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

Exploring Ithaca by Kayak

With the miserable weather forecasted for this weekend I decided to drive to Ithaca yesterday evening to explore the canalways that flow from beautiful Cayuga lake. The weather was perfect to say the least. I launched from Allan H. Treman State Marine Park on Cayuga Inlet paddling the short distance into Cayuga lake. There was a good wind and chop on the lake as I made my way around the breakwall and light station into the calm waters of Fall Creek. Fall Creek flows into Beebe Lake but I couldn’t get that far as the water became increasingly shallower the further I went and plus there would be the Ithaca Falls to contend with as well.

Paddling back out into Cayuga lake as the evening progresses the wind and chop had begun to die down a bit as I headed out a little further to Explore the south end of the lake. I then made my way back into Cayuga Inlet to do more exploring. I wound up with 5.80 miles and didn’t even finish the entire Inlet as my evening light was fading quickly.

I really enjoyed this small adventure and will return again soon to do some more. I do like the theory of being able to kayak right up to the always popular Ithaca Farmers Market. And to be honest I’d really like to get an early morning start on a calm Cayuga lake as well.

I feel very fortunate to be able to live in and around such a beautiful area of our State.

Cheers!

Fall Creek Ithaca, NY May 18th 2018 © Joe Geronimo.
Fall Creek Ithaca, NY May 18th 2018 © Joe Geronimo
Cayuga lake Ithaca, NY May 18th 2018 © Joe Geronimo
Cayuga Inlet Ithaca, NY May 18th 2018 © Joe Geronimo.
Cayuga Inlet Ithaca, NY May 18th 2018 © Joe Geronimo.
Cornell University “Big Red” Rowing Facility on Cayuga Inlet Ithaca, NY May 18th 2018 © Joe Geronimo.
GPS map from my watch. Ithaca, NY May 18th 2018.
All finished and loaded back up at Allan H. Treman State Marine Park Ithaca, NY May 18th 2018 © Joe Geronimo.

Autumn Sunrise

I’m sure by now you are pretty tired of hearing about me paddling Nanticoke lake. I’ve written about it many times before and shared many images from my adventures there as well. However as I race against Mother Nature in my final attempts to keep my paddling season going I ventured to none other than Nanticoke lake this morning.

I arrived under darkness, exiting my car peering upward towards the heavens. The unpolluted night sky was alive with the moon, stars, clouds and I believe Venus. I rubbed my hands together with excitement and commented to my friend Don “I think we have the makings of a beautiful sunrise”. Don whole heartily agreed and we carried our canoes to the lake. The narrow beam from my headlamp pierced the darkness and I could feel the the damp grass beneath my feet with every step.

Don and I set out to watch the show as our paddles dipped in and out of the water whispering an elegant song. As we sat in the middle of the lake the cloud cover began to thicken and I said to Don “I think we’re going to get skunked on our sunrise”. Don laughed, shrugged his shoulders and said he didn’t think so. I placed my paddle in the water, turned my canoe in order to investigate a playful beaver who was splashing a little closer to the shore. All of a sudden I could see the skies reflection in the water turn to pink, orange and blue. Another dip of the paddle, my canoe turned and I was laying witness to a blazing fire in the sky.

Cheers!

Sunrise Nanticoke Lake Lisle NY October 25th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Sunrise Nanticoke Lake Lisle NY October 25th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Sunrise Nanticoke Lake Lisle NY October 25th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Don & I on Nanticoke lake October 25th 2017. © Joe Geronimo

New England Rendezvous

Finished with exploring Henderson lake I reloaded all my gear into and onto my car and began the slow journey from New York to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Making a quick stop in Ticonderoga for fuel and food before crossing at Crown Point. There is no highway that runs west to east in Vermont so the 158 miles to my destination was slow but the scenery more than makes up for it. Leaving the Champlain Valley my favorite section of this adventure is on route 17 as you cross the Green Mountains and descend into the Mad River Valley. There are six hairpin turns I believe on this section of road.

I would spend the next several days visiting with friends and doing what I enjoy most. Roaming around Vermont and New Hampshire taking in their beauty. Over the past several years I have visited the town of Newport, VT and Newport has really grown on me. Nestled along the US/Canadian border, Newport sits at the southern end of Lake Memphremagog. Lake Memphremagog stretches 32 miles to the southeastern Quebec city of Magog. I hope to someday kayak parts of this lake which oddly enough is part of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. After a long day and as we were 200 hundred yards or so from the house my friends truck would lose its brakes to a ruptured brake line. All I can say is thank goodness it happened close to home.

On our way to Cannon Mountain in Franconia Notch State Park we are climbing route 112 which is also called the Kanc (Kancamagus Highway) cresting near Beaver Pond we noticed smoke along the Kinsman Range. It appeared that a small forest fire had started and personnel were on the scene. Continuing on to Cannon Mountain we would take the tram to the summit. As the tram car climbed the winds increased quite considerabley and the temperatures dropped as well. At the top we made our way to the tower, a viewing platform where on a clear day you can see for over one hundred miles. The fog and clouds were rolling over the mountain tops playing a game of hide and seek with the sun.

