing Jeff to the sport after 30 years and brought Rob out of retirement. Along with Kalie, these 3 friends have never met. We started in Wanakena along the old road bed. The mosquitos were already out in full force. It wasn't long before we hit the first wet section. It looked worse than it was. The trail later detoured around the large beaver swamp. I remembered this was getting worse over he years. The detour also used part of an old trail I was always curious about. It wasn't long before we arrived at the Janacks Landing junction. We headed to the lean-to to take a short break. As we approached a small group was just heading out. After a short break, and the first half of my lunch we continued towards the CL-50 junction. At one point Kalie saw the retreating end of a small bear. Rob missed it, but said Kalie's expression was like a kid on Christmas morning. Soon we were at the junction. New signage here since last time I came through. We climbed he short rise to he Glasby outlet cascade. A lot of brush growing in here. Passing by the trail to the hunter's camp and other spots brought back memories of previous trips through here. One of which was my hike of the CL-50 back in 2008. A lot has changed on the trail since then most notably all the trail work to mitigate wet spots. The campsite at Glasby was widened too. We paused here and looked up and over the pind to the ledges on Cat Mtn where we were headed. At the junction for Cat Mtn, Jeff and Kalie dropped their packs for the climb. It was only 0.7 miles, but it had some elevation change. Rob took the lead and I followed. As we approached the ledges the group from the lean-to was also there. They asked if I could take a photo for them. After they left, we had the summit to ourselves for a short period of time. Another group soon arrived. They asked which area was the Oswegatchie River. We took out our map and pointed out a few things from the overlook. We then packed up and left them to enjoy the summit. Our campsite was not far past the jnction where Jeff and Kalie retrieved their packs. The site was on Cat Mtn Pond and from the waters edge we could see the cliffs we were sitting atop not that long ago. The bugs were bad, especially away from the water. So while the other three set up camp, I put together a smudge fire. The breeze and smoke helped alleviate the pests. We hung out and talked. For dinner I had brought bratwurst for the group. However I was not going to cook for them. Everyone got their own "hot dog stick". The evening was full of us joking around about Rob's three prong design and how we were goung to market it. Good times hanging out by the fire. I stayed up later than I thought. When I eventually went to my hammock, I was asleep in no time. I awoke after a fantastic nights sleep to the call of a loon. I tried to get a little more sleep afterwards but soon I was completely awake. Both Rob and I were mostly packed up before Jeff and Kalie arose. We had our coffee and talked quietly. It wasn't kng before the other two were up. I set out the fixins for breakfast sandwiches. We did not hurry the morning as we only had a short 6ish miles out. When we did hike out, Rob took the lead and cleared all the spider webs for us. We passed by a few other hikers and the Asst Forest Ranger. Back at the cars, Kalie demonstrated using an emergency car starter as her battery had apparently lost most of its juice while she waited for us the previous day. In the end it was another great trip bringing together three friends to a spectacular part of the Adirondacks. View the full article
  6. Memorial Day weekend each year I usually do the Cold River loop around the Seward Range. This year I had a 4 day weekend so I opted to access the Cold River from the NPT and then continue to the Northern terminus. I sent out some invitations to fellow backpackers and quickly had a group of 4. We met at the Averyville Rd parking area Friday morning. My car and Jennifer's were left there as Kalie (blogger stalker 😎) and Shannon shuttled us to the Tarbell Rd TH in Long Lake. As we loaded up our gear the black flies swarmed us. We didn't dawdle and hit the trail. With 8 miles for the first day in a misty rain it was a good distance for the first half-day of hiking. The trail to Plumleys was relatively clear of blowdown. There was some, but it has been worse. Shannon and Kalie were out in front and I hiked with Jennifer. The stream crossings were not easy due to the spring rains. On one of the later ones, Jennifer slipped and stepped right into the stream I caught her before she completely went in. At Plumbley's, Jeff had kayaked in. He welcomed us to the site and I went to gather some wood to add to his pile. Great conversation ensued as well as a nice fire. Jeff set up his hammock, while the four of us shared the lean2. Like usual I was up early. I tried to stay in bed as long as I could. I restarted the fire nd made some coffee. The rest of the gang eventually arose. Jennifer said she was hurting and was going to turn back. Kalie offered to go with her. Thanks Kalie. As I packed up, I noticed a large tear in my backpack. One of the seams had torn. I did a quick field repair hoping it would last the next 28 miles. We were expecting rain in the afternoon but at present the weather was delightful. After saying goodbye to Jennifer and Kalie, Shannon and I agreed we needed to make our miles early so as to get to camp before the rains. This portion of the trail is rather easy going. Much of it on old woods roads. A lot of pretty spruce forests interspersed between the hardwood and swampy sections. We took a few short breaks. One at a vly, another at Cold River 4 (I went to check on #3 as well). The shelter logs were both gone. We stopped at Big Eddy and went out to the falls. We also stopped at Seward lean2; another missing shelter log book and a pile of trash in the fire-pit. Mostly kleenex and toilet paper, yeach. I made a twiggy fire to burn it. About a mile before Seward Brook and the Ouluska lean2, a few drops of rain began to fall. It was very light and we didn't put on our pack covers, nor rain jackets. Seward Brook was high, the washed out bridge was wet and slick. We would have to wade. I took off my boots, kked up my pants and stepped into the cold stream. At he deepest it was at knee level, not bad just cold. At the other