Sargent Ponds Wild Forest

On July 1st I woke early with my car already packed I was rolling north under a rising sun. Windows down and the cool morning air gave me a bit of a chill. The sun slowly creeped higher along with my cars thermometer. I arrived in Old Forge for breakfast at 0800, sitting myself down at the counter of Walt’s Diner.

After breakfast I still had another 50 miles to go in order to reach the Sargent Ponds Wild Forest and the trailhead for Upper Sargent Pond. Here I would meet my friend Gary Sharp from Schenectady and we would carry our canoes 1.25 miles into the pond. Upper Sargent Pond is relatively big and the information I can find says it is 131 acres. I personally find it hard to believe as I think it is much larger.

All signed in at the register we’re off. Immediately a rag tag gang of black flies, deer flies and who knows what else began to chase us. Up, down, over, hot, humid with a touch of mud thrown in for good measure, Gary and I would slug it out with Mother Nature. It would take us 32 minutes to reach the shore of the pond and our band of outlaws had given up. Upon laying my eyes on this remote Adirondack wilderness, I was in awes. The pond was beautiful, the water like glass.

Gary and I would take a few minutes to organize our things, change our shoes and set off for a day of canoeing. Only after a few minutes of being on the water Gary had a line in and almost immediately reeled in a beautiful large mouth bass. Suddenly a Loon popped up right next to us, quickly diving back under the water only to reemerge again close by, our escort would stay with us for a while. As I approached a small island I realized why Mr. Loon had been so interested in us. Mrs. Loon was tending to her nest and eggs. We made sure to give her plenty of space.

Paddling and chatting Gary had mentioned that there were several campsites scattered around that had canoes stashed there as well. We came upon another island this one with a campsite and canoes. We beached and got out to explore. The site was on a hill in the center and I climbed to the top. Peering down I noticed one of the canoes was stenciled “Payne’s”. It immediately struck me “Payne’s Air Service”. on Seventh lake in Inlet. Payne’s flies customers into this remote pond for camping and fishing. I had hoped to see a float plane land on the upper pond.

With my new discovery fresh in my head Gary and I moved into another portion of the pond and all you could hear were the birds chirping the day away and the plunking of Gary’s fishing lure breaking the placid water. Off in the distance I notice two other humans fishing out of a canoe. I said to Gary I bet you Payne’s flew them in here this morning. I was excited as I wanted to know when they would return to pick them up. So I paddled over toward them to start a conversation. I introduced myself to this couple and they were extremely friendly. I had asked if they had flown in for the day. They said they had flew in on Saturday and were camping until Thursday when the plane would return to pick them up. I was intrigued!

As the day wore on and the temperature reached close to 95 degrees it was beginning to be lunch time. Gary and I found another campsite along the shore where we thought it would be a perfect spot to eat, swim and test some gear. I was sporting a brand new life vest which was so comfortable plus I had a new dehydrated meal I wanted to try. Gary had a twig stove that he had wanted to use as well. I fired up my Jetboil, poured the boiling water in my Good To-Go “Smoked 3 Bean Chili”. While my meal rehydrated it was time for a quick swim to cool off, man did that feel good!

Gary and I sat and had lunch, chatted away and enjoyed a cold beer. After it was time for another quick swim before getting back in our boats. Continuing on there still was barely any breeze and the water was still placid and the mountains were quiet. All of a sudden we hear this thundering loud crashing noise and our minds begun to race. Did a moose just plunk its hot self down into the water to cool off? We turned our boats rapidly as the sound was behind us only to find the water still calm and no moose. We thought to ourselves what the heck was that, suddenly realizing we had just answered the age old question of “What sounds does a tree make when it falls”.

Shortly after our revelation we noticed two hikers had come to the pond to swim. We made our way over to chat with them as it was getting later in the afternoon and we would have to pack up and head back out on the trail. After talking with them for a bit it was time to head back into the woods. This time would be bug free!

Once back to our cars and all our gear reloaded it was time for a celebratory beer before Gary and I parted ways. On my way out I stopped at the popular and beautiful Buttermilk Falls along the Raquette river. From the parking area this is a very short walk and a great lunch stop as well. There are several picnic tables to sit and enjoy as there are many rocks as well.

Today was a 16 hour 433 mile amazing adventure in a beautiful area of the Adirondacks.

