Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in Review



1/5/2013
scout trip to Cutler
1 night/2 miles

A patrol in the troop for which I volunteer wanted to go on an winter trip and was in need of an additional adult leader. They asked me to join them. This is a young patrol and they are slowly expanded their camping experience. Was a nice relaxing trip. The boys had fun.



1/20/2013
Wolfjaws -Lean2Rescue
1 Night/9 miles

Left at midnight to get to the garden before the rush. Travel was terrible and it took me an hour longer. I still beat the rush, but not by much. Called in the the rest of the crew to give them the parking situation. They arrived promptly and filled in the few remaining spots as the sun came up and the masses arrived. We loaded up our pulks and headed up to the interior outpost where we would meet the other crew which started Fri. Ont he ay up we passed by the Ranger who had spent the night with our crew. I guess he couldn't pass up the food that was offered; both dinner and breakfast. We would see him again the next AM as we awoke. At the interior outpost, Mark L greeted us and let us know how the crew had progressed the day before. We were ahead of schedule but they were unsure about doing the roof shingles in the cold. Paul was heading to Slant Rock and Bushnell's leantos to assess what was needed for their rescues, while Brain and Cindy would assess OreBed leanto. Paul had me and Henry send a message to the project leader at Wolfjaws, "Do the damn shingles if you have the crew." We showed up to the Wolfjaws leanto and the crew was operating as usual. Jumped right in to do whatever needed to be done as is lean2rescue style. You just do what is needed and what you are able to do. I went to work clearing ice from the shiplap for the roof and then helped george with the floor kit. As the clock neared beer-thirty we had begun putting the tools away while the roofers were finishing the cap. The decorative logs and the oakum were put into place and we settled in for a group photo. Back at the JBL we unloaded the reinforcements we had pulked in as we had heard they were running low. Beer was opened and dinner was started. having had gotten up at midnight, I retired earlier than usual. The next am, I heard voices and soon learned it was the caretaker and the ranger talking. The ranger had hiked in before sunrise to try to locate a group which had given him some sketchy info the previous day. when he checked the sign-in register there was some discrepancy. Believing the group was not staying separate (HPWA is max 15 people day, and 8 night) he was tracking them down to educate them regarding the regulations. As others awoke and the sun came up, the sky began to drop its moisture. Fiirst rain, which we were not happy to see. Pulks do not do well with little snow and the rain would uncover the trail rocks. And we had bundles of old shingles to bring down, as well as the tools. Soon the rain changed to snow. We finally got loaded up and were on our way. My pulk hit a rock at full speed as we crossed feeder creek and promptly exploded the front. While attempting to salvage it to get the gear and shingles down, george and tammy caught up to us and tammy only had her pack in her pulk. we loaded the shingles into hers&nbsp;my broken pulk was loaded on top&nbsp;and she donned her pack. I hooked up her pulk to my waist belt and continued on. I guess I now have an excuse to get a new pulk. Back at the garden we unloaded the sleds into the trailer, separated tools from trash and headed out. These trips never cease to amaze me. As paul says, "never underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers". He must be right as we never fail to get the job done and we are "dumber than a bag of hammers". Who else would carry logs miles into a forest.<div><br></div><div>photos... not mine, but I am in them... somewhere :) http://petedavispictures.zenfolio.com/wolfjaw</div>




2/24/2013
5th times a charm -Russian Lake
2 nights/16 miles

<font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2">I was invited to join this trek which has previously had 4 failed attempts. The goal was to bushwhack from Russian Lake in the Pigeon Lake Wilderness to Lower Sister Lake. Since I had the time, I decided to go up early and spend Thurs nite solo along Bear Creek. Only hiked in about a mile, set up my hammock and read in the quiet of the woods. Even though the hike was short, snowshoeing an unbroken trail with 2 feet of snow dragging a loaded pulk was tiring. This "warmup" would be a harbinger of what was to come.&nbsp;</font><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><br></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;">On Friday AM. I awoke with the sun and retraced my steps back to my car and met Ian at the diner. After a hearty breakfast we drove up the road to Big Moose Lake which would be our jumping off point. We loaded up our pulks and heading across the lake. It was 11:30. Our initial heading was about 2 miles to the east bay where the trail to Russian Lake began. Going was slow with the deep snow but at least it was flat. In the middle of the lake we hit some snowmobile tracks and were able to move a little quicker and easier in the old tread. As we entered the East Bay, we crossed &nbsp;a deer path with a nice pile of droppings. The deer path wandered from cedar to cedar clearing off any browse that was within reach. The trail to Russian appeared ahead and we climbed up to the woods.The sign and map showed the trail to Russian to be 3/4 of a mile. This initial lifting of the pulks through the deep snow took about 5 minutes and quite a few grunts ending with a 3 minute break to catch our breath before continuing. This would be sequence which would repeat for the remainder of the day. We had about 100 yards to parallel the shore line to where the trail register was located. The box was open and had 18 inches of snow piled on top of the book. Ironically the register box had the following words, "Please register and close door". We laughed and took a break as those 100 yards took about 10 minutes to pull through the deep snow. The pulk acted as snowplow and the breaking trail was slow and tiring. The trail to Russian was typical, a little windy with lots of little dips and since it was winter plenty of spruce bent over &nbsp;the trail. The fist half was spent stopping every few feet to deal with these spruce tollbooths. We paid dearly with energy and time. Since we would be paralleling the outlet of Russian Lake, we would need to gain about 70 feet over the next 7/10 of a mile. Not much, but with the deep snow and pulk, this would be a chore. We eventually made it to Russian, and it seemed like we had hiked to Russia itself. The last 3/4 of a mile took us 3 hours! We collapsed in the leanto, and rested for a few minutes before the next of our chores was to begin. We dug out the firepit, uncovered the picnic table and collected wood. We got a fire started and waited for the rest of the crew. they arrived about 8pm. What took us 4 hours, they traversed in 1.5. Chuck and Ted were the first to arrive and since they were part of the previous failed attempts to Lower Sister were much appreciative of the trail breaking we had done. We feel asleep earl knowing what was in store the next day.</div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><br></div><div><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2">6:30 am arrived and we ate a quick breakfast and loaded up our daypacks. The first half mile was to cross Russian Lake. It was a beautiful morning the sun shone on a lone dead tree towering over the lake upon which an Osprey nest was perched. On the other side of the lake we began our bushwhack. A few ups and downs and some spruce thickets took us to the creek which we had to cross. Finding a log and an ice shelf we made our way to the other side and climbed up to intersect with the trail to lower sister. While this was a marked trail, the conditions would be similar to the approach trail to Russian. Fortunately had day packs and not fully loaded pulks, It was long and slow breaking trail, but with a larger group different people could take the lead. We had a 2pm turn around time so as to ensure we could make it back before too late. With the western finger of the lake in view we left the trail and heading down to the lake. we still needed to cross the lake to get to the leanto. We arrived at 1:45. About 5 hours from our starting time. We had a&nbsp;celebratory&nbsp;lunch and headed back. 2 hours to get back and dinner was started. We hung out and bathed in our success. We should have taken real baths as we all smelled &nbsp;but we didn't care. The night was smiles and laughter until we all crashed.</font></div><div><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2"><br></font></div><div><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2">Sunday AM we slept in mostly due to being too sore to get out of bed. Typical groans of early awakening were substituted with groans from sore muscles and aching joints. We had a nice long breakfast and one by one packed up and headed back. Departed at 10 am and was back at my car at 11:30, exactly 48 hours from when I left it on Friday.&nbsp;</font></div>