side I didnt bother to put on my boots, I just continued the 75 yards to the lean2. It began to rain a little harder and stopped at times. During the breaks I gathered wood. The spring run-off had washed up quite a bit of driftwood at spots along the river. Oh. the Ouluska shelter log book was gone too. I started to think it was not a coincidence. We both slept in the lean-to. It rained quite hard overnight. Again I was up at first light. I tried to stay quiet and let Shannon sleep in. Today would be the longer miles day, but weather was supposed to be favorable. We also had the option of stopping early at Moose Pond. I love hiking along the Cold River. Lots to see, and enjoy. We took a short break at Rondeaus hermitage and at the Roaring Brook lean2 (another missing log book). The section north of the bridge to moose pond was typical; wet, rooty, muddy, and full of blowdown. A long break at Moose Pond which was also missing its log book. By now I was convinced this was purposeful. We checked out the plane wreckage as we approached the Wanika Falls junction. Crossing the Chubb to get to the campsite at Wanika was a little tricky with the high water. We dropped our packs and went to see the falls. A lot more water flowing since the last time I was here. We set up camp, and gathered wood. Shannon was on a mission and gathered a boat load. I started a smoky fire to shoo away the bugs. They had not been bad since the initial swarms at the parking lot. With my late lunch, I wasn't terribly hungry. So I waited a little while before I made dinner. We had done 30 miles so far. Not bad for three days. It gave us a lot of extra time at camp. We both were in bed early. It was colder the last night. Likely due to being so close to the river. I was up before the sun. I got the fire going again and warmed up with some cocoa. We only had 6 miles to go so we were in no rush. Our typical start time had been around 9. Today would be no different. We made great time and were back at the car by 11:30. I shuttled Shannon back to her car in Long Lake. Coincidentally a friend of hers was at the trailhead parking area. So were the black flies. Seems like that one area was the only spot they were a major problem. View the full article
  7. Original plan was to hike w/Steve on the FLT, however he had to cancel due to a pinched nerve. Plan B list was consulted as well as contacting other hiking partners. Shannon, from the defunct meetup group was available for Thurs-Sat. She is in Syracuse area, so I hiked and camped in Morgan Hill SF on Wed. Thurs morning drove to Shannon's where we officially met. The meetup has closed before many trips occured so we never had the opportunity to meet in person. Both of us are trip leaders/organizers for other groups though. We had settled on the trails in the Black River WF. This is an area I was quite familiar with, though haven't been to in a long time. Shannon drove us to Woodgate and we started hiking under the blue skies. A slight chill in the air and a few patches of snow remained. We turned down the trail towards Chub to take the long way to Gull Lake. After a short visit at Gull we continued to Millbrook and followed the snowmobile path to Woodhull Lake. Along the way, the path had large areas of packed snow and some mud pits. About a half mile before Woodhull, one of these ice patches gave way and I slid with it into hip deep water. I am not sure how I was able to get up and out so quickly. Glad it was a warm day, my clothes would dry before I even arrived at Woodhull. There was still ice on the lake and large patches of water. The wind was kicking up some waves on the open water. We set up camp in the double-wide lean-to. The snowmobilers had left a considerable amount of split cordwood. What a treat. As I built the fire I recalled the lean2rescue trip to here. This was the spot where we met Dan. His rowboat motor had conked out so he joined up with us for the rest of the weekend. Now he is a regular adventure partner of mine. Certainly a lot of our trips I would never have done if it hadn't been for the chance encounter at this lean-to. We had hiked just around 11 miles for the day. Some of the trails I had done multiple times, others only once or twice. This would be the first time sleeping in this lean-to. Counting my Wed night stay at the Hemlock Glen lean-to, this would make #75. The fire was burning hot, fanned by the wind fortunately blowing parallel to the lean-to. The waves were grinding away the ice. I commented there might not be much left in the morning. Soon after dark, we were in our bags and drifting to sleep. The (almost?) full moon rose illuminating our campsite, the fire died down but would reignite with the wind. By morning, the winds had calmed. I arose slowly and quietly so as to not disturb Shannon, who likes to sleep in. The sky turned from the pre-dawn reds to the sun shining directly into the front of the lean-to. I had to put on sunglasses to make my coffee. The lake was now ice-free. I do not know why I am so enamored with camping by a lake to witness ice-out. Perhaps because the unplanned nature of being there for those final last moments. Or maybe I am just weird. Thurs was to have been the nice day of hiking as the forecast called for rains. It was warmer now, the winds bringing in a front or pressure system. We packed up and hiked to Bear Lake where we visited the lean-to. We coninued to close the loop and made our way back to the snowmobile path. We had a snack at the roadside spring. So far a bit over 4 miles and the weather was holding out. It was overcast, but warm. Passing again through Millbrook we turned down the Sand Lake Falls trail. A lot of mud pits along the first half of this 3.8 mile trail. As we began the descent towards the lean-to for the last mile or so, we felt our first sprinkle. Donning pack covers, we arrived at the lean-to and raging falls with just a bit of light rain. This would stop/start from the afternoon through the evening. We gathered some wood during the dry moments, and took the short walk to the beginning of the cascade. We started a small fire just to get a good base going before (if) the rains developed more fully. We played some card games and chitchatted. I had a small dinner. We were curled up in our bags before dark. The rains did eventually come off and on. By morning all that was left was like a falling mist. By the time we were all packed up, the rains had subsided. We retraced our steps back up the snowmobile path to Millbrook. We turned off Bear Creek road and took the northern loop. This was wider and wetter than I remember. The undergrowth, still wet from the rains would transfer its moisture to us as we pushed through it to avoid the deep mud pits and vernal ponds. The last mile before the junction was high and dry. Back at the car before noon. It was great to revisit some old stomping grounds and bring back some good memories and to share the area with a new hiking friend as well. Hopefully we will have more opportunities to hike together in the future. View the full article
