My Thoughts: “Upwards” The Story of the First Woman to Solo Thru-Paddle the 740 Mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail

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!

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My Thoughts: Book Review “A Journey through New England history, Paddling the Northern Forest Canoe Trail

image.jpgI’m not a voracious reader like my wife but I do enjoy the occasional book from time to time. I just finished reading Paddling the Northern Forest Canoe Trail “A journey through New England history” by Sam Brakeley.

Sam and his close friend Andy set out on the 740 mile adventure in 2009 taking 39 days for them to complete. As you may or may not know I have a passion for the NFCT myself. Although I have only paddled small pieces of it.

This book captured my sense of adventure and my passion for the outdoors. I really enjoyed reading about Sam and Andy’s interactions with others along the trail, just as much as their trials and tribulations.  The Dead River section in Maine did not sound like fun to me, that is just me. One Aspect of this book that caught my anttention was the hospitality, generosity and kindness of strangers and town folk showed all through their journey.  Whether I’m out paddling, hiking or running I always relish people I meet or even friendships that blossom from those meetings.

All in all I really enjoyed this book and as Sam and Andy approached Fort Kent, ME ending their adventure, my adventure ended as well.

Cheers

 

 

 

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

Tranquility in Vermont

Recently I was in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont near Island Pond exploring the Silvio O. Conte Wildlife Refuge with my two sons and friend. As always we were on the hunt for moose. I must have had my moose kryptonite on me this time because we didn’t see any moose. However we saw all sorts of fascinating birds.

If you know me or have read my many posts you won’t be surprised when I say “I have a major affection for the Northern Forest Canoe Trail”. In all honestly I have only paddled small portions of this beautiful flowing highway system spanning 740 miles from Old Forge, NY meandering into Canada and finally terminating in Fort Kent, ME. The Silvio O. Conte Wildlife Refuge sits in the Nulhegan river basin, wait for it, which is part of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail.

As we exited the refuge the Nulhegan river was so calm and peaceful but just 100 yards away it’s rapids roared. Slamming on the brakes and testing the seat belts of the cars other occupants I leaped out to capture its serenity.

Cheers!

Exiting the Silvio O. Conte Wildlife Refuge near Island Pond, VT June 17th 2017. © Joe Geronimo
The Nulhegan river in all her tranquility. However just 100 yards away the rapids roared. Island Pond, VT July 17th 2017 © Joe Geronimo

Autumn Adirondack Adventure

October 5th:

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.

October 6th:

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!

Cheers!

Please take a moment to visit David Patterson: http://davidpattersonartist.com

http://vanaukensinne.com

 

While chatting with David Patterson this plane had just landed on 6th Lake. October 5th 2016 Inlet, NY. Image © Joe Geronimo
While chatting with David Patterson this plane had just landed on 6th Lake. October 5th 2016 Inlet, NY. Image © Joe Geronimo
Late afternoon on 4th Lake. October 5th 2016 Inlet, NY Image © Joe Geronimo
Late afternoon on 4th Lake. October 5th 2016 Inlet, NY Image © Joe Geronimo
Sunset Old Forge Pond, Old Forge NY October 5th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo
Sunset Old Forge Pond, Old Forge NY October 5th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo
Beginning my journey on 6th Lake. Inlet, NY October 6th 2016 Image © Joe Geronimo
Beginning my journey on 6th Lake. Inlet, NY October 6th 2016 Image © Joe Geronimo
Making my way along 6th Lake. Inlet, NY October 6th 2016 Image © Joe Geronimo
Making my way along 6th Lake. Inlet, NY October 6th 2016 Image © Joe Geronimo
Payne's Air Service 7th Lake. Inlet, NY October 6th 2016 Image © Joe Geronimo
Payne’s Air Service 7th Lake. Inlet, NY October 6th 2016 Image © Joe Geronimo
Payne's Air Service taking off on 7th Lake. Inlet, NY October 6th 2016 Image © Joe Geronimo
Payne’s Air Service taking off on 7th Lake. Inlet, NY October 6th 2016 Image © Joe Geronimo
Calm waters and fall color on 7th Lake. Inlet, NY October 6th 2016 Image © Joe Geronimo
Calm waters and fall color on 7th Lake. Inlet, NY October 6th 2016 Image © Joe Geronimo
"Taking a break" on 7th Lake. Inlet, NY October 6th 2016 Image © Joe Geronimo
“Taking a break” on 7th Lake. Inlet, NY October 6th 2016 Image © Joe Geronimo

screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-9-25-31-am

Autumn in the Air

Cool and crisp as an Autumn morning should be. This morning my cars thermometer read 38 degrees as I drove the backroads to Nanticoke lake. Arriving under a blanket of fog and now 35 degree temperatures it was time to unload my canoe and hit the water. My friend Don from Ithaca who I met last summer while paddling another area lake was joining me as well on this small hidden gem near Center Lisle. The fog seemed to roll across the lake as a slight wind kept the water from being glass like. Right before the 0659 sunrise the Canadian Navy (Canadian Geese) were doing maneuvers as well as the local beavers. One beaver in particular wasn’t too fond of me being close to his lodge and thought it would be fun to try and splash me with a few “THWACKS” of his tail, he was unsuccessful! I did however slowly back away to witness the three of them playing and pushing one another around for a short while.

The sun had finally broke over the tree tops creating pockets of beautiful color along the shoreline. The color is definitely beginning to show here and it made for a nice backdrop for a beautiful setting.

At 46 acres with a maximum depth of 20 feet, sitting at 1,400 feet of elevation, Nanticoke lake was originally constructed in the 1970’s with the intention of establishing a wild, self sustaining brook trout fishery similar to those found in the Adirondacks. Unfortunately, due to low dissolved oxygen levels in the summer months, brook trout survival was extremely limited.

Notes: From the parking area to the lake is a 1/4 mile carry on a well maintained trail. Having a 17lb canoe made this extremely easy, however Don used a set of canoe wheels to wheel in his canoe into the lake.

Early morning on Nanticoke lake September 28th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo.
Early morning on Nanticoke lake September 28th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo.
Don Welch taking in the Autumn beauty on Nanticoke lake September 28th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo.
Don Welch taking in the Autumn beauty on Nanticoke lake September 28th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo.
Blue Heron on Nanticoke lake September 28th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo.
Blue Heron on Nanticoke lake September 28th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo.