On February 22, 1980 I was just 8 years old and beginning a love of hockey. Our family moved into our brand new home on the same day along the north shore of Long Island. It was a bitter cold day. All I remember of the “Miracle on Ice” was the newspaper cover I saw the next morning and as an 8 year old I didn’t realize the impact it had on America. Four months later Ken Morrow and my beloved New York Islanders would win the first of four Stanley Cups.
A vast majority of the players on this team would hail from Minnesota and I find it kind of ironic that in the 1980’s I was not only an Islander fan but a North Stars fan as well. I wore my sweater’s proudly and even came home periodically from street hockey with blood on them. I was devastated when the Stars moved to Dallas and shortly thereafter my love for them had waned.
On Saturday August 18th Julie and I were in Lake Placid for the weekend and had wondered into “Bookstore Plus” along Main Street. We purchased several books this day with “The Boys of Winter” being one of them. I am fascinated with the in depth stories of these players, along with their individual successes and heartaches. All this sewn into the three period account of February 22nd 1980 as history played out in a small Adirondack village along the shores of Mirror Lake against an overwhelming Soviet Union team. I felt my Patriotism swell.
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.
When I heard in the Spring of 2016 that New York State acquired the 20,758 acre Boreas Ponds Tract from the Nature Conservancy which subsequently was purchased from the Finch, Pruyn Paper Company I had all I could do to contain myself. This 320 acre beauty is bordered by the North River Mountain Range to the west, the Boreas Mountain Range to the east and the High Peaks Wilderness to the north. I have been chomping at the bit since to make this journey and canoe this remote piece of heaven.
I car camped Friday night along Blue Ridge Road in the town of North Hudson, NY about 6 miles east of the access road to the ponds. Early Saturday morning I woke to 38 degree temps as I made my way to the parking lot which is 3.5 miles down a dirt road, a rather bumpy dirt road I might add. When I arrived it was a mere 30 degrees, looking around I noticed there were four other cars in the lot as well. The sun had just begun to rise, as I stepped out of the car I could feel that brisk chill take a hold of me. I quickly added another top layer and began to load my canoe and gear for the additional 3.6 mile hike to the Boreas Ponds. Canoe strapped to the canoe cart as I slid under the barrier to the DEC register box. All signed in and off I went. I quickly experience technical difficulties with the canoe cart due to my inexperience in lashing the canoe to it. The trail in is quite boring and lacks scenery until you get closer to your destination. I covered the 3.6 miles in 1:18:20 hauling about 30 pounds of canoe and gear. Upon arriving I was in awe of the view that I didn’t notice a guy and his dog sitting along the waters edge. I was startled by Shelby a yellow lab barking at me, we quickly made friends. I chatted for a few minutes with the gentleman and he told me that they had hiked in yesterday and were camping close by. Unpacking my gear I caught a glimpse of two people in a green canoe fishing off in the distance.
Getting my act together out on the water I went. The magnitude of peacefulness was awe-inspiring. Paddling across First Pond the whisper of my paddle entering and exiting the water complimented boreal birds who were singing along the shoreline. Soon enough the call of Loons shattered the stillness with their own chorus echoing off the mountains. I decided to pay a visit to the two men in that green canoe. We made small talk but I learned that they had only caught 1 trout, they were from Lake Luzerne and their wives were hiking in to camp that evening.
I spent around 2 hours exploring this magnificent resource before heading back to shore. Canoe and gear reloaded and properly secured it was time for my 3.6 mile hike back to the car. Along the trail I passed quite a few hikers, bikers and canoers all on their way to enjoy the wonders of the Adirondacks. I covered the return distance in 1:01:53 and had my gear loaded back onto and into my car. Now it was coffee O’Clock, so out came the Jetboil and in about 2 minutes I had a very nice hot cup of Joe. I sat on a large rock and drank in this experience, one I had been dreaming about for over a year. It was everything I had thought it would be.
It does not take much to persuade me to visit the Adirondacks and I had been getting the urge to kayak another small portion of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. I had been stalking the weather and foliage report for days now and according to the information I could find foliage was close to peak conditions near Old Forge. On Wednesday morning I packed up and headed north.
