Perfect Trifecta

A good book, hot coffee that my two sons bought for me and this wonderful Überleben Dursten kuksa cup.© Joe Geronimo
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Review: Überleben Stöker Flatpack Stove

It is no secret that I love gear, so when I came across this Uberleben Stoker flatpack stove I knew I had to give it a try. I already own a Solostove Lite which I love. In my opinion you can’t have too many twig stoves.

This afternoon I headed to my local State Park to get it’s fire burning and have some food. Conditions out on the trail aren’t always perfect and today’s weather I feel was a good representative of that. The temperature a balmy 38 degrees in addition to 15-17MPH winds and snow flurries thrown in for good measure. It has been very damp and wet here lately so in order to get the fire going I decided to bring some dryer lint and two small pieces of fat wood and in no time the belly of this beast had come alive.

I filled my pot with 12 ounces of cold water and placed it on top. I continued to feed the fire a steady diet of leaves, twigs and sticks. The one thing I have noticed with these twigs stoves is they are constantly hungry. In these conditions it took 15 minutes for the 12 ounces of water to boil which I felt was reasonable. On a warm day with light wind I’m confident boiling time would be around 8-9 minutes.

I poured the water into a Goodto-Go single serve dehydrated meal (Chicken Gumbo) stirred and sealed and let rehydrate for 15 minutes. I put another 12 ounces of water back into my pot in order to boil for coffee.

The Stove: A little on the heavy side (14.5 ounces with canvas sleeve), this extremely compact and simple 5 panel stove assembles in about a minute or so. The first time I put it together it felt a little clumsy to me and I was skeptical that it would be as sturdy as I have read. All the pieces fit snug together giving it a solid base. This stove is made from heavy duty 304 grade stainless steel which is anti-corrosive.  After I had it assembled I truly liked its feel, solid as a tank. You will have no issue what so ever placing a heavy cast iron skillet or pot on this stove. Another great feature about this product was the large opening to feed the fire and the nicely placed holes for consistent airflow.

What I Liked:

Ease of assembly, compact, large opening to feed the fire, Sturdiness, airflow and lastly the price.

What I Didn’t Like:

A little heavier than I would like and extremely sooty during disassembly.

I believe that the positives outweigh the negatives and highly recommend this compact, affordable twig stove. I hope this review of the Uberleben Stoker Flatpack Stove was helpful and if you have a product that you would like me to review please feel free to contact me.

Cheers!

Compact & flat the Überleben Stöker Flatpack Stove comes in this nice canvas sleeve. ©Joe Geronimo
All the parts of the very compact easy to assemble Überleben Stöker Flatpack Stove. © Joe Geronimo
Completely assembled the Überleben Stöker Flatpack Stove is extremely sturdy. ©Joe Geronimo

 

The belly of the Überleben Stöker Flatpack Stove is alive with fire. ©Joe Geronimo

 

12 ounces of water working itself to a boil atop of the Überleben Stöker Flatpack Stove. ©Joe Geronimo

 

15 minutes later we have boiling water atop of the Überleben Stöker Flatpack Stove. ©Joe Geronimo

 

Goodto-Go chicken gumbo and a hot cup of coffee on cold and windy winter afternoon. ©Joe Geronimo

Raquette Lake to Blue Mountain Lake an Adirondack Adventure

For the past year now I have had this desire to paddle across Raquette lake and into the Marion river. Here I would make the flat half mile carry to Utowana lake continuing through Eagle lake and reaching Blue Mountain lake, a total distance of about 14 miles. On Sunday September 30th myself and three other friends did just that.

We arrived at Raquette lake just as the sun was rising and the fog was rolling across the surface of the lake like the stage of a rock concert, however the silence was deafening.  It was a cool 39 degrees as I unstrapped my kayak from the roof of my car. Yes I brought my heavy kayak for this adventure. For some reason I have always been intimidated by the size and notorious winds of Raquette lake. The weather report for the day was calling for 8 MPH winds and I had visions of white caps dancing in my head. With that said I chose poorly and that decision would haunt me a little later in our adventure.