  8. A few weeks ago I needed to get out and camp. I had spent a night in my backyard campsite but was itching for a little more. After consulting my maps, I chose a new spot in the Burt Hill State Forest. I parked on the roadside shoulder as is common for FLT access points. The trail began following the edge of a farmer's field and the entered the woods. Remnant snow in the field and a ice in the woods. The trail quickly descended into a ravine with a creek. I rock hopped the icy creek and ascended the other side of the ravine. The trail register and lean-to were both on the far side. A quarter mile hike to camp. I collected wood, set up camp, cooked lunch, read a book. It was a great day to be in the woods. Across the ravine I could see the blades of two wind turbines. During the quiet of the night, I could hear their dull roar. Coupled with the creek, this made sleep easy. Hiked out the next day. I probably hiked more collecting firewood than the hike in/out, but it was a great way to spend a weekend unplugged. Two weekends later I led a group of new backpackers into the Pharsalia Woods. We hiked in about 3 miles. The goal was to allow these experienced hikers a chance to test out gear and acclimate to backpacking. All have a desire to hike the NPT in the coming years. This was designed as a relaxing, experience, and knowledge gathering trip. I had Bill C., also from the NPT Chapter with me, as well as Dan. We all shared tips and tricks. I asked Dan to demo how to hang a bear bag. The post-trip survey indicated this was a highlight. We took the long way out to loop back to our cars. Everyone had a good time, and is excited to take the next steps to prepare for their adventure. My Backyard Campsite View the full article
  9. Earlier this month I had aborted the trail to Preston as the trail breaking with a full pulk was nearly impossible. This would be the next attempt with a crew and a strategy to ensure success. We would start Thurs morning, but I am getting ahead of myself. On Tuesday morning I picked up Dan at his place and we drove to the trailhead for Kibby Pond in the Wilcox Lake WF. The plan was just a day hike. Upon arrival we could see the parking was non-existent due to snow. After consulting the maps for plan B, we then drove to the trailhead in the Siamese Ponds WA for Second Pond. The parking area was plowed out, so we ate lunch and grabbed our day hike gear after donning our snowshoes. The temp was in the teens, and a bright sunny day. At the trail register I noted a friend had skied in the other day. The trail was generally uphill for the first mile and a quarter, gaining about 200 ft to a lower contour of Height of Land Mtn. The trail then undulated for a mile as we paralleled to the mountain north. The last mile would drop almost 250 ft to the pond, most in the final half mile. At the pond we explored for a bit, checking out the small island and some of the shoreline. We were tired. We had planned on a shorter day hike so we headed back. It was nice having the broken out trail and the final mile being downhill. The trail register does not indicate the trail gets all that much use though the ranger patrols it regularly. We then drove to Mark's cabin for dinner. Dan had made a lentil curry which was awesome. I slept well, and we awoke to outside temps in the single digits. We had breakfast and loaded the packs for an overnight in the woods. Drove to Stony Pond trailhead in the Vanderwhacker WF. Dan was part of the lean2rescue crew which moved this lean-to away from the water's edge. The trail was only 2 miles but we had our winter gear. We arrived to an empty lean-to, made camp and collected wood. The fire put out a noxious smoke all afternoon and evening. We used downed maple and beech like usual. Wondered if one of the logs had a strange fungus on it. After exploring Stony Pond, which had a very unique shoreline profile, we headed back to camp for dinner and bed. Slept great. I think it warmed up a little over night. We headed back to the car and drive to Upper Works to meet the crew headed to Preston Ponds. There were a total of seven of us. Pete and I would take the lead breaking trail since we had only backpacks (no pulks). He and the ithers were still packing up so Dan and I headed out first. The wind on Henderson was brutal. The snow was crusty and settled only a few inches. The wind came in sheets sometimes forming a vortex in the bays momentarily. At the Henderson lean-to we took a lunch break. When Pete arrived, he and I started down the trail. In 5 minutes we reached the first log bridge. Last time we crossed just downstream of it. But now it had open water. We hopped across just upstream and Pete began clearing the 5-feet of snow off the logs. I scouted further upstream and found a potential crossing. I dropped my pack and cleared a trail across for the pulks. Pete came over with his camera to get some photos when the pulks would cross, so I took the lead down the trail. Breaking trail is much easier without the pulk, but still difficult. Pete caught up to me at the next log bridge just after I cleared a safe crossing. He took the lead at this point. We would take turns all the way to Preston. On the big hill, we swapped a few times. At one point I paused after digging in my next step up when it ended up lower in the snow than the previous step. I joked that I was going downhill. It was tough going. No way would I have been able to do this with a pulk. At Preston, the winds were just as bad as Henderson. Some gusts were so strong they almost knocked us off our feet. They would explain the snake-like meander of our tracks across the lake. Once we arrived at the Preston cabin, Pete dug out the doorway, and I dug out the outhouse. By the time I finished Dan with the first pulk arrived. Hecand Pete started the woodstove. It was not long after the rest of the crew would arrive in waves. Good times, good food was soon had. Both dinner and breakfast. Dan and I headed out soon after breakfast while the rest of the crew was staying an additional night. The hike back to the parking area took about half the time. Another great trip, I visited 2 new locations, camped at a new lean-to and re-visited an favorite. I still need to visit Preston with a canoe one of these days. With all the snow and ice, it will be a while. View the full article
