Raquette Lake to Blue Mountain Lake an Adirondack Adventure

For the past year now I have had this desire to paddle across Raquette lake and into the Marion river. Here I would make the flat half mile carry to Utowana lake continuing through Eagle lake and reaching Blue Mountain lake, a total distance of about 14 miles. On Sunday September 30th myself and three other friends did just that.

We arrived at Raquette lake just as the sun was rising and the fog was rolling across the surface of the lake like the stage of a rock concert, however the silence was deafening.  It was a cool 39 degrees as I unstrapped my kayak from the roof of my car. Yes I brought my heavy kayak for this adventure. For some reason I have always been intimidated by the size and notorious winds of Raquette lake. The weather report for the day was calling for 8 MPH winds and I had visions of white caps dancing in my head. With that said I chose poorly and that decision would haunt me a little later in our adventure.

The water was like glass as we set out to cross Raquette lake under the watchful eye of Blue Mountain towering 14 miles in the distance. With only a small navigation snafu we reached the mouth of the Marion river in 3.30 miles according to my GPS. The Marion river was beautiful with its mirrored reflections of autumn beginning to paint the landscape. We twisted and turned up the river several miles before we reached a somewhat large beaver dam. We knew this dam would be here and that we would have to exit our boats in order to get around it. Once we got over the damn it was only another quarter mile or so to the Marion river carry.

This carry from the Marion river to Utowana lake follows the former road bed of the Marion River Railroad. It is only a half mile long and was the world’s shortest railroad. Here is where my kayak would come back to haunt me. Without gear my kayak weighs in a 52 pounds at 14 1/2 feet long. I probably had at least 8 pounds of gear stowed in the boat. So I had the pleasure of carrying 60 pounds on my shoulders for a half mile. A huge departure from my 17 pound canoe…

Once we reached the put in on Utowana lake we were about half way through our journey. In other significance this is where the wind would finally kick up as we paddled our way up through Utowana and into Eagle lake. The entrance from Eagle lake into Blue Mountain lake has two routes that go under bridges and around a small island. Entering Blue Mountain lake we would see the only other paddlers during our trip. From here it was about a mile or so to our take out spot in the hamlet of Blue Mountain Lake.

Once we were off the water and boats loaded I was ready for my long trip back home. As I approached Old Forge I had thought I might want to stop quick at Fulton Chain Craft Brewery. But I was exhausted and just wanted to get home. I made a quick stop to top off the gas tank, grabbed some coffee and kept rolling for home. Not only did I rack up another 425 miles on my car I was part of some great memories with some amazing friends. I look forward to doing it again soon somewhere in the Park.

Cheers!

Pulling into Raquette Lake, NY the sunrise was amazing. This is one of my favorite views in the Adirondack Park. © Joe Geronimo
Starting my day on Raquette lake. © Joe Geronimo
Crossing Raquette lake on our way to the Marion river. © Joe Geronimo
Wayne, Jan & Hugh crossing Raquette lake on our way to the Marion river. © Joe Geronimo
When the autumn colors are just starting to pop you improvise and bring your own. Jan giving a big wave on Raquette lake. © Joe Geronimo
Jan & Hugh on Raquette lake. © Joe Geronimo
Wayne making his way across Raquette lake. © Joe Geronimo
Blue Mountain keeps a watchful eye as Hugh crosses Raquette lake. © Joe Geronimo
Hugh and Jan entering the mouth of the Marion river. © Joe Geronimo
Making my way along the Marion river. © Joe Geronimo
Hugh and I on the Marion river. © Joe Geronimo
Hugh and I on the Marion river. © Joe Geronimo
Hugh and I on the Marion river. © Joe Geronimo
Wayne and I chatting it up on the Marion river. © Joe Geronimo
Wayne & Jan along the Marion river. © Joe Geronimo
This was a cool obstacle along the Marion river. The reflection in the water was amazing. © Joe Geronimo
Wayne & Jan along the Marion river. © Joe Geronimo
Hugh & Wayne getting their boats over the beaver dam. © Joe Geronimo
Wayne assisting Jan getting her boat over the dam. I dragged my heavy kayak around the beaver dam through the mud. © Joe Geronimo
Jan & Hugh carry their canoes between the Marion river and Utowana lake. © Joe Geronimo
Wayne & Mya make their way along the Marion river carry. © Joe Geronimo
On Utowana lake the sun peaked out from behind the clouds for a few minutes. © Joe Geronimo
Wayne paddling up Utowana lake. © Joe Geronimo
Hugh & I paddle up Utowana lake with Blue Mountain looming in the distance. © Joe Geronimo
We’ve gotten a little further up Utowana lake. © Joe Geronimo
Hugh & I along Eagle lake. © Joe Geronimo
I’ve just entered Blue Mountain lake. © Joe Geronimo
Wayne & I on Blue Mountain lake. © Joe Geronimo
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Lewey Lake and the Miami River