The water was like glass as we set out to cross Raquette lake under the watchful eye of Blue Mountain towering 14 miles in the distance. With only a small navigation snafu we reached the mouth of the Marion river in 3.30 miles according to my GPS. The Marion river was beautiful with its mirrored reflections of autumn beginning to paint the landscape. We twisted and turned up the river several miles before we reached a somewhat large beaver dam. We knew this dam would be here and that we would have to exit our boats in order to get around it. Once we got over the damn it was only another quarter mile or so to the Marion river carry.

This carry from the Marion river to Utowana lake follows the former road bed of the Marion River Railroad. It is only a half mile long and was the world’s shortest railroad. Here is where my kayak would come back to haunt me. Without gear my kayak weighs in a 52 pounds at 14 1/2 feet long. I probably had at least 8 pounds of gear stowed in the boat. So I had the pleasure of carrying 60 pounds on my shoulders for a half mile. A huge departure from my 17 pound canoe…

Once we reached the put in on Utowana lake we were about half way through our journey. In other significance this is where the wind would finally kick up as we paddled our way up through Utowana and into Eagle lake. The entrance from Eagle lake into Blue Mountain lake has two routes that go under bridges and around a small island. Entering Blue Mountain lake we would see the only other paddlers during our trip. From here it was about a mile or so to our take out spot in the hamlet of Blue Mountain Lake.

Once we were off the water and boats loaded I was ready for my long trip back home. As I approached Old Forge I had thought I might want to stop quick at Fulton Chain Craft Brewery. But I was exhausted and just wanted to get home. I made a quick stop to top off the gas tank, grabbed some coffee and kept rolling for home. Not only did I rack up another 425 miles on my car I was part of some great memories with some amazing friends. I look forward to doing it again soon somewhere in the Park.

Cheers!

Pulling into Raquette Lake, NY the sunrise was amazing. This is one of my favorite views in the Adirondack Park. © Joe Geronimo
Starting my day on Raquette lake. © Joe Geronimo
Crossing Raquette lake on our way to the Marion river. © Joe Geronimo
Wayne, Jan & Hugh crossing Raquette lake on our way to the Marion river. © Joe Geronimo
When the autumn colors are just starting to pop you improvise and bring your own. Jan giving a big wave on Raquette lake. © Joe Geronimo
Jan & Hugh on Raquette lake. © Joe Geronimo
Wayne making his way across Raquette lake. © Joe Geronimo
Blue Mountain keeps a watchful eye as Hugh crosses Raquette lake. © Joe Geronimo
Hugh and Jan entering the mouth of the Marion river. © Joe Geronimo
Making my way along the Marion river. © Joe Geronimo
Hugh and I on the Marion river. © Joe Geronimo
Hugh and I on the Marion river. © Joe Geronimo
Hugh and I on the Marion river. © Joe Geronimo
Wayne and I chatting it up on the Marion river. © Joe Geronimo
Wayne & Jan along the Marion river. © Joe Geronimo
This was a cool obstacle along the Marion river. The reflection in the water was amazing. © Joe Geronimo
Wayne & Jan along the Marion river. © Joe Geronimo
Hugh & Wayne getting their boats over the beaver dam. © Joe Geronimo
Wayne assisting Jan getting her boat over the dam. I dragged my heavy kayak around the beaver dam through the mud. © Joe Geronimo
Jan & Hugh carry their canoes between the Marion river and Utowana lake. © Joe Geronimo
Wayne & Mya make their way along the Marion river carry. © Joe Geronimo
On Utowana lake the sun peaked out from behind the clouds for a few minutes. © Joe Geronimo
Wayne paddling up Utowana lake. © Joe Geronimo
Hugh & I paddle up Utowana lake with Blue Mountain looming in the distance. © Joe Geronimo
We’ve gotten a little further up Utowana lake. © Joe Geronimo
Hugh & I along Eagle lake. © Joe Geronimo
I’ve just entered Blue Mountain lake. © Joe Geronimo
Wayne & I on Blue Mountain lake. © Joe Geronimo