I rolled into Old Forge around 12:30 making my first stop at Walt’s Diner for lunch. After lunch I headed about 10 miles north to 6th Lake in Inlet, NY so I could check the launch site for the next morning. Arriving I found a gentleman sitting on a bench attempting to catch some fish, he looked familiar to me so I approached and asked “Are you David Patterson”? Turning his head replying “Yes I am”. David is a extremely talented local photographer who I have only had contact with online. It was a real pleasure to meet him in person and chat for a bit.
My goal for this trip was to kayak 6th and 7th lake in my ongoing attempt to paddle as much of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail as I can in my lifetime. I have studied the maps and in my opinion there is not the “Perfect” boat for every section of this trail. So I thought to myself heck if I do it in pieces I can use a multitude of boats depending on where I am paddling, sounds logical, right!
Returning to Old Forge I checked into my motel and went right down to Old Forge Pond to witness sunset. It truly was a beautiful evening with the crisp autumn air, setting sun and a sky that was dotted with puffy white clouds. For dinner I found myself at Stetson’s Bar in the VanAuken’s Inne across from the Thendera train station. This was a great place to kick back with some good food and a cold beer after a long day.
The morning was blanketed in a heavy fog so I decided to put off my kayaking for a little while giving the sun time to burn a lot of it off. Stepping out of my car at the 6th lake boat launch an immediate aroma of burning wood was tantalizing my senses, signaling that fall was truly here. Gazing out over the placid waters of 6th lake, I quietly pushed myself off under a palette of beautiful reds, yellows and oranges quickly noticing that I was the sole paddler that morning. A single Loon shortly passed me by and its call echoed off the mountain sides shattering the silence. Just over a mile in length 6th lake passes under 7th Lake Road and into the significantly larger 7th lake. My first order of business was to make my way towards the Payne’s Air Service dock so I could watch the intriguing frequency of float planes taking off and landing. This was extremely fun and I’m already planning ahead for next Autumn and taking a ride myself.
Hugging the shoreline, admiring all the beautiful homes dotted along the lakes edge I again found myself being the only one on the lake. As I approached the east end I could hear a motor boat in the distance and the planes taking off and landing but not one other canoe or kayak was on the water. At this point I was getting hungry and noticed a sandy beach on an island with a picnic table and thought that would be a perfect spot to take a break on my way back. Shortly after I arrived at the New York State 8th Lake campground and discovered there were quite a bit of campers getting ready for their final hurrah during the upcoming Columbus Day weekend. In order to get to 8th Lake you would have to carry your canoe or kayak through the campground approximately 1.5 miles. I decided not to do this as my kayak is a bit heavy and I didn’t have canoe/kayak wheels with me so I’ll save that for another day.
I did stop and take a break at that sandy beach and was able to absorb the shear beauty of the scenery that surrounded me. While I was there a couple arrived in their boat with two dogs. They told me they come here all the time as a place to relax and let the dogs run and swim. I was back in my kayak and the wind had begun to pick up a bit creating little chop on the lake. I was excited because this would be my first time experiencing this in my new to me kayak. I love this kayak and it performed exceptionally well. The wind would play games for a while by settling down and then it would pick up again making this a recurring theme for the rest of my time on 7th Lake.
Once I was back on the somewhat sheltered 6th Lake the waters became calm and glass like again. Getting off the water and loading my boat back onto my car I sat on that same bench I had mentioned earlier, took a few moments in order to reflect on my journey and the shear beauty of it all. The colors were amazing, the scenery spectacular and the time spent in a place I love, Priceless!
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Each print cost is $45.00 which includes shipping within the continental United States. Outside the United States there will be an additional cost dependent on where you are. Please contact me for shipping information if you are outside the USA.
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As George the cranky steam roller from the Thomas the Tank Engine series says “Tear them up and turn them into roads” but in this case trails. I’ll be honest, I agree with this plan. I work in the rail industry, however I enjoy the outdoors. The original plan was to remove the rails from Big Moose to Lake Placid. Now the rails will only be removed from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake a distance of 35 miles rather than about sixty or so.