  10. Mid-week I was reading some old journal entries from Januaries past. I noted it was the ten-year anniversary of the trip Aaron, Rich and I did to High Falls in the 5 Ponds Wilderness. The 7 mile trail took us 7 hours to traverse as we were breaking trail. I suppose this could have been seen as foreshadowing for the coming weekend. My weekend plans were to meet Justin at the Upper Works trailhead and follow in the tracks from George, Tammy, et al to Preston Ponds. On Friday night I recieved a text from George that they were heading in Saturday and that Bob +1 had to bail. Bob had twisted his knee on the way in. The plan was now to catch up to G&T probably somewhere on the "big hill". At 8am, I was about an hour from the TH and recieved word G&T were running late, and they would catch up to us. At the trailhead, I loaded up my pulk with my gear and food plus the supplies left by Bob at the register. I waited for Justin. It isn't like him to be late; at least without warning. With no cell service here I was in the dark. At 9:30 Justin hadn't arrived so I figured his plans needed to change. I put his birthday present back into the car and headed up the trail. The trail was well broken here as many use this as an ingress to the high peaks. After about a quarter mile, the ,junction would appear and I took the trai to Henderson Lake. Bob's tracks from yesterday provided easy going. The snow was deep and the rut from snowshoes, skis, and pulks testified to the depth. Once on Henderson Lake it was even easier on the flat surface as long as my steps didn't venture off the tracks. Every once in a while I would step to the side and appreciate the snow depth even on the windswept lake. Views of the surrounding mountains make this a favorite of mine in the winter. I stopped for some water at the lean-to. Even just the small rise from the lake level was tpugh. I was not looking forward to the "big hill". Onward following the tracks. The first log bridge was piled high with 3-4ft of snow. Bob had crossed the creek just downstream so I followed. The second bridge was uneventful. The 3rd was higher up from the water which could be seen through the ice. The snow was packed down by snowshoes to a 3foot depth making the top quite high above the water. I unhooked my pulk and straightened her out. I would be side stepping and pulling the pulk by hand. At the far side, there were no tracks. This must have been where they turned around I thought to myself. I made my way across, taking small steps then pulling the sled towards me, and repeating the process. Just after I crossed I noticed the tracks on the other side. Apparently they had decided to cross the stream at a safer point downstream. At least I wouldn't have to start breaking trail yet. It was only about another hundred yards before Bob's tracks turned around. I stepped into the deep snow. This was going to be tough. Even with 30-in snowshoes I was pushing in 18-inches deep followed by my sled plowing through. Some parts were worse than others. Regularly I was knee deep. Quite often I would hit patches in which I was waist deep in the snow. The undulating terrain made some deep pockets in which I was basically swimming to get through. After another hour and only going a half mile, not even getting to the difficult section I turned around. It was already 1:30. At this rate there was no way to get to camp before it was late if at all. I headed back towards the Henderson lean-to. Even with my own tracks ahead of me I was still sinking in. Barely 5 minutes passed and I ran into G&T. I relayed my story comparing it to the Russian Lake trip a few years back... but worse. Back at Henderson we took a break and talked about our plans. With no cell service G&T would need to get back to Newcomb to find out what other projects were still going on or drive home. I was going to stay here as I had no interest in driving back another 5 hours. Just then Dan appeared. G&T headed out, Dan and I made camp. We cooked sausages from Swan's and their red cabbage. Tried their currywurst for the first time. Very good. Slept well, warm. Restarted the fire and had a knockwurst for breakfast with coffee. View the full article
  11. Due to the storm last weekend which cancelled my trip, I was able to sneak away for a quick overnight. I opted for Big Island lean-to on Raquette Lake. This was the lean-to I helped move slightly inland not long ago. This would also ,make the 70th lean-to I have slept in. When I arrived at the boat launch there were dozens of snowmobiles. Not much of a surprise. What I did not expect was the community ice-cutting and fishing derby. The entire complex was over-run by all these different groups. Coupled with the giant snow piles, parking was at a premium. Solely by luck, a lady pulled away from her spot just as I rounded the corner. This section was marked no parking but I was next to the fire chief. I hoped for more good luck. With my pulk loaded with firewood (knowing the island would be picked clean) I headed out onto the ice. To my right was the ice cutting operation. They were sawing and removing blocks at least 2ft in all dimensions. Ahead of me was the island and a few ice-shanties. The bulk of the snow-mobilers were to the left, following the western shore. As I approached the island I could see a series of tip-ups and 2 fisherman tending to them. I said hi, and we talked briefly. They were in the lean-to and told me about the derby. I asked if would be ok if I crashed in the lean-to. They were very obliging, even offered me a beer. I added my pile of wood to their diminishing store. Tom, Dave and I chatted for a few