Back in the fall the Northern Forest Canoe Trail reached out to me asking if I would be willing to do a presentation to a local outdoor club on their behalf. I’m not your typical motivational speaker but I jumped at the chance to talk about something I feel passionate about. This past week I traveled to Utica, NY to give my presentation. I’m truly grateful that the NFCT felt confident enough in me to even ask.
As winter pressed on I had been keeping an watchful eye on the volume of snow in the north country “Adirondacks”. As my presentation date grew closer I decided I would spend the night in Utica with my sights set on some snowshoeing. The next morning I would do my 4 mile run before checking out of the hotel and continue my trek northward.
I arrived in Old Forge at the Bisby Road trailhead under cover of overcast skies with temperatures around 28 degrees. In my opinion this was almost near perfect. Strapping on my snowshoes, throwing a few last minute items in my backpack I was soon off on my adventure.
The first mile of trail had been broken by XC skiers but that soon would change. The next 4 miles I would have to break trail myself and around the half way point my legs were beginning to feel it. I took a few rest breaks standing in awe of the beauty and the silence. I was the only one out here on these particular trails, I saw not one other human being until I returned to my car.
Once back to the trail junction and my final mile before returning to civilization I stopped for a bit to strip down some of my clothing. I worked up a pretty good sweat over those 4 miles, it was time for a snack and some water.
This 6 mile journey took me 4 hours in which I took a few breaks, some photos and a few video clips. The day could not have been more perfect as the clouds gave way to a blueberry Adirondack sky.
There I was, waiting for the swimmers of the “Big George” 70.3 triathlon to enter the water. Glancing over my shoulder I spy an Adirondack Guide Boat gracefully skimming across the painted, silent waters of Lake George. Of course I have the wrong lens on my camera but I still take the shot.
I’m very fortunate to have been able to work in a beautiful place this weekend.
It is not very often we get to pursue our passion in life. For me my passion lies in the love of the outdoors, especially canoeing. Today I couldn’t be more excited, proud and more than anything humbled to announce that I am now a representative of the Adirondack Canoe Company.
Born inside the blue line the Adirondack Canoe Company’s passion is built into every lightweight canoe they offer. Boat builders Chad Smith and Simon Gardner bring to the workshop 25 years of boat building experience, they are true craftsmen in every sense of the word. But they don’t just build boats, they also craft relationships.
If you are looking for stunning craftsmanship at an affordable price look no further than the Adirondack Canoe Company. And when it’s time for your next adventure let’s build it together.
On July 1st I woke early with my car already packed I was rolling north under a rising sun. Windows down and the cool morning air gave me a bit of a chill. The sun slowly creeped higher along with my cars thermometer. I arrived in Old Forge for breakfast at 0800, sitting myself down at the counter of Walt’s Diner.
After breakfast I still had another 50 miles to go in order to reach the Sargent Ponds Wild Forest and the trailhead for Upper Sargent Pond. Here I would meet my friend Gary Sharp from Schenectady and we would carry our canoes 1.25 miles into the pond. Upper Sargent Pond is relatively big and the information I can find says it is 131 acres. I personally find it hard to believe as I think it is much larger.
All signed in at the register we’re off. Immediately a rag tag gang of black flies, deer flies and who knows what else began to chase us. Up, down, over, hot, humid with a touch of mud thrown in for good measure, Gary and I would slug it out with Mother Nature. It would take us 32 minutes to reach the shore of the pond and our band of outlaws had given up. Upon laying my eyes on this remote Adirondack wilderness, I was in awes. The pond was beautiful, the water like glass.
Gary and I would take a few minutes to organize our things, change our shoes and set off for a day of canoeing. Only after a few minutes of being on the water Gary had a line in and almost immediately reeled in a beautiful large mouth bass. Suddenly a Loon popped up right next to us, quickly diving back under the water only to reemerge again close by, our escort would stay with us for a while. As I approached a small island I realized why Mr. Loon had been so interested in us. Mrs. Loon was tending to her nest and eggs. We made sure to give her plenty of space.
Paddling and chatting Gary had mentioned that there were several campsites scattered around that had canoes stashed there as well. We came upon another island this one with a campsite and canoes. We beached and got out to explore. The site was on a hill in the center and I climbed to the top. Peering down I noticed one of the canoes was stenciled “Payne’s”. It immediately struck me “Payne’s Air Service”. on Seventh lake in Inlet. Payne’s flies customers into this remote pond for camping and fishing. I had hoped to see a float plane land on the upper pond.
