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.
The sun was warm, the breeze light and not a cloud in the sky is just what the doctor ordered for a perfect day spent at the Adirondack “Paddlefest” held in Old Forge, NY this past weekend.
Julie and I got our game faces on for an early start Saturday morning as we snaked our way north arriving at Mountainman Outdoors about 10AM. I’ll admit I was very excited for the day. Wheeling into the parking lot we noticed there was already a good size crowd pouring over all the goodies. Kayaks, Canoes, Campers, Cars, Trailers, Gear, etc. Making our way into the grounds we quickly noted there were quite a few dogs as well and we immediately began missing our fury beast. However we were on a mission.
Michael at 6′ 5″ had out grown his 10 foot kayak so we had a few in mind that we new he was comfortable in. We settled on one of his top choices, a 2017 Perception “Prodigy” 12 in tiger camo red. We got the last one in that color! After browsing for a while it was time for us to do some test paddling. I test paddled one kayak because I knew if I tested others we would be leaving with another boat. Julie on the other hand test paddled a few. The first was a very sexy Swift Adirondack 12LT in the color “Purple Rain” weighing only 24 lbs with the heavy price tag of $2395. Next was the same boat but in the 10LT version. She absolutely loved these boats. I was able to convince her to try another kayak. This time it was a Hurricane Santee 116. She was skeptical but did so. After she was done test paddling I asked “So what did you think?”. She responded I loved it and even more so than the Swift. The Santee weighs a little more but comes with a $900 price tag instead. She loved its smoothness, tracking and speed. With that said Julie still likes her current kayak and is sticking with it for now.
After our test paddling we headed to the small town of Inlet, NY for lunch at the Screamen Eagle. Traveling along route 28 in Eagle Bay we came upon “The Donut Shop” and it hit me, they had been voted best donuts in Adirondack Life magazine’s 2016 “Best of the Adirondacks”. A quick turn of the wheel and a few screams from Julie I was in the parking lot. The Donut Shop only makes two types of donuts, plain and cinnamon sugar. We ordered two of each and were back in the car. The first bite was heaven! Crsipy, fluffy and oh so amazing Julie and I were raving.
Our destination for lunch was The Screamen Eagle. The Eagle itself was voted runner up in Adirondack Life magazine’s 2016 “Best of the Adirondacks” in the pizza category. Although we didn’t order pizza we did enjoy our phenomenal peanut butter wings. All I can say was wow!
Finished with lunch we would go for a short paddle along the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Launching on 4th lake at Inlet we paddled into the channel that brings you to 5th lake. A perfect small adventure in the middle of our day.
Headed back towards Old Forge to pick up Michael’s kayak I had wanted to visit the Fulton Chain Craft Brewery. I was on the hunt for the “Go Fluff Yourself” Peanut Butter Fluff Ale (Notice the theme here!). I happen to have a pint or two locally at Food & Fire recently and really enjoyed it. Sadly when I got there they had just kicked the keg and wouldn’t have anymore until Monday. Perched in our Adirondack chair bar stools, the kind that are so comfortable you don’t want to leave I found myself tasting “Bear Road: Bluberry Coffee Stout” which I immediately fell in love with. Thankfully I had an empty growler with me just in case.
After picking up Michael’s kayak we began our trek home, making a dinner stop in Utica at Babe’s Macaroni Grill & Bar.
Our day was short but packed with fun little adventure’s. But best of all barely any black flies. We can’t wait to return for next years event.
Cool and crisp as an Autumn morning should be. This morning my cars thermometer read 38 degrees as I drove the backroads to Nanticoke lake. Arriving under a blanket of fog and now 35 degree temperatures it was time to unload my canoe and hit the water. My friend Don from Ithaca who I met last summer while paddling another area lake was joining me as well on this small hidden gem near Center Lisle. The fog seemed to roll across the lake as a slight wind kept the water from being glass like. Right before the 0659 sunrise the Canadian Navy (Canadian Geese) were doing maneuvers as well as the local beavers. One beaver in particular wasn’t too fond of me being close to his lodge and thought it would be fun to try and splash me with a few “THWACKS” of his tail, he was unsuccessful! I did however slowly back away to witness the three of them playing and pushing one another around for a short while.
The sun had finally broke over the tree tops creating pockets of beautiful color along the shoreline. The color is definitely beginning to show here and it made for a nice backdrop for a beautiful setting.