hours. I cooked up some dogs. The temp was in the teens with an ever so slight breeze. Tom and Dave said the wind made the lean-to cold last night. I imagine it would have been worse in its previous location. The guys would check on their lines every once in a while with no luck. One flag had its line cut/broken. The assumtion was a pike. That was the closest these two had for a fish. We joked that is why it's called fishing not catching. As the time approached 5, and no fish Tom and Dave decided to pull out and head in to the "party" at weigh in. We shook hands and they departed. The sun was getting lower, but I still had some good light. I set up my sleeping gear in the lean-to and enjoyed the waning daylight. I stoked the fire periodically and watched the sun drop below the horizon. I stood on the ice and watched the snowmobilers race back and forth. By now their headlamps and taillights were all I could see. As usual, I would be in bed shortly. Tom and Dave said the riders were out past 11pm friday night. They went quiet much earlier tonight. I was quite warm in my bag and slept soundly until the winds in the morning awoke me. Something shifted as the winds were blowing hard from the SouthEast. Not a good direction; often a storm system. Looking out over the lake there was zero visibility and with the wind I would want to keep my head down. After packing up I took a bearing and would navigate across the frozen lake by compass only. This is the backcountry version of the "bird box challenge". The wind was fierce. I kept my hood clutched over my face with one hand and my compass in the other. It was a short crossing and soon the launch came into view as did my snow covered car. The driving conditions were almost as bad as the hiking. I was traveling 20mph in the 55 zone with my flashers. I saw 5 other vehicles between Raquette and Old Forge... which took an hour to drive. Roads were mostly clear when I left O.F. after a bite at Walts Diner. View the full article
  12. The last few years I have done a winter trip with Dan between Christmas and New Years. With 5 days, we had many options. Dan suggested a foray into the Lake George Wild Forest as it was an area neither of us have explored. This is also a heavily used area and at this time of year would see less people. Besides hiking, camping and climbing we would also go off trail in search of special trout ponds. We sent our itinerary to a few friends in case they were able to join us for part of our trip. Day one consisted of the long drive to Lake George and then along the dirt road to the parking area nearest Shelving Rock Mt. We noticed the "no parking on road" signs all along the way, and numerous dedicated lots showing just how much use this area must get in the height of the season. We saw no cars, and no signs of people on this day. The temp was barely int he twenties as we parked the car and geared up. Tonight and the last night were fore-casted to be the coldest of the nights, with friday being unseasonably warm and rainy. As such, we had to pack for two seasons; winter and rain. That and 5 days of food made for an unusually heavier pack. The hike began along an old roadway. We noted the exquisite stonework used to shore up the edge. These old roads were much "nicer" than the old logging, or camp roads I am used to seeing. The trail, err road, wound its way up the mountain side. Soon we stopped to shed our heavy layer. A half mile shy of the summit was our trail junction, so we dropped our heavy packs and put back on our heavy layers. Towards the top, there was an area which was obviously a site of an old home, or cabin. After about 1.5 miles and 700', we reached the summit of Shelving Rock Mt. We had a nice view of Lake George looking to the South. We took a few photos and headed back down to the the junction with our awaiting packs. We paused for a snack before continuing on. From here we would be generally going downhill. Quite steeply in places. In total losing about 600' in elevation in less than 3/4 mile to the shore of Lake George. We continued south to the edge of private land just to see the shoreline. This took us about a half mile out of our way which we would then turn around and continue for another half mile to our camping area. Our chosen site had quite a bit of cut wood apparently from off season blowdown maintenance. We collected our own from a fair distance knowing that this wood is typically for the in -season users. It was still cold, and as the sun began to set, it was getting colder. While setting up his tent, a pole snapped back and hit Dan in the eye. A few highly stressful moments as we gauged whether to abort the trip to get him some emergency help. Fortunately the pole had hit just above the eye and his eye was not damaged. We would monitor though, just to be sure. A great dinner of roast venison with rice/beans. As predicted it got quite cold over night. Windy too. I woke up often due to the flapping of my tarp. Even with the irregular awakenings, I slept plenty. I was out of my hammock before Dan and re-started the fire. With the water almost ready Dan emerged and finished making the coffee. We ate and packed up, Today would be the toughest as we had our almost full packs and the big climb. We hiked about 2 miles to Black Mt Point all the while exploring the shoreline of the lake. The signpost here gave the mileage to Black Mt Summit as 2.75 miles with 2200' of elevation. It was still cold out, but this climb got the blood pumping and warmed us up. At the junction, 1.8 miles up and 1500' complete we had lunch to fuel us before the next 750' over the next mile. We left our packs here for the final spur trail to the summit and fire tower. As we neared the summit, a view vistas allowed us to see over Lake George and the Tongue Mtn Range. From the top of Black Mtn, we could see not only Lake George, but the other mountains in this range as well as across Lake Champlain and the Green Mtns of Vermont. A mile back to our packs and then a long quarter to our camp at Black Mountain Ponds. While getting camp set up, a two-man group stopped by. They were day hiking the Black Mtn loop. (Fred and ???) As we got our fire going, they headed out. Ground venison stroganoff for dinner. Hearty and filling to refuel after today's workout of only 6 miles, but over 2200' of elevation. Day 3 we