Adirondack Whirlwind Weekend

August 30th 2018: I got started north late in the afternoon arriving Old Forge, NY around 6:30PM. With still at least two more hours of driving I decided to call it a night. I find the older I get if I don’t have to drive at night I won’t. So instead I pulled up my chair to the bar at Fulton Chain Craft Brewing, ordered a beer and food and chatted with the locals about the upcoming “Adirondack Canoe Classic” affectionately known as the 90 Miler. This event starts in Old Forge and finishes three days later in Saranac Lake. A bucket list experience for me!

August 31st 2018: 0600, A beautiful sun kissed morning with the boat launch at Long Pond still 90 miles distant. Full tank of gas, coffee and I’m ready to hit the road. I would meet my friends Jan and Hugh who had already been camping there since Thursday. They had gone in the day prior to make sure we could secure a campsite being it a holiday weekend.

I arrived right on time 0840 and began unloading my gear.  The pond is a quarter mile from the parking area and on my first trip Jan came walking up the trail to greet me. Two trips total and my canoe loaded we were off. As I setup my tent and sleeping system Jan and Hugh made some coffee before our 12 mile adventure that would take us through Long Pond, Slang Pond, Turtle Pond and Hoel Pond.

The takeout for the canoe carry from Long Pond to Slang Pond is a really nice sandy area. A short 0.2 mile carry on a well maintained trail brings you to put-in on Slang Pond. This is a little mucky but easily done. I personally loved the channel connecting Slang and Turtle Pond. The take out on Turtle Pond again was a real nice sandy spot. In order to get into Hoel Pond you could either walk your boat through the culvert that connects the two or carry up and over the railroad tracks that split the two ponds. I opted to carry up and over!

The wind kicked up pretty good while on Hoel. Hoel is the only pond that day that isn’t complete wilderness and does have some homes along its shoreline. We would break for lunch at a small sandy spot in a cove on the northern end. Afterwards we would begin our way back to our campsite on Long Pond. As we passed between Turtle and Slang Ponds we bumped into Linda McFarland sitting on her kayak having her lunch. We chatted with Linda for a little before continuing.

Back at our campsite we began to prep our dinner. I was hoping for a stunning sunset this evening and views of the Milkyway as well. However the clouds started to roll in and we even got a few sprinkles of rain.

September 1st 2018: I woke several times during the night peering out my tent to see if the cloud cover had given way to millions of stars in the night sky, I would not be so lucky. However the loons were very active and their call never tires.

Not long after sunrise we were up brewing coffee. For me I keep coffee simple while camping as I use instant. Fire up the Jetboil and in 3 minutes coffee is poured. Hugh and Jan prefer the drip method while camping. My go to breakfast while out in the woods is oatmeal. One cup quick oats, one small box of raisins and 2 tablespoons brown sugar.

While Jan and Hugh were starting to break camp I tested out Jan’s Placid Boat Works “Rapid-fire” kevlar canoe. This beauty is 15′ long and glides very nicely through the water. It is a little different than my 12′ Hornbeck kevlar/carbon canoe but both are great boats. It’s late morning now and we have our canoes packed and we begin our paddle out. But first we are headed to explore Pink Pond. Pink Pond is really and you enter it from Long Pond through a twisting channel with low water. Just before entering the channel to Pink Pond we bumped into a DEC Ranger who had just finished checking the campsite there. We had a small conversation and she was on here way.

Back at the take out on Long Pond I made two trips to my car. One with gear and the other with my canoe. Jan and Hugh would do the same. After everything was loaded onto and into our cars we said our goodbyes as I was headed for St. Regis Canoe Outfitters in Saranac Lake to take a shower.