3/17/2013
St. Paddy's day meetup -Chub Pond
1 night/9 miles

Due to my upcoming schedule I had to plan the annual hiking meetup group backpacking trip for a little earlier this year. As soon as it was announced, it was full and a waiting list ensued. By the time of trip, many had dropped out, and only 4 showed up. I am sure this was weather related. The forecast called for single digits at night. It was close to zero. We were on the trail early and due to there still being considerable snow, both Sheldon and I dragged our pulks. This allowed us to take a little extra beer. We took the trail slow as there was no rush to cover the 4.4 miles to the pond. When we finally arrived and opened up a beer we noticed that there was already considerable amount of wood collected. Just some kindling was needed so we soon had a nice little fire going. The temp at the lean-to was 18 degrees. We knew it was going to be cold that night. we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening socializing, eating and having a grand 'ol time. Emily "the worm" was drifting in and out and the rest of us soon had heavy eyes. I called it quits and was soon in my hammock. I awoke once for natures call but didn't emerge fully until about 6am. I rekindled the fire, made some coffee and watched the sunrise. It was a couple of hours until the next of our crew emerged.The temp at 8:30 was 8 deg. Emily was the last at close to 10 am. We left camp at 11:30 by then the temp was back up to 18 deg. The hike back was quick enough. Except for the initial climb from the shore of the pond, the remaining miles would be generally downhill. during the night a snowmobile had come through making a nice hard path on the new snow for us to follow.I forgot to put on sunscreen and will pay dearly for that lapse.



4/6/2013
Quick trip to FLNF
1 night/10 miles

<font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2">The Finger Lakes National Forest is only about 16,000 and is checkerboarded with access roads to create sections 1 mile square. The maximum distance of a half mile to any road doesn't eliminate the possibility of a decent backpacking trip. For myself, when I get over a hill and down into a valley by a babbling stream, it doesn't matter if the road is just over the aforementioned hill a quarter mile away or 100 miles away. The feeling of seclusion is the same as long as said road isn't heavily traveled and the noise breaks the suspension of disbelief.&nbsp;</font><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><br></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;">Due to unforeseen consequences my planned 4 day trip to the Adirondacks was changed to an overnighter in the FLNF. I met a hiking buddy early afternoon on friday and we started along the Interloken Trail (a branch trail of the FLT). We soon turned off the trail and followed the Potomac trail through the group campground which doesn't see much use and the large tracts of pasture land the local farmers use (with permits) to graze their livestock. We took a hard turn off the trail into the unbroken wilderness. Actually it was an unmarked trail probably used by snowmobiles in winter. Our destination was the confluence of two small creeks and then to locate a suitable place to camp. We first headed upstream and up a small spiny ridge. At the top we found a makeshift shelter comprised of hemlock branches fashioned into a survival lean-to. We headed back downstream and passed some older campfire circles in the duff. We finally settled in on an old campsite nestled with a small hemlock grove. the creek was nearby and would provide water and "white noise" for sleeping. We set up camp, gathered firewood and explored the ridge behind us. At the top of the ridge was the remnants of an old road, now used as an unmarked trail.&nbsp;</div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><br></div><div><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2">Back at camp we fixed dinner and enjoyed a relaxing evening. The sun soon set and the temp began to drop. The fire was warming but soon the warmth of our sleeping bags would win out. Ted awoke before me and tended to the fire. I stayed in the warmth of my cocoon until my bladder made the decision for me to get up. Both Ted and I are habitually early risers and this AM was no different. Even&nbsp;dallying around we were on the trail by 8am. We headed back a different route to again intersect the Interloken trail. We would take this trail back to our car which we arrived at 10:45.&nbsp;&nbsp;10 miles in the FLNF I missed that place, it deserves to be visited more.</font></div>


5/5/2013
Metcalf Lake bushwhack
1 night/ 16 miles

The plan was originally to do a little fishing at Brewer Lake with Ian. I was going to carry the canoe the 2 miles in and he was going to carry the beer. Mid week I received a message from both Ian and Justin. Ian had to work unexpectedly and Justin was looking to see if I could join him on a trip. Sometimes nature just has her reasons.<div><br></div><div>I met Justin at the Mad Tom Brook trailhead at 7am. Justin, Jenny and I were soon headed down the trail paralleling the S. Branch of West Canada Creek. We crossed numerous feeder streams one of which we would use as a handrail in a little while. We stopped at the confluence of the trail and the S.Branch just to take in the view. After a brief discussion about the stillwater upstream we headed back down the trail to Calamity Brook. Many maps do not show this small stream. we followed a faint herd path parallel to the brook passing by a hunters campsite. We then intersected with the remnants of the old S Branch trail and followed it till we got to Boundry Brook.&nbsp;</div><div><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/Bushwhack%20to%20Metcalf%20Lake%20with%20Justin%202013/2013-05-05104415_zpsaad4937b.jpg"></div><div><br></div><div>We used Beaudry as a handrail as we bushwhacked north trying to save a little time/distance by not hugging the winding stream. We passed through a few beaver meadows and some remnants of ancient campsites. When the brook began turning towards the west, we took a bearing to climb the shoulder of Buck Pond Mt heading towards jones brook. This was a relatively easy bushwhack through most open hardwoods though we had to gain a bit of elevation. As the sounds of jones brook grew louder we bent a little north and soon the long cascade of jones brook tumbling down 200 ft came into view.&nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/Bushwhack%20to%20Metcalf%20Lake%20with%20Justin%202013/2013-05-04095831_zps8b1ba7dc.jpg"></div><div>We parallel the cascade to the bowl at the top. some maps refer to this as Jones Pond. it is a large depression in the rock between Buck Pond Mt and the Metcalf Range. The pond empties over the side of its rock bowl to begin its cascade. A beautiful spot at which we took a break.&nbsp;</div><div><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/Bushwhack%20to%20Metcalf%20Lake%20with%20Justin%202013/2013-05-04104455_zps18de89fd.jpg"></div><div><br></div><div>So far most of the bushwhacking was relatively easy. The witchhobble hasn't budded out yet and the open forest alllowed us to travel around most of the blowdown. We did have some nasty sections at the lower portions which would be a harbinger to what was to come. We pushed through the spruce lined border of Jones pond to follow its inlet to Buck Pond. Most of this was pushing through spruce and climbing around downed trees. Not fun, but we were approaching our goal. At Buck Pond we hugged its shore till we go to its backside to a spot where Justin and Jay had spent a hailstorm hunkered down a few years back. We pushed north into a draw, took a bearing and followed the draw down to the lake. A spring bubbled out in the middle of the draw which bore some cold quenching water. We followed the draw to the edge of Metcalf Lake. The remnant of an old campsite would be our home for the night.&nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/Bushwhack%20to%20Metcalf%20Lake%20with%20Justin%202013/2013-05-04120233_zps590b6d47.jpg"></div><div><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/Bushwhack%20to%20Metcalf%20Lake%20with%20Justin%202013/2013-05-04120211_zps75284197.jpg"></div><div>Since we had started so early it was early in the afternoon. We made camp, relaxed and looked for a boat. many of these remote Adirondack Ponds have boats hidden around them. Artifacts from the days when floatplanes were commonplace in these parts. No boat was found, but our site showed the remains of a cobbled together dock of sorts. It was now underwater preserved for us and others. We took an hour to bushwhack the shore line and then headed back. Circumnavigating this lake would be a day's journey in and of itself. We decided it would have to wait for a 2 night trip. Back at camp we relaxed and chatted. It had been a while since Justin and I had backpacked together. &nbsp;The sunset was incredibly bright, we tried to watch but it was difficult to look towards the sun. Soon night came and my eyes grew heavy. The 8 miles (5 of which we bushwhacked) coupled with me leaving at 3am would be too much for me.&nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div>I awoke as the sky grew light. I stayed in the comforts of my hammock as the morning began to break. Soon Jenny was up and came sniffing around my hammock. Justin arose and called for her. Soon we were breaking camp and heading home. Jenny took the lead for the most part following our path in with her nose to the ground. we shaved off about half an hour on the way out. The weather was in the high 60s and the black flies had yet to emerge. We couldn't have asked for nature to provide much more than that.</div><div><br></div><div><br></div>


