Canoe Camping

Over the past month we’ve had some really beautiful weather along with a few real scorchers thrown in. Back in mid June I had the opportunity to go canoe camping in one of my favorite places in the Adirondacks with my friends Gary and Amy.

Amy had gotten there on Thursday in order to secure a campsite. With the State Campgrounds shutdown the back country sites were filling up fast. She was able to get one of the last two sites on Follensby Clear Pond. Gary arrived early Friday morning and I got to the launch around 12:30 that afternoon.

I’ve read the stories, seen the pictures and dreamed of one day being here myself. My canoe loaded with the hope I didn’t forget anything, the register signed, my map spread out I was off on my 1.75 mile journey to our campsite at the northern end of Follensby.

Once at camp I set up so I would not have to do it in the dark later. Afterwards the three of us did a short paddle and carry over to Green Pond paddling under marshmallow skies above reflecting in crystal clear green waters below.

Back at our campsite and dinner cooking I was really eyeing Amy’s solo canoe. Most of my experience has been with kayaks and pack canoes. So as the fire in the sky flickered I asked Amy if I could take her canoe for a test drive. Amy paddles a 16′ 6″ Wenonah Prism ultra light kevlar that weighs 32#’s. From the first strokes of my paddle I fell In love with it. (I plan on adding this or something similar to my collection come fall)

Later that evening as we sat around the campfire the loons were pretty much at it all night. I retired to my tent around 12:30AM and was woken around 3:30AM just as a chorus of owls had joined the loons, their voices echoing through the stillness. Thankfully I was able to fall back asleep finally stirring around 7:00AM.

Gary was awake and boiling water for his coffee. I walked down to the lake scooped some water fired up my Jetboil and a few minutes later I was relaxing with a hot cup of Joe myself. Not too long after Amy would emerge from her tent as well.

Today’s plan would have us paddling a loop from Follensby Clear Pond to Horseshoe Pond, Little Polliwog Pond, Polliwog Pond and back to Follensby. This would be a very nice relaxing 7.15 mile adventure according to my GPS. We got back to our campsite shortly before a thunderstorm rolled through. Once the stormed blew over we had a wonderful evening again by the fire.

My original plan was to paddle out of camp on Monday morning and make the long drive home then. But it was Sunday morning (Father’s Day) and I was missing my boys. I decided to break camp, paddle out that morning and get home to have dinner as a family and hang with my sons, I made the right decision. Amy and Gary did the same as well.

This was a fun adventure with some great friends. With so many more places to explore I hope to get back there soon.

Cheers!

Getting off the North Way at exit 30 making my way towards the Saranac Lake area. © Joe Geronimo
Rolling along route 73 and Lower Cascade lake. © Joe Geronimo
All signed in at Follensby Clear Pond. @ Joe Geronimo

 

Loaded up and ready to head for camp. © Joe Geronimo
Making my way along Follensby Clear Pond headed for camp. © Joe Geronimo
Arriving at our campsite. © Joe Geronimo
Canoe carry from Follensby Clear Pond to Green Pond. © Joe Geronimo (Check all that pollen on the water)
Marshmallow skies on Green Pond. © Joe Geronimo
Gary, Amy and Amy’s dog Pungo on Green Pond. © Joe Geronimo
At the canoe carry from Green Pond back to Follensby Clear Pond. © Joe Geronimo
Standing at the shore of our campsite the sun begins to set over Follensby Clear Pond. © Joe Geronimo
Paddling Amy’s Wenonah Prism under stunning skies.
Gary takes the Prism for a spin. © Joe Geronimo
The next day Gary setting off for our adventure. © Joe Geronimo
Amy making her way along Follensby Clear for the Horseshoe Pond carry. © Joe Geronimo
At the canoe carry to Horseshoe Pond. © Joe Geronimo
Gary on Horseshoe Pond. © Joe Geronimo
Amy and Pungo paddling on Horseshoe Pond. © Joe Geronimo
My view of Horseshoe Pond. © Joe Geronimo
Gary carrying from Horseshoe Pond to Little Polliwog Pond. © Joe Geronimo
Amy’s turn to carry from Horseshoe Pond to Little Polliwog Pond. © Joe Geronimo
Amy & Gary putting in on Little Polliwog Pond. And yes Little Polliwog lives up to its name. © Joe Geronimo
Gary & Amy Polliwog Pond. © Joe Geronimo
Amy & I exploring Polliwog Pond. © Joe Geronimo
Exploring Polliwog Pond. © Joe Geronimo
Finally the canoe carry from Polliwog Pond back to Follensby Clear Pond.
After the thunderstorm moved out I took another spin in Amy’s Wenonah Prism. © Joe Geronimo