Beginning our journey as we signed into the Upper Sargent Pond trailhead July 1st 2018, © Joe Geronimo
Gary & I making our way along the Upper Sergant Pond trail Long Lake, NY July 1st 2018, © Joe Geronimo
Gary & I making our way along the Upper Sergant Pond trail Long Lake, NY July 1st 2018, © Joe Geronimo
Almost immediately of plunking his lure into the water Gary landed this beauty of a large mouth bass. Upper Sargent Pond Long Lake, NY July 1st 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
A beautiful summer day on Upper Sargent Pond Long Lake, NY July 1st 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Gary and I exploring Upper Sargent Pond Long Lake, NY July 1st 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
I just finished chatting with the couple who had flown in to camp and fish for several days on Upper Sargent Pond Long Lake, NY July 1st 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Gary paddles under stunning views of the Adirondack mountains on Upper Sargent Pond Long Lake, NY July 1st 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
It was time to cool off before lunch in Upper Sargent Pond Long Lake, NY July 1st 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Lunch time on Upper Sargent Pond Long Lake, NY July 1st 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Beer O’ Clock on Upper Sargent Pond Long Lake, NY July 1st 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
The end of our adventure on Upper Sargent Pond Long Lake, NY July 1st 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
The Raquette river is so peaceful. Shot from the canoe carry for Buttermilk Falls Long Lake, NY July 1st 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
The Raquette river spills over the beautiful Buttermilk Falls Long Lake, NY July 1st 2018, © Joe Geronimo.

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Day Tripping

Brown’s Tract Ponds:

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.

A little wind along Upper Pond near Raquette Lake NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Gretchen and I on Upper Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Kathy navigating over a small beaver damn along the connecting stream between Upper Pond & Brown’s Tract Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
It is Gretchen’s turn to get over one of those beaver damns June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
I’m entering Brown’s Tract Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Gretchen & Kathy chatting it up on Brown’s Tract Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Gretchen has just entered Brown’s Tract Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
One of the wooden ladders I spoke of in my post on Brown’s Tract Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Kathy & Gretchen on Brown’s Tract Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Finished with the Upper Pond & Brown’s Tract Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Coffee O’ Clock along Brown’s Tract Pond near Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, photo by Kathy Corey.

South Inlet:

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.

Cheers!!

Beginning my adventure on South Inlet in Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
a sizable beaver lodge along South Inlet in Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Approaching South Inlet falls in Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
South Inlet falls in Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Taking a break at South Inlet falls Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
Approaching the Route 28 overpass and the entrance to Raquette lake June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.
My time on South Inlet has come to an end hear in Raquette Lake, NY June 20th 2018, © Joe Geronimo.

Our Winter Landscape

This afternoon I was able to get out for a short hike with my fine fury friend. Ruff loves the cold weather and snow. Heck he’d just assume sit in a snow bank all day.

Under sunny skies, a 4 degree temperature and a wind making it feel sub zero we headed to Nanticoke lake for our little adventure. Once we arrived I noticed there was more snow out there than here at home. But a lot of it seemed to be drifting. We made our way to the lake and met two guys ice fishing. I asked if they knew how thick the ice was and they said about 10-12 inches. It felt weird walking on a lake that I routinely paddle. Ruff was in dog heaven! It was cold, there was snow, other humans and the sniffs were abundant.

Our winter landscape can be beautiful if not stunning, I was in my glory as well.

 

Cheers!

Ruff taking in all there is to sniff at Nanticoke lake January 7th 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Ice fishing on Nanticoke lake January 7th 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Ruff loving Nanticoke lake January 7th 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Ruff & I Nanticoke lake January 7th 2018. © Joe Geronimo

The Last Hurrah

Today I’m billing as the “Last Hurrah” for paddling in the Adirondacks until next year. I was fortunate enough to be able to meet three new friends who share my passion for the park.

We all met at 0930 this morning near Old Forge. Making our introductions, we were off to the put-in just south of Rondaxe lake. Gear unloaded we shuttled our cars to the take out returning shortly there after to begin our adventure. The upper middle branch of the Moose river twists like a snake but is a beautiful scenic and tranquil flat water paddle. There is quite a bit of “Blow Down” along this section adding that little extra to the day’s navigation.

The weather was pretty much perfect with some wind whipping us a round a little but we were mostly sheltered in the low lying river. Early on a flotilla of ducks kept a watchful eye on us making sure we weren’t sketchy characters. There were several sandy beaches along the way and we found a really large one to take a break and have some snacks.

Balsm could be smelt wafting through the air and if the large pines that stood guard along the river bank could talk I’m sure they would tell you that four new friends had a wonderful time.

Cheers,

Getting ready to launch, Moose river Old Forge, NY October 19th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Danielle Wright, Kathy Corey & Jan Fellenz Moose river Old Forge, NY October 19th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Danielle Wright Moose river Old Forge, NY October 19th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Our duck patrol has given us the ok to proceed along the Moose river Old Forge, NY October 19th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Kathy Corey & Jan Fellenz along the Moose river Old Forge, NY October 19th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Danielle Wright & Jan Fellenz along the Moose river Old Forge, NY October 19th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Taking a break along the Moose river Old Forge, NY October 19th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Kathy Corey along the Moose river Old Forge, NY October 19th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Danielle Wright takes in the tranquility of the Moose river Old Forge, NY October 19th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Jan Fellenz & Kathy Corey chatter as they enjoy the afternoon along the Moose river Old Forge, NY October 19th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Our adventure on the Moose river has come to an end at the North St. take out Old Forge, NY October 19th 2017. © Joe Geronimo

Paddling the Park

Have you ever had an adventure although small it just packs a punch? Or better yet fills your shoes with mud. Today was that day for me. I got out of work super early and rolled north to Inlet, NY.

