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DuctTape

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About DuctTape

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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. It had a few months since Dan and I had hit the trail together. We each had gone our own way on separate adventures over the summer. It would be great to sit around the campfire and tell our stories. While Justin was headed to Metcalf for the weekend, we had three days to spend, so we opted for the W. Canada Lakes wilderness to do some fishing and leaf-peeping. I picked up Dan early Saturday morning and we headed into the woods at the Pillsbury Mtn trailhead. The lot was already filling up, mostly with those hiking to the firetower according to the register. The air was chilly and we expected some rain over the weekend. We stopped at the Pillsbury Lake lean-to for lunch. It was surprisingly clean. For dessert I had a brownie and traded my second one to Dan for an after dinner beer later that night. We turned off the marked trail and headed to Whitney Lake. We arrived to the main campsite which was already occupied. A tent was set-up as well as a large tarp with a windblock. The occupants were not around; we assumed they were off day hiking or fishing. Instead of staying at the campsite at the old shelter location, we headed to the one on the other side of the lake which Justin and I had stayed at the year prior. The site was in good condition. There were signs it had been used since we had last visited. With camp set up, we went fishing. No hits and no rises for a while. Then Dan spotted a rise in the water. I cast short of it and hit immediately. Not a big fish, but a nice 9.5inch brookie. while I was playing him, Dan a much larger specimen; a 14 incher. We fished that spot a little longer and Dan hauled in a whopper at 15.5 inches. That would be the end of our fishing. Back at camp, we made dinner and talked. Dan commented how he would probably be asleep soon after dark. I, of course, would also. True to our word we hit the sack early. The rains came over night and into the next morning. Neither of us were in any kind of hurry to get up. Eventually I ventured out of my hammock and restarted the fire. We had set up a large tarp as a communal space in anticipation of the rain. This proved to be worth the effort. It rained a little on/off for the morning. We had fish tacos for breakfast while we discussed our options for the day. According to the lists, Puddle Hole nearby should have trout. So we set off to bushwhack through the wetness to check it out. We split up at the pond to search for a boat. Dan took the north side, and I the south. We met at the far side after 'whacking around the dense shoreline. Neither of us found a boat. The pond was shallow and the shoreline was not even conducive for shore fishing. We took a bearing back to the main trail and then headed back to Whitney. From there we headed to Sampson to also search for a boat. The lean-to at Sampson is in an unfortunate location perched at a run-off stream. For some reason people also seem to leave a lot of trash here too. A group of beginner backpackers from canada were just packing up after their lunch break. Two ladies were waiting nearby to secure the spot for the night. We told them we were only having a late lunch and would be moving on. We again had no luck finding a boat so we headed back to Whitney and fished our way back to camp with no luck. As the sun was getting low it really illuminated the changing colors. We again went to bed early. The morning again had rain and fog. We checked out the un-named pond onthe other side of camp before we left. No fish were seen or caught.All packed up, we headed back. As we passed through the occupied site from Saturday morning, the occupants were there and we chatted for a bit. Jim, wearing a "Whitney Lake Woods Rat" ball-cap said he had been coming here for 30 years. He told us some history, and we all swapped stories and fish-tales. Jim and JB offered us a beer, so we stayed a while longer and chatted some more. After a second one, we packed up the empties and headed back to the Pillsbury Lean-to for a late lunch and then to our awaiting car. We had just that one quick flurry of fishing. Quite a bit of rain and some gorgeous colors of the changing leaves. It was good to be back out on the trail with Dan. Next time we will hit a different part of this Wilderness. We are thinking of heading back to the Quetico next summer. A lot there left to explore. meaning Questico and the West Canadas. View the full article
  14. Justin and I had been trying to figure out when to go back to the W. Branch Sacandaga River for a few years now. This seemed like the perfect weekend. It was all set and my college roommate was joining us. A few days prior I mentioned to Justin the possibility of the Northern Lights (due to a recent coronal discharge). Immediately the plans changed to find a location with a northern view. We settled on the Boreas Ponds with the high peaks backdrop to the north. I picked up Jeff early in the morning and we made the long drive to the Vanderwhacker Forest and drove along the gravel road to the trailhead. A few cars, including Justin's, were already there. Jeff and I hiked along the rest of the road past the gate the few miles to the dam. Along the way a truck passed us. As we approached the dam we could see a few people gathering having a chat. we stopped to take in the view and down the trail came Bill. He and Justin had come in earlier with their canoes and said they would meet us at the dam. The timing was perfect. I had a rough idea of the campsite location, it shouldn't have been too difficult to find although the trail was not not visible from the main trail/road. So it was great Bill and Justin met us at the dam. We all hiked the remaining way to camp every once in a while on the remnants of an old wagon road in the woods. we made camp, explored a bit, took a short paddle. While the northern lights did not appear, the sunset did not disappoint. When we returned home, many people from around the Adirondacks has posted photos of the sunset. The next day, Jeff and I hiked out first by bushwhacking back to the main trail and then past the dam. While this was not an extreme adventure, it was still great to hang out with friends in the woods. The Boreas Ponds are quite pretty. I may return to try some fishing at some point, but I do not think this will be a recurring destination on my list.View the full article