 

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Bum Rushing Beaver Dams & the Browns Tract Inlet

On Friday afternoon I nibbled at another small portion of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. The weather was cold and windy with lots of sunshine. I arrived in the hamlet of Raquette Lake, NY at 1240.  A small amount of gear loaded into my canoe I set off into the rather large Raquette lake in order to reach “Browns Tract Inlet”. This lake is notoriously windy, thankfully it was a short distance to the inlet.

Almost immediately after entering the inlet I encountered my first beaver dam which spanned the entire width of the waterway. I thought great now what.. Water was too deep to exit the boat and drag it over, I was stumped! Backing up I paddled hard right into it and got the bow of my canoe about 3 inches over it. Freeing myself I went back a little further and really got after it and this time I maybe got 4-5 inches of the canoe over the dam. Ok I was pissed but determined! I decided to head back out of the inlet turn and paddle for all I was worth hitting the dam sending my canoe halfway over. Now I was stuck! Separating my paddle I work my way over and voila.

The Browns Tract snakes like an Adirondack back road. The wind was whipping right up the tract and what I thought would be a leisurely paddle turned out to be an olympic event. I encountered four beaver dams on my journey but only one of them I had to actually exit the boat and drag it over. It was a 3 mile paddle to the western end where the tract sports a wooden pier. This pier is for paddlers that carry the 1.5 miles between 8th lake and Browns Tract Inlet to put in on the inlet. Its tradition that through paddlers of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail begin at the western terminus in Old Forge and paddle the 740 miles east to Fort Kent, ME. But then again traditions can be broken.

I was thinking that my return would have the wind at my back but I was completely wrong. Again I was olympic paddling all the way back to Raquette lake. Despite some of the difficulty I was glad to have had the opportunity to complete this small piece in the very large NFCT puzzle.

Once I was back to shore and gear reloaded I broke out the Jetboil and enjoyed a cup of warm soup sitting lakeside. As I glanced across the lake I envisioned continuing my Pac-Man approach to the trail. At this time and place I have no desire to be a through paddler of the NFCT. I like having the option to pick and choose my boat that best suites the waters I will be adventuring, a luxury through paddlers do not have. In a perfect world I’d just assume pick and choose my weather as well. But as they say in the Adirondacks “Wait 10 minutes” the weather will change.

As I departed the small village of Raquette Lake my turn signal bulb blew out. Where does one find a replacement bulb in the middle of the Adirondacks? Three miles up Route 28 I tried my luck at Burke’s Marina. Sure enough they had a bulb and a phillips head screw driver to boot. I changed the bulb and was on my way. One thing that caught my eye while paying for the bulb was the free packs of matches advertising the Marina sitting on the counter. I could not resist and grabbed a few as you very rarely see this anymore.

Onto my next adventure!

Beginning my adventure into the Browns Tract Inlet at Raquette Lake, NY, september 1st 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Northern Forest Canoe Trail Kiosk and DEC register Raquette Lake, NY September 1st 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Along the Browns Tract Inlet September 1st 2017. © Joe Geronimo
At the western end of Browns Tract Inlet September 1st 2017. © Joe Geronimo
Arriving back at Raquette Lake, NY September 1st 2017. © Joe Geronimo
I’ve exited Browns Tract and entered Raquette lake. Blue Mountain can be seen towering in the distance September 1st 2017. © Joe Geronimo