I’m sure by now you are pretty tired of hearing about me paddling Nanticoke lake. I’ve written about it many times before and shared many images from my adventures there as well. However as I race against Mother Nature in my final attempts to keep my paddling season going I ventured to none other than Nanticoke lake this morning.
I arrived under darkness, exiting my car peering upward towards the heavens. The unpolluted night sky was alive with the moon, stars, clouds and I believe Venus. I rubbed my hands together with excitement and commented to my friend Don “I think we have the makings of a beautiful sunrise”. Don whole heartily agreed and we carried our canoes to the lake. The narrow beam from my headlamp pierced the darkness and I could feel the the damp grass beneath my feet with every step.
Don and I set out to watch the show as our paddles dipped in and out of the water whispering an elegant song. As we sat in the middle of the lake the cloud cover began to thicken and I said to Don “I think we’re going to get skunked on our sunrise”. Don laughed, shrugged his shoulders and said he didn’t think so. I placed my paddle in the water, turned my canoe in order to investigate a playful beaver who was splashing a little closer to the shore. All of a sudden I could see the skies reflection in the water turn to pink, orange and blue. Another dip of the paddle, my canoe turned and I was laying witness to a blazing fire in the sky.
Finished with exploring Henderson lake I reloaded all my gear into and onto my car and began the slow journey from New York to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Making a quick stop in Ticonderoga for fuel and food before crossing at Crown Point. There is no highway that runs west to east in Vermont so the 158 miles to my destination was slow but the scenery more than makes up for it. Leaving the Champlain Valley my favorite section of this adventure is on route 17 as you cross the Green Mountains and descend into the Mad River Valley. There are six hairpin turns I believe on this section of road.
I would spend the next several days visiting with friends and doing what I enjoy most. Roaming around Vermont and New Hampshire taking in their beauty. Over the past several years I have visited the town of Newport, VT and Newport has really grown on me. Nestled along the US/Canadian border, Newport sits at the southern end of Lake Memphremagog. Lake Memphremagog stretches 32 miles to the southeastern Quebec city of Magog. I hope to someday kayak parts of this lake which oddly enough is part of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. After a long day and as we were 200 hundred yards or so from the house my friends truck would lose its brakes to a ruptured brake line. All I can say is thank goodness it happened close to home.
On our way to Cannon Mountain in Franconia Notch State Park we are climbing route 112 which is also called the Kanc (Kancamagus Highway) cresting near Beaver Pond we noticed smoke along the Kinsman Range. It appeared that a small forest fire had started and personnel were on the scene. Continuing on to Cannon Mountain we would take the tram to the summit. As the tram car climbed the winds increased quite considerabley and the temperatures dropped as well. At the top we made our way to the tower, a viewing platform where on a clear day you can see for over one hundred miles. The fog and clouds were rolling over the mountain tops playing a game of hide and seek with the sun.
Afterwards we stopped to check out the “The Basin”. The Basin is a 20 foot diameter granite hole at the base of a beautiful waterfall. Some say it had been eroded 15,000 years ago while the North American ice sheet was melting. Over time The Basin has been smoothed small stones and sand, whirled around by the Pemigewasset River.
Stopping in North Woodstock, NH at the Woodstock Station Inn & Brewery for lunch it was so sunny and warm at this point we chose to sit outside. I sampled some of their beers with my favorite being the 4,000 footer IPA. For lunch I would knock down their adult grilled cheese sandwich with a side of chili.
Heading back west over the Kanc we noticed there was a lot more smoke than earlier this morning. A helicopter was also on he scene making water drops on the mountain side. We would spend the next 90 minutes watching and photographing the efforts of all involved. I’ve never witnessed a forest fire of this size about (5 acres) at the time up close. Looking at the sheer rock cliffs one could see the firefighters trying to advance. The aggressive sound of their chainsaws cutting timber in efforts to battle the blaze could be heard echoing down below. The heat from the fire was causing slides and I could see trees falling. According to news reports that I have read there is speculation the fire was caused by a meteor strike which is unconfirmed at this time. As a note this section of the White Mountain National Forest is also part of the Appalachian Trail.
The next afternoon I would begin my long trek back home taking me 6.5 hours. The traffic on route 4 across Vermont was horrible and slow going. I was glad to be home!
Originally I was supposed to be hiking Mt. Washington today. I had to cancel my plans as Max was marching in the Maine Endwell homecoming parade on Saturday and I did not want to miss it. I love watching and listening to him play in the high school band.
Recently I had been reading that Henderson lake in Newcomb, NY was spectacular to paddle offering breathtaking views of the Adirondack high peaks. Henderson lake is also the headwaters of the 315 mile Hudson river. I contacted friends Gary Sharp and Chad Smith and made alternate plans. After the homecoming parade that afternoon I packed up and headed north to the Adirondacks stopping in Lake George for a couple of hours to catch up with friends. Afterwards I would continue my northward trek making it to Schroon Lake, NY for dinner at a bar called Flanagan’s. After dinner I drove to my new favorite place to car camp along Blue Ridge road in North Hudson. I threw on an extra layer of clothing knowing it was going to be a cold night in the mountains. All settled in it was time to get some rest.
I woke early Sunday morning 0430 and peered out the window to see the night sky littered with stars. Falling back asleep I would find myself wide awake by 0600 and the fog had rolled in, it was a chilly 33 degrees. Once the sun began to shed some light on the day I packed up and drove to meet Gary and Chad in Newcomb. Cell service in these parts is very sparse and I never saw Chad’s message that he had to cancel. Gary and I would make our way to the parking area, load our gear for the short half mile carry to the put-in on Henderson lake. As we arrived the last of the fog was pretty much all burnt off and the sun was warming things quite nicely. A good 5-6 MPH wind had reared its ugly head adding some small whitecaps to our adventure.