With my new discovery fresh in my head Gary and I moved into another portion of the pond and all you could hear were the birds chirping the day away and the plunking of Gary’s fishing lure breaking the placid water. Off in the distance I notice two other humans fishing out of a canoe. I said to Gary I bet you Payne’s flew them in here this morning. I was excited as I wanted to know when they would return to pick them up. So I paddled over toward them to start a conversation. I introduced myself to this couple and they were extremely friendly. I had asked if they had flown in for the day. They said they had flew in on Saturday and were camping until Thursday when the plane would return to pick them up. I was intrigued!
As the day wore on and the temperature reached close to 95 degrees it was beginning to be lunch time. Gary and I found another campsite along the shore where we thought it would be a perfect spot to eat, swim and test some gear. I was sporting a brand new life vest which was so comfortable plus I had a new dehydrated meal I wanted to try. Gary had a twig stove that he had wanted to use as well. I fired up my Jetboil, poured the boiling water in my Good To-Go “Smoked 3 Bean Chili”. While my meal rehydrated it was time for a quick swim to cool off, man did that feel good!
Gary and I sat and had lunch, chatted away and enjoyed a cold beer. After it was time for another quick swim before getting back in our boats. Continuing on there still was barely any breeze and the water was still placid and the mountains were quiet. All of a sudden we hear this thundering loud crashing noise and our minds begun to race. Did a moose just plunk its hot self down into the water to cool off? We turned our boats rapidly as the sound was behind us only to find the water still calm and no moose. We thought to ourselves what the heck was that, suddenly realizing we had just answered the age old question of “What sounds does a tree make when it falls”.
Shortly after our revelation we noticed two hikers had come to the pond to swim. We made our way over to chat with them as it was getting later in the afternoon and we would have to pack up and head back out on the trail. After talking with them for a bit it was time to head back into the woods. This time would be bug free!
Once back to our cars and all our gear reloaded it was time for a celebratory beer before Gary and I parted ways. On my way out I stopped at the popular and beautiful Buttermilk Falls along the Raquette river. From the parking area this is a very short walk and a great lunch stop as well. There are several picnic tables to sit and enjoy as there are many rocks as well.
Today was a 16 hour 433 mile amazing adventure in a beautiful area of the Adirondacks.
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.
On Friday afternoon I nibbled at another small portion of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. The weather was cold and windy with lots of sunshine. I arrived in the hamlet of Raquette Lake, NY at 1240. A small amount of gear loaded into my canoe I set off into the rather large Raquette lake in order to reach “Browns Tract Inlet”. This lake is notoriously windy, thankfully it was a short distance to the inlet.
Almost immediately after entering the inlet I encountered my first beaver dam which spanned the entire width of the waterway. I thought great now what.. Water was too deep to exit the boat and drag it over, I was stumped! Backing up I paddled hard right into it and got the bow of my canoe about 3 inches over it. Freeing myself I went back a little further and really got after it and this time I maybe got 4-5 inches of the canoe over the dam. Ok I was pissed but determined! I decided to head back out of the inlet turn and paddle for all I was worth hitting the dam sending my canoe halfway over. Now I was stuck! Separating my paddle I work my way over and voila.
The Browns Tract snakes like an Adirondack back road. The wind was whipping right up the tract and what I thought would be a leisurely paddle turned out to be an olympic event. I encountered four beaver dams on my journey but only one of them I had to actually exit the boat and drag it over. It was a 3 mile paddle to the western end where the tract sports a wooden pier. This pier is for paddlers that carry the 1.5 miles between 8th lake and Browns Tract Inlet to put in on the inlet. Its tradition that through paddlers of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail begin at the western terminus in Old Forge and paddle the 740 miles east to Fort Kent, ME. But then again traditions can be broken.
I was thinking that my return would have the wind at my back but I was completely wrong. Again I was olympic paddling all the way back to Raquette lake. Despite some of the difficulty I was glad to have had the opportunity to complete this small piece in the very large NFCT puzzle.
Once I was back to shore and gear reloaded I broke out the Jetboil and enjoyed a cup of warm soup sitting lakeside. As I glanced across the lake I envisioned continuing my Pac-Man approach to the trail. At this time and place I have no desire to be a through paddler of the NFCT. I like having the option to pick and choose my boat that best suites the waters I will be adventuring, a luxury through paddlers do not have. In a perfect world I’d just assume pick and choose my weather as well. But as they say in the Adirondacks “Wait 10 minutes” the weather will change.
As I departed the small village of Raquette Lake my turn signal bulb blew out. Where does one find a replacement bulb in the middle of the Adirondacks? Three miles up Route 28 I tried my luck at Burke’s Marina. Sure enough they had a bulb and a phillips head screw driver to boot. I changed the bulb and was on my way. One thing that caught my eye while paying for the bulb was the free packs of matches advertising the Marina sitting on the counter. I could not resist and grabbed a few as you very rarely see this anymore.