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
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My Thoughts: “The Boys of Winter”

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.

Cheers!

 

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

The Start of my Day

It has been well over a year since I’ve graced the waters of Long Pond in Smithville Flats, NY. I had planned to go there early this morning to canoe, catch the sunrise and have some breakfast. But my overall motivation was to try my new “Twig Stove” made by Solo Stove. The Solo Stove “Lite” stands 5.7″ tall by 4.25″ wide and weighs in at 9 ounces. I also purchased the Pot 900 with it as well.

Driving north along route 12 I encountered pockets of fog and had wondered if Long Pond would be shrouded in mist as well. Fortunately it was not and there was just a light rolling fog hovering over the waters surface. The landscape was quiet except for a few bird songs and a playful beaver. Out on the water watching as the sun turned the sky into a painter’s palette of color. Soon a fisherman with an electric trolling motor glided past and a restless camper had awaken and stepped to the shoreline to greet me. Slowly I continued paddling along the quiet waters making my way back as I was craving some coffee and breakfast.

With the recent rains everything on the ground was still damp making starting the fire in my stove extremely difficult. I had to improvise and all those coffee receipts stuffed into my glovebox came in real handy. Finally a fire was born and I fed it a healthy diet of small twigs and bark and soon enough I had boiling water. This mornings food of choice would be Good To-Go oatmeal, it was different than your traditional oatmeal as I enjoyed the sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds it had in it along with the rolled oats.

I sat by the waters edge enjoying the morning before cleaning up and heading home.

Cheers!

Sunrise on Long Pond Smithville Flats, NY July 29th 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Finally a fire is warming my new Solo Stove Lite. Long Pond Smithville Flats, NY July 29th 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Water is boiling in my Pot 900 along the shore of Long Pond Smithville Flats, NY July 29th 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Enjoying my morning along the shore of Long Pond Smithville Flats, NY July 29th 2018. © Joe Geronimo

A Beacon of Light

This past weekend Julie, the boys and I made a quick overnight trip to Long Island to visit family. Every time I visit which isn’t all that much I am quickly reminded as to why I left, the traffic is disgusting. However there is one bright beacon of light we do enjoy, Fire Island Lighthouse and National Seashore.

Cruising the Ocean Parkway is another favorite of ours. It is several miles out of our way but surely makes up for it in beauty and lack of heavy traffic. Pulling into parking field #5 before arriving at my sister’s home we found it surprisingly uncrowded for a Saturday. It was quite windy along the shore making it feel as if we were in a sand blaster. Undeterred we hiked around for about an hour or so taking in the sights, sounds and smell of the ocean, we had a wonderful time. Next visit we hope to alot more time in order to hike to Kismet, Saltaire and Fair Harbor.

Cheers!

Julie & I at Fire Island Light and National Seashore July 21st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
A beacon of light, Fire Island Light stands proud along the Atlantic Ocean July 21st 2018. © Joe Geronimo

Pops on the River

After a 25 year absence “Pops on the River” returned last evening to Binghamton, NY. You couldn’t have asked for better weather in order to celebrate a triumphant return. With low humidity, temperatures around 78 degrees under cloudless skies.

I have been living in Binghamton for 24 years and have not had the opportunity to witness this event. To be honest I was 23 when I moved here with my interests more in beer, women and Rock N’ Roll. So I probably wouldn’t have went anyway. Times and tastes change a bit. Don’t get me wrong I still love Rock N’ Roll!! When I heard “Pops on the River” was returning I was extremely excited and could not wait to attend. I had seen pictures, read stories from years past of crowds approaching 50,000. Last nights event didn’t come close to that number but I would say several thousand lined the riverwalk, the Court Street bridge and rooftops. However the images of past did show a very large crowd on the water in all sorts of watercraft.

My wife, son Max and I decided to paddle our kayaks and canoe a short distance down the Chenango river to take in the show from the water. Arriving at the launch there were about a dozen or so cars parked who had the same idea as us. The current was mild which made for a real nice paddle and we were setup right before showtime which was 8PM.

There were many kayaks, canoes and homemade watercraft as well. There was even a pirate ship. However the custom float complete with drunk guys right next to us the entire evening were very entertaining. They were fixated on pillaging a later from that pirate ship I mentioned. During the Binghamton Philharmonic’s final score of “Pirates of the Caribbean” one jumped in the water and swam over to try and acquire a lantern. It didn’t go so well, but again was extremely entertaining. As a matter of fact one of those  drunk guys tried to help my son Max get his kayak unstuck from a rock once we were leaving, only to flip him over. It was hysterical!

The music was wonderful. My wife and I enjoyed it very much and Max I know he enjoyed it because he plays in his high school band and loves the music as well.

The evening was capped off with an amazing fireworks show and sitting in the river we had front row seats. Hopefully Pops on the River will return again in 2019!

The firework show was 10 minutes long and spectacular so please watch the video, cheers!

