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
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My Thoughts: The VW Camper Van

It was a cold and drizzling afternoon back in April along Broadway in downtown Saratoga Springs, NY. My wife and I were in town overnight for a film festival as we darted in an out of the local shops. My wife can never pass up a bookstore and rightfully so. We came upon the Northshire bookstore and immediately went in, spending about an hour browsing. I’ve never been a really big book reader but the older I get I find myself enjoying it more. I’m very selective in what I read but that is part of the enjoyment. Anyway I came across this book “The VW Camper Van” a biography by Mike Harding. It was $7.98 so I figured what the heck. As a car guy I had always been fascinated by the camper van. As a matter of fact I stopped to look at one for sale along route 4 in Woodstock, VT last summer. In all honestly I think it would be neat to have one a trek across the States with it. In 2022 Volkswagen will be releasing a brand new all electric van. Hopefully my 2007 Ford will hold on until then??????

What I loved most about this book was the history and how the Volkswagen Bus all started in the bombed and burned out ruins of postwar Europe. How the camper van culture evolved and is still evolving. I did not realize how popular they still are across the pond. One downside to this book was that I felt the middle portion of this book dragged on a bit and the author was just trying to fill pages. I had to set it down for a bit and read another book in the interim. However the fun soon enough returned and I thoroughly enjoyed the read. Some of the English words made me chuckle as well. You don’t hear the words Bloke or Lorry often here in the United States. It was a fun read and I recommend it if you happen to see it or can get it at your local library.

Cheers!

1969 Volkswagen Bus converted transporter Lake George, NY September 4th 2016. © Joe Geronimo

Raquette Falls: NFCT Waterway Work Trip

In 2011 I was searching “The Google” and discovered the Northern Forest Canoe Trail and immediately I was enamored. I spent several days reading about the organization and decided to become a member. Seriously what could be better, a 740 mile waterway strung through the Adirondacks of New York and northern New England with a small portion reaching over our border to the north. It was intriguing and even a bit intimidating. Miles of rivers, lakes, streams & ponds. Flat water, whitewater, portages, oh my!

As my interest grew I noticed the NFCT had what they called “Waterway Work Trips” scattered over the trail. Usually about 6 every summer and they would use staff, interns and volunteers to work and improve the trail. I was hooked! Sadly over the course of the past several years my schedule and their schedules never seemed to workout. However this year the stars would align under clear skies and I was able to register and volunteer. July 6th, 7th & 8th I ventured along with four other volunteers to the 1.25 mile Raquette Falls canoe carry along the Raquette river near Tupper Lake, NY.

July 6th: We would meet our staff and interns at the Axton Landing boat launch at 3PM, load our canoes with our camping gear and paddle 6 miles upstream to Raquette Falls. Here New York State DEC Ranger and Raquette Falls “Outpost” caretaker Gary Valentine would be waiting to greet us. Our campsite was nestled beneath far reaching pines that towered towards the sky. Once set up Gary met with us to go over some rules and safety precautions. NFCT Staff and Interns had been on site since the previous Friday. Dinner this evening would be some sort of chicken stew that was absolutely delicious, followed by an attempt at blueberry cobbler in a dutch oven set into the coals of our camp fire. To be honest I think it turned out great.

July 7th: I made the mistake of packing in 100 degree weather in an air conditioned house. I would find myself unprepared for Friday night. During the night the temperature dropped to 41 degrees under clear skies. I would find myself very cold and had a bad nights sleep. I woke about 5AM, tossed and turned in my tent for a bit and then headed to Gary’s cabin for coffee. Two other volunteers soon arrived and we chatted for a while before breakfast. I had mentioned my unpreparedness and Gary quickly offered me an additional sleeping bag, problem solved.

After breakfast we would hit the trail to finish up work that had already been started earlier in the week. We would be working on the “Vista” trail. Paddlers usually make two trips over the canoe carry. Carrying gear and then returning for their boat. The “Vista trail is a narrow muddy trail that parallels the Upper & Lower Raquette Falls. These sets of falls and rapids span just over a mile. Often paddlers will take the Vista trail on their return. We would assist in finishing a stone stair case, wooden steps and several bog bridges. We would brush several spots and define the trail even more. There are many more improvements that will be made over the coming seasons. There will even be a reroute towards the Upper Falls end of the trail. Although it wasn’t as hot and muggy as earlier in the week the mosquitos and deer flies were out in force. We would go through bug spray like Motely Crue used Aqua-Net…

Later that afternoon after we finished work for the day it was time to hit the cool waters of the Raquette river before dinner. This evenings meal would be burritos and smores for dessert. Later on we all would wander to Gary’s cabin and sit on his screen porch. We talked, told stories and listen to Gary’s record collection. By 10PM I was tired and made my way back to my tent and settled in for the night and I slept like a baby.

