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.
After a 25 year absence “Pops on the River” returned last evening to Binghamton, NY. You couldn’t have asked for better weather in order to celebrate a triumphant return. With low humidity, temperatures around 78 degrees under cloudless skies.
I have been living in Binghamton for 24 years and have not had the opportunity to witness this event. To be honest I was 23 when I moved here with my interests more in beer, women and Rock N’ Roll. So I probably wouldn’t have went anyway. Times and tastes change a bit. Don’t get me wrong I still love Rock N’ Roll!! When I heard “Pops on the River” was returning I was extremely excited and could not wait to attend. I had seen pictures, read stories from years past of crowds approaching 50,000. Last nights event didn’t come close to that number but I would say several thousand lined the riverwalk, the Court Street bridge and rooftops. However the images of past did show a very large crowd on the water in all sorts of watercraft.
My wife, son Max and I decided to paddle our kayaks and canoe a short distance down the Chenango river to take in the show from the water. Arriving at the launch there were about a dozen or so cars parked who had the same idea as us. The current was mild which made for a real nice paddle and we were setup right before showtime which was 8PM.
There were many kayaks, canoes and homemade watercraft as well. There was even a pirate ship. However the custom float complete with drunk guys right next to us the entire evening were very entertaining. They were fixated on pillaging a later from that pirate ship I mentioned. During the Binghamton Philharmonic’s final score of “Pirates of the Caribbean” one jumped in the water and swam over to try and acquire a lantern. It didn’t go so well, but again was extremely entertaining. As a matter of fact one of those drunk guys tried to help my son Max get his kayak unstuck from a rock once we were leaving, only to flip him over. It was hysterical!
The music was wonderful. My wife and I enjoyed it very much and Max I know he enjoyed it because he plays in his high school band and loves the music as well.
The evening was capped off with an amazing fireworks show and sitting in the river we had front row seats. Hopefully Pops on the River will return again in 2019!
The firework show was 10 minutes long and spectacular so please watch the video, cheers!
In 2011 I was searching “The Google” and discovered the Northern Forest Canoe Trail and immediately I was enamored. I spent several days reading about the organization and decided to become a member. Seriously what could be better, a 740 mile waterway strung through the Adirondacks of New York and northern New England with a small portion reaching over our border to the north. It was intriguing and even a bit intimidating. Miles of rivers, lakes, streams & ponds. Flat water, whitewater, portages, oh my!
As my interest grew I noticed the NFCT had what they called “Waterway Work Trips” scattered over the trail. Usually about 6 every summer and they would use staff, interns and volunteers to work and improve the trail. I was hooked! Sadly over the course of the past several years my schedule and their schedules never seemed to workout. However this year the stars would align under clear skies and I was able to register and volunteer. July 6th, 7th & 8th I ventured along with four other volunteers to the 1.25 mile Raquette Falls canoe carry along the Raquette river near Tupper Lake, NY.
July 6th: We would meet our staff and interns at the Axton Landing boat launch at 3PM, load our canoes with our camping gear and paddle 6 miles upstream to Raquette Falls. Here New York State DEC Ranger and Raquette Falls “Outpost” caretaker Gary Valentine would be waiting to greet us. Our campsite was nestled beneath far reaching pines that towered towards the sky. Once set up Gary met with us to go over some rules and safety precautions. NFCT Staff and Interns had been on site since the previous Friday. Dinner this evening would be some sort of chicken stew that was absolutely delicious, followed by an attempt at blueberry cobbler in a dutch oven set into the coals of our camp fire. To be honest I think it turned out great.
July 7th: I made the mistake of packing in 100 degree weather in an air conditioned house. I would find myself unprepared for Friday night. During the night the temperature dropped to 41 degrees under clear skies. I would find myself very cold and had a bad nights sleep. I woke about 5AM, tossed and turned in my tent for a bit and then headed to Gary’s cabin for coffee. Two other volunteers soon arrived and we chatted for a while before breakfast. I had mentioned my unpreparedness and Gary quickly offered me an additional sleeping bag, problem solved.