  15. Another scouting mission for the NPT-west. This would be to check out an alternative to what I originally envisioned for a small section as well as visit a spot I haven't been to in a while (and never from this direction). I set my sights on Sand Lake via the unmarked path from the west. To add mileage and check out some other trails I started near the Oswegatchie Educational Center on Long Pond Rd at the far western edge of Watsons East Triangle WF. The parking lot was empty and I signed in at the register noting many from the Ed center use this trailhead to go to Trout Falls and Jakes Pond. A few minutes into my hike along the easement land, a guy (Brandon) and his son (Logan) were fixing a pin on their ATV so I paused and we chatted a bit. They were bringing in a tree stand for the hunting club. They also mentioned their game cameras have picked up quite a bit of bear activity between the footbridges. Also a decent buck. They allowed me to ahead of them and I continued along the recently logged area. I did notice some bear scat along the way. Soon I was on state land, and crossed the west branch Oswegatchie River, the trail became more closed in, although it was obvious atvs still came through. The forest here was quite pretty. It changed quite a bit both the flora and geology as I passed through. The trail had a few small rises to open rock areas. The air was still a bit chilly, but the sun was warming up the rocks. After about 45 minutes I came to the junction of Keck Trail and Jakes Pond Trail. The map shows a campsite here, but I didn't see anything. It is possible there was a campfire circle hidden among the ferns but without a water source this would be solely a winter camp. Taking the left fork to the Keck trail, it was more rugged and was even more winding than it showed on the map. The map showed 3 campsites along the next few miles, but were dry and hidden as well. There were a lot of different fungus growing near and on the trail. Even the air was filled with the scent of fungal decomposition. I passed another open rock area which was perched above a marshy area which had been dammed up by the beavers a long time ago. The overgrown remnant dam provided a was across the deep trickle of muck. The path was not obvious at first. Back in the woods a few muddy sections and atv tracks as well as a few bear prints. As i descended a small rise I came to another marshy section. This was criss-crossed with small rivulets hidden in the tall grass. The grasses themselves would sink underwater when stepped upon. There was no discernible path, no markers to be seen. I spent about half an hour trying to figure out where the trail went. Had I seen a marker or a trail on the other side I would have figured out a way to it. Instead I opted for plan B of my adventure. I would scout from the other side a different time. I headed back towards the Jakes Pond junction. I spent a extra time looking for some of the other campsites, but could not find them. I did come across a moose shed in a small clearing. A few minutes later I heard the sound of a motor. I paused on the trail and watched an atv slowly make his way around the bend in the trail and up towards me. I stepped aside as the red honda with 5 gallon buckets strapped all over it passed me by. I was getting low on water by the time I reached the junction. But I knew I would pass over a bridge soon. Taking the right fork towards Jakes Pond this time I headed to the river which would be the boundary between Watsons East and the Pepperbox Wilderness. I crossed the bridge and filled up my water bottle with the tannin stained water. This trail was obviously and old woods road at one time. I noticed an increasing amount of bear scat. Some newer, but mostly old. At one point I thought to myself there is poop every ten feet. I came over small rise and entered a newer growth forest with a lot of cherry trees. Some motion caught my eye and I stopped. I looked towards a stand of trees and looking back was a bear. She made a quick grunt and then two cubs scurried up the trees. I had happened to have my camera out, so was able to safely snap a few shots before i slowly backed up. As I gave momma more room, she moved into position between me and the cubs. I backed up further and waited. She backed up to her previous position. I took a wide berth around as we watched each other. My arc intersected with the trail well past the bears' foraging area. A couple hundred yards later I came across a beaver flooded section, but a well worn herd path directed me to the dam. I came to another one of these sections a little later on about a half mile from Jake's Pond where the beaver dam was just above a small cascade into a frothy pool. The old woods road headed uphill slightly to eventually reach what appeared to be a small esker between Jakes Pond and a water filled swamp. The esker made scanning the shoreline on both sides easy. Jakes has a very interesting shape. When I reached the southernmost point, I headed back and then off trail to the northern parts of the pond. No campsite was shown on the map, but sometimes one can be found. No luck and the shoreline was mucky. I took a break under a large white pine before heading back. Back at my car at 4:30 after about thirteen miles of hiking, I needed to drive up the road a few miles to a different trailhead to get to camp. I parked near the bridge over the W. Branch Oswegatchie and took the dirt road near the private land. At the stat land sign, I headed up to the shore of Mud Lake looking for the campsite which showed on the map. There were two, so I was confident I would find at least one of them in the open pine and hemlock woods, if not at least I would have water. I found a little used site just around dinner time so I made camp. Even with private lands close by, I seemed to have the entire area to myself except for the loons. It was a chilly night as expected. The morning glow over the lake was too good to pass up. View the full article
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