July 8th: Back to Gary’s for coffee and then breakfast. Afterwards we would be back on the trail doing the final touches on our work. We were back by noon to break camp and have lunch. After lunch I would load my canoe and make the 6 mile paddle back to Axton Landing. Once I had my car loaded it was time to make the 5 hour journey back home.

This experience was wonderful and exceeded my expectations, and I enjoyed every minute of it. The group of staff, interns and volunteers worked hard and extremely well together making the work flow smoothly. I hope to volunteer next year on another NFCT “Waterway Work Trip”.

Cheers!

Paddling upstream along the Raquette river passing Stoney Creek. © Joe Geronimo
Paddling upstream along the Raquette river at the Palmer Brook Lean-To. © Joe Geronimo
Paddling upstream along the Raquette river heading for Raquette Falls. © Joe Geronimo
We’ve arrived at Raquette Falls. © Joe Geronimo
Making blueberry Cobbler at Camp. © Joe Geronimo
Morning Coffee. © Joe Geronimo
New York State DEC Raquette Falls “Outpost”. © Joe Geronimo
Work along a stone staircase on the “Vista” trail Raquette Falls. © Joe Geronimo
Putting the finishing touches on a wooden staircase along the “Vista” trail at Raquette Falls. © Joe Geronimo
Lunch break at the upper falls of the Raquette river. © Joe Geronimo
NFCT staff & interns taking in the beauty of the upper falls Raquette river. © Joe Geronimo
The air temperature was very cold and the warmth of the water flowing over the lower falls of the Raquette river made for a foggy morning. © Joe Geronimo
The sun is burning off the remaining fog along the Raquette river. © Joe Geronimo
Our final night at camp and we’re making Smores. © Joe Geronimo
Hanging by the fire on our final night at camp. © Joe Geronimo
Paddling downstream along the Raquette river headed for Axton Landing. © Joe Geronimo

My Thoughts: “Upwards” The Story of the First Woman to Solo Thru-Paddle the 740 Mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail

What can I say, I loved this book! I myself have a passion for the Northern Forest Canoe Trail and have paddled small sections of it. Laurie’s writing is inspiring and invokes the true passion of the water, wilderness and human spirit.

When our world seems bleak at times Laurie’s adventure, her faith coupled by friendships both new and old, along with the many trail angels she encountered have restored my belief that their is still good in our world. I loved the sense of small town America. The hospitality to a weary traveler. Communities taking care of strangers or better yet strangers looking out for strangers.

I was hooked from the beginning and looked forward to reading it every day. I am by no means a fast reader but this gives me the time to savor such an adventure. An adventure I often romantisize about.

I truly enjoyed reading this and highly recommend this book. Sorry no spoilers here!

My Thoughts: Book Review “A Journey through New England history, Paddling the Northern Forest Canoe Trail

image.jpgI’m not a voracious reader like my wife but I do enjoy the occasional book from time to time. I just finished reading Paddling the Northern Forest Canoe Trail “A journey through New England history” by Sam Brakeley.

Sam and his close friend Andy set out on the 740 mile adventure in 2009 taking 39 days for them to complete. As you may or may not know I have a passion for the NFCT myself. Although I have only paddled small pieces of it.

This book captured my sense of adventure and my passion for the outdoors. I really enjoyed reading about Sam and Andy’s interactions with others along the trail, just as much as their trials and tribulations.  The Dead River section in Maine did not sound like fun to me, that is just me. One Aspect of this book that caught my anttention was the hospitality, generosity and kindness of strangers and town folk showed all through their journey.  Whether I’m out paddling, hiking or running I always relish people I meet or even friendships that blossom from those meetings.

All in all I really enjoyed this book and as Sam and Andy approached Fort Kent, ME ending their adventure, my adventure ended as well.

Cheers

 

 

 

Learning to Curl

For several years now my wife has wanted to try her hand at curling and with the excitement of the upcoming Winter Olympics we decided to give it a go.

I found a place about an hour from home that had a “Learn to Curl” session so I registered us along with our friends Bill and Jamie. Watching curling on TV made it look really easy. We quickly found out there was a little more to it. For me it was getting used to the feel of the ice at first. Then the slipperiness of your one foot that had the teflon under it so it would glide.

We had a really fun time with curling and plan to return for more lessons and hopefully get a little better at it each time.

 

Cheers!

 

Greetings from Old Forge, NY

We had hopes of paddling in Old Forge this weekend under a palette of fall color. I was frantically checking the weather everyday only to have our hopes dashed by rain and wind. However that did not stop us from packing up the family truckster and head north to the Adirondacks. Saturday morning, literally as we got on the highway the rain began to fall. It poured the entire 3 hour trip to Old Forge.