I believe that if the rails were to stay and the entire line be restored to active service it would boom until the nostalgia wore off. Who knows maybe I am wrong? I do believe a rail trail will draw more visitors than the railroad. Right now in America the “Rail Trail” boom is booming and they continue to grow in popularity. I guess only time will tell if this was the right decision.
Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced approval of a controversial plan to remove state-owned railroad tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake to create a 34-mile multi-use trail. In addition, the state is committed to restoring 45 miles of tracks between Big Moose and Tupper Lake.
The governor’s announcement is a victory for Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates (ARTA) and a defeat for the Adirondack Scenic Railroad (ASR), which operates a tourist train on a 10-mile stretch of tracks that will be removed. Later in the day, ASR revealed that it recently filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court seeking to save the tracks.
ARTA President Joe Mercurio, who lives in Saranac Lake, said he was thrilled by the governor’s announcement. “ARTA and a great many others have worked long and hard for this,” he said. “Governor Cuomo deserves a huge round of applause for his support. It was the right thing to do.”
The trail would be used by bicyclists, hikers, and others most of the year and by snowmobilers in the winter.
In a news release Tuesday afternoon, the governor’s office said the trail will be finished within three years, at a cost of $8 million. The line south of Tupper Lake will be rehabilitated within the same period, at a cost of $15 million.
“By rehabilitating the railway and building a scenic trail, we are better utilizing the corridor and its surrounding lands to create more economic and recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike,” Cuomo said.
One argument for removing the tracks was that the ASR train that runs between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid does little for the local economy. ARTA and many local officials contend that a recreational trail will attract more tourists.
If the tracks are removed, ASR will have to shut down the Lake Placid train. Also, Rail Explorers USA, a rail-bike operation that started last year in Saranac Lake, will have to relocate.
ASR will still be able to run trains out of Old Forge and eventually extend its excursions all the way to Tupper Lake. The Old Forge train is seen as more successful than the Lake Plaid train.
However, it’s not certain ASR will continue to be the rail operator in the corridor. The state plans to solicit bids for a rail operator.
The entire state-owned rail corridor extends 119 miles from Remsen to Lake Placid and is managed by the state Department of Transportation. The updated management plan for the corridor was drafted by DOT and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which will oversee the construction and maintenance of the recreational trail.
DEC officials said Tuesday that track removal could begin as early as December or, if not then, in the spring. ASR and Rail Explorers can continue to operate on the tracks through November.
Supporters of the railroad have argued, among other things, that removing the tracks would violate the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. They also point out that the corridor and the tracks are on the state and national registers of historic places.
In February, after the Adirondack Park Agency approved the rail-trail plan, ASR started a campaign to raise $100,000 for a legal fight. As of late March, it said it had raised about $40,000.
Bill Branson, president of the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society, which operates ASR, said in a news release late Tuesday afternoon that the railroad recently filed a lawsuit against DEC and the APA. “We are an important driver of tourism in the Adirondacks, and we cannot understand why DEC is determined to destroy vital transportation infrastructure and the only operator on that infrastructure,” he said.
Steve Engelhart of Adirondack Architectural Heritage also criticized the decision. “We are disappointed by the governor’s announcement, as we feel that the railroad advocates made a strong case for the preservation of the entire 119-mile rail corridor for its economic, social, and cultural value,” Engelhart said. “In addition to destroying a significant section of this National Register-listed historic resource, this decision will shut down a successful local business, Adirondack Rail Explorers, and eliminate the northern operations of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, a popular attraction for area visitors with thousands of riders every year.”
In addition to building a rail trail and fixing up old tracks, the state intends to:
Build snowmobile trails near the corridor to connect Tupper Lake and Old Forge and improve snowmobile connections between the Adirondacks and Tug Hill.
Evaluate the feasibility of a hut-to-hut cross-country ski trail from Beaver River to Horseshoe Lake.
Establish railway stops for visitors and outdoor recreationists.
Consult with the State Historic Preservation Office to mitigate the impacts of removing the rails.