5/19/2013
Solo on Old Blue -Bear Lake
1 night/13 miles

Due to work changes, Ian had to bail on our arranged adventure. This provided me the opportunity to check off my list an old trail which I haven't yet connected end to end. I would also get to visit the Lean2 which has the memorial plaque for departed L2R brother, Bryan.&nbsp;<div><br></div><div>Starting at the Bear Creek trailhead amongst a swarm of mosquitos I signed in at the register pausing only long enough to notice few others had signed in this weekend. The 1/2 mile along the jeep road passes quickly and soon I was deep in the woods. I noticed the trail had been cleared recently. A couple passed by me and we exchanged pleasantries and again I was alone in the woods. I stopped by the "driveway" to make some mental notes of the creek at this spot since this is the take-out for the Bear Lake-Bear Creek canoe &nbsp;trip from a few decembers ago. Will certainly do it again hence the need to take notes. Back on the path and stopping to get water from the plentiful spring fed streams coming out of the hills. I was on the lookout for the turn off to the old blue trail. I had taken it as far as coleman dam in a previous attempt, but due to time, not any farther. part of this portion of the old blue trail is also a portage route for the Bear lake outlet trip. the take out is at cloeman dam, the put-in I still haven't found/ I explored a bit and took and old path to the remnants of an old camp which was near a nice pool below the rapids of Bear Creek. Obviously a fishing camp as the water looked "trouty". The rapids also told me the put-in was further downstream so I must have passed by it. Will have to do some more recon before I try it with a canoe over my head. Back to the old blue trail I continued to coleman dam area. The entire way has been flagged with orange tape. I didn't remember this much in the past. Nearing the site of the old dam, the portage path heads away from the contour which the old blue trail follows. With no signs of the old trail visible, I took a bearing and headed off into the spring growth of witchobble. The going was pretty easy considering. I did try to keep a lookout for where a trail "could have been" and more importantly paid attention to the ground as the compactness is often a telltale sign of old trails. Periodically I would find myself on the old trail. Faded blue paint on the trees and an occasional DEC marker cast away all doubt.&nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/Bear%20Lake%20via%20the%20old%20Blue%20Trail%202013/2013-05-18130704_zps37ee50a9.jpg"></div><div>I found myself in a wet area which was familiar from my neejer hill ascent/descent a few years ago, however I was running perpendicular to that hike. I followed my bearing to a draw and decided to get up a little away from the wetness. I soon found a few markers and blazes. The terrain and blowdown kept pulling me into the draw so I followed that out and up to where it intersected the new blue trail. I was about 30 meters south of my intended intersection. Had I stayed up and away from the draw, i would have been on the old blue trail for a wee bit longer and hit my goal dead nuts. Someday I will try this trail from the other direction. I turned North and headed towards Bear Lake.</div><div><br></div><div>When the lake came into view near the site of the old lumber camp, I departed the trail and made a beeline to the water. The &nbsp;first view of the lake after a long hike is like crack.&nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/Bear%20Lake%20via%20the%20old%20Blue%20Trail%202013/2013-05-18150523_zps9f7dca1b.jpg"></div><div><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Last year was a dry winter and the lake level had dropped significantly. I was able to walk almost the entire perimeter of the lake last August. I noticed it hadn't yet returned to pre-drought levels. After snapping a few photos of the lake I proceeded to follow its shoreline a bit to where I would again rejoin the blue trail. I was soon at the new bridge and checked out the old lakeside campsites.&nbsp;</span></div><div><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><br></span></div><div><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/Bear%20Lake%20via%20the%20old%20Blue%20Trail%202013/2013-05-18150514_zps93081358.jpg"></div><div><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Up at the leanto, the black flies had replaced the mosquitos. Most were just annoyed but a few were biters. The season has begun.</span></div><div><br></div><div>I started a quick twiggy fire to get some smoke for smudge and set up camp and noted the condition of the leanto. I am still amazed that after all these years we still have a clean, graffitteeless leanto. It was early afternoon so I had lunch and read the shelter log. Not many visitors since I was here last. With the onset of black flies, I retired to confines of my mosquito netting until sundown when the temp cooled enough to scare them away. A small fire for evening entertainment as it drew to a close the sky began to illuminate with glow from the crescent moon. My eyes grew heavy and I was soon &nbsp;asleep. I woke once during the night but not again until the sky was light. A half hour later I had eaten and was packed up. I wanted to get moving in the coolness of the AM before the bugs arose. Taking the easy, albeit more distance hikte out was very quick. I noted the southbound trail didn't seem to get much use. I wonder if the Bear Lake destination has leveled off now that the newness is gone. I know many had complained about its location away from the lake, but it wasn't our choice. The DEC has chosen the location consistent with their distance from water requirements. On my hike out I contemplated my next visit with the canoe.</div>