All showered I made my way to Lake Placid for a late lunch at a BBQ place called Smoke Signals. I have never been there before so I figured why not, it was excellent. After lunch I would hang around in Placid for a little before making my way east over route 73 to the Adirondack north way. Thinking in my head I need to hit another pond I came up with Cheney Pond just outside of Newcomb, NY.

Arriving at the trailhead it is a half mile drive down a very steep, narrow, rough rutted road to the pond. I’ll admit I was wondering if I’d get out. I eased my way tot he pond discovering a family camped right near the small hand launch. Cheney is relatively small but secluded. I would spend an hour just exploring the shoreline which according to my GPS is 1.5 miles. Back in my car and again very slowly I inched my way out and found this adventure had made me thirsty. As luck would have it Paradox Brewing was only 20 minutes away in Schroon Lake, NY, I was saved!

My destination for the evening would be Lake George, NY as I was to be photographing the Big George Triathlon early Sunday morning. This is a half Ironman distance 70.3 miles. The triathlon consists of 1.2 mile swim, 56 miles on the bike followed by a half marathon. I would find a great place to car camp along route 9N in Lake Vanare for the evening.

September 2nd 2018: I slept great as I have a killer sleeping system setup in my car. And I was lakeside in Lake George by 0630 to do my part in photographing the triathlon. This would be my fourth year doing so and every year I photograph the bikes. I love doing this especially when they come into transition which can provide some dramatic images. Afterwards it was time to hit the road and head home.

This was a super fun weekend and I look forward to doing it again next year.

Sunrise Fourth lake Inlet, NY August 31st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Hugh Jan and Myself Long Pond Santa Clara NY August 31st. © Joe Geronimo
Hugh on Long Pond with Long Pond mountain in the distance August 31st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Canoe Carry Long Pond to Slang Pond August 31st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Hughe Jan and Myself Paddling Slang Pond August 31st 2018 © Joe Geronimo
Hugh and Jan carrying over low water bewtween Slang Pond & Turtle Pond August 31st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Paddling between Slang Pond and Turlte Pond August 31st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Turtle Pond August 31st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Joe Geronimo Turtle Pond August 31st 2018©.
Hugh Carrying from Turtle Pond to Hoel Pond August 31st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Jan Hugh and Myself Paddling Hoel Pond August 31st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
During our lunch stop on Hoel Pond I indulged in a very delicious Vermont brew! August 31st 2018 © Joe Geronimo
My version of “Crazy Train” Hoel Pond canoe carry August 31st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Long Pond August 31st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Long Pond August 31st 2018. © Joe Geronimo

 

Sunset Long Pond August 31st. © Joe Geronimo
Jan and I Entering Pink Pond September 1st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Jan Exiting Pink Pond September 1st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Myself Hugh and Jan Paddling into Pink Pond September 1st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Cheney Pond September 1st 2018. © Joe Geronimo

Alone on the Shield: A Novel by Kirk Landers

“I hope you get drafted, I hope you go to Vietnam, I hope you get shot, and I hope you die there. Those words, spoken in the anger of youth, marked the end of the torrid 1960s college romance of Annette DuBose and Gabe Pender. She would marry a fellow antiwar activist and end up immigrating to Canada. He would fight in Vietnam and come home to build an American dream kind of life—a great career, a trophy wife, and a life of wealth and privilege. Forty years later, they have reconnected and discovered a shared passion: solo canoeing in Ontario’s raw Quetico wilderness. They decide to meet again to get caught up on old times, but not in a restaurant or coffee shop—they agree to meet on an island deep in the Quetico wilds. Though they try to control their expectations for the rendezvous, they both approach the island with a growing realization of the emotional void in their lives and wonder how different everything might have been if they had spent their lives together. They must overcome challenges just to reach the island, then encounter the greatest challenges of all—each other, and a weather event for the ages. Alone on the Shield is a story about the Vietnam war and the things that connect us. It is the story of aging Baby Boomers, of the rare kinds of people who paddle alone into the wilderness, and of the kind of adventure that comes only to the bold and the brave.”