I was scheduled to photograph the Palio “Half Marathon & 5K” on Sunday September 16th in Saratoga Springs, NY. Looking at the weather forecast for the weekend not only did I notice it was going to be great weather wise but there was little to no wind forecast as well. I made plans to meet up with a friend on the 15th to paddle in the eastern Adirondacks. I have not spent much time in this side of the park so this would be exciting for me.

September 15th 2018: I pulled out of the Dunking Donuts drive thru here in Endwell at 0530 with 179 miles of driving ahead of me in order to reach Lewey Lake which lies between Speculator and Indian Lake, NY. Once I got off I-88 and went over the hills and through the woods the fog was pretty dense, the curves sharp. And then the Grim Reaper himself loomed in the distance. An 18 wheeler lumbering up, down and around for the next 40 miles with no place to pass. I finally arrived at the Lewey Lake campground at 0845 as the sun had begun to burn off a good portion of the fog. Shortly after my friend Linda would arrive from Saratoga Springs. As fate would have it the boys and I had camping reservations at Lewey Lake this past August. However we had to cancel due to their working schedule.

By this time most of the fog had burned off and the skies were a brilliant blue complimented by marshmallow clouds. Linda and I were paddling along the shoreline of the lake making our way to the south end and the entrance to the Miami river. Once onto the river we encountered two low beaver dams that were easily paddled over. I loved how the Miami twisted and turned. We made it just over a mile before encountering a very large beaver dam. It spanned the entire river I’d say about 30-40 feet and at least 4 foot tall as well. Linda and I decided not to attempt to get around it and slowly made our way back into Lewey lake continuing to navigate its entire shoreline.

This was a fun day paddle and to be honest if I was a little more prepared I would have thought to hit Thirteenth lake as I made my way across the Park towards Warrensburg. However it was getting close to Beer O’ Clock and the Northway Brewery in Queensbury was calling our names. As luck would have it the brewery was literally right next door to my hotel for the evening.

As the nights and days slowly turn cooler and the leaves begin to shed their greens for the reds, oranges and yellows of Autumn I hope to return at least once this season.

Cheers!

Start of the day at Lewey Lake in Indian Lake, NY, © Joe Geronimo.
The sun begins to burn the fog off of Lewey lake in Indian Lake, NY, © Joe Geronimo
Linda MacFarland and I make our way around Lewy lake in Indian Lake, NY. © Joe Geronimo
Linda MacFarland on Lewey lake in Indian Lake, NY, ©Joe Geronimo.
The mirrored waters of Lewey lake Indian Lake, NY, © Joe Geronimo
Along the Miami river near Indian Lake, NY, © Joe Geronimo
Linda MacFarland along the Miami river near Indian Lake, NY, © Joe Geronimo
Linda MacFarland paddling over one of two small beaver dams on the Miami river near Indian Lake, NY. © Joe Geronimo
This female Mallard was a hoot. She followed me for quite a while along the Miami river near Indian Lake, NY. © Joe Geronimo
Making our way towards Lewey lake as another canoe has entered the Miami river near Indian Lake, NY. © Joe Geronimo
Linda MacFarland attempts to lens a Blue Heron along Lewey lake Indian Lake, NY. © Joe Geronimo
A 1973 Volkswagen van sits in the parking area of the Lewey lake campground Indian Lake, NY. © Joe Geronimo

Here is a link to a short video of that large beaver dam along the Miami river. https://youtu.be/ir9S6jILB0k

Adirondack Whirlwind Weekend

August 30th 2018: I got started north late in the afternoon arriving Old Forge, NY around 6:30PM. With still at least two more hours of driving I decided to call it a night. I find the older I get if I don’t have to drive at night I won’t. So instead I pulled up my chair to the bar at Fulton Chain Craft Brewing, ordered a beer and food and chatted with the locals about the upcoming “Adirondack Canoe Classic” affectionately known as the 90 Miler. This event starts in Old Forge and finishes three days later in Saranac Lake. A bucket list experience for me!