First on my agenda would be Eighth lake adding yet another piece to my Northern Forest Canoe Trail puzzle. Today’s weather was wonderful with a light breeze rolling up the lake. I have now completed the first 20 miles of the NFCT from Old Forge, NY to Raquette Lake, NY and I am very excited. Except for one other person I had the lake to myself. I explored the primitive lean-to on the only island on Eighth lake and thought to myself that has to be a very popular camping spot during the summer. The crystal clear water and sandy shorelines make this a prime spot for swimming. You know my wheels or better yet paddles are turning for 2018.

My next adventure for the day would take me to the shores of Sis & Bubb lakes in Eagle Bay. Julie, myself and the boys were just here over the Columbus Day weekend as we hiked to the lakes from the Moss lake trailhead. While hiking I began to brainstorm about returning with canoe in hand hopefully before the weather turned.

Today I returned and here is where things get a bit muddy. First in order to get to the lakes I would have to carry my canoe in from the trailhead parking lot a half mile to Bubb lake. There were some sections along the trail that were muddy as I did my best to avoid what I could. I arrived first at Bubb lake and immediately noticed someone has stashed a canoe along the shore. I was able to easily get on the water exploring the 45 acre lake. There is a short portage from Bubb lake to Sis lake and I learned it is quite muddy. Before exiting my canoe I tested the density of the mud with my paddle. Hmm looks like only a few inches, no problem. Well when I stepped out of the boat my feet sank about a foot into the mud filling my shoes. Once I freed my feet they were extremely slippery making navigating the rocks difficult. I persevered and carried my canoe the 100 yards to Sis lake. I have to say this was my favorite of the two. Even though Sis lake is smaller there was something about it that just intrigued me. Maybe it was the pattern of the rocks that dotted its shoreline, the tall pines reaching for the sky, or the crystal clear shallow water? No matter it was my favorite. Hugging the shoreline and trying to stay away from the wind I was hoping in the back of my mind that I might see an Adirondack moose.

Once off the water I packed up and would have to carry back to my car 1.2 miles. I signed out at the trail register loaded up my gear and headed straight to the Sreamin Eagle in Inlet, NY for a beer. With 50 beers on tap it was a tough choice. However I went with the Alchemist “Focal Banger” albeit in a can… This would be my first time trying this brew and I’ll have to admit it was pretty darn good.

Cheers!

Starting out on 8th lake Inlet, NY October 18th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Along the north end of 8th lake Inlet, NY October 18th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Straight ahead starts the 1.3 mile carry to Browns Tract Inlet along the Northern Forest Canoe Trail Inlet, NY October 18th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Making my way back south along 8th lake Inlet, NY October 18th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Just finished up paddling 8th lake Inlet, NY October 18th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
The wind calms down a bit along 8th lake Inlet, NY October 18th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Beginning my adventure to Sis & Bubb lake Eagle Bay, NY October 18th 2017. © Joe Geroimo
Along the trail to Sis & Bubb lake Eagle Bay, NY October 18th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Bubb lake Eagle Bay, NY October 18th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Bubb lake Eagle Bay, NY October 18th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Sis lake Eagle Bay, NY October 18th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Sis lake Eagle Bay, NY October 18th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Sis lake Eagle Bay, NY October 18th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Sis lake Eagle Bay, NY October 18th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Finished with the days adventure I am all signed out at the trailhead register Eagle Bay, NY October 18th 2017. © Joe Geronimo

 

I closed my day with this beautiful sunset along Fourth lake Inlet, NY October 18th 2017. © Joe Geronimo

New England Rendezvous

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!

See you in Old Forge….

Our morning begins in West Newbury, VT. © Joe Geronimo
On top of Cannon Mountain Franconia Notch State Park, NH. © Joe Geronimo
Cannon Mountain tram arriving the summit Franconia Notch State Park, NH. © Joe Geronimo
Cannon Mountain tram Franconia Notch State Park, NH. © Joe Geronimo
Echo lake view from the Cannon Mountain tram, Franconia Notch State Park, NH. © Joe Geronimo
The Basin Franconia Notch State Park, NH. © Joe Geronimo
Forest fire White Mountain National Forest N. Woodstock, NH © Joe Geronimo

Forest fire White Mountain National Forest N. Woodstock, NH © Joe Geronimo
Forest fire White Mountain National Forest N. Woodstock, NH © Joe Geronimo