6/09/2013
Little wet, but little bugs! -HaDeRonDah Loop
1 night/22 miles

There are few significant loop trips which can be done in the Adirondacks without walking along some roads. The HaDeRonDak wilderness area contains a network of trails which allows for a few of these "loops". Having already done the northern and southern loops, I set my sights on the Middle loop. This would take me along some familiar trails, (which are also part of ther loops) but I would also get a chance to see a few new ponds and walk along some unfamiliar trails as well. The plan soon involved a few more people willing to join me, Ian, Rich, Mustafa, and Rob. In the early am the day of the trip, I an got called into work and so would meet us at our campsite taking the short way in. Rob was a no show, so Rich, Mustafa and I set out for a 16.5 miles day. The trail begins along an old "jeep road", long since abandoned when the firetower was decommissioned. Nature is quick to reclaim these old dirt roads, though the path is wide and flat. The first 5 miles passed quickly, the ground was wet and the air was damp. Fortunately the temperature was barely in the 60's so the mosquitos and black flies were virtually non-existent. As we passed the junction towards the campsite, we made an arrow for Ian to follow as the sign had been demolished. We continued for another hour and at my suggestion, left the trail to go to a waterfall/flume I had found last year. The water was raging and we had lunch. Someday I will need to bring a rod/reel here as the pool below the falls certainly has fish. After lunch I was feeling pretty light on my feet, my companions not so much. We changed up the pace but soon the length of the trail would begin to takes its toll on Mustafa.We were now along the boundary between the wilderness area and the wild forest. This area often gets illegal atv use, but there was little sign of it at present. probably too early in the season. The trail and ponds through here are nice, but the others in the northen section I think are nicer. At about mile 10, we stopped for a break. Mustafa was moving slow and we still had more than 6 miles to go, and it was the tough wet section. After our break, we slowed down and took many small rests. Eventually we made it to Middle Settlement and took a nice long breather in front of the gorgeous lake. Some campers were here recently as the ashes in the fire were still hot and a dry footprint from their tent was visible.We had 4 miles to go, I figured we would get there around 6 pm. Hopefully Ian would be there with some firewood already collected and a few beers. These last few miles would go slow, compounded by Mustafa rolling an ankle as we crossed one of the streams. He kept telling us to go ahead and he would catch up; we reassured him the pace was fine and we were in no hurry. We eventually arrived at camp; Ian was there though he took a different route than the one we expected. It was his foot prints we were following from Middle Settlement. This would mean he would be hiking back out the same way and we would be on a different trail completing our loop. I set up camp and got a fire going. We were all tired and after dinner we didn;t stay up long. Most of us were in our hammocks well before 10pm, Rich stayed in the leanto. In the AM, due to schedules, we all got up at different times and headed out. Ian first, then Rich and I and Mustafa last. I was worried about Mustafa being alone, but he reassured me the few miles out along the old tote rd would be fine. He would go slow and text me when he got to his car. The almost 6 miles out went quickly as it was generally a net elevation loss and a majority of it would be back on the old tote rd. we made it back to the car before the temp started rising and the bugs emerged. Got the text from Mustafa a few hours later. All is well. I need a shower.


6/30/2013
Paddling and Portaging in Pigeon Lake Wilderness
3 Nights/25 miles

<font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2" style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;">The weather forecast was not looking good. Big storm heading potentially our way. Even without the cell hitting us, we were expecting significant rain. Paddling trips are usually a wet endeavor anyway. We arrived at the put in on Big Moose Lake around noon. Only a short couple miles to paddle until the carry to Russian Lake. Met a nice fellow at the put in who told us of muddy conditions.I am fairly certain we differed on our definitions of muddy. At the beginning of the carry we spotted 3 aluminum canoes. Not a surprsie as many people on BML will paddle over and day hike to Russian. As we were getting out of our canoes a group of teenage girls from some summer camp were returning from Russian. They told us they were the only ones and the bugs were bad. Bad from our standpoint or from a teenage girl's? This first carry of the trip was uneventful, only 3/4 of a mile. It was much faster carrying a canoe this summer than it was on snowshoes with a pulk this past winter. Russian greeted us with blue skies and a few scattered clouds.&nbsp;</font><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2"><br></font></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/Pigeon%20Lake%20Wilderness%20Paddling%202013/2013-06-27192126_zps6f5c14cf.jpg"></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2"><br></font></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/Pigeon%20Lake%20Wilderness%20Paddling%202013/2013-06-27192147_zps2fea2c3e.jpg"></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2"><br></font></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2">Considering the impending storm we figured we should get a nice paddle in first. We paddled around the lake, caught a few small perch and explored the tiny waterfall which is one of the sources for the lake. Back at our site, we set up camp, made dinner (bratwurst with peppers and onions) and awaited the storm.&nbsp;</font></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2"><br></font></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/Pigeon%20Lake%20Wilderness%20Paddling%202013/2013-06-27192229_zps6e865b32.jpg"></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: small;"><br></span></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: small;">We heard thunder to our south but our skies were still rather clear. we surmised the storm was missing us but expected rain any minute. The rain eventually came overnight and continued until 9am. We had a lazy morning, eating french toast and sausage for breakfast waiting to see if the weather would change. As soon as the rain subsided, we donned our canoes as "hats" and carried back to Big Moose. Our next goal was either Lower Sister or Andy's Creek.</span></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><br></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;">The inlet to Big Moose is an ecological treasure with all kinds of birds and plants. The inlet is formed by three creeks all converging creating the larger body of water. Andy's Creek, Gull Lake Outlet and some other creek. We paddled to the mouth of Andy's creek at which a beaver had created a system of many small dams enlarging the mouth. From here we would carry about a quarter mile to the trail junction and go check out the Andy's without our canoes. The campsite is located around the bend of the Creek which must be crossed on a bridge. The trail was soggy leading up to the bridge's steps but our feet have gotten used to it by now.&nbsp;</div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><br></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/Pigeon%20Lake%20Wilderness%20Paddling%202013/2013-06-28130249_zpsa8354d2c.jpg"></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><br></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;">We had lunch at Andy's (our lunches are always the same... some cheese, sausage, dried fruit and nuts) and decided to take day packs and attempt to carry the canoes the 3-4 miles to Lower Sister Lake. Carrying the boats without most of our other gear was much easier. Lower Sister came into view just shy of two hours. We bushwhacked down the hill the few hundred yards to relieve our shoulders of their burden. Once on the water we each took different routes exploring. Chris checked out both the inlet and outlet while I explored a massive waterfall on the southern shore.</div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><br></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/Pigeon%20Lake%20Wilderness%20Paddling%202013/2013-06-28163357_zps98ab02ce.jpg"></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><br></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;">I tried to fish a little. No luck, but I guess that is why it is called fishing and not catching. At 5 pm we headed back to our campsite. We either caught a second wind or were just anticipated dinner because we made it back 20 minutes faster. Along the trail to the bridgee, I thought I missed a turn because all of a sudden the trail disappeared into Andy'd creek. &nbsp;When the water got hip deep, we moved to higher ground and bushwhacked to the bridge.&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 10pt;">Turns out we didn't lose the trail, the creek had since overflowed its banks due to all the rain the previous night/day. The first step of the bridge was now under water.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Dry clothes and dinner were soon had. While we ate our dinner (bean and rice burrittos) we figured we portaged more than we paddled today. The GPS will verify or disprove. The waterfall at the campsite had significantly more volume of water flowing through it than just 6 hours before.&nbsp;</span></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><br></span></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/Pigeon%20Lake%20Wilderness%20Paddling%202013/2013-06-29081627_zps23482bfa.jpg"></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 10pt;">We wondered if it would lessen overnight. Knowing the next day would be much easier than today we figured we could sleep in and have another lazy morning. We fell asleep to campfire TV and soon the AM broke.</span></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><br></span></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 10pt;">After a nice breakfast of sausage, hash browns and eggs (we used the leftover tortillas to make wraps) we headed back to the mouth of Andy's Creek and made our way back down the inlet to the Gull Lake
carry. We carried the mile up to Lower Gull Lake and after managing a series of beaver dams at the outlet we paddled around exploring. This lake had an interesting shoreline and one of its fingers came considerably close to Upper Gull Lake. I figured there had to be an unmarked portage. While looking for it, I noticed obvious cutting of logs around the perimeter of one of the coves. Investigating further, blue trail marker appeared in some spots; some were on trees 5 feet from shore. I spotted a take out near one of the markers and explored inland. The trail went up hill and then leveled out in the direction of Upper Gull. Chris finally found me and we told each other what we had found. Him... nothing. Since I didn't get to paddle the circumference yet, Chris went to our landing to get lunch out while I paddled and looked for another carry trail. A little rain came, but nothing to bad. I found two old take outs but no obvious trail leading from them. I reported back to Chris as we ate lunch. He had walked up the trail a bit and found it was rerouted in 2012. The markers and cuttings I had found were the old trail. Since the old trail would shorten our carry considerably and the new trail was. in Chris' words, not canoe friendly. We opted for the old trail. This turned out to be the smart choice. Since it was only recently abandoned, it was easy to follow and soon the new trail's reroute &nbsp;converged with it. At Upper Gull we made a smokey fire to ward off the bugs and paddled around a bit. The Lake was an odd turquoise and quite deep. No fish either. According to the log book, those who visit enjoy swimming here. There was a nice rock to jump off from to facilitate the fun.&nbsp;</span></div><div style="text-align: center; font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><br></span></div><div style="text-align: center; font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/Pigeon%20Lake%20Wilderness%20Paddling%202013/2013-06-29161739_zpsede20cb1.jpg"></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><br></span></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 10pt;">There is also a survey post made from railroad iron larking the county line. One side was a plaque fro Herkimer County and the other side Hamilton with the date 1900.&nbsp;</span></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><br></span></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/Pigeon%20Lake%20Wilderness%20Paddling%202013/2013-06-29155200_zpsd8b91543.jpg"></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><br></span></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Rain again came while we were preparing dinner and continued on and off throughout the night. We would be leaving early in the AM as Chris has to work tomorrow. I awoke soon after Chris and we immediately began packing up. As we retrieved the bear canister and ursack we noticed they had been "attacked". The ursack had tons of teeth marks all over it. Some punctured between fibers, but no damage. Whatever it was eventually gave up. My guess was a raccoon or possum. We were loaded up and back on trail by 6:30 and back at our cars a little before 8. A quick change out of our wet stinky clothes and breakfast at a local diner and we headed home.&nbsp;</span></div></div>