At 46 acres with a maximum depth of 20 feet, sitting at 1,400 feet of elevation, Nanticoke lake was originally constructed in the 1970’s with the intention of establishing a wild, self sustaining brook trout fishery similar to those found in the Adirondacks. Unfortunately, due to low dissolved oxygen levels in the summer months, brook trout survival was extremely limited.
Notes: From the parking area to the lake is a 1/4 mile carry on a well maintained trail. Having a 17lb canoe made this extremely easy, however Don used a set of canoe wheels to wheel in his canoe into the lake.
Ever since I laid eyes on the Old Town Cayuga 146 (14′ 6″) kayak I was in love. However I was just simply too fat to fit in the boat. Old Town stopped making this boat a few years ago and they are almost impossible to find used. Early this spring I discovered that St. Regis Canoe Outfitters of Saranac Lake use them in their rental fleet and occasionally they will sell one or two.
As luck would have it a Cayuga 146 complete with rudder did come available and I immediately reserved it and made my trek north. The weather in Saranac Lake today was absolutely perfect, a cool 38 degrees this morning when I woke. I picked up my boat right after they opened and shortly I was on Lake Flower.
Paddling along gazing at the serenity, making a few adjustments to my seat a gentleman in a beautiful Eddyline kayak came up upon me and asked me where I was headed. I promptly said “I Have no clue”. He introduced himself as “Dave” and offered for me to tag along. Dave would guide me along from Lake Flower, Oseetah Lake to the lower locks & dam where Oseetah and the Saranac River meet. According to my map we paddled about 9 miles down and back. As an added bonus to me this section is part of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, adding a few miles in my ongoing quest to complete the 740 mile route in pieces.
I love this boat! Super comfortable, fast and tracks pretty darn well and has a ton of storage for a multiple day camping trip. One last impression was that I’ve been using my 17lb Hornbeck canoe for sometime now so this 50Lb kayak was an eye opener.
Looking forward to getting some more miles in this sweet thing here real shortly.
My previous post I wrote about running this race for fun and that is exactly what I did. The whole weekend in itself was fun. Saturday my friend Sue and I drove to Long Trail Brewing in West Bridgewater Corners, VT where we met up with her cousin Kaye-Lani from North Carolina. We also met up with our friends Chris and Lori who moved recently from Endicott to New Hampshire and as an added bonus my friend Ian made the hour drive from his house as well to join us all for some beer, food and laughs.
Kaye-Lani had rented a rustic cabin retreat about 8 miles outside of Woodstock, VT. After lunch Sue, Kaye-Lani and I got to the cabin, settled in for a bit. Shortly we were off to the pre-race pasta dinner at the Suicide Six ski resort. The evening weather was absolutely perfect, returning back to our cabin we spent several hours enjoying the rest of the evening chatting before crashing for the night as we had an early start to our Sunday.
Sunrise was beautiful as we got ourselves dressed and ready for the days race. Once parked and ready to board our bus that would take us to the start is when the rain began to fall and it fell. It rained during the entire race, after the race and all the way home back to New York. The rain during the race did however feel great, kept the body temperature in check. I did have one issue as my sock was quite wet and was chaffing at the bottom of my right foot making it a little uncomfortable.
We began the race together and I ran the first two miles at 8:44 pace stopped for a brief bathroom break and then gradually got into a really comfortable groove for the rest of the race. I finished the half marathon in 1:41:25 finishing 188th out of 1,890 runners and I had a blast doing it.
Cold and completely soaked I found the Harpoon Brewery beer tent and celebrated appropriately. Afterwards we made a quick return to our cabin to wash up and some dry clothes before heading into Woodstock for lunch. We met back up with Chris and Lori at the Worthy Kitchen, the “Worthy” is completely worthy of your business.
After lunch is when we all would part ways ending a fun weekend with friends in Vermont.
By time you read this I will be on my way to Vermont with some friends so we can take part in running the Vermont ‘Covered Bridges” half Marathon on Sunday. Even more so I’m looking forward to running it for fun and not time.
Lately I feel burned out and that I need a break. Running seems to have morphed into a job and I miss just running for fun and social engagement. Just this past week I’ve dropped my mileage considerably and will continue to do so throughout the summer. It feels great! Last August I learned a valuable lesson during the Catherine Valley half marathon, I hate the heat and humidity. As the warmer weather approaches I get quite obsessed with my passion to be out in my canoe or kayak either by myself or with family and friends. There never seems to be enough hours in a day to do all the things we would like to.