August 31st 2018: 0600, A beautiful sun kissed morning with the boat launch at Long Pond still 90 miles distant. Full tank of gas, coffee and I’m ready to hit the road. I would meet my friends Jan and Hugh who had already been camping there since Thursday. They had gone in the day prior to make sure we could secure a campsite being it a holiday weekend.

I arrived right on time 0840 and began unloading my gear.  The pond is a quarter mile from the parking area and on my first trip Jan came walking up the trail to greet me. Two trips total and my canoe loaded we were off. As I setup my tent and sleeping system Jan and Hugh made some coffee before our 12 mile adventure that would take us through Long Pond, Slang Pond, Turtle Pond and Hoel Pond.

The takeout for the canoe carry from Long Pond to Slang Pond is a really nice sandy area. A short 0.2 mile carry on a well maintained trail brings you to put-in on Slang Pond. This is a little mucky but easily done. I personally loved the channel connecting Slang and Turtle Pond. The take out on Turtle Pond again was a real nice sandy spot. In order to get into Hoel Pond you could either walk your boat through the culvert that connects the two or carry up and over the railroad tracks that split the two ponds. I opted to carry up and over!

The wind kicked up pretty good while on Hoel. Hoel is the only pond that day that isn’t complete wilderness and does have some homes along its shoreline. We would break for lunch at a small sandy spot in a cove on the northern end. Afterwards we would begin our way back to our campsite on Long Pond. As we passed between Turtle and Slang Ponds we bumped into Linda McFarland sitting on her kayak having her lunch. We chatted with Linda for a little before continuing.

Back at our campsite we began to prep our dinner. I was hoping for a stunning sunset this evening and views of the Milkyway as well. However the clouds started to roll in and we even got a few sprinkles of rain.

September 1st 2018: I woke several times during the night peering out my tent to see if the cloud cover had given way to millions of stars in the night sky, I would not be so lucky. However the loons were very active and their call never tires.

Not long after sunrise we were up brewing coffee. For me I keep coffee simple while camping as I use instant. Fire up the Jetboil and in 3 minutes coffee is poured. Hugh and Jan prefer the drip method while camping. My go to breakfast while out in the woods is oatmeal. One cup quick oats, one small box of raisins and 2 tablespoons brown sugar.

While Jan and Hugh were starting to break camp I tested out Jan’s Placid Boat Works “Rapid-fire” kevlar canoe. This beauty is 15′ long and glides very nicely through the water. It is a little different than my 12′ Hornbeck kevlar/carbon canoe but both are great boats. It’s late morning now and we have our canoes packed and we begin our paddle out. But first we are headed to explore Pink Pond. Pink Pond is really and you enter it from Long Pond through a twisting channel with low water. Just before entering the channel to Pink Pond we bumped into a DEC Ranger who had just finished checking the campsite there. We had a small conversation and she was on here way.

Back at the take out on Long Pond I made two trips to my car. One with gear and the other with my canoe. Jan and Hugh would do the same. After everything was loaded onto and into our cars we said our goodbyes as I was headed for St. Regis Canoe Outfitters in Saranac Lake to take a shower.

All showered I made my way to Lake Placid for a late lunch at a BBQ place called Smoke Signals. I have never been there before so I figured why not, it was excellent. After lunch I would hang around in Placid for a little before making my way east over route 73 to the Adirondack north way. Thinking in my head I need to hit another pond I came up with Cheney Pond just outside of Newcomb, NY.

Arriving at the trailhead it is a half mile drive down a very steep, narrow, rough rutted road to the pond. I’ll admit I was wondering if I’d get out. I eased my way tot he pond discovering a family camped right near the small hand launch. Cheney is relatively small but secluded. I would spend an hour just exploring the shoreline which according to my GPS is 1.5 miles. Back in my car and again very slowly I inched my way out and found this adventure had made me thirsty. As luck would have it Paradox Brewing was only 20 minutes away in Schroon Lake, NY, I was saved!

