Testing the Waters

The south end of Lake George looking north.  Image © Joe Geronimo
The south end of Lake George looking north.
Image © Joe Geronimo

The sun shined, rain poured, thunder roared, lightning flashed and the sun shined is a very good narrative to my day in the Adirondack’s yesterday.

A quick nap after work coupled with the excitement of test paddling some very light weight pack canoe’s was all the fuel I needed for a long day. I made really good time, reaching Lake George in just under three hours. A short bathroom break, a stretch of the legs and the remaining 40 miles to Hornbeck Boats in Olmstedville, NY. Pulling into the driveway I noticed the Hornbeck staff gathered around a table beneath a large tree conversing and eating lunch. I extended my apologies for interrupting them however they were very gracious and welcoming. Shortly after introductions I was lead down a dirt road to a rather large pond. It is here where I was to test paddle two particular boats I have been drooling over for quite a while now. The first was the “Classic 12″ which is 12 feet in length, 28.25” wide and weighs all of 18 lbs. due to its kevlar layup. Next up was the canoe I had REALLY wanted to paddle the “New Tricks 12”. At 12 feet long, 24.5″ wide and a whopping 15lbs she was a joy to pick up and carry. A mix of carbon fiber and kevlar this boat was just awesome! Tracked like the arrow of a hunter, its primary stability excellent but where it really shined was in secondary stability. Heck, I was able to lean this baby until the gunwales touched the water never once feeling like I would swamp the boat. She was smooth as silk through the water, graceful responding to my every demand. I was in love…

After asking what seemed like an endless freight train of questions I left Hornbeck smiling and elated that the experience had gone just as I had hoped. Now with several hours to kill before my next test paddle it was time for some lunch.

Horseback Boats "Classic 12" Kevlar Layup.
Hornbeck Boats “Classic 12” in Kevlar Layup.
Horseback Boats "New Tricks 12" Carbon Fiber Layup
Hornbeck Boats “New Tricks 12” in Carbon Fiber/Kevlar Layup.

With my stomach growling as loud as the Hudson River rapids in the distance I’m found myself searching for a place to eat in North Creek, NY. Perusing the Village’s Main Street my eyes caught a glimpse of Izzy’s Market & Deli. If ever there were a salesman the gentleman sitting on the front porch reading the newspaper and having lunch this had to be the place. Stepping inside Izzy’s is inviting, greeted bya friendly staff, there is plenty of room to sit, eat, read and chat. A large an inviting menu written in chalk hung on the wall. The sandwiches had names like Engineer, Boxcar, Conductor and Train Wreck. Ok I’m an engineer and there seems to be a railroad theme going on here so I went a little Crazy Train and decided on the “Train Wreck”.  Layered with ham, salami, roast beef, provolone, banana peppers, roasted red peppers, sliced red onion, lettuce and oil & vinegar only to be compliment with fresh sour dough bread. I splurged a bit more adding a very delicious homemade cranberry/orange scone. I chose wisely!

Now your probably wondering about the railroad theme. North Creek sits on the former Delaware and Hudson line that branches off its main line in Saratoga Springs, NY. No longer part of the Delaware & Hudson Railway or its subsidiary Canadian Pacific this scenic line is now the tourist operation of the Saratoga and North Creek Railroad and it is also their northern terminus. Sitting in the cafe enjoying my lunch I couldn’t help to reminisce my test experience in the “New Tricks” canoe just shortly before. I was left pondering what the next one had in store for me.

"Train Wreck" Ham, Salami, Roast Beef, Provolone, Banana Peppers, Roasted Red Peppers, Sliced Red Onion, Lettuce and Oil & Vinegar on fresh sour dough bread. Cranberry/Orange Scone.
“Train Wreck” Ham, Salami, Roast Beef, Provolone, Banana Peppers, Roasted Red Peppers, Sliced Red Onion, Lettuce and Oil & Vinegar on fresh sour dough bread. Cranberry/Orange Scone.

Still with more time to kill I decided to make my way the 18 miles from North Creek to Indian Lake to check the scenery out. About a mile out of North Creek route 28 parallels the Hudson river which has many pull offs to take in the views. In the distance my ears are treated to the rumblings of an approaching storm. The sky turning to darkness, large drops of water pelting my windshield and a ferocious deluge of water rains down from the heavens. I thought for a brief moment maybe an Arc would be a better choice. Peering through my windshield and out over the Hudson I can see several whitewater rafters making their way to the next set of rapids most likely already drenched. Brave the elements and grabbing a quick picture of the small convoy. The downpour didn’t seem to phase them as one boat saluted me with their bright yellow paddles.

Whitewater rafters on the Hudson at North River, NY.
Whitewater rafters on the Hudson at North River, NY.

In the safe shelter of my car I continue onward and the rain literally coming down in buckets that I can barely see. My car feels more like a hydroplane than an automobile. Into Indian Lake and the rain is still driving I decided to pull over at the bottom of the lake and settle in for the show. Heavy rain, roaring thunder pierced by bright flashes of light made this show something I have not witnessed in a long time.

About an hour had gone by and the rain had let up and the skies began to brighten I needed to get headed back. My next test paddle was rapidly approaching.

Now I was in Minerva, NY for scheduled 4:30PM appointment with the Adirondack Canoe Company. A new and small venture by two gentlemen who had worked at Hornbeck Boats for many years. I was here to test paddle their “Skylight”. A 12 foot carbon/kevlar layup pack canoe with a width of 28.5″ and tipping the scales at 20 lbs. Shortly after arriving I was greeted by Chad who was one of the owners. After some brief introductions and a tour of the shop Chad loaded a demo boat onto his car and we made the short drive to Donnelly lake. Boat unloaded, some more chit chat and I was on the water. Puffy white clouds above and the warm sun was painting the lake. I was in my element and enjoying this boat. This piece of Adirondack tradition tracked exceptionally well. To be honest not as well as the “New Tricks” but it was a pleasure to paddle. With its amazing secondary stability I again was able to lean it to the gunwales without the fear of swamping this boat. I was impressed again.

Adirondack Canoe Company "Skylight 12" Kevlar layup.
Adirondack Canoe Company “Skylight 12” Kevlar layup.

After my paddle I spoke with Chad at length again asking a multitude of questions before we shook hands and parted ways. Chad did make sure I found my way back to the North Way. Entering the highway I glanced down on my watch, the hands at 6 O’clock, two hundred forty miles until home and I was left with many things to think about.

NOTE: With respect to both these amazing boat builders I did not take any images of my own in order to preserve individuality of their designs. These images here are readily available on the internet.










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