While summer slips into Autumn I am reminded at how much I enjoy fall paddling in the Northeast. I try to take every advantage I can get to be out on the water whether by myself or with my family. Sadly this summer I/we have not been on the water much and Max and I have not even taken the Cownoe out together.
The boys and I had plans to camp and canoe in the Fish Creek Ponds area of the Adirondacks this summer but we had to cancel. However not all was lost. Julie, Max & I took advantage of the nice weather this past weekend and made the short drive to Nanticoke lake in Lisle, NY. Nanticoke is a small and quiet lake. This is partly due to the quarter mile hike in from the parking area.
I also learned a very valuable lesson for the future as well. An 18 foot 47lb canoe with gear and a 30 lb kayak strapped on top make for a heavy portage. The lesson I learned is two canoe carts instead of one and your shoulders will thank you.
To our surprise we discovered two other people kayaking, a sight I have not seen here before. Then again I’m mostly here at sunrise.
No matter what you enjoy doing Autumn is one of the best times to get out and do what you love, so enjoy!
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.
This morning I got to spend some great father and son time with Max out in our canoe. Max and I got moving somewhat early this morning making the short drive to Upper Lisle at the north end of the Whitney Point Reservoir. We quickly noticed that there were quite a few boat trailers in the parking lot. We also saw that there was some wind and chop out on the water, undeterred we set out for a nice paddle.
Max, seated in the front of the boat suddenly yell’s “Dad did you see that!” Dad of course did not. So we stopped for a minute and floated quietly and sure enough a massive carp comes straight up and completely out of the water. This fish was HUGE… We were witness to this several more times and believe it or not I had so much fun watching this… We kept paddling and off to our right along the shoreline I noticed an Amish buggy. I also saw the horse that pulls the buggy tied to a near by tree and nobody around. Amish are no strangers to the area but I’ve never seen them near the reservoir before.
Moving on we saw several different species of birds, more flying fish, tons of fisherman and an eagle overhead. However the chop worsened the longer we were out so we decided to cut it short and returned to shore after only an hour or so.
Packed up we headed into town for a quick breakfast at McDonalds and then made our way home. I had a wonderful time this morning with my son, time I will forever cherish.
Julie had plans to head north for the day, check out some new canoes and kayaks and do a little paddling ourselves. The weather wasn’t perfect but it was warm and we had no rain. Upon arriving in Old Forge we made our way right to the waterfront where all the boats were and the test paddling was taking place. Julie quickly fell in love with a very light weight Swift Kayak http://www.swiftcanoe.com/#!adirondack-12-lt/c1wd4
This boat is beautiful and pricey so she is keeping it in mind for a future purchase. After spending time Oohing and Awing at all the beautiful products it was time to take “Elsie” off the car and hit the water ourselves. We launched on Old Forge Pond and paddled the channel to First Lake where we would take in the views and the homes that dotted the shoreline.
A few hours later we were back on dry land and hungry. No trip to Old Forge would not be complete without a good meal at Walt’s Diner. Now that we were fed it was off to Mountain Man to see all the other cool products that were part of the weekend. There were lots more canoes and kayaks, shoes, clothing, paddles, etc. However there was one thing that caught our attention quickly, a Sylvan Sport camper http://www.sylvansport.com We absolutely loved it and are seriously considering one of these in the near future.
To finish out the day we took a ride north a few miles to Inlet, NY where we spent a little time taking in the views of Fourth, Fifth, Sixth & Seventh lakes. While stopped at Seventh Lake we bumped into an extremely friendly local resident. I didn’t notice at first but eventually I realized she was wearing a 2016 Binghamton Bridge Run shirt.
Our day was long but extremely fun and we scouted some new places to paddle on our next trip to the Adirondacks.
For the first time this year I was able to finally get out in my canoe this evening. I made the 40 minute trip to Long Pond near Smithville Flats. Launching my boat I made my way down the pond. The water was placid and the surroundings quiet only to be disturbed periodically by the chorus of song birds. Looking off to my right I noticed a female Canadian goose sitting atop a mound. I instantly realized that she was with her young.
Moving on quietly the silence of Long Pond was interrupted by a fisherman hacking his brains out as I watched him return his cigarette to his mouth. I paddled into a cove on the east end only to be greeted by two more fisherman sitting along the shoreline. After a few words I was on my way again slowly paddling along the shore.
I paused for a few minutes in an attempt to photograph a Northern Flicker but it proved fruitless. Then I caught a glimpse of movement from the corner of my right eye. Slowly I turned and there I spied a beaver having some dinner. I dipped my paddle in the water and turned my boat cautiously toward him. A few soft paddle strokes to move closer. This beaver has yet to notice my presence as I ever so slightly reach for my camera. Click, click, click and he still does’t know I’m there. Click, click, click and now his attention turns to me and he disappears into the brush.
I patiently waited to see if he would return but to no avail. I returned back up the pond to the launch site feeling excited about my return to Long Pond.
The state paid $14.5 million for the tract, according to a deed filed April 5 in the Essex County clerk’s office. The state has yet to announce the sale, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation refused to answer questions about how public access will be managed. In the past, DEC has suggested that the public will be allowed to drive to within a mile or so of the ponds via a dirt road.