Quetico Provincial Park: is a large wilderness park in Northwest Ontario Canada, known for its excellent canoeing and fishing. This 1,180,000-acre park shares its southern border with Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness which is part of the larger Superior National Forest These large wilderness parks are often collectively referred to as the Boundary Waters or the Quetico Superior Country

Derecho Storm: A derecho is a widespread, long-lived, straight-line wind storm that is associated with a land-based, fast-moving group of severe thunderstorms. Derechos can cause hurricane-force winds, tornadoes, heavy rains, and flash floods.

My thoughts: I absolutely loved this book and I didn’t want it to end. Kirk Landers writing is wonderful, energetic and exciting. Yes, this book is about canoeing and wilderness. Two things I am passionate about but isn’t that why we read? If you have an afternoon or two I highly suggest picking this up to read. Sorry no spoilers here! Except I never want to experience a derecho storm while on the water, it would be catastrophic..

Cheers….

Alone on the Shield by Kirk Landers.

Small Disaster at Oakley Corners

The dog and I woke early this morning traveling to Oakley Corners State Forest in Owego, NY under a thick blanket of fog. Undeterred our plan was to hike and have breakfast along the back side of the pond. The trail was still a bit muddy from the heavy rains this past Friday. Making our way under a canopy of trees and filtered sunlight the woods were alive with song as an owl hooted away in the distance while other birds provided the chorus.

The dog was in all his glory, kind of a dog Disneyland complete with a waterpark. We came upon the pond and immediately he went swimming, snorting and sniffing and loving life. I reached into my pack and pulled out my camp chair setting that up first. I wanted to use my new twig stove again but the leaves, pine needles and twigs were still damp. Poking around looking for my fire starters I realized I forgot to pack them. This wasn’t starting off well. I tried getting a fire going to no avail. It was just to wet and damp.

Disappointed I couldn’t use the new stove I did however remember to bring my Jetboil system as backup. Soon enough water was boiling and coffee was brewing. Now time to break out my new 8″ fry pan and cook our breakfast. This mornings delicacy would be salmon filet and bacon. I could see the dog licking his chops already. The Jetboil fry pan has folding handles and a plastic plate that clips to the bottom as well for easy storage. Glancing over at the dog I set the fry pan on the burner and all of a sudden smoke starts to billow from the pan. I was like what the heck! Then I noticed I set the pan on the burner but never removed the plate. Oh I was pissed to say the least and melted plastic was everywhere.

I was frustrated as the dog peered at me with the look of hurry up and get breakfast cooked, I’m hungry. I finally get the melted plastic cleaned up, pan back on the burner and warming. Reaching into my cooler pouch I pull out a bag with a Tbsp of butter and our season salmon filet. I open the bag and put the butter and fish in the pan. The butter goes sliding right out of the pan and onto the ground. A quick thinking dog snatches the butter. I couldn’t help but chuckle. I mean what else might go wrong!

Finally the fish and bacon were cooking and the dog kept inching closer with those please feed me eyes glaring at me. I sipped my coffee as the aroma of breakfast waft through the air. After we ate my fury compadre felt he needed another swim. Packing our stuff up and doggie finished with his swim we were back on the trail. It was about another mile or so back to the car and we were on our way home. Windows down and a wet dog hanging his head high!

Despite my little mishaps I had a really fun morning just being outside., cheers!

Along the trail at Oakley Corners State Forest Owego, NY August 5th 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Pond at Oakley Corners State Forest August 5th 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Wet dog at Oakley Corners State Forest in Owego, NY August 5th 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Melted and ruined plate from my Jetboil fry pan August 5th 2018. © Joe Geronimo

A Kodachrome Evening

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.

Max & Michael Greenwood, ME August 2009. Kodachrome 64, © Joe Geronimo.