My destination for the evening would be Lake George, NY as I was to be photographing the Big George Triathlon early Sunday morning. This is a half Ironman distance 70.3 miles. The triathlon consists of 1.2 mile swim, 56 miles on the bike followed by a half marathon. I would find a great place to car camp along route 9N in Lake Vanare for the evening.

September 2nd 2018: I slept great as I have a killer sleeping system setup in my car. And I was lakeside in Lake George by 0630 to do my part in photographing the triathlon. This would be my fourth year doing so and every year I photograph the bikes. I love doing this especially when they come into transition which can provide some dramatic images. Afterwards it was time to hit the road and head home.

This was a super fun weekend and I look forward to doing it again next year.

Sunrise Fourth lake Inlet, NY August 31st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Hugh Jan and Myself Long Pond Santa Clara NY August 31st. © Joe Geronimo
Hugh on Long Pond with Long Pond mountain in the distance August 31st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Canoe Carry Long Pond to Slang Pond August 31st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Hughe Jan and Myself Paddling Slang Pond August 31st 2018 © Joe Geronimo
Hugh and Jan carrying over low water bewtween Slang Pond & Turtle Pond August 31st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Paddling between Slang Pond and Turlte Pond August 31st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Turtle Pond August 31st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Joe Geronimo Turtle Pond August 31st 2018©.
Hugh Carrying from Turtle Pond to Hoel Pond August 31st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Jan Hugh and Myself Paddling Hoel Pond August 31st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
During our lunch stop on Hoel Pond I indulged in a very delicious Vermont brew! August 31st 2018 © Joe Geronimo
My version of “Crazy Train” Hoel Pond canoe carry August 31st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Long Pond August 31st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Long Pond August 31st 2018. © Joe Geronimo

 

Sunset Long Pond August 31st. © Joe Geronimo
Jan and I Entering Pink Pond September 1st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Jan Exiting Pink Pond September 1st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Myself Hugh and Jan Paddling into Pink Pond September 1st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Cheney Pond September 1st 2018. © Joe Geronimo

Small Disaster at Oakley Corners

The dog and I woke early this morning traveling to Oakley Corners State Forest in Owego, NY under a thick blanket of fog. Undeterred our plan was to hike and have breakfast along the back side of the pond. The trail was still a bit muddy from the heavy rains this past Friday. Making our way under a canopy of trees and filtered sunlight the woods were alive with song as an owl hooted away in the distance while other birds provided the chorus.

The dog was in all his glory, kind of a dog Disneyland complete with a waterpark. We came upon the pond and immediately he went swimming, snorting and sniffing and loving life. I reached into my pack and pulled out my camp chair setting that up first. I wanted to use my new twig stove again but the leaves, pine needles and twigs were still damp. Poking around looking for my fire starters I realized I forgot to pack them. This wasn’t starting off well. I tried getting a fire going to no avail. It was just to wet and damp.

Disappointed I couldn’t use the new stove I did however remember to bring my Jetboil system as backup. Soon enough water was boiling and coffee was brewing. Now time to break out my new 8″ fry pan and cook our breakfast. This mornings delicacy would be salmon filet and bacon. I could see the dog licking his chops already. The Jetboil fry pan has folding handles and a plastic plate that clips to the bottom as well for easy storage. Glancing over at the dog I set the fry pan on the burner and all of a sudden smoke starts to billow from the pan. I was like what the heck! Then I noticed I set the pan on the burner but never removed the plate. Oh I was pissed to say the least and melted plastic was everywhere.

I was frustrated as the dog peered at me with the look of hurry up and get breakfast cooked, I’m hungry. I finally get the melted plastic cleaned up, pan back on the burner and warming. Reaching into my cooler pouch I pull out a bag with a Tbsp of butter and our season salmon filet. I open the bag and put the butter and fish in the pan. The butter goes sliding right out of the pan and onto the ground. A quick thinking dog snatches the butter. I couldn’t help but chuckle. I mean what else might go wrong!