After breakfast we would hit the trail to finish up work that had already been started earlier in the week. We would be working on the “Vista” trail. Paddlers usually make two trips over the canoe carry. Carrying gear and then returning for their boat. The “Vista trail is a narrow muddy trail that parallels the Upper & Lower Raquette Falls. These sets of falls and rapids span just over a mile. Often paddlers will take the Vista trail on their return. We would assist in finishing a stone stair case, wooden steps and several bog bridges. We would brush several spots and define the trail even more. There are many more improvements that will be made over the coming seasons. There will even be a reroute towards the Upper Falls end of the trail. Although it wasn’t as hot and muggy as earlier in the week the mosquitos and deer flies were out in force. We would go through bug spray like Motely Crue used Aqua-Net…
Later that afternoon after we finished work for the day it was time to hit the cool waters of the Raquette river before dinner. This evenings meal would be burritos and smores for dessert. Later on we all would wander to Gary’s cabin and sit on his screen porch. We talked, told stories and listen to Gary’s record collection. By 10PM I was tired and made my way back to my tent and settled in for the night and I slept like a baby.
July 8th: Back to Gary’s for coffee and then breakfast. Afterwards we would be back on the trail doing the final touches on our work. We were back by noon to break camp and have lunch. After lunch I would load my canoe and make the 6 mile paddle back to Axton Landing. Once I had my car loaded it was time to make the 5 hour journey back home.
This experience was wonderful and exceeded my expectations, and I enjoyed every minute of it. The group of staff, interns and volunteers worked hard and extremely well together making the work flow smoothly. I hope to volunteer next year on another NFCT “Waterway Work Trip”.
What can I say, I loved this book! I myself have a passion for the Northern Forest Canoe Trail and have paddled small sections of it. Laurie’s writing is inspiring and invokes the true passion of the water, wilderness and human spirit.
When our world seems bleak at times Laurie’s adventure, her faith coupled by friendships both new and old, along with the many trail angels she encountered have restored my belief that their is still good in our world. I loved the sense of small town America. The hospitality to a weary traveler. Communities taking care of strangers or better yet strangers looking out for strangers.
I was hooked from the beginning and looked forward to reading it every day. I am by no means a fast reader but this gives me the time to savor such an adventure. An adventure I often romantisize about.
I truly enjoyed reading this and highly recommend this book. Sorry no spoilers here!
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.
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.
Yup you guessed it I returned to Nanticoke lake! Almost immediately I was greeted by not one, not two but three beavers this morning just as I was getting into my canoe. Once on the lake the fish made no bones about coming to the surface for breakfast and I noticed that the beavers had moved their home to the other side of the lake since last fall.
It was a calm morning with just a slight breeze. The birds were singing and the cows on the other side of the hill were mooing. It made for a pretty interesting chorus.
I had just purchased my Hornbeck canoe in June of 2015 for the sole purpose of backcountry paddling and camping. Weighing only 17 pounds I could carry it to any remote lake in the Adirondacks.
After seeing and reading stories of hikers being lost and rescued I thought it would be wise to hire a guide to take me into the remote Essex Chain of Lakes. I just didn’t want to be that guy who gets the very expensive helicopter ride out as this would be my first adventure. I wound up hiring Adirondack guide Lynn Malerba of Tupper Lake, NY.
When I first met Lynn we hit it off immediately. We shared the same passions for the outdoors. Lynn would not only guide me into the Adirondack wilderness but also fueled my passion for it. Lynn and I have remained friends ever since.
This past weekend I had heard rumblings of a camper being struck by a tree in the Pharoah Lakes Wilderness in the eastern Adirondacks. Today I have learned that this person was Lynn Malerba. I am heart broken to say the least. Lynn was an amazing human being with a wonderful, gentle and kind soul. She will be missed.
Rest in peace Lynn!
From the Adirondack Explorer: https://www.adirondackexplorer.org/view_finder/lynn-malerba-dies