Gary and I were off exploring the shoreline and taking in some of the views. My favorite had to be the view of Indian Pass and the huge cliffs on Wallface. At the northwest end of the lake Gary and I would take out for a little exploration and coffee at a lean-to. This is a great place to camp and carry the 1.7 miles to the Preston Ponds. But we will leave that to another time. We spent about an hour enjoying our coffee, conversation and a small brook and waterfall. Back in our boats we zig-zagged along the lake back to where our adventure started. The color is almost nonexistent and what is there is very muted. The birch trees have been stripped bare of their leaves as well.
Saturday September 23rd 2017: Zipping up my wetsuit into a new adventure, open water swimming. Several years ago I had purchased a wetsuit with the intent on using it, things never panned out that way. Our swim was to take place on Quaker lake in Silver Lake Township Pennsylvania not too far south of the New York border.
Saturday morning the fog quickly burned off, the air temperature perfect and the lake like glass. I’m guessing the water was somewhere between 66-68 degrees. The three of us (Chris, Bob & Myself) plunged into the lake at 0840, beginning our swim. I’ll admit I had been nervous all week leading up to this. I purchased a 15 liter New Wave Swim Buoy as a safety precaution. I was extremely happy with it and you wouldn’t even know it was there. Chris would swim 2 miles skirting the perimeter of the lake. Myself and Bob would swim 1.5 miles down and back the length of the lake. I stopped a few times briefly to adjust my goggles and take a quick break. On our way back up the lake I began to feel a little more confident with some endurance, my nerves had finally settled. Exiting the lake and sitting on the dock I glanced down the lake taking notice of my accomplishment, turning to my watch I covered the distance in 1:27:00. I really enjoyed the experience of open water swimming and look forward to more of it in the future. Recently I have been using swimming as a cross training tool, a low impact workout to supplement my running.
Later that day Julie and I would head back down to Pennsylvania to our families lake house to visit my cousin, his wife Dawn and friends who were staying the weekend. Some great food, company, kayaking, campfire and a game of Cards Against Humanity and all was right with the world.
Sunday September 24th 2017: Lacing up my running shoes I would run my first race in five months, the Dick’s Sporting Goods Greater Binghamton Marathon. Myself, Chris, Chuck and Ken would run the marathon relay as team “Sunday Bloody Sunday”. It was another beautiful day in the Southern Tier but extremely warm. Chuck would be our first runner, followed by Chris, Ken and lastly I would be runner #4. I do feel the need to pick on Ken for his little snafu during the race, just because it adds to the memories of a really fun day. Prior to Ken’s turn running he was getting in a few extra miles. Chris arrived to the exchange earlier than anticipated and Ken wasn’t around. I panicked and quickly jumped in and began to run. A few minutes later Ken exchanged with Chris and the guys came and pulled me off the course just over a mile in. Even though we lost some time Ken ran strong showing up to exchange with me pretty much as predicted. My leg of the course would be 4.2 miles mostly along the rail trail. It was HOT and I struggled a bit. I almost never hit the water stops on a race course but today I did twice. I ran an average of 7:26 pace for the race and honestly I could not be happier finishing my run in 30:58. This was huge for me because I had no pain in my hip flexors at all. I’ve finally have gotten my bigger muscles to start doing the work and I have really been enjoying the rebuilding process. Approaching the finish I was very excited to see my wife cheering me on as it its always brightens my day to see her smile. Our official finishing time was 3:15:25.
Post race refreshments and entertainment were provided by Ommegang Brewing of Cooperstown, NY and Local band Wreckless Marci. Later in the afternoon the week had finally caught up with me and I found myself unexpectedly napping on the couch.
It’s September 22nd 2017 4:02PM and I am teaming with excitement as the Autumn Equinox has officially begun. Fall is by far my favorite time of the year. There is so much to be excited about. Crisp temperatures, changing and falling leaves and the fall harvest of fruits and vegetables. I personally love the apples and squash that come into season this time of year.
For me Autumn also enhances my love of running and canoeing. There is just something peaceful and magical about the crunching of leaves underfoot, our hillsides burning with reds, yellows and oranges or a placid lake at sunrise or sunset. No matter what you enjoy doing Autumn is a perfect time of year to be outside!
While summer slips into Autumn I am reminded at how much I enjoy fall paddling in the Northeast. I try to take every advantage I can get to be out on the water whether by myself or with my family. Sadly this summer I/we have not been on the water much and Max and I have not even taken the Cownoe out together.
The boys and I had plans to camp and canoe in the Fish Creek Ponds area of the Adirondacks this summer but we had to cancel. However not all was lost. Julie, Max & I took advantage of the nice weather this past weekend and made the short drive to Nanticoke lake in Lisle, NY. Nanticoke is a small and quiet lake. This is partly due to the quarter mile hike in from the parking area.
I also learned a very valuable lesson for the future as well. An 18 foot 47lb canoe with gear and a 30 lb kayak strapped on top make for a heavy portage. The lesson I learned is two canoe carts instead of one and your shoulders will thank you.
To our surprise we discovered two other people kayaking, a sight I have not seen here before. Then again I’m mostly here at sunrise.
No matter what you enjoy doing Autumn is one of the best times to get out and do what you love, so enjoy!