Finally the fish and bacon were cooking and the dog kept inching closer with those please feed me eyes glaring at me. I sipped my coffee as the aroma of breakfast waft through the air. After we ate my fury compadre felt he needed another swim. Packing our stuff up and doggie finished with his swim we were back on the trail. It was about another mile or so back to the car and we were on our way home. Windows down and a wet dog hanging his head high!

Despite my little mishaps I had a really fun morning just being outside., cheers!

Along the trail at Oakley Corners State Forest Owego, NY August 5th 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Pond at Oakley Corners State Forest August 5th 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Wet dog at Oakley Corners State Forest in Owego, NY August 5th 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Melted and ruined plate from my Jetboil fry pan August 5th 2018. © Joe Geronimo

The Start of my Day

It has been well over a year since I’ve graced the waters of Long Pond in Smithville Flats, NY. I had planned to go there early this morning to canoe, catch the sunrise and have some breakfast. But my overall motivation was to try my new “Twig Stove” made by Solo Stove. The Solo Stove “Lite” stands 5.7″ tall by 4.25″ wide and weighs in at 9 ounces. I also purchased the Pot 900 with it as well.

Driving north along route 12 I encountered pockets of fog and had wondered if Long Pond would be shrouded in mist as well. Fortunately it was not and there was just a light rolling fog hovering over the waters surface. The landscape was quiet except for a few bird songs and a playful beaver. Out on the water watching as the sun turned the sky into a painter’s palette of color. Soon a fisherman with an electric trolling motor glided past and a restless camper had awaken and stepped to the shoreline to greet me. Slowly I continued paddling along the quiet waters making my way back as I was craving some coffee and breakfast.

With the recent rains everything on the ground was still damp making starting the fire in my stove extremely difficult. I had to improvise and all those coffee receipts stuffed into my glovebox came in real handy. Finally a fire was born and I fed it a healthy diet of small twigs and bark and soon enough I had boiling water. This mornings food of choice would be Good To-Go oatmeal, it was different than your traditional oatmeal as I enjoyed the sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds it had in it along with the rolled oats.

I sat by the waters edge enjoying the morning before cleaning up and heading home.

Cheers!

Sunrise on Long Pond Smithville Flats, NY July 29th 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Finally a fire is warming my new Solo Stove Lite. Long Pond Smithville Flats, NY July 29th 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Water is boiling in my Pot 900 along the shore of Long Pond Smithville Flats, NY July 29th 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Enjoying my morning along the shore of Long Pond Smithville Flats, NY July 29th 2018. © Joe Geronimo

A Kodachrome Evening

It was August 2009 and we were vacationing in western Maine at the Sunday River Resort in Newry. A spectacular evening was upon us as we had just finished dinner and the boys wanted to go fishing, driving a few miles east to North and South ponds in Greenwood. Locals had told us that fishing from Johnny Bridge Road was good, so here we stood. The boys were becoming professional weed fisherman and dad an expert lure changer. Another cast another clump of weeds. Well when they reeled up this clump it began to move only to reveal a small mouth bass. To say Michael & Max were ecstatic would be a slight under statement. It would be the perfect ending to a beautiful evening with my boys.

Max & Michael Greenwood, ME August 2009. Kodachrome 64, © Joe Geronimo.

A Beacon of Light

This past weekend Julie, the boys and I made a quick overnight trip to Long Island to visit family. Every time I visit which isn’t all that much I am quickly reminded as to why I left, the traffic is disgusting. However there is one bright beacon of light we do enjoy, Fire Island Lighthouse and National Seashore.

Cruising the Ocean Parkway is another favorite of ours. It is several miles out of our way but surely makes up for it in beauty and lack of heavy traffic. Pulling into parking field #5 before arriving at my sister’s home we found it surprisingly uncrowded for a Saturday. It was quite windy along the shore making it feel as if we were in a sand blaster. Undeterred we hiked around for about an hour or so taking in the sights, sounds and smell of the ocean, we had a wonderful time. Next visit we hope to alot more time in order to hike to Kismet, Saltaire and Fair Harbor.

Cheers!

Julie & I at Fire Island Light and National Seashore July 21st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
A beacon of light, Fire Island Light stands proud along the Atlantic Ocean July 21st 2018. © Joe Geronimo