Afterwards we stopped to check out the “The Basin”. The Basin is a 20 foot diameter granite hole at the base of a beautiful waterfall. Some say it had been eroded 15,000 years ago while the North American ice sheet was melting. Over time The Basin has been smoothed small stones and sand, whirled around by the Pemigewasset River.

Stopping in North Woodstock, NH at the Woodstock Station Inn & Brewery for lunch it was so sunny and warm at this point we chose to sit outside. I sampled some of their beers with my favorite being the 4,000 footer IPA. For lunch I would knock down their adult grilled cheese sandwich with a side of chili.

Heading back west over the Kanc we noticed there was a lot more smoke than earlier this morning. A helicopter was also on he scene making water drops on the mountain side. We would spend the next 90 minutes watching and photographing the efforts of all involved. I’ve never witnessed a forest fire of this size about (5 acres) at the time up close. Looking at the sheer rock cliffs one could see the firefighters trying to advance. The aggressive sound of their chainsaws cutting timber in efforts to battle the blaze could be heard echoing down below. The heat from the fire was causing slides and I could see trees falling. According to news reports that I have read there is speculation the fire was caused by a meteor strike which is unconfirmed at this time. As a note this section of the White Mountain National Forest is also part of the Appalachian Trail.

The next afternoon I would begin my long trek back home taking me 6.5 hours. The traffic on route 4 across Vermont was horrible and slow going. I was glad to be home!

See you in Old Forge….

Our morning begins in West Newbury, VT. © Joe Geronimo
On top of Cannon Mountain Franconia Notch State Park, NH. © Joe Geronimo
Cannon Mountain tram arriving the summit Franconia Notch State Park, NH. © Joe Geronimo
Cannon Mountain tram Franconia Notch State Park, NH. © Joe Geronimo
Echo lake view from the Cannon Mountain tram, Franconia Notch State Park, NH. © Joe Geronimo
The Basin Franconia Notch State Park, NH. © Joe Geronimo
Forest fire White Mountain National Forest N. Woodstock, NH © Joe Geronimo

Forest fire White Mountain National Forest N. Woodstock, NH © Joe Geronimo
Forest fire White Mountain National Forest N. Woodstock, NH © Joe Geronimo

Exploring Henderson Lake

Originally I was supposed to be hiking Mt. Washington today. I had to cancel my plans as Max was marching in the Maine Endwell homecoming parade on Saturday and I did not want to miss it. I love watching and listening to him play in the high school band.

Recently I had been reading that Henderson lake in Newcomb, NY was spectacular to paddle offering breathtaking views of the Adirondack high peaks. Henderson lake is also the headwaters of the 315 mile Hudson river. I contacted friends Gary Sharp and Chad Smith and made alternate plans. After the homecoming parade that afternoon I packed up and headed north to the Adirondacks stopping in Lake George for a couple of hours to catch up with friends. Afterwards I would continue my northward trek making it to Schroon Lake, NY for dinner at a bar called Flanagan’s. After dinner I drove to my new favorite place to car camp along Blue Ridge road in North Hudson. I threw on an extra layer of clothing knowing it was going to be a cold night in the mountains. All settled in it was time to get some rest.

I woke early Sunday morning 0430 and peered out the window to see the night sky littered with stars. Falling back asleep I would find myself wide awake by 0600 and the fog had rolled in, it was a chilly 33 degrees. Once the sun began to shed some light on the day I packed up and drove to meet Gary and Chad in Newcomb. Cell service in these parts is very sparse and I never saw Chad’s message that he had to cancel. Gary and I would make our way to the parking area, load our gear for the short half mile carry to the put-in on Henderson lake. As we arrived the last of the fog was pretty much all burnt off and the sun was warming things quite nicely. A good 5-6 MPH wind had reared its ugly head adding some small whitecaps to our adventure.

Gary and I were off exploring the shoreline and taking in some of the views. My favorite had to be the view of Indian Pass and the huge cliffs on Wallface. At the northwest end of the lake Gary and I would take out for a little exploration and coffee at a lean-to. This is a great place to camp and carry the 1.7 miles to the Preston Ponds. But we will leave that to another time. We spent about an hour enjoying our coffee, conversation and a small brook and waterfall. Back in our boats we zig-zagged along the lake back to where our adventure started. The color is almost nonexistent and what is there is very muted. The birch trees have been stripped bare of their leaves as well.

Great day spent paddling, see you all in Vermont!

Gary and I getting ready to set out on Henderson lake in Newcomb, NY October 1st 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Poking around one of the bays on Henderson lake in Newcomb, NY October 1st 2017. © Joe Geronimo
View of Indian Pass and the cliffs on Wallface from Henderson lake in Newcomb, NY October 1st 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Gary and I enjoying some hot coffee at the lean-to on Henderson lake in Newcomb, NY October 1st 2017. © Joe Geronimo
A small waterfall along a brook that empties into Henderson lake in Newcomb, NY October 1st 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Gary and I exploring Henderson lake in Newcomb, NY October 1st 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Gary signing us out at the DEC register Upper Works trailhead in Newcomb, NY October 1st 2017. © Joe Geronimo