A source told the Almanack that the road to the ponds is gated (and probably will remain so for the duration of mud season) and that the ponds are still frozen. The Nature Conservancy confirmed the sale after the Almanack broke the story. Its news release linked to a video of Boreas Ponds.
The conservancy’s website also offers breathtaking photos of Boreas Ponds. The Nature Conservancy bought all 161,000 acres of the Finch, Pruyn lands in 2007. It later sold 89,000 acres to a Danish pension fund. The state owns a conservation easement on these lands that permits logging but prohibits subdivision and development.
In 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state would purchase, in stages, 65,000 acres for the Forest Preserve, including the Essex Chain Lakes, OK Slip Falls, parts of the Hudson Gorge, and Boreas Ponds. The other properties have already been acquired.
“We are grateful to Governor Cuomo and his team for recognizing that investing in nature is an investment in New York’s future. From providing cost-effective natural water filtration and carbon storage to bolstering the tourism economy, protecting these forests and waters is an investment that will produce very big returns. We look forward to continuing to work with the state and Adirondack communities,” said Mark Tercek, president and CEO of the Nature Conservancy.
DEC and the Adirondack Park Agency now will have to decide how to manage and classify the Boreas Ponds Tract — decisions sure to be controversial.
Environmentalists want most of the tract added to the High Peaks Wilderness, whereas local officials favor a Wild Forest classification. The main difference between Wilderness and Wild Forest is that motorized uses and bicycling are banned in Wilderness Areas.
The Adirondack Council and Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) are sponsoring a petition drive dubbed Be Wild NY to persuade the Cuomo administration to add to the High Peaks Wilderness not only the bulk of the Boreas Ponds Tract, but also the Dix Mountain Wilderness and some smaller parcels of former Finch, Pruyn lands. If this is done, the High Peaks Wilderness, already the largest Wilderness Area in the Adirondack Park, would grow to roughly 280,000 acres from 204,000 acres.
But North Hudson Supervisor Ron Moore, whose town includes Boreas Ponds, told the Adirondack Explorer last fall that he wants the tract classified as Wild Forest to facilitate public access and maximize its recreational potential. For example, he wants people to be allowed to bicycle on old logging roads in the area.
“We’re not looking to destroy the environment,” he said. “We’re looking to use an existing infrastructure of roads. We want as many people to enjoy the area as possible.”
Willie Janeway, executive director of the Adirondack Council, maintains that the Wilderness classification will attract a variety of outdoor enthusiasts, including hikers, paddlers, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers, and boost the local economy. He added that the tract could serve as a new gateway to the popular High Peaks Wilderness.
Controversy also has arisen over the status of Gulf Brook Road, a former logging road that leads to Boreas Ponds. Environmentalist groups agree that much of the road should be left open to allow the public to drive as far as LaBiere Flow, an impounded section of the Boreas River about a mile from Boreas Ponds. From there hikers could walk and canoeists could paddle and portage to the ponds.
Some wilderness advocates, such as Bill Ingersoll, publisher of the Discover the Adirondacks guidebooks, maintain that the road should be closed. This would require people to hike about seven miles to get to the ponds. In contrast, Moore contends that the public should be able to drive beyond LaBiere Flow to within three-quarters of a mile of Boreas Ponds. The disabled, he said, should be able to drive to within a quarter-mile of the ponds.
Gulf Brook Road also figures in a disagreement among environmentalists over where to draw the line between Wilderness and Wild Forest.
Protect the Adirondacks contends that Gulf Brook Road is the logical boundary. Under this scenario, it would also serve as a snowmobile trail in winter connecting North Hudson and Newcomb.
The council, ADK, and Adirondack Wild favor a plan that would extend the Wilderness boundary south of Gulf Brook almost to Blue Ridge Road, a major county highway. The snowmobile trail would then be cut between Blue Ridge Road and the Wilderness Area.
The hitch with this plan is that Gulf Brook Road would then penetrate the Wilderness Area. In order to allow people to drive to LaBiere Flow, the road would be classified as a Primitive Corridor.
Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, contends that creating a Primitive Corridor would weaken the protections for Wilderness in the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. “If we’re going to have a motorized road, it should be in a Wild Forest Area,” he told the Explorer last fall. He also said that using the road for the snowmobile trail would obviate the cutting of thousands of trees.
Janeway counters that the Be Wild NY plan maximizes the amount of land to be classified as Wilderness and that state regulations would limit the number of trees cut for the snowmobile trail.
Other issues are whether a lodge on the south shore of Boreas Ponds, built by Finch, Pruyn as a corporate retreat, should be removed and whether a concrete dam at the foot of the ponds should maintained.
The calendar claims Spring has arrived, however the mercury and Mother Nature aren’t quite so convinced. To say I have cabin fever is an understatement. This morning I looked at the extended forecast only to have my hopes thwarted once again. The weather just looks terrible for the foreseeable future or at least the next 7 days.
I’m longing for the warmth of the sun, the coolness of the water and the ever quiet glide of my canoe. I hope to visit a few more remote ponds and lakes in the Adirondacks this year, return to some of my favorite places in New England but most importantly spend some quality time just paddling by myself or with my family.