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.
Today we are going to step back 365 days…..
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.
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.
I’m paddling backwards to May 21st 2016 when Julie and I spent the day at the “Adirondack Paddlefest” sponsored by Mountainman Outdoors of Old Forge, NY.
This year we will return on May 20th with a small paddling adventure in mind and the hopes of adding another kayak to our fleet.
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.
Growing up I had the Atlantic Ocean less than twenty miles away and the Long Island Sound a mile away and I’ve never been a beach person. However living so close to these beautiful waters the one thing that has always intrigued me are “Lighthouses”. There is something very romantic yet mysterious about a lighthouse and their keepers.
This past summer we had the opportunity to visit the Upper Peninsula of Michigan along Lake Superior. We found ourselves at Whitefish Point 73 miles northwest of Sault Ste. Marie, MI and the impressive Soo Locks. At Whitefish Point you have the Great Lakes Ship Wreck Museum and the extremely cool Whitefish Point Light Station.
At this point in our trip I was having a camera crisis of Biblical proportion. I had run out of film for one of my cameras and ordered more. The camera shop in New York City did not ship my order promptly and I never received the film. No biggie I thought to myself I have my digital camera so I’m all set. We get all the way to the Soo Locks and I’m just as excited as a kid on Christmas morning. Grabing my camera from the camera bag I turn it on, I compose my very first image of the largest lake freighter to sail the Great Lakes entering the locks. I depress the shutter release and the earth suddenly has come to a screeching halt. There it was in digital text, the dreaded Canon Error 33 message, my shutter had failed! East has now become west, up was now down and to say I was pissed is the understatement of the 21st century. Two cameras and none were functioning. If I had to submit to a blood pressure test at this point they would have admitted me. I resorted to using my cell phone and we eventually we went to lunch. After lunch I calmed down just a tiny bit but was still steaming. Getting ready to leave Sault Ste. Marie and thinking desperate times require desperate measures. As a last ditch effort I ran into one of the gift shops hoping the camera Gods would be merciful on me. Sure enough sitting on the counter of the gift shop was a Polaroid disposable camera. I Forked over the $8.00 feeling like I had just won a major award and literally ran out the door. We were now on our way to Whitefish Point. http://www.shipwreckmuseum.com