Our first stop was Old Forge Hardware, as we would spend the better part of an hour wandering the vast aisles of stuff. Max is obsessed with bears and rightfully so, that is his nickname. He convinced his mother to purchase a bear cookie cutter for making Christmas cookies this year. I myself could not resist the canoe cookie cutter either. With our tummies rumbling like a bear we drove 10 miles further north to Inlet, NY and the Screaming Eagle for lunch. For all you beer lovers out there they have at least 30 beers on tap. I tried the Bell’s Inspired Brewing “Octoberfest” and have to say I enjoyed it very much. As we were eating lunch the rain had stopped and the sun was teasing us from behind the thick cloud cover.

With such uncertainty in the weather we decided to do two short hikes. The first would be Rocky Mountain in Eagle Bay. This half mile, steep hike to the summit of Rocky Mountain has some stunning views of Fourth Lake. Our elevation gain according to my GPS was 489 feet.. Actually Michael and I hiked this back in 2013 the day before the Utica Boilermaker 15K. Staying right in Eagle Bay our next stop would be the Moss Lake loop which includes the Sis & Bubb lake trail as well. Sis & Bubb lakes are two lakes only reachable on foot. We began our adventure at the Moss Lake trailhead located off Big Moose road. We followed part of the Moss lake loop trail until reaching the Sis & Bubb lake trail. Here we turned and hiked to both lakes and were rewarded with some amazing color and sunshine. Our round trip hike would be 4.32 miles with only 269 feet of gain. Now if you know me I’m already planning to return with my canoe and paddle both lakes.

Back at the trailhead parking lot we tossed our gear into the car and headed back into Old Forge so we could check into our hotel for the evening. The boys were exhausted and Julie and I were thirsty. We left the boys like zombies in the hotel room and ventured to the Fulton Chain Craft Brewery for some refreshments. The place was packed, but I was still able to secure two seats at the bar with some quick thinking. Returning to the hotel to grab Michael and Max it was late but time for dinner.

With dinner in the books I wanted take a walk down along Old Forge pond. It was quiet and gazing up at the night sky you could see some stars. Julie, myself and the boys found the playground with complete with swings and a wooded pirate ship. Can you believe the Fratelli’s made me walk the plank! I know all you Goonies fans will appreciate that.

I woke Sunday morning around 0600 as I had planned to do my morning run before everyone was awake. I quietly snuck out the door to a light rain falling and off I went. Crossing the Moose river that light rain became a steadier rain and the wind was fierce. By mile two it was pouring and the wind and rain was pelting me in the back but I continued. Weaving my way through downtown Old Forge along the waterfront and onto the Tobie trail towards Thendera. In the middle of my last mile the rain had let up and I returned completely soaked. Thankfully it was almost 70 degrees at 6AM so it wasn’t all that bad.

Starving and craving pancakes I riled the troops and we headed for breakfast at Keyes Pancake House. A full stack of blueberry pancakes and some hot coffee made the world better. The rain and wind continued so I wanted to drive out towards Raquette Lake and see how the colors were there. I was not disappointed! The white caps on the bigger lakes made them seem like the ocean. As we were driving I noticed a lot of the leaves had been knocked down due to the heavy rain and wind. Oddly enough as we returned back to Old Forge to gas up for the trip home the rain stopped and the sun again was teasing us. Julie, Max and I ran into a few of the shops while Michael decided to stay in the car. A little while later we were all gassed and on our way home.

View of 4th lake from the summit of Rocky Mountain in Eagle Bay, NY. © Joe Geronimo
Geronimo’s at the summit of Rocky Mountain in Eagle Bay, NY. © Joe Geronimo
Michael taking in the view of 4th lake from the summit of Rocky Mountain in Eagle Bay, NY. © Joe Geronimo
Moss lake trailhead in Eagle Bay, NY. © Joe Geronimo
Moss lake-Sis & Bubb lake trail markers. © Joe Geronimo
Max, Julie & Michael along the Moss lake loop trail in Eagle Bay, NY. © Joe Geronimo
I just loved this section of the Sis & Bubb lake trail. © Joe Geronimo
Michael was hysterical on this hike. He found a stick to poll vault over some of the muddy spots. © Joe Geronimo
This wooden bridge/walkway splits Sis & Bubb lake in Eagle Bay, NY. © Joe Geronimo
Michael, Julie & Max enjoying a rest along the shore of Sis lake in Eagle Bay, NY. © Joe Geronimo
View of Bubb lake in Eagle Bay, NY. © Joe Geronimo
Julie & I along the shore of Bubb lake in Eagle Bay, NY. © Michael Geronimo
Enjoying some refreshments at Fulton Chain Craft Brewery in Old Forge, NY. © Joe Geronimo
Sunset along the Moose river in Old Forge, NY. © Joe Geronimo
Play ground shenanigan’s in Old Forge, NY. © Joe Geronimo
The weather was horrible this morning at Raquette Lake, NY. However the color tones of the pines caught my eye along the Browns Tract Inlet. © Joe Geronimo