Max, Julie & I paddling down the Chenango river to “Pops on the River” Binghamton, NY July 19th 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Enjoying the music of the Binghamton Philharmonic during “Pops on the River” Binghamton, NY July 19th 2018. © Joe Geronimo
Max paddling around before the start of “Pops on the River” Binghamton, NY July 19th 2018> © Joe Geronimo
Enjoying an evening listening to the Binghamton Philharmonic during “Pops on the River” Binghamton, NY July 19th 2018. ©Joe Geronimo

Raquette Falls: NFCT Waterway Work Trip

In 2011 I was searching “The Google” and discovered the Northern Forest Canoe Trail and immediately I was enamored. I spent several days reading about the organization and decided to become a member. Seriously what could be better, a 740 mile waterway strung through the Adirondacks of New York and northern New England with a small portion reaching over our border to the north. It was intriguing and even a bit intimidating. Miles of rivers, lakes, streams & ponds. Flat water, whitewater, portages, oh my!

As my interest grew I noticed the NFCT had what they called “Waterway Work Trips” scattered over the trail. Usually about 6 every summer and they would use staff, interns and volunteers to work and improve the trail. I was hooked! Sadly over the course of the past several years my schedule and their schedules never seemed to workout. However this year the stars would align under clear skies and I was able to register and volunteer. July 6th, 7th & 8th I ventured along with four other volunteers to the 1.25 mile Raquette Falls canoe carry along the Raquette river near Tupper Lake, NY.

July 6th: We would meet our staff and interns at the Axton Landing boat launch at 3PM, load our canoes with our camping gear and paddle 6 miles upstream to Raquette Falls. Here New York State DEC Ranger and Raquette Falls “Outpost” caretaker Gary Valentine would be waiting to greet us. Our campsite was nestled beneath far reaching pines that towered towards the sky. Once set up Gary met with us to go over some rules and safety precautions. NFCT Staff and Interns had been on site since the previous Friday. Dinner this evening would be some sort of chicken stew that was absolutely delicious, followed by an attempt at blueberry cobbler in a dutch oven set into the coals of our camp fire. To be honest I think it turned out great.

July 7th: I made the mistake of packing in 100 degree weather in an air conditioned house. I would find myself unprepared for Friday night. During the night the temperature dropped to 41 degrees under clear skies. I would find myself very cold and had a bad nights sleep. I woke about 5AM, tossed and turned in my tent for a bit and then headed to Gary’s cabin for coffee. Two other volunteers soon arrived and we chatted for a while before breakfast. I had mentioned my unpreparedness and Gary quickly offered me an additional sleeping bag, problem solved.

After breakfast we would hit the trail to finish up work that had already been started earlier in the week. We would be working on the “Vista” trail. Paddlers usually make two trips over the canoe carry. Carrying gear and then returning for their boat. The “Vista trail is a narrow muddy trail that parallels the Upper & Lower Raquette Falls. These sets of falls and rapids span just over a mile. Often paddlers will take the Vista trail on their return. We would assist in finishing a stone stair case, wooden steps and several bog bridges. We would brush several spots and define the trail even more. There are many more improvements that will be made over the coming seasons. There will even be a reroute towards the Upper Falls end of the trail. Although it wasn’t as hot and muggy as earlier in the week the mosquitos and deer flies were out in force. We would go through bug spray like Motely Crue used Aqua-Net…

Later that afternoon after we finished work for the day it was time to hit the cool waters of the Raquette river before dinner. This evenings meal would be burritos and smores for dessert. Later on we all would wander to Gary’s cabin and sit on his screen porch. We talked, told stories and listen to Gary’s record collection. By 10PM I was tired and made my way back to my tent and settled in for the night and I slept like a baby.

July 8th: Back to Gary’s for coffee and then breakfast. Afterwards we would be back on the trail doing the final touches on our work. We were back by noon to break camp and have lunch. After lunch I would load my canoe and make the 6 mile paddle back to Axton Landing. Once I had my car loaded it was time to make the 5 hour journey back home.

This experience was wonderful and exceeded my expectations, and I enjoyed every minute of it. The group of staff, interns and volunteers worked hard and extremely well together making the work flow smoothly. I hope to volunteer next year on another NFCT “Waterway Work Trip”.

Cheers!

Paddling upstream along the Raquette river passing Stoney Creek. © Joe Geronimo
Paddling upstream along the Raquette river at the Palmer Brook Lean-To. © Joe Geronimo
Paddling upstream along the Raquette river heading for Raquette Falls. © Joe Geronimo
We’ve arrived at Raquette Falls. © Joe Geronimo
Making blueberry Cobbler at Camp. © Joe Geronimo
Morning Coffee. © Joe Geronimo
New York State DEC Raquette Falls “Outpost”. © Joe Geronimo
Work along a stone staircase on the “Vista” trail Raquette Falls. © Joe Geronimo
Putting the finishing touches on a wooden staircase along the “Vista” trail at Raquette Falls. © Joe Geronimo
Lunch break at the upper falls of the Raquette river. © Joe Geronimo
NFCT staff & interns taking in the beauty of the upper falls Raquette river. © Joe Geronimo
The air temperature was very cold and the warmth of the water flowing over the lower falls of the Raquette river made for a foggy morning. © Joe Geronimo
The sun is burning off the remaining fog along the Raquette river. © Joe Geronimo
Our final night at camp and we’re making Smores. © Joe Geronimo
Hanging by the fire on our final night at camp. © Joe Geronimo
Paddling downstream along the Raquette river headed for Axton Landing. © Joe Geronimo