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
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Day Tripping

Brown’s Tract Ponds:

On Wednesday June 20th I took a day trip to Raquette Lake, NY area in the Adirondacks to canoe with friends and explore a bit on my own. I met my friends Kathy and Gretchen in Old Forge. After a brief chat session we were headed to the Brown’s Tract Ponds near Raquette Lake.

We would put in on the smaller Upper Pond clinging to the shoreline circumnavigating the pond. There is a small, narrow stream that meanders a good half mile connecting Upper Pond to Brown’s Tract Pond. We entered the stream, the water was low but passible. We zigged and we zagged, encountered three small beaver damns and one foot bridge. We were able to paddle over the first damn but the other two and foot bridge we had to carry over. I enjoyed this very much as it added to the adventure.

Exiting the stream into the larger Brown’s Tract Pond a sizable island with large boulders caught my attention standing proud on the west side. Paddling around and up to the island I noticed two wooden ladders on a large rock. It seems this is a great spot to swim, picnic and jump off into the clear waters on a hot summers afternoon. I personally was a little cold yesterday at this point so I opted not to.

We would take out on the eastern shore at the unoccupied campsite #90 of the Brown’s Tract State Campground. Here we would take time for coffee, some snacks and great conversation. Sadly this is where Kathy, Gretchen and I would part ways for the day.

A little wind along Upper Pond near Raquette Lake NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Gretchen and I on Upper Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Kathy navigating over a small beaver damn along the connecting stream between Upper Pond & Brown’s Tract Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
It is Gretchen’s turn to get over one of those beaver damns June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
I’m entering Brown’s Tract Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Gretchen & Kathy chatting it up on Brown’s Tract Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Gretchen has just entered Brown’s Tract Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
One of the wooden ladders I spoke of in my post on Brown’s Tract Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Kathy & Gretchen on Brown’s Tract Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Finished with the Upper Pond & Brown’s Tract Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Coffee O’ Clock along Brown’s Tract Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, photo by Kathy Corey.

South Inlet:

I still wanted to explore more and thought I would head north 12 miles along Route 28 to Utowana lake scope out the lean-to and then venture into Eagle lake . Rolling along I crossed over South Inlet which feeds into the very large Raquette lake and immediately jammed on my brakes. I had just read about an trip my friend Daniele had done into South Inlet all the way up to the waterfalls. This was my new plan!

I parked along the side of Route 28 and carried my canoe the short distance to the water, packed up my gear and I was off. I quickly bumped into a kayaker returning from the falls and a few minutes later I spotted a woman paddling a super cool Hornbeck and  I stopped to chat with her. She was from New Hampshire’s Lakes Region and oddly enough camping at the Brown’s Tract Campground. After I wouldn’t see another soul as I meandered my way 2 or so miles to the falls. Quickly the road noise of Route 28  disappeared and the whisper of my paddle entering and exiting the water could be heard and the remoteness of my surrounding and solitude of being on the water settled in. The work of a Pileated Woodpecker could be heard as a Red Tail hawk floated high above me like drone surveying the landscape. A chorus of all types of birds chirped their day away where it seemed I had a traveling symphony escorting me.

Arriving at the falls I was treated to a shallow pool of water dotted with rocks and a sandy bottom. This is a great swimming hole! I exited my canoe and waded around a bit cooling off as the days sun warmed the air. I spent about a half hour milling around on the rocks and just taking in my surroundings and a few photos.

Returning back to where I began this adventure I decided to venture out a bit into Raquette lake. Staying close to the shoreline as the wind was making some decent chop, I approached a gentleman in a kayak fishing and he immediately pulled a nice size small mouth bass from the lake. We made quick conversation and I was on my way.

It was around 4:30PM at this point and it was time for my canoeing to come to an end. Packed up I made the 25 mile drive back to Old Forge for a beer and food at Fulton Chain Craft Brewery before my 3 hour ride back home.

This adventure had me on the road at 5:30AM and back home safely by 9:00PM. I traveled a total of 375 miles, paddled approximately 10 miles and spent time with good friends.

Cheers!!

Beginning my adventure on South Inlet in Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
a sizable beaver lodge along South Inlet in Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Approaching South Inlet falls in Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
South Inlet falls in Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Taking a break at South Inlet falls Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Approaching the Route 28 overpass and the entrance to Raquette lake June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
My time on South Inlet has come to an end hear in Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.

Tranquility in Vermont

Recently I was in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont near Island Pond exploring the Silvio O. Conte Wildlife Refuge with my two sons and friend. As always we were on the hunt for moose. I must have had my moose kryptonite on me this time because we didn’t see any moose. However we saw all sorts of fascinating birds.

If you know me or have read my many posts you won’t be surprised when I say “I have a major affection for the Northern Forest Canoe Trail”. In all honestly I have only paddled small portions of this beautiful flowing highway system spanning 740 miles from Old Forge, NY meandering into Canada and finally terminating in Fort Kent, ME. The Silvio O. Conte Wildlife Refuge sits in the Nulhegan river basin, wait for it, which is part of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail.

As we exited the refuge the Nulhegan river was so calm and peaceful but just 100 yards away it’s rapids roared. Slamming on the brakes and testing the seat belts of the cars other occupants I leaped out to capture its serenity.

Cheers!

Exiting the Silvio O. Conte Wildlife Refuge near Island Pond, VT June 17th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
The Nulhegan river in all her tranquility. However just 100 yards away the rapids roared. Island Pond, VT July 17th 2017 © Joe Geronimo

Wandering New England

Spending four days in Vermont and New Hampshire was a great way to wind down my vacation. Thursday evening was spent at Dartmouth college in Hanover, NH watching the Reel Film Paddling Festival by Rapid Media and sponsored by the Northern Forest Canoe Trail .

However the next two days (Friday & Saturday) was nothing but rain with short breaks in between. Friday was a total wash and we had spent the day kayak shopping over in North Conway, NH. Saturday morning the rain had stopped for a while and I was able to knock out a quick 5 mile run. Showered now we were off to harass the local wildlife. Sitting at Reeds Marsh in Orford, NH a local had tipped us off to a pair of Merlins who had been in the area lately. Sure enough we found them! They were beautiful to watch as the male had went a caught either a Junco or Chickadee and brought it back for his girl.

Sunday morning was the gem with a beautiful sunrise, partly cloudy skies and a light breeze. Although it was rather chilly when we set out for French Pond in North Haverhill, NH. It was a great start to the day. Afterwards I would pack up and make the six hour drive home, briefly stopping in Bainbridge, NY to order my custom kayak paddle from Dale Fox of Foxworth Paddles. Once home and car unloaded I was off for a great tempo run as the weather was still perfect.

Cheers!

Sunrise on French Pond in North Haverhill, NH April 23rd 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Northern Flicker at French Pond in North Haverhill, NY April 23rd 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Painted turtle basking in the early morning sun on French Pond in North Haverhill, NH April 23rd 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Common loon on French Pond in North Haverhill, NH April 23rd 2017. © Joe Geronimo
A kerfuffle of Canadian proportion on French Pond in North Haverhill, NH April 23rd 2017. © Joe Geronimo
On our way back from kayak shopping we took route 302 through Crawford Notch. I always love to stop and photograph the magnificent Mt. Washington hotel in Bretton Woods, NH on April 21st 2017. © Joe Geronimo
A female Merlin dining on either a Chickadee or Junco in Orford, NH April 22nd 2017. © Joe Geronimo

Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area

On October 3rd Vermont’s Fish & Wildlife held “Dead Creek Wildlife Day” at the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison. This beautiful area is situated in the Champlain Valley with New York’s Adirondack mountains providing a magnificent backdrop as well.

On my way home from Vermont I stopped in for several hours to see what this was all about. The thing that peeked my interest mostly was the bird banding they were doing. The day was filled with wildlife demonstrations and guided nature walks as well.

Upon arriving the first stop was the song bird banging area where there had been nets set up to catch the birds. It was a little slow going at first but as time went on more and more were caught. Before my arrival a few song birds had already been caught and banded. The first I saw was a White Throated Sparrow.

White Throated Sparrow "Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area" Addison, VT October 3rd 2015. © Joe Geronimo
White Throated Sparrow “Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area” Addison, VT October 3rd 2015.
© Joe Geronimo
White Throated Sparrow being looked over before banding at "Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area" Addison, VT October 3rd 2015. © Joe Geronimo
White Throated Sparrow being looked over before banding at “Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area” Addison, VT October 3rd 2015.
© Joe Geronimo

While this little guy was being tended to whispers were coming in that a raptor had been caught, a male Copper’s Hawk. Now I was really excited! Then suddenly one of the volunteers appeared with some thick gloves and what appeared to be a white tube with tail feathers. He slowly began to take the hawk from the tube and show the growing crowd.

Captured Cooper's Hawk "Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area" Addison, VT October 3rd 2015. © Joe Geronimo
Captured Cooper’s Hawk “Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area” Addison, VT October 3rd 2015.
© Joe Geronimo
Male Cooper's Hawk "Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area" Addison, VT October 3rd 2015. © Joe Geronimo
Male Cooper’s Hawk “Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area” Addison, VT October 3rd 2015.
© Joe Geronimo

After the Hawk was looked over, banded and documented it was set free, flying off into the landscape. A few more songbirds had been captured while our attention was focused on the Hawk. Several Blackpoll Warblers made their way into the nets. These beautiful birds are extremely small but I love their coloring. Next was a Yellow Rumped Warbler.

