Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in Review

Blizzard Canoeing?
Lean2Rescue takes a lot of effort. One of our workhorses, besides stupid human labor, are old aluminum canoes. The beefier the better. These are used to transport tools and materials over some rugged terrain to the job site and are also used to ferry logs from other sides of the lakes to make major repairs or build bridges. Many times these canoes are left on site for future work and when that work is completed the canoes need to be removed. This was one of those trips. 4 of us carried in a lightweight kevlar canoe the 1.5 miles to Bear Lake to rescue the old grumman aluminum. We would then paddle both canoes down the outlet, to the Bear Creek parking lot. This paddle would involve some portaging (100yd, 0.75 mile, and 1.25 mile).&nbsp;<div><br></div><div>When we arrived at Bear Lake the ice was beginning to form on the lake. There were still channels of water available for quiet paddling and the kevlar canoe broke through the newly formed ice with quite a racket. After locating the other two aluminum canoes (they had been moved) we began our paddle back. We stashed one canoe for a future rescue and proceeded with the kevlar and grumman. At this point the snow began to fall. Large, puffy flakes filled the sky. this would be my first time paddling a canoe in icy water with the snow falling! It was beautiful though we were also acutely aware of the danger the conditions presented. We had to lift ourselves over a few beaver dams at the beginning of the outlet. The later dams we would be able to run.&nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div>After the first few beaver dams, the snow stopped and we paddled through snow covered beaver marshes, winding our way to the first portage. Since this carry was so short, we didn't hook up the canoe cart for the alumaBeast, instead I dragged it over the snow like a giant sled. After circumvented the rapids, we again out back into the creek for about 50 yds to the next portage. some of this portage would be along the old "blue trail". For this we hooked up the cart and began what we lovingly refer to as "carting hell". It takes a minimum of three people to transport such a beast over logs and through blowdown over rough terrain. Carrying the kevlar canoe would be the easy job. After the first &nbsp;half mile, I was shot as I provided the major muscle for the cart. I switched off to the kevlar canoe for the remaining quarter mile which turned out to be mostly uphill. LOL. Back at the creek we had about four miles more to paddle before the last portage which would bring us back to the cars. We had to paddle fast as dark was quickly approaching and unlike typical canoe routes, this is an unmarked portage which gets little to no use (we were probably the only ones to use it in the last few years). This portion of the creek winds around so much you almost feel like you are paddling back the way you just came. If the bends were any tighter, the bow of the canoe woulfd be in the back! We paddled 4 miles to cover about a mile and half distance as the crow flies. Just as we were losing our last bit of light, we came to the final portage. donning headlamps, the canoe cart was again rigged and I donned the kevlar hat. Since this final portage was along an old logging road, the canoe cart is in its glory and moves swiftly. Since the temperature is now significantly below freezing any water and snow accumulates on the kevlar canoe. We estimated it gained about 15 lbs in ice from that point to where I finally was able to put it down. Did I mention this 1.25 mile portage was entirely uphill? Of course it was, but only about 120ft of elevation for the entire carry. At the conclusion of the carry we loaded up both boats on the truck and headed out for some much deserved pizza and beer. The next two days I would certainly be feeling those portages in my quads!</div>

Campout with Chuck et al -Bear Lake

I felt badly that I had to bail on a NEOH trip as I never get to do them, but when I found out Chuck would be back in town I could not say no to him. We haven't seen each other in over a year. In fact we were trying hard to figure out the last time we got to hang out. The plan was to meet Chuck at Bear Lake, the leanto we helped build in the Adirondacks which has become my go to spot as of late. The trip was also going to include Tobin (another L2R slave... err volunteer) and his friend Tyler. The attendance was expanded to include Ian and then Todd and Toby. I met ian at the TH and we hiked in the short 1.5 miles. this was his first time to Bear. The trail is easy even though it climbs a few hundred feet . It crosses a few small streams most of which can be stepped over or one step on a rock. Some have tiny waterfalls which are always pretty especially in early winter. The trail then descends and seems to turn back on itself for a few hundred feet. Bear Lake can be seen below and soon the cliffs come into view. These cliffs are the reason for the hairpin turn on the trail. At the leanto, one person's gear was already there. It was Tobin's. His friends stayed an extra day with family and would be coming in the next day, as would Toby and Todd. Tobin and i got some wood gathered while Ian set up his hammock. Ian then started to get sick and eventually had to hike out. He is feeling better and looking forward to getting out there again. Chuck arrived and we gathered a ton more wood. Talked, had a fire, dinner and went to bed. Chuck and I in our hammocks, and Tobin in the leanto. Was a cold night, cold enough for boots and water bottles to freeze up. I arose first and made myself breakfast.<div><br></div><div>We had tossed around the idea of exploring the old blue trail, but gathering and prepping copious amounts of wood seemed to take over. Just about lunch time, Tobin's friend Tyler showed up. I figured Todd and Toby would be there soon after. A family with their dog day hiked in. They were locals who hunt in the area. We heard stories about the old hunting camp which was used by some german guys 5 years ago till one fell out of a tree stand and broke his neck. Todd and Toby finally did arrive, but later than I thought. They also arrived with snow, which soon turned to rain. We had gotten a fire going earlier but due to the rain we just sat in the leanto and watched it while we ate dinner.&nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div>Eventually&nbsp;the rain subsided and turned to intermittent snow. We stood around the fire for a while and then headed to bed. It was a much warmer night and it snowed a bit throughout. The next AM was just packing up and going home.&nbsp;Tobin and Chuck stayed at the leanto, they would be there for 3 more days.&nbsp;Wet snow on the trail and the warmer temps made areas muddy. The warmer day would soon turn as the forecast called for single digits at night. As they are still up there i will have to ask about the temps when they return.</div>