expected rain which came over night. Our main wood pile had glaze ice on it, but we had stashed enough under the lean-to to get a breakfast fire going. Today would be a relatively short day with a lean-to midway for a dry lunch break. As we began to pack up, I looked at my watch and noticed it was a quarter to ten. We knew we slept in, but this was later than we thought. No worries since we had a short day. We donned our rain gear and hiked down to the main trail which connects to the Pike Brook trailhead. From here we headed to Lapland Pond. We followed the shoreline for a bit until we met the trail to the lean-to. Passed bv a fishermans campsite along the way. The lean-to was messy, and the roof leaked. It was also quite low. I hit my head twice on the overhang. At the lean-to was the typical junk including some canned food. We opened a can of campbells soup and heated it up on the stove. Except for the trash, the lean-to was situated at a picturesque spot on the lake. After our break we retraced our steps back to the main trail. Dan spent a little more time looking for boats without any luck. We continued on for another mile to Millman Pond and its lean-to. This one was very nice, and not just relative to the mess at Lapland. The caretakers, ironically are Russ and Dan. According to the log book they check in quite often. The other visitors commented on the outhouse as "the nicest they have ever seen". Before we left we knew we had to at least open the door to the privy. Inside it was painted red and white. there was a nice wooden box for the tp, and the walls were decorated with watercolor paintings encased in plastic. It certainly was the "nicest outhouse" I have even seen too. It was getting later in the afternoon and we had a short two miles to go to our camp for the night at Greenland Pond. we would be arriving with a waning daylight and needed to collect wood. This reminded us both of our winter trip in the Haderondah, specifically arriving at East Pond. We gathered the scraps nearby, and eventually found some downed hardwood quite a distance away. Dan cut it up and we carried it back to the lean-to as the woods darkened. We had to get water using headlamps. even with the wet wood we got a good fire going and stashed some extra birchbark for the morning. we had bean and cheese burritos with salsa for dinner and went to bed. It was windy over the night. Not so much it kept us up but just enough to dry out much of the wood. Starting a fire int he morning was much easier especially with the dry charred logs from our evening fire. Another short day to camp, but we would first need to find a spot. We first explored Fishbrook Pond and its 2 lean-tos before continuing on to Bumps Pond. A very nice campsite was situated on the point, but with the winds it would not work on the this trip. We continued around the pond and found a designated site at the old homestead location. The remnant chimney was still there. Dan went to look for other potential spots while I collected firewood. We spent the early afternoon setting up camp and getting more wood. We still had some time and the bushwhack to Spectacle Ponds was on our itinerary so we loaded up day packs and headed down the trail to where we took a bearing. Our path to Spectacle was rough through a lot of small spruce thickets and beaver ponds to go around. It took a little longer than we expected to get there, but we still had enough time to explore its shoreline. At the southern end we opted to take a bearing to the Bumps Pond outlet and then follow it back to the trail. This was a much better route. As the trek progressed I could feel my legs running out of gas. The last quarter mile would be climbing around a small hill and then dropping down to the trail close to where we took our original bearing. We got back to camp before sunset. The fore was ready to go, so we got it lit. As the woods darkened, we noticed the temperature dropping rapidly and the stars emerging. We expected it would be a cold night. Some soup for dinner and then a walk to the pond's shore to look up to the sky before bed. Dan was up before first light. He gathered the dry kindling we stashed under my tarp and got the fire going. I went to get water. By the time the fire was going the woods began to brighten in the pre-dawn making our headlamps no longer necessary. We chatted and packed up. We had more miles to do today but it would be mostly downhill back to the car, this would be after we climbed Sleeping Beauty Mtn. The northern trails had a lot more snow and ice than we had been walking on the last 4 days. After climbing about 500' over about a mile, we reached a lookout and wondered how such a well marked area would not have a sign to the summit. We descended a bit and then the spur trail to the summit appeared. Sleeping Beauty overlooked Lake George and also had views to the east. we spent a little time taking photos and climbing the various rocky knobs. It was still a bit cold out, but we basked in the warmth of the morning sun. We had the summit to ourselves. We headed down the icy trail and over the next couple miles passed quite a few groups headed up. From dacy Clearing we had a number of options to get back to the car. We made decisions at each intersection which trail to take. It was obvious these trails get very little use compared to the main trails. About a mile before the car, we stopped at a pretty waterfall for lunch. Sitting for even the short lunch break allowed us to realize it was still rather cold. We arrived back to the car and noted the lot had quite a few more vehicles. It was apparent this area is heavily used. We were fortunate to have found the solitude and steal another pre-winter backpacking trip at the end of December. View the full article