Blackpoll Warbler "Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area" Addison, VT October 3rd 2015. © Joe Geronimo
Blackpoll Warbler “Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area” Addison, VT October 3rd 2015.
© Joe Geronimo
Blackpoll Warbler having its wing measured prior to banding and documentation  "Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area" Addison, VT October 3rd 2015. © Joe Geronimo
Blackpoll Warbler having its wing measured prior to banding and documentation “Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area” Addison, VT October 3rd 2015.
© Joe Geronimo
Yellow Rumped Warbler "Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area" Addison, VT October 3rd 2015. © Joe Geronimo
Yellow Rumped Warbler “Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area” Addison, VT October 3rd 2015.
© Joe Geronimo

While this Warbler was being documented, banded and measured another Cooper’s Hawk had been captured, this time a female. This one was a real beauty. Love the coloring on her and her eyes were grayish in color. Right before being captured she had just eaten a bird. If you look at the second image you’ll notice her crop {Bulging just below her head} this is where the digestion will begin and finish further down in the gizzard.

The talons of a female Cooper's Hawk after she was captured at the "Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area" Addison, VT October 3rd 2015. © Joe Geronimo
The talons of a female Cooper’s Hawk after she was captured, measured, banded and documented at the “Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area” Addison, VT October 3rd 2015.
© Joe Geronimo
Female Cooper's Hawk who had just recently eaten a bird. Notice her "Crop" is bulging just below her head. "Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area" Addison, VT October 3rd 2015. © Joe Geronimo
Female Cooper’s Hawk who had just recently eaten a bird. Notice her “Crop” is bulging just below her head. “Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area” Addison, VT October 3rd 2015.
© Joe Geronimo
Female Cooper's Hawk "Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area" Addison, VT October 3rd 2015. © Joe Geronimo
Female Cooper’s Hawk “Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area” Addison, VT October 3rd 2015.
© Joe Geronimo

During the course of the 6 hour banding several more Cooper’s Hawks would be captured along with a Bald Eagle. Sadly I missed this as I was listening to an hour long presentation on Vermont bears at that time. Countless songbirds were also caught along with one of my favorites, the Downey Woodpecker. All these birds were banded documented and set free. I had this amazing opportunity to learn some interesting and fascinating facts about birds during this event. The more time I spend outdoors the more interested I become with our wildlife. This was a perfect ending to an amazing Fall trip!

Cheers!

Downey Woodpecker "Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area" Addison, VT October 3rd 2015. © Joe Geronimo
Downey Woodpecker “Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area” Addison, VT October 3rd 2015.
© Joe Geronimo

This Mornings Chorus

Long Pond, Smithville Flats, NY. Image © Joe Geronimo
Long Pond, Smithville Flats, NY. Image © Joe Geronimo

Arriving Long Pond State Forest shortly before 5AM and stepping out of my car into a witch’s brew of fog and mist I was greeted by a melodic symphony unlike any I have ever heard before. The sound was so rhythmic and so soothing that I had to pause and pause I did.

The wildlife was in rare form on this placid pond nestled just outside of the small village of Smithville Flats. The harmony of vast tones sung by a variety of birds had the forest alive, the who’s who of owls on backup vocals, the Pileated Woodpecker providing percussion and filling out the baritone section was the charge of many a bullfrog.

Unpaused now and launching my kayak, I slowly threaded my way out into the darkness only to be spooked by a rather large beaver rising from the depths and then rapidly disappearing. Several fish as well made their way over to greet me wondering who was coming to visit. Off in the distance the amber glow of a Coleman lantern barely able to pierce the fog as soft voices of campers could be heard against the stillness.

Continuing my slow paddle I made my way to the opposite end of the pond all the while my mind had been conjuring up romantic thoughts of exploring this beautiful world. In the background the symphony was still going strong as Mr. Bald Eagle had finally strutted on stage, his screeches echoing off the hillsides for the encore.

With the sun now poking its head over the treetops, pockets of fog and mist vanishing, the sky above painted and the greens of spring along the shoreline popping, Long Pond was alive.

Mr. Bald Eagle thought it was fun to taunt me, moving from perch to perch in his attempt at breakfast. He however did provide ample photographic opportunities but this fellow left the house without “Big Glass” this morning. None the less I was determined and pursued Mr. Eagle.

Returning to my launch site I came upon two fisherman preparing their small boat, a brief conversation was struck and we went our separate ways. Loading my kayak onto the car and gazing back out over the pond the fog and mist had vanished. Just as quickly had the fog and mist vanished, this mornings beautiful chorus was fading into the distance like that of a steam engine’s whistle making its way towards another town.

With Long Pond now in the rear view mirror and the open road ahead I thought to myself how fortunate I am to live in such a beautiful place.

Time for my coffee, cheers!

http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/8180.html

Sunrise Long Pond, Smithville Flats, NY. Image © Joe Geronimo
Sunrise Long Pond, Smithville Flats, NY. Image © Joe Geronimo
Mr. Bald Eagle taunting me. Long Pond, Smithville Flats, NY. Image © Joe Geronimo
Mr. Bald Eagle taunting me. Long Pond, Smithville Flats, NY. Image © Joe Geronimo