7/20/2013
NPT
7 nights/120 miles

July 20-27, Thru Hike of the Northville Placid Trail. 120 miles, 6 days 21 hrs. I am tired and my feet are damaged. No stories, just some photos:<div><br></div><div><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/NPT%202013/2013-07-26151749_zps14a48353.jpg"></div><div><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/NPT%202013/2013-07-26133251_zpsf3fe2a9f.jpg"></div><div><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/NPT%202013/2013-07-26072924_zpsa9b96d6e.jpg"></div><div><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/NPT%202013/2013-07-25173336_zps4d7c8d0a.jpg"></div><div><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/NPT%202013/2013-07-25080156_zpsecfc91df.jpg"></div><div><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/NPT%202013/2013-07-25075150_zpsb18e265a.jpg"></div><div><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/NPT%202013/2013-07-24113910_zps997b607e.jpg"></div><div><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/NPT%202013/2013-07-22084738_zpsd66d0aab.jpg"></div><div><br></div>




8/26/2013
Next Generation Backpacking -Brewer Pond
2 Nights/ 7 miles

The BSA Troop at which I volunteer is quite young; the scouts that is. the troop itself is 100 years old this year. Few of the boys have done any camping where the gear wasn't trucked in for them. To help move the troop to a more adventuresome group, I invited the Scoutmaster and his son to explore an area of the Adirondacks with me. The SM has the desire for the troop to expand its horizons, but the boys don't seem to ready yet (they don't know what they are missing). I chose a location which was not too difficult and with the reward a young boy would want to return to with his friends in tow.&nbsp;<div><br></div><div>The trail to the lake was about a mile and a half. In winter it is used as a snowmobile trail so it is easy going all the way to the lake's edge. Later that day, the SM's son would call that section "boring".&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 10pt;">The site at this side of the lake was uninspiring except to an avid trout fisherman.</span><span style="font-size: 10pt;">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 10pt;">At the lake we then needed to bushwhack around to the other side. After another half mile of not to difficult bushwhacking (half was on a herd path), we arrived at our destination. A very nice campsite set away from the lack with a very interesting collection of glacial erratics. "This is cool" said the boy. He immediately dropped his pack and started to explore all the "caves" and climbed up onto the largest of the rocks.&nbsp;</span></div><div><br></div><div>We set up camp and collected some firewood. Dinner was soon had, followed by sunset, moonrise and the emergence of the first few stars. We retired to our respective beds and awoke early. Well, the SM and I were up early. We watched a few beavers swim around the lake until his son finally emerged. After breakfast I gave my map to the scout and asked him where he wanted to go explore. he chose east as there was a group of ponds about a mile away. Using the map, he took a bearing and we followed. He carefully sighted checkpoints and made his way to them while I kept track of our course from behind. He consulted the map and looked around the forest to estimate his (our) position. As with all young adventurers, he overestimated the distance we had traveled and began to doubt himself. I reassured him he had taken a good bearing and was keeping true. I told him to trust his compass and skill. With the reassurance came regained energy and we again were following our young scout. We arrived at the base of a hill of which he took his bearing. Upon closer inspection the hill also included some significant rock faces of which we could not climb. Unsure of what to do since we couldn't follow our bearing to the ponds on the other side of the hill, he turned to me. A brief conversation ensued and with a few alternatives discussed he decided we would work our way to the top of the hill "to see what we could see". He made his way scrambling up the hill and we followed. some interesting rock formations and flat areas with ferns and moss made climbing the 150 ft hill a joy. At approximately the summit he took a bearing for us and said the ponds were just down the hill. So we followed him down the other side. All I could think of was "The bear went over the mountain" and a smile came over my face. The ponds soon came into view and we rested a bit. I congratulated our scout on a job well done. Done he was. With a smile and a sigh of relief he said, someone else can lead now. I agreed and hinted as to how he could use what we had just done as a way to help his patrol mates grow as scouts.</div><div><br></div><div>I asked the SM whether he wanted to lead or not. He chose to lead but wanted to take a slightly different route back. I was happy with his choice as I had never explored the route he chose so it would be very new to to me. We circled around the hill, instead of climbing again and followed a stream for a while until it turned away from our preferred route. At this point we took a bearing straight back to camp. It was getting close to lunch time and all of use were getting hungry. We soon were back at camp and began to eat lunch.&nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div>After lunch we rested and rested. The slightly more than two mile adventure along with the sun had really sapped our energy. We decided to have a relaxing afternoon. Our scout climbed atop his rock a few more times. Some other explorers were heard on the other side of the lake but don't think they knew we were there. We collected more wood and I overheard the SM ask his son what he thought so far. The scout was already planning how to get his patrol to the site. The scout and SM had dinner. Since I wasn;t hungry I just nibbled on some cheese. The scout built up his fire and we all enjoyed the TV for a while. After the sun set we soon retired to our sacks.</div><div><br></div><div>Early AM, a quick breakfast and we broke camp. I led us back around the lake and at the other side the scout asked if we could see where the other group was sunbathing. With assurance he wandered ahead. We soon followed to keep him in view. &nbsp;He was beginning to trust himself to wander around off a well-defined marked trail&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 10pt;">(though he was headed down a peninsula there was no where else he could go)</span><span style="font-size: 10pt;">. At the sunning rock we caught up with him. On the way back I remarked about a rock structure we passed by. He immediately detoured to walk through the "cavern". I thought aloud how cool it would be to put a tarp over the 6-ft wide gap and have a cave to sleep in. I could see the wheels turning in his head. Back to the "boring trail" and we were soon back to the car. The scout led the way keeping up quite a brisk pace. He would sleep in the car ride home. he checked us out at the trail register and I asked him what his favorite part of the trip was. His response was not surprising, "climbing on the rocks". I almost forgot the large bear poop we almost stepped in on the way around the lake.</span></div><div><br></div><div>On the drive up the SM has lamented the boys in the troop didn't seem interested in hiking and backpacking. I listened knowing what would likely transpire on the this trip with his son. On the ride home I gave my response to his lament. I said most boys are not interested in hiking or backpacking as a sport. However, climbing on rocks is something they enjoy and they will walk a few miles to do it. Sleeping in a fort they constructed with a tarp over a crevice in the rocks is an adventure they would choose to do. Hiking and backpacking are means to the ends. Now our young scout has some ideas to present to his patrol. I can almost guarantee he won't say, "hey guys lets go on a &nbsp;3 mile hike". Instead he will say, "hey guys I know this really cool rock place we can climb on and explore." I said Scouting at its core is the spirit of adventure. Giving the boys the tools and opportunities to explore is at the core of our job. As a wise old scoutmaster once said to me... train them, trust them, and let them be.</div>