My goal right now for this summer is to run 3 or 4 days each week, logging maybe 25 miles. Im just going to let my body and mind run the show.
So this Sunday’s race will conclude any racing for me until the fall and then again maybe until next April. I firmly believe we all need a break periodically.
Julie had plans to head north for the day, check out some new canoes and kayaks and do a little paddling ourselves. The weather wasn’t perfect but it was warm and we had no rain. Upon arriving in Old Forge we made our way right to the waterfront where all the boats were and the test paddling was taking place. Julie quickly fell in love with a very light weight Swift Kayak http://www.swiftcanoe.com/#!adirondack-12-lt/c1wd4
This boat is beautiful and pricey so she is keeping it in mind for a future purchase. After spending time Oohing and Awing at all the beautiful products it was time to take “Elsie” off the car and hit the water ourselves. We launched on Old Forge Pond and paddled the channel to First Lake where we would take in the views and the homes that dotted the shoreline.
A few hours later we were back on dry land and hungry. No trip to Old Forge would not be complete without a good meal at Walt’s Diner. Now that we were fed it was off to Mountain Man to see all the other cool products that were part of the weekend. There were lots more canoes and kayaks, shoes, clothing, paddles, etc. However there was one thing that caught our attention quickly, a Sylvan Sport camper http://www.sylvansport.com We absolutely loved it and are seriously considering one of these in the near future.
To finish out the day we took a ride north a few miles to Inlet, NY where we spent a little time taking in the views of Fourth, Fifth, Sixth & Seventh lakes. While stopped at Seventh Lake we bumped into an extremely friendly local resident. I didn’t notice at first but eventually I realized she was wearing a 2016 Binghamton Bridge Run shirt.
Our day was long but extremely fun and we scouted some new places to paddle on our next trip to the Adirondacks.
For the first time this year I was able to finally get out in my canoe this evening. I made the 40 minute trip to Long Pond near Smithville Flats. Launching my boat I made my way down the pond. The water was placid and the surroundings quiet only to be disturbed periodically by the chorus of song birds. Looking off to my right I noticed a female Canadian goose sitting atop a mound. I instantly realized that she was with her young.
Moving on quietly the silence of Long Pond was interrupted by a fisherman hacking his brains out as I watched him return his cigarette to his mouth. I paddled into a cove on the east end only to be greeted by two more fisherman sitting along the shoreline. After a few words I was on my way again slowly paddling along the shore.
I paused for a few minutes in an attempt to photograph a Northern Flicker but it proved fruitless. Then I caught a glimpse of movement from the corner of my right eye. Slowly I turned and there I spied a beaver having some dinner. I dipped my paddle in the water and turned my boat cautiously toward him. A few soft paddle strokes to move closer. This beaver has yet to notice my presence as I ever so slightly reach for my camera. Click, click, click and he still does’t know I’m there. Click, click, click and now his attention turns to me and he disappears into the brush.
I patiently waited to see if he would return but to no avail. I returned back up the pond to the launch site feeling excited about my return to Long Pond.
On a recent morning before going to work I was reminiscing in my mind of a trip to the Adirondacks I had taken not to long ago. The trip was a memorable one to say the least. Fresh in my mind was the vivid sunset I had laid witness to while in Tupper Lake, NY that evening. I’d have to say it was one of the most breath taking I’ve seen in my lifetime.
I was fortunate to be able to make several images of that sunset during its many stages. However one image in particular I never really liked so it never made it to the editing process. Over the past several days that particular image has grown on me and I’ve found myself going back to look at it repeatedly. I finally realized what it is I have come to love about that image. Its not perfect, and neither am I or anyone else for that matter. It reinforces to me that even though we as humans are not perfect there is something to love about everyone.
The calendar claims Spring has arrived, however the mercury and Mother Nature aren’t quite so convinced. To say I have cabin fever is an understatement. This morning I looked at the extended forecast only to have my hopes thwarted once again. The weather just looks terrible for the foreseeable future or at least the next 7 days.
I’m longing for the warmth of the sun, the coolness of the water and the ever quiet glide of my canoe. I hope to visit a few more remote ponds and lakes in the Adirondacks this year, return to some of my favorite places in New England but most importantly spend some quality time just paddling by myself or with my family.