The "Butt Crevice" at Queer Lake

The title appears to be sophomoric, but it really isn't. Used the 3 day weekend to spend time at Queer Lake in the Pigeon Lake Wilderness. Why it has that name is unknown to me. perhaps it is the "strange" shoreline. Anyway, the 3.5 mile hike in was in seasonal warm temps with about an inch of snow left over from the storm early in the week. Plenty of ups and downs as we traversed from vly to vly and skirted a small private inholding. Creek crossings were plentiful, but very easy. We heard and located a few small waterfalls both on the way in and out. About halfway to Queer Lake we caught up to three senior ladies taking a day hike to Queer. They stopped at the landing and we continued to the leanto, 0.8 miles farther on the peninsula on other side of the lake. At the leanto, we ate lunch and Ian set up his hammock while I scouted for wood. This is a well used leanto so wood in the immediate area was scarce. Up on the neighboring hill, plenty was found. While the leanto site gets plenty of use, the adopter does a great job of keeping it clean (and berating the slobs in the shelter logbook). With a hefty pile of wood, I set up my hammock and Ian got to cooking. The sun was going to set soon after dinner. We had steak and baked beans. I cooked apple turnovers for dessert. We retired early and I slept great until just before sunrise.

Saturday AM, I restarted the fire and made myself some coffee. I prepped for breakfast and went to the lake edge to watch the sunrise. I contemplated waking Ian, but he wasn't feeling well the night before so I let him sleep.

When he finally arose, the sun was fully up but still pretty. I made sausage a biscuits for breakfast and we ate and planned the day. After sitting around for a while I began to carve a chuck of white cedar I had found. it slowly took the shape of a spoon. Ian began to carve a turtle for his wife. I went and got some more wood and on the way back noted an old path along the shoreline. We decided to hike along the path and check out some of the cool rock formations. We hugged the shoreline along the old path even though there was some blowdown to deal with. The ridge above was worse. At one pint we looked up and saw a neat looking cliff, so we decided to get to the top of it for a view. We scrambled up the side and climbed through some horrendous downed hemlocks until we got above the cliff. Nice view through the trees was worth the effort. We continued on our way until we found a good place to get back to the lake level. As we headed down we found a cave between some boulders. This was really neat. Not nearly as large as French Louie's Cave, but cool nonetheless. Back at the shoreline we continued for a short while and then turned back. back where we came down from the cave we looked up and saw a giant crevice in the cliff wall just about the cave. The cliff bulged out at that point so it looked like a butt, hence the name "butt crevice".

No idea how we missed it as we were less than 20 feet from it earlier in the hour. We just had to check it out, so back up the hill we climbed. The butt crevice wasn't much. It looked way cooler from below. And back down the hill we went. Soon we were back at the leanto and we gathered some more wood. After dinner we stayed up late, till like 8:30 burning all the wood we collected. Stars were out in full force as it was the new moon. Ian told me to wake him before the sunrise the next day.<div><br></div><div>I slept soundly until 5am and then got up to restart the fire. I yelled for Ian to get up before the sun. We ate breakfast and hit the trail. Saw some moose tracks about a mile before the trailhead. All in all a great trip. the weather was fantastic.

Full Moon over Cowhorn Pond

Left at 3:30 am for the 4 hr drive to the trailhead in the Five Ponds Wilderness. Was on the trail by 8 am. The air was chilly, but not cold. The frost crunched under my feet. The area was empty except for the family which signed in at the register for one of the Cranberry Lake campsites. Stopped at Glasby Pond and watched the beaver swim around for a few minutes. He slapped his tail as he dove underwater and began to swim some more. I made my way past the Cat Mt junction and on to Cowhorn Pond. At camp, I set up and began to collect wood. After a large pile was collected I ate lunch and then began to process the wood. As I was getting the fire going, a familiar face arrived. Glen decided to surprise me for the night. We ate dinner, chatted as the sun set and played with the fire until we retired. The night was crisp and we slept well. At sunrise Glen packed up and headed home. I spent the day reading, getting more firewood and just thinking. The temperature warmed up as the day went on and even into the night it seemed to warm up. Watched the sun set, and then when I awoke, I got to see the moon set as well. With a good night sleep, under my belt, i stashed some wood for the December trip and packed up my gear. A quick 2.5 hrs later and I was back at the car. The weather was fantastic especially on the hike out.