8/24/2013
Spruce Lake Mountain -failure
2 nights/10.2 miles

The goal was to bushwhack to the south face of Spruce Lake Mtn where the Indian River bent close to the base. The maps and aerial recon hints at a stillwater here. Area looks "trouty" especially knowing the river downstream and the lake upstream maintain a population of native brookies. Spruce Lake proper would be the base camp for the operation. It was a relatively easy 3.1 mile hike in with good food and refreshments. The evening was shared with two other backpackers and a pair of fisherman.&nbsp;<div><br></div><div>I awoke early the next AM as did the two backpackers. I bid them adieu and waited for the rest the arise. We loaded up and wandered off trail. The plan was to follow the water as a handrail and only leaving its edge when necessary. The first portion of the trip was easy as it followed an old path. It was obvious it was still in minor use but only by the most adventuresome. We crossed the creek and then began a full out bushwhack through thick spruce, witchhopple, you name it. The going was slow. We came to a bend where a marshy area was ahead, we decided to cross the stream to avoid and then recross. This portion was the easiest of the journey. we re-entered the thick and tried a higher contour line while keeping the river in sight/sound. The going was slow and ironically the spruce bogs were the easiest portion of the 'whack. This was likely due to the lack of much recent rain. The spruce thickets were doing a number on my partner not to mention the witchhopple... which he cursed every time we entered it. As the river bent to the est, I took a bearing to the SW to a point where the river would return flowing in the direction we desired. In fact it would turn due west towards the base of our target mountain. At this point the woods opened up for the most part. It was an older stand of spruce and walking was easier. We soon intercepted the river and began following it westward from interchanging hi-low contours. I could see my partner was getting weary. At around 12:30 we found a nice spot for lunch. It was a rock jutting out into the creek. The water was calm here, thanks to the local beavers. Many minnows and salamanders were about. Looking at the time and the condition of my partners legs and his demeanor. I called the operation. We would turn around here and head back for dinner. Hopefully our fisherman friends would have trout for us.&nbsp;</div><div><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><br></span></div><div><span style="font-size: 10pt;">This wouldn't be the first time an operation would end in temporary failure. In fact, failure is too strong a word. While we didn't reach our ultimate goal, the boots on the ground intel gave us much needed info for our return. it would save us time and agaony. In fact it already served useful as our return to camp was much easier.</span><span style="font-size: 10pt;">&nbsp;As we approached the lake, we saw our friends on the other side. we made our way along the old path, which was quite obvious after a few hours of bushwhacking. They had caught a couple of nice native brookies. Beautiful spots and some dark streaks on the skin with bright orange flesh inside. I could almost taste them.</span></div><div><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><br></span></div><div><span style="font-size: 10pt;">The evening continued late into the night as we ate well. Every time I eat some native brook trout I am transported back in time to the early days of the great guides of the Adirondacks and the early explorers whose footpaths gave rise to the marked trails we enjoy today. Those old timers were hardcore and the woods was their church. I am humbled to walk in their footsteps.</span></div><div><div><br></div><div><br></div></div>



9/22/2013
Adirondack Leaf-Peeping -Burntbridge Pond
1 night/14 miles

Fall is upon the North Country and the waning full moon would provide the backdrop for a nice excursion to the woods. The plan was to be three of us to hike the 7 miles into Cranberry Lake Wild Forest. Turned out to be just two and the weather called for a potential thunderstorm later in the day/evening. Due to the weather, we chose our destination to be a pond with a lean-to. I hadn't been to this one yet, so this was great. The hike in went quickly as it was a wide open level trail. In winter it is used as a snowmobile trail. We saw no one and arrived to an empty site. We gathered wood before the weather turned. The wind was already starting to pick up. After setting up camp and getting a decent woodpile started, the wind subsided. we wondered out loud weather it was the proverbial calm before. Oddly the weather turned nice so we explored a bit, but not too far in case the clouds started to roll in. The lake itself is typical Adirondacks. Marshy shore and some derelict beaver lodges. This was also a protected trout water; signage reminded fisherman that baitfish was prohibited. Across the lake the palette of colors provided the panoramic backdrop. I have always loved the deep reds of the sugar maple leaves as they turn. They are very quick to fall, so seeing them as part of the landscape requires some lucky timing. We were lucky. &nbsp;Dinner time came and we started the fire. While cooking our bratwurst a few sprinkles came and went. The slight rain would come and go throughout the evening. We shared a few beers which I carried in and soon the sun set. Soon we retired to our hammocks. during the night the rains and winds came but not to extent as predicted. As the moon began her departure the morning sun emerged. The forest was quiet except for the night's rain dripping from the leaves. After a &nbsp;slow AM packing up and nice cup of coffee we were on the trail back. The dripping trees gave way to some real rain but it was just an annoying drizzle. We expected to be wet anyway as the trail went through some beautiful fern meadows which were sure to share their wetness as we pushed through. We stopped at some of the marked campsites along the flow as we took a leaisurely pace back to the car. even so , we were back before noon. A change of dry clothes awaited in our car. While I enjoy my solo trips, sometimes sharing the views with others makes them just a wee better.