  13. For quite some time Eric (RevYJ) and I have done thanksgiving in the woods. It started years ago as a solo adventure, then Ian joined in and then Eric. Since then, Eric has been a stable partner. Others have come and gone. This year, Kalie and her brother would be joining us. This would be the second year in a row for Kalie. Eric commented that no one ever joins us for a second trip! As the date got closer, Eric and I traded emails as to logistics. The menu etc... has been almost standardized the last few years. We must have miss communicated a little as Eric was waiting at 6am for me, and I arrived at 7am. If this was out only issue for the trip, we can call it a win. With the car loaded, we dropped off little megan at Al's place to watch for the weekend. The temp was in the 20's but would be dropping as we traveled North. The final mile to the trailhead was on a seasonal road, and since there had been considerable snow we drove slowly staying (mostly) in the tracks left by earlier vehicles. The temp was 12 deg F. The posted sign had Wolf Lake at 3.0 miles. Our map had it as 3.9. The trail had a little snow, enough for the pulk but not enough for snowshoes. We were on the trail before noon.It was well marked, almost to the point of ridiculous. The trail was gradually uphill skirting rock formations and small streams. The first obstacle was a flooded beaver section. As usual the problem is also the solution. With the snow it was difficult to see where to step. Eric led the way, took it slow. Once across it was much quicker for me to follow with the pulk. At the other side we wondered if the upstream beaver dam might be better for the return trip. Soon after the beaver dam, and old woods road came in from the left and the trail turned onto it. A few minutes later Eric paused as there were no markers. We had been chatting and not paying attention to the trail. We doubled back about 50 yards to find where the trail spun off the old woods road. Back on the well marked path we continued on. The forest changed quite a bit, a few small climbs but mostly rolling. At one point we are atop a small ridge covered with white pine and oaks. The winds swept across it reminding us of the cold temps. A few blowdowns along the way cause me to detour with the pulk while Eric could just step over. Some private land marking appeared to the left giving us a clear indication of our location on the map. Only a short way to go to the lake, and then a quick jog around the shoreline to the lean-to. A little over 2 hours for us to break trail. We dropped our packs and noted the solid lake. Glad we brought the shovel as it took a while to cut through the 2+ inches of ice to get water. We made camp, gathered some firewood and relaxed in the cold. Our standard fare for thursday was hot dogs and chili. I only made half of the chili as eric was only using it as dog toppings. Gathered more wood. when the sun set, we could feel the temp dropping quickly. It was expected to get close to zero over night. The moon rise over the lake was stunning; the clear sky a pre-cursor to the coming cold. (When we returned to civilization we would find out it bottomed out at -9°F .) I was warm with my down quilts, but I never sleep well in lean-tos. I would get a better nights sleep Fri night. Up as the sky turned pink before the rising sun, I restarted the fire and opened the hole in the ice. I heard the lake making ice all night, the hole had an inch of new ice to cut through. As the sun rose, it was directly across the lake. I needed to put on sunglasses due to the brightness and glare as it reflected off the ice. I made some coffee while Eric slept in and moved my gear to my hammock setup for Fri night. Kalie and her brother Chad would be here around 2 pm, so we had plenty of time to take a day hike to Moon Lake. It was a quick jaunt to the lake and a trail to the lean-to was along some high rock ledges along the shore. Quite pretty. We took a short break at the lean-to, and wrote in the shelter log. Either few people write in the log books, or this area gets very little use. I hope to come back in nicer weather and maybe do some fishing at this trio of lakes. Back at Wolf Lake we gathered up more firewood in preparation for Kalie and Chad. Across a small "bay" we could see where the trail would come out onto the point. Eric and I kept glancing over knowing we would see our companions a quarter mile before they would arrive. It wasn't long before Eric spotted some movement and our friends made the turn off the point. Their hike in was a solid twenty minutes shorter than ours. With them all set up, our second thanksgiving would begin. Turkey, stuffing, gravy, vegetables from the cans of green beans and carrots someone had left in the lean-to. With key lime pie for dessert. We ate like champs. stoked the fire and relaxed. The winds were picking up, as the temp rose. Odd combination but expected from the forecast. Kalie gave me an update on the Saints game from Thursday. We had a good laugh pretending to be the Wolf Lake Curling team. I shoved the ice wafer from cutting the ice hole, as eric brushed the ice with a broom. Hopefully a photo will surface. I was the first to call it quits and went to my hammock. I fell asleep quickly. It was much warmer this night, even with the winds. I was not the first one up; Chad was already getting the fire ready to be re-lit. A typical lazy morning of breakfast and packing up. Kalie was the last to emerge from her tent. It would rain today, but not until the later afternoon so we had plenty of time. The hike out was much quicker than coming in. The beaver dam was certainly mushier. The temp was closer to the 40s, a good 30 degrees warmer than on Thursday. Back at the car, we changed out of our hiking clothes and headed to Cook's family diner. Another successful Thanksgiving adventure in the books. View the full article
  14. This weekend a number of lean2rescue projects were happening concurrently. As I intended to spend the night in the woods, I chose an on-site project. We would be prepping the site for the Beaver Point lean-to at Lake Colden and if time, removing the old roof from the lean-to. There was significant discussion as to the ingress to Lake Colden. Eventually we would plan to hike in from Upper Works. On Friday afternoon, I recieved a call from Doug that the crew has opted to come in from the loj, and I could still meet them at the sute. This made it easier as I was not sure if I could make the rendezvous at 8am. I would be leaving Roc at 3am as it was. The firrecast called for more snow and freezing temps. I changed my gear load for a winter trip. Three am arrived and I headed out. I stopped for coffee twice and filled the tank with gas in Long Lake. I was at Upper Works just after 8am, the plow had just come through. I changed into my hiking gear and loaded my pack. I wasn't sure where I would spend the night, or the next