In search of French Louie -Cedar Lake
Saturday, 8am, Justin, Jason, Ian, Jenny (the dog) and I left the Pillsbury Mt trailhead towards Cedar Lakes. The 4 and a quarter miles to the dam were uneventful though wet. There was already snow from the previous night and the air was still in the 20's. Some of the wetness was icy, so the ground crunched under our feet. the 45 degree bridge was a slippery experience as were the bog bridges. Along the way, Justin told us of his experience with "the ghost of French Louie" a few years prior. Thus began the search for all things French Louie and referring to all things as "louie's". <br><br>Once at the dam, we crossed the new lower bridge and while Ian was signing us into the register I noted the flat spot on the hill behind the register box. [portion redacted due to keeping the secret.] We made our way along the NPT, joking that Ian was now on the blue blazes and "better watch out" as the NPT has so far beaten Ian twice. We passed by Cedar lakes #1 and continued on across the slippery bridge to Cedar Lakes #2. In all the times I have been here, this was the first time the area hasn't been full of people. We collected a lot of wood and had a large processed pile for later. After setting up camp, we then headed for "French Louie's Cave". We turned off the NPT along what both Justin and I believe was the old NPT trail for a short while and then took a compass bearing and bushwhacked a half mile to the knoll. After a respite in French Louie's Cave, we then headed back to camp with jenny leading the way. Ont he way back down, I twisted my knee and re-aggravated an injury from a few years back (the bucktail path). Downhills were going to hurt for a while.<br><br>Back at camp we started the fire and got to cooking dinner. I also popped a few advil. The temp likely hadn't risen above freezing all day and the night was going to be colder. As the sun set, and we ate the temp began to drop from the area away from the fire. I cashed in early as I had arisen at 3am to make the drive. I limped to my hammock and shivered as I made myself ready for bed, but was soon warm inside my down quilts. Int he middle of the night the winds picked up. I figured it was the outer edges of the noreaster that was projected (and did) pound the east coast over the night. <br><br>I slept in until after dawn. Justin was up before me and had restarted the fire. Soon all were up and breakfast was made. We dillied around until 10 or so and then Ian and I headed out. Justin, Jason and Jenny were going to explore a bit more and leave later. At the trail register I popped a few more advil and we headed back to the parking area. The day was beautiful and the sun was shining. Great day to be in the woods even if we were about to be heading home.<br>

MSL Loop
Met up with Aaron, Rich, Glen and Kevin (the new guy) at the Park&amp;Ride. A quick 3 hrs to the trailhead driving through rain and wind would prove to be a harbinger of what was to come. We aprked the car and were on trail around 11am. A little wind and some rain began to fall so we donned our pack covers and continued on to Middle Settlement Lake in the HaDeRonDah Wilderness. Only 3.3 miles in but the crossing of the lake's inlet proved difficult. As we approached the leanto, we smelled smoke confirming our suspicion of potential campers already there. We met three guys and&nbsp; one german shepherd who was not happy to see us. We decided to continue on to Middle Branch Lake. I had not been to it in a few years, and remembered little of the trail except for the blowdown the last time. While most of the blowdown was cleared, the rains had swollen a few of the creek crossings and one we had to fjord up to our knees. Fortunately I knew we could return to our cars via a different route. A mile shy of the Middle Branch leanto, the rain began to grown in intensity. Rich was on a mission and was pushing ahead hard. Glen was beginning to run out of gas. For some reason I was happy just plugging along. As we approached the leanto, the rains slowed. We threw our gear in the leanto and I went wood collecting. Found a dead, down beech hidden in some undergrowth which we processed for our fire. 5 guys and 2 saws made quick work of it. Back at camp I built the fire and the winds picked up. Oh, I forgot to mention the sky opened up on us as we were gathering the wood. Anyway, got a fire built by getting to the dry wood inside of the wet. It take time to process wet wood to build a fire, but with patience and perseverance once it gets lit, it will dry out the rest. Once the fire was lit we set up our gear. I then began cooking dinner. I made black bean &amp; sweet potato stew (vegetarian for Glen), it also served as the the side dish for the rest of us as we also had grilled ham steaks. For dessert, I made a hot fruit cobbler. We ate like champs and sat around a bit. It was wet outside but we were dry. We rigged a tarp in front of the leanto to block the wind and stoked the fire with some bigger logs. The winds came, as did the rain. And then it really got windy. the tarp "buzzed" as the wind rifled around it. It kept&nbsp; a majority of the wind and all the rain off of us. we went to sleep early and awoke several times during the night when giant windstorms would blow through. We are all warm and dry. In the AM, we saw Glen had broken camp to get an early jump on the hike out. A quick breakfast and we packed up ourselves. Only 4.1 miles back to the car but it was on a little used trail. A few small stream to cross but nothing big like the previous day. It was wet and sloshy, but the sun was peeking though. A beautiful day to hike out. Back at the car, Glen was resting against the wheel drinking some coffee. 9.9 miles.<br>