10/20/2013
MSL and it rained again!
1 night/7.4 miles

The old crew was getting back together. We decided on MSL since many seem to like the location and it would entice them to come along. The plan worked and a number of the old crew initially committed to the trip. In the end it was just Jerry and I. The weather forecasted rain, but as the date moved closer, the rain forecast slowly pushed later and later. Jerry and I ended up hiking in on a beautiful fall day. The woods were cool and quiet. The trail was a little damp due to rain a few days before. We arrived at the lake and found it secluded. Many times in the past we would arrive to the site and find it occupied. The last time we had to mosey on another few miles to a different lake in the rain as the two at the site didn't seem like the sharing type. We made camp and gathered wood. We ate lunch and rested a bit. A group showed up and also had lunch on the point across the cove from us. A short while later they came on through. It appeared to be a scout patrol on a hike around the lakes environs. After we gathered some more wood, we embarked on our plan to bushwhack to the other side of the lake. we followed the trail across the outlet, though we missed the newly constructed bridge up stream. I missed the bridge going the other direction a year ago too. We came to the trail junction and headed south. When the path began to lead away from the lake we began our exploration of the shoreline. The witchobble was dying back so it wasn't too bad in the generally open hardwoods. We meandered around the shoreline until we were opposite of our campsite. I was looking for a stashed boat, who was I kidding. I have wanted to paddle and fish this lake for years. Since no boat was to be found (trout season had ended so this would have been recon only), I figured I was going to have to carry in my canoe the next time. That first climb was sure to be fun with the canoe hat. I should plan on a few days to paddle and fish to make it worth my while. Jerry and I headed back to camp and we grabbed some wood as we got closer. We started a fire and made dinner. I was tired for some reason and we began to talk about going to bed close to 7pm. I turned in soon after just as the rains came. The rains continued with some significant wind all through the night. I awoke at one point and the rain had subsided. A beaver slapped his tail not far away and I fell back asleep. At my next awakening, the rain was back. I would conitue in and out of deep sleep until the pre-dawn light. It was still raining but we both agreed to get a head start and grab breakfast at the local diner. A quick pack up and we were on the trail. The rain continued lightly on and off until we were back at the car. A change of clothes and we were on our way. A day hiking in the rain is still better than a day at home doing chores. Oh, I must remember the smoked andouille sausage split and grilled was fantastic!


11/09/2013
W.Branch Sacandaga Gorge(ous) -Silver Lake Wilderness
1 night/9 miles

Met Justin at Whitehouse Sat AM. The trail began along part of the NPT. I have this section plenty before and have seen the side trail to get to Big Eddy along the W. Branch of the Cacandaga river. I have never explored off the NPT in this area before. Justin had done some earlier recon, but our goal was to push farther beyond the extent of the short trail to a campsite we have only read about at the top end of the gorge. The NPT portion went quickly and we soon were at the side trail I have seen before. We came to the ford across Hamilton Lake Stream. There was a well used campsite here. We donned water shoes and made the crossing. The water was frigid and we happy to replace our wool socks and warm/dry boots. The trail here would parallel the w. Branch for a about a mile until it petered out. Since we left the NPT, there were no trail markers. The trail is marked on the maps only but is easily discernible in the field. we passed by a few more campsites until we reached Cold Brook. There is a campsite at the top of the waterfall here as well. Soon the trail petered out, though travel was still relatively easy. We passed by where Justin had camped on a previous trip and then some flagging tape and pressed on to the gorge. We were soon at the base of the first of four cascades. The terrain pressed in close to the gorge and travel was soon limited. We would either have to scale a cliff, or head back to find a different approach to the higher ground. The flagging tape was near a draw, so we decided to use that approach. It was steep, but we finally made it to the top of the rise. we were now about 300' above the river. We continued along this contour on a SW heading. The sounds of the river changed to let us know we found the succeeding cascades. The goal was the fourth. the woods was easy going here as it was open hardwoods and we tried to stay on the same contour. We would know when we approached our goal as the terrain would level out as the river joined our elevation. The campsite location was easily seen from afar to the trained eye. We headed downhill to the waters edge and found the remnants of the old campsite. A cooking grate was hanging from the tree. The firepit was overgrown and covered in leaves. A spring was nearby, as is common in these parts. We made camp and collected wood. a quick snack and we began exploring. We continued upriver towards the outlet of &nbsp;Owl Pond. We had hoped to make it to Owl and then back before sunset. within a quarter mile of Owl and we came across fresh tracks. Since it was hunting season, we didn't want to disturb the likely hunter, nor put ourselves in danger. We reluctantly turned back. We checked out the eddy upstream a bit instead and then headed back to camp. It was only a few miles and walking along the river was easy here. we filled our water bottles from a spring that was pouring out of the river bank like a faucet. Back at camp, we started the fire and made dinner. I was asleep soon after the sun. Some rain and snow came during the night and a little the next morning. After breakfast we took some time to enjoy the gorge right in the area of the campsite. The cascade here was tremndous. The rapids right in front of the campsite were dwarfed by the flume and drop just below. The river would drop about 100' over about 100yds. With &nbsp;a few 20ft drops. we found a neat campsite near ours with an elevated fire pit. we then headed back knowing to stay high away from the river. I took the point and stayed higher than before, soon the river noise was blocked by a knoll. On the way in we stayed on the other side of the knoll, but this was a nice section. We came across the remnants of an old path. we followed it for a bit as it was heading in our direction but it soon petered out. We refound it, or another old path a few times. We heaed around the knoll towards the river and we found a drainage which we followed the rest of the way. The drainage entered the river near "the island". this would make a great landmark for a future trip as this return route was very easy with little steep climbs, just a gradual incline the entire way. We stopped at the Cold Brook for a drink and some photos. We were now back on the trail and travel went quick. We came across a resting hunter and conversed for a bit. Back at Hamilton Lake Stream , we froze our toes. We both agreed the water was colder today than yesterday. It wasn't just cold. It was painful. Saw a brook trout swim downstream right in front of us so it was worth it. Dry socks never felt so good. The rest of the trail back to the cars was like a superhighway after spending the day with little/no trails. We can hardly wait to get back there.