but I figured I would stop by the car for my 2nd days food. I signed in at the register noting only 2 people were before me heading to a nearby location. It was 8:30, so not too far behind schedule. There were a couple inches of powdery snow on the ground. The first couple miles if trail went quickly, even though it was generally gaining elevation. The snow of the trees and deadened the air, so it was very quiet walking. Every once in a while a big wind gust would kick up, blowing snow from the trees on to me. With the snow on the ground, it obscured the muddy spots. The footprints ahead of me provided fair warning for the worst spots. The trail soon began to gain elevation more significantly. I shed a few layers when I stopped for a snack. The last mile or so to flowed lands did not appear to gain elevation on the map, but it certainly did on the ground. While the first 2 miles went relatively quick, these last few were slow. I took a break at the Calamity lean-to which was occupied by the two ahead of me. I had jyst over a mile left to my destination. This last leg was not easy. Besides being uphill, the terrain was difficult, especially with the powedery snow. I arrived to Beaver Point and dropped my pack. I listened for voices of the crew assuming they were already there. Hearing none, I set up my sleeping area and then went to look (and listen) for them. Figuring I would eventually find their footprints, I continued on the trail. As I rounded the bend I saw flagging tape. I wondered if this was to mark the location for tbe new site. No footprints, no sounds just a quiet brumal day at Lake Colden. The original plan to start at Upper Works was due to high water levels at Avalanche Lake, making it impassable. Since I was here before the main crew I thought maybe the lake level was still to high for the northern approach. I headed back to my camp to wait and have some lunch. Being in the EHPZ meant no campfire. This was a bummer for a number of reasons, the least of which was I had nothing to do while I waited... usually collecting and prepping firewood takes up a lot of time. The wind picked up, blowing snow into the lean-to. I was not sure if it was from the trees or new snow. I erected a small tarp to block both from getting on my gear. I added an extra layer and sat down behind my wind/snow break. I was tired, but made sure I did not fall asleep as I knew it was going to be a long night. A few hikers passed by as they bagged some peaks and returned.By the time 4pm rolled around, I was certain the crew did not make it. I had a cold dinner, and bundled up waiting for the sun to set. Lake Colden was just beginning to freeze up, and with the temperature dropping would certainly be making more ice over the next hours. I was hoping the skies would clear so I would have a chance at the Taurid meteors known for higher than usual fireball activity. As dakness descended, the clouds remained. Unlikely meteor viweing, but it would not get as cold. I lit a tea candle and placed it into my cookpot as a "mini-campfire". I was asleep before the candle burned out. The next morning was not as cold as expected, but still below freezing. The lake had considerably more ice. I was packed up and on the trail a little after 7am. I paused at one of the other lean-tos on my way back to see the view (not as nice as from Beaver Point) and a group of three were there packing up. They had also come in from Upper Works. I guessed they might have been the voices I heard pass by the previous afternoon. I was given a hug by one of them, he had everybody deserves a hug every day. They were from different areas; Saratoga, Rochester, ... The hike out was quick as it was generally downhill. The slowest portion was navigating the big rocks as the snow made them quite slippery, so going around them was time consuming. I passed on other hiker on his way in. I was surprised how few cars were in the lot being a long weekend. I suppose folks were dissuaded by tbe weather. Usually this area, and Lake Colden in particular xan be quite busy. I pretty much had it all to myself. And it was pretty. Needing a campfire, I pondered the indea of stopping at a lean-to on the finger lakes trail or just camping in my own woods. The latter won out. Emily was glad as she hadn't been feeling well. View the full article
  15. A solo trip into the West Canadas to do some trail maintenance and check on the lean-to. A year ago this weekend Justin and I had paddled to the Carry lean-to and then hiked to the Colvin Brook Lean-to to clear a downed tree that fell by the fire-pit. As I pulled in tot he parking area, the sky opened up and it poured for short while. I put on rain gear and pack cover and headed down trail. I hiked in to the Carry lean-to. Set up my sleeping gear and headed to Colvin Brook. I cleared trail along the way with hand pruners and small saw. There was not much to be done as I had been through the area last June. I crossed the new bridge over the Lamphere Brook. This was the one I had made a temporary bridge for the 2018 NPT hikers. To get to the Colvin Brook lean-to, I had to cross the Cedar River. I donned water shoes and hiked up my pants. The water was cold. Since our last visit there have been a total of two visitors, both back in July.The lean-to is in need of some care. The other volunteer group to which i belong, lean2rescue is planning on engaging in the west canadas over the next few years. Hopefully we will get to this great spot sooner than later. I signed in to the register and re-crossed the river. Had some lunch and headed back to camp. I gathered some firewood from a decent distance away. I explored a bit of the area and then made dinner. I knew the sun would set early which was ok as I had to get up before the sun to make it to Long Lake in time for the NPT Chapter meeting. The winds raged in the early morning before the sun rose. I slept rather well mostly in the early part of the night. I made a quick fire and had some cocoa and breakfast. As I was eating I noticed some ash from the fire land on my wool shirt. I then noticed it melted and more was blowing around. The end of fall and the emergence of winter was here. I packed up and hiked back to my car. I noted in was just under freezing back at the car at 9amView the full article
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