Chub Pond
5 of us (DuctTape, Roger +1, Laura and Rich)&nbsp; met at the Park and Ride at 9am. We would meet the Rev and Dan and the trailhead as they were driving in from Syracuse. After a quick stop at the Stewarts in Holland Patent we were at the TH. Ate lunch while waiting for the Rev and Dan. they showed up right as we finished. The hike in was uneventful, which was good considering it was the first day of Bear season and a few hunters were in the area. The 4.5 miles to the campsite went quickly. It had been almost a year since my last trip to Chub, and even longer via this trail. As we approached the leanto we noticed others were already there so we yelled out as we got closer. Good thing since the coupler&nbsp; that was there was "enjoying the private serenity of the location" if you catch my drift. We waited a few moments as they made themselves presentable and then set up camp nearby. We soon and firewood collected and a few adult beverages were opened. Roger and his son had decided to camp at the other site so we went to visit for a bit. Another friend of the coupld arrived with her dog. We had a fire going and we all ate dinner, had a few more adult beverages and for some reason we started quoting Alice's Restaurant, specifically the "Group W Bench" verses. eventually we all retired. It was to be a cold night and the clear sky would allow this to come to pass. Slept well til AM. I waited to arise until after I heard the people in the leanto awake. Then began our breakfast routine. We all drank tea, cofee, etc... as we watched the fog lift off the lake. The mercury was registering 32, but I don't think it was accurate as it didn't seem to change as the morning sun began to poke her rays through the trees. We hiked out and then off to the diner! 9 miles and great weather.<br>

Sept 3-5 2011

In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, where the area just NorthEast of the W. Canada Lakes Wilderness was devastated by winds and floods we embarked on a 3 day/22 mile loop which encompasses the French Louie Trail and part of the Northville Placid Trail. With the first day being 10 miles we were expecting to be wet and tired. The first 6 miles was familiar territory for myself and Ian as we had been on this section back in June. Met a group of "kids" at the Pillsbury Leanto, interestingly they live around the corner from me. A mere 4.5 hr drive to the trailhead. It was 5 guys and a girl. all seemed new to backpacking. They complained of 50+ lbs pack weight and inquired as to ours. It was no surprise they were as heavy as they were with the ALICE packs (w/frame), machetes (1-each), and blue poly tarps for their groundsheets. They were taking it in stride though and doing low miles and enjoying the beauty of the area. They will return again with less gear for sure.

We checked out Sampson and it was a mess like usual.As we were getting ready to leave, the group of kids showed up. We had told them about this leanto and since it was only 3 miles from Pillsbury they decided to move. After a quick chat and a water refill we were on our way to the W. Canada Cr headwater where the bridge was out. this is also the junction of the French louie Trail and The Northville-Placid Trail.

The creek was higher than in July when I last crossed it (NPT South 2011) so we needed to wade and use the ropes for balance. The water felt very good on our feet. All 3 of us paused in the creek just to experience the refheshness on our toes. It was only a hop, skip and jump from their to South Lake Leanto which would be our home for the night.

At South lake, we met Tom and Greg. Two older guys who have been friends since grammar school and have camped together their whole life. We all ate dinner and talked through sunset and beyond. By now, Ian's knee was swelling so it seemed. According to him it was filling with liquid and would need to be drained. He would hike back to the car in the AM while we continued. With the sheer number of people we were seeing on the trail, we had no worries about him being alone (and hurt). Bryan and I wished Ian good luck, said goodday to Greg and Tom and headed towards West Lake.

It was only a mile to West, but it is such a nice spot I decided we would take a quick break and read the shelter log. We were only doing 8 miles today so we could take our time. We made our way to Cedar Lakes through quite a bit of blowdown from Irene. Took a bearing from the Cedar #3 leanto trail to French Louie's Cave's coordinates. I had guessed it would be a bearing of 285 and pointed in the general direction. I was almost dead on with both. My internal compass is well calibrated I guess (not that i would trust it for navigation purposes though). At Cedar #2, there was a group "hogging" the leanto and encouraging us to move on. According to them, they had been there since