12/01/2013
Pigeon for Thanksgiving -Queer lake
2 Night/7 miles

The original plan for Thanksgiving was the Operation ADK Gobbler edition for Thursday and then to the Pigeon Lake Wilderness to meet Ian et al for our annual Tgiving trip to Queer Lake. Due to the storm, the Gobbler edition was cancelled, so I ate leftover at home and left bright an early Fri AM. Originally I was to meet Ian at noon, but he was layed up in the hospital so I ventured out on my own. There was a possibility of Chuck or Eric joining me on Saturday. The day was cold and there were no cars in the lot. The trail register showed a day hiker the previous day. His snowshoes circled back after a mile when he encountered some blowdown and the trail ahead wasn't obvious.<div><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/Queer%20Lake%20Thanksgiving%202013/2013-11-29114001_zps5499e623.jpg"></div><div>I pressed on remembering to put on sunscreen;. I often forget on my first snowy trip.The trail in had 2-4 inches of snow and due to the cold the typical wet spots were mostly solid. I arrived to Queer Lake landing and had lunch. I was plenty warm from the hiking but by the end of lunch, the air began to chill me.I had about a mile to go to the other side of the oddly shaped lake. &nbsp;I arrived to an empty leanto and rested. I had a few hours still before the sun would set and due to the clear sky, I knew it would be cold. I gathered some firewood, set up my sleeping pad and bag and read the shelter log. I had realized a few days before I hadn't yet spent the night in this lean-to as I am typically in my hammock. I figured this would be a good trip to check off Queer from the list. As the sun hit the top of the ridge, I started the fire. I knew I would light for a little while longer bu the temp would begin to drop quickly.&nbsp;</div><div><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/Queer%20Lake%20Thanksgiving%202013/2013-11-30115059_zps0a61650e.jpg"></div><div>I also prepared my gear for dinner. I put on an extra warm layer and started dinner. Red beans and rice. Warm and filling and would provide fuel for the cold night. After the sun set properly Venus made her appearance. As expected the temp dropped considerably. I watched some campfire tv for a while and soon found myself in my bag. The night was cold, but I was quite warm, though not as comfortable as i would have been in my hammock. I awoke before first light and waited as long as I could before exited the coziness of my down cocoon. When the sun finally crested the ridge and at my bladder's insistence, I crawled out. The sun was reflecting off the bits of snow atop the frozen lake. Over the night I was awoken a few times by the sounds of the lake making new ice. The hole I had cut the previous day through about a quarter inch of ice had since frozen over again with about a half inch of ice. the area surrounding the hole had almost an inch. Anyway, the morning sun shining on the lake was gorgeous. I doubt the photos would do it justice as I just have my phone's camera.</div><div><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/Queer%20Lake%20Thanksgiving%202013/2013-11-30080209_zpsa5ee7c23.jpg"></div><div><br></div><div><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/Queer%20Lake%20Thanksgiving%202013/2013-11-30084130_zps4621794e.jpg"></div><div><br></div><div>The day soon warmed up as did I. Coffee and some oatmeal with berries helped a lot. I decided to explore a little bit of the peninsula. I walked a ways and didn't find anything exceptional to report. The campsite in the area isn't used much to due the lean-to's proximity and with the snow, the circle of rocks would not be visible. I soon found myself heading back with some more firewood. I spent the rest of the day, getting more wood, eating lunch and writing in the shelter log. By late afternoon, I figured neither Chuck nor Eric were going to make it. I had an early dinner mixing up some cous cous, black beans and dried hamburger. Tasted like chili, sort of. After cleaning up and sitting around, defrosting a beer by the fire I heard a sound fromt he side of the lean-to and there appeared The Rev Yukon Jack, and he brought supplies.</div><div><img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg247/allthenamesweretaken/Queer%20Lake%20Thanksgiving%202013/2013-11-30150154_zpsc067c297.jpg"></div><div>A package of Hebrew National hot dogs, (it was Hanukhah after all) and a mini-keg of beer. Well the company was great as was the resupply of beer. We toasted each others company and the Rev ate some hot dogs. We collected some more wood and then talked like usual. At the trailhead, the Rev saw a couple of people who were considering coming into Queer, but were reconsidering. Apparently they knew me, or knew of me. Anyway, they ended up not showing. The Rev and I would have to down the 5 L else we'd have to carry it out. Even though i had already eaten dinner, I had a couple dogs so we wouldn't have to carry those out either. The day had been getting warmer and with the overcast sky, we guessed it wouldn't get very cold at night. At one point a breeze came through and then the temp warmed even more. We fed the fire and killed the keg and crawled into our bags. I awoke int he middle of the night too warm, I had to unzip my bag. The air even felt warmer than before we went to bed. I wondered if my mind was playing tricks on me. &nbsp;When I finally did get up and restarted the fire it was considerably warmer than the previous day. The now unfrozen butter in my food bag told me it was warmer than when we went to bed. I guess my mind was kidding. We poked around camp for a while not being in any hurry. Slowly packing up as we talked. Back on the trail with a lighter load and mostly downhill the hike back would go quickly. Unfortunately when we got to the diner, it was after noon so they were onto the lunch menu. I was looking forward to their homemade corned beef hash. Next time.</div>


12/15/2013
Meteors w/The Meetup -Chub Pond
1 Night/9 miles

Arrived at the trailhead w/Chris. Kim and Pat would be arriving later as Kim was running a 5k. Temp was hovering around 11*F at noon.&nbsp;&nbsp;The area had gotten over 2 feet of snow the past few days so we donned our snowshoes.&nbsp;Oddly the snowmobile trail hasn't been used yet. We broke trail all the way to the pond taking multiple breaks as the going was slow in that deep snow. Arrived at the lean-to a little after 2 pm. We spent some time collecting wood and digging out a hole in the pond to get water. After spending some time relaxing we eventually lit the fire and had some cocoa. Dinner soon ensued, me with bratwurst and Chris with mac&amp;cheese w/hot dogs. After dinner we each enjoyed the one beer we carried in. By this time we assumed Kim and Pat would be no shows. The sun set and as the temp began to drop we added fuel to the fire. Soon after a light appeared in the woods. It was Kim on skis. She dropped her pack and went back to get Pat. They set up their tents and made dinner. The winds began to pick up, so we put a tarp on to the front of the lean-to. A tea light candle and a make shift lantern from an empty beer can provided some nice light. I was curled up in my bag and was soon asleep. The winds came strong and flapped the tarp all night long. The winds ended with the rise of the sun. We had received additional snow covering the tracks we made in. After a quick breakfast we headed back. breaking trail both ways will certainly leave me sore tomorrow. I had hoped to see the Geminid Meteor shower, but the overcast skies and storm changed those plans. The woods sure were pretty though.


12/29/2013
Will the Real Slim Pond please Stand Up.
1 night/4.6 miles


Was hoping to do at least part of the #operationadks rescheduled trip, but alas my schedule only allowed for a single night. My friend Justin also was only available for a quick overnight so we we thought about something we could hit quick and easy. After perusing some old maps I suggested a small pond about 2 miles in for which there is no marked path, at least not marked by the DEC. Slim Pond and the nearby Bear Pond had been on my list to explore for a while and on Justin's, so it was a go. we met up Sat AM and loaded up our packs and pulks. The unmarked path followed an old logging rd for at least part of the journey. It was obvious this path was maintained in the past and the travel was relatively easy for the first mile. Then it got rogh. Lots of blowdown with little snow made us curse bringing in our pulks. The only good thing was someone had marked the path with green paint and orange flagging. As we got closer to Slim, we lost the path and began to follow a stream to the Pond. It started to head in the wrong direction, so we back tracked and refound the markings. Up and over a small rise and then a push through some spruce and Slim Pond appeared before us. Crossing the frozen pond made us remember the conditions pulks were built for; the frozen lakes not pseudo-bushwhacks. We found the campsite at the far end of the Pond. Had a nice firepit and plenty of downed nearby. We collected plenty and set up camp, We found another marked trail (red paint) heading in the direction of Bear Pond. We followed it and within ten minutes were at the shore of Bear. We walked across the pond and looked for potential future campsites. Didn't find any, but commented on how the fishing might be in the Spring. Will have to return to both Slim and Bear with tackle. Back at camp, I went to be early. Justin soon after. I slept like a log and didn't get up until after first light. Justin was already up. We poked around a bit and eventually packed up and headed back. The trip out was quicker mostly due to wearing our packs to lighten the sleds and also following our own tracks. Was good to get out although I wish I was sill there climbing Seymour today. Was nice to check off some other ponds from my list. Will definitely return to fish.
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