Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Colvin Brook and NPT

 As the adopter of the Colvin Brook lean-to, and steward for part of the NPT in the area, I visit at least twice a year for maintenance and trail clearing. Last time to Colvin Brook was with Lance and Justin. We walked through the flooded section of the NPT. I guess Lance didn't get enough because he came along again. Also Dan was in tow, but he paddled to the Carry lean-to and went to fish a nearby pond. He would meet us at Colvin Brook.

The gate at Wakely was still closed so this added 1.3 miles to our day all along the dirt road. The black flies were horrendous at Wakely Dam, but as we hiked they were rather non-existent. At about 11am the sky opened up on us. It lasted at most 20 minutes. The rain was cold. Stark contrast to the 80 degree air. After the rain the temperature was a bit cooler. At the flooded section I was in/out of my water shoes quickly as I did not want to linger for the black flies to find me. I needed to use the thunderbox at Carry, so I told Lance I would meet him there. After finishing up and signing into the log book, I waited a bit for Lance. I then went back to the main trail and called for him... no reply. I put an arrow woth sticks on the ground and headed towards the Sucker Brook trail hoping I would catch up with him.

At the junction there was no sign anyone had made the turn. From here I would need to clear trail on the NPT all the way to Cedar Lake. I dropped my pack with its rain cover on it. Took my daypack with rain & emergency gear and my saw and headed down the NPT. I gave myself a two hour turn-around time. I marked an arrow in the leaves to show which direction I headed. Cleared quite a bit of blowdown. I only made it to the "woodstove crossing" campsite before I headed back. I was tired. Stopping to cut blowdown and move the debris from the trail is exhausting. I downed some water. Cleared some drainages on the way back. At the junction I could now see some tracks headed towards Colvin Brook.

I stopped at my favorite water source and filled up my bottle. I would save any cutting of downed trees for the way out. At the Cedar River I could see Lance in the lean-to. He waved as I put on my water shoes to ford the Cedar River. The cold water felt great on my sore ankles.

 Lance had collected some firewood already. I would add to the pile. We both set up our gear in the lean-to. A hummingbird visited and hovered in front of the lean-to for a few moments. Not much later we started the fire. Smoke to keep the bugs at bay, and to get some coals for the kebabs Lance was making for dinner. He was just about finished cooking when Dan arrived. Since he paddled most of the way he transported the beer I brought. He said it needed to be chilled so we made a spot in the river for it.

Dinner was great. The beer and conversation afterwards was also delightful. I do not recall staying up very late. A few times in the middle of the night I awoke to what I thought was rain. It was just the river. I tossed around a few times on my sleeping pad. The hammock is still my preferred camp bed. But I still slept ok. I was up early, so I started the fire. Lance was also awake, said he slept terrible. Poor guy.

After coffee and breakfast Dan headed out to get a little fishing in before we would rejoin each other for the ride home at 12:30. I cleared some blowdown on the way out. I filled up water just before the NPT and we headed back. Another rest at the Carry lean-to. Lance wasn't able to get his water bag deep enough at the river's edge, so we would have to stop again aling the way. At the flooded section the blackflies found us and again at the spring box where Lance filtered some water. He was moving slow and we rested a fair bit.

We arrived at Wakely with perfect timing to meet Dan. After saying farewell to Lance, I drove down to the boat launch to help Dan with his canoe. He had a few fish for the cooler.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Preston Ponds Club + an extra night on 8th Lake and some sad news.

 The annual meeting of the Preston Ponds Club was this past weekend. Due to my need to return on Saturday, I went up a day early with Andy and we pulked to Dunning lean-to on 8th Lake via the Browns Tract snowmobile path. The last few days had been warm and rainy, so we did not tempt the ice as it looked a bit rotten. There was a small section of open water right near shore which would make for our water access. The temp was just around freezing when we arrived and would rop continuosly to about zero overnight. At the lean-to the wind from the front moving through made it feel considerably colder. It finally settled down as did we and had a superb night sleeping. In the middle, the moon shone directly into the lean-to. I had to pull the hat down over my eyes to continue sleeping.

The next day we were both up before the sunrise. Since we were meeting folks later in the morning we didn't have to hurry. The temp was about zero, the hole in the ice was now gone. With coffee in hand we watched the sunrise from the lake. After packing up we made the quick hike back to the car and continued on to our next destination. Others would not be here for another  hour at least, so we hit the diner and had a fantastic breakfast before returning to the Stewarts. Bob, Matt and Sam soon arrived and we chatted in the parking lot for a bit and then headed to Upper Works. This would be the first time parking in the new lot. It would add a short distance to the hike, but not much.

Hoping for the best, I brought my pulk but was prepared to load all my gear into my pack if I needed to break trail. The tread was so far quite firm so all that was needed was microspikes. Henderson Lake was mostly just ice with a few thin drifts of snow. My first step on broke through a slush layer which was immediately concerning but the concern was quickly gone as we moved away from that edge. Microspikes and the pulk sliding across the ice made talking alll but impossible unless we stopped. As we approached the far end, we could see where the inlet overflow had washed up debris over the lake in the previous warm weather and rain. We could see it added at least another inch to the ice. We were still a little tentative as we approached that end though. A few places we could see a layer of water between  layers of ice. A quick pause at the lean-to and then  a longer one when we realized the snow crust would not hold with bare boots. Snowshoes allowed us to more or lesss stay on top. The first bridge was a difficult crossing. Sam helped ferry our pulks over as more and more ice and snow was dislodged from the bridge. Knowing we had a few more of these, made me a little uneasy. One of them required us to walk sideways dragging the pulks by hand. This was not fun. The broken bridge just before the hill cause a little issue as Sam's pulk broke through the ice and he almost went in himself. A few feet downstream we got everyone across without too much issue.

We then made our way up the hill. Sam was in front next was me. Bob had given me the extra key knowing he would be going slow. I still had my pulk so I would not be that much ahead of him. Sam and I got to the cabin first and readied the wood stoves. I made sure the outhouse door was clear and cut a hole in the ice over the creek for water access. A few minutes later the rest of the crew arrived. 

We would be expecting two more in the evening and then another two the following day. After dinner we cleaned up and hung out waiting for G&T to arrive. A lot of guessing as to when they would show up. At some point we laid down on the bunks and fell asleep. We had left one light on in the cabin and Andy had put another one down by the lake. 

The next day we cut and split some wood and waited some more. Concern about the others would wax and wane. The snow started last night and would continue on all day adding at least 8 inches of powder.  Andy made a fantastic chili cheese dip for lunch. Later we had a ham boil with potatoes and carrots. Still no George&Tammy. Using Andy's satellite comm we send a text to see if they were ok. We never got a response. After dinner we were just starting to play some cards and the door opened. It was Glen &Teresa. It took them 4 hours to get here as  they needed to break trail through the new snow. The last few hours in the dark. We re-heated them some ham and taters and they let us know G&T were ok. 

I was one fo the first to go to sleep amd of course the first to awaken. I started the coffee and the kitchen stove. Andy and I would be leaving today which we did soon after breakfast. The trail was relatively easy since Glen & Teresa came through last night. The powder made both Preston and Henderson slower than when it was just ice. The wind gusted a bit as we approached the turn on Henderson. I had to cover my ears with my hand as the wind was cutting right through my hat. We saw a few skiers off in the distance and passed a couple more as we neared the parking area. Back at the car before 11am. It took us less than 3 hours to get back. We then began the long drive home, along which I learned my friend Redhawk had passed away. Great trip but the news put a damper on my spirits. Sent a few messages to others to let them know as well. Redhawk had turned 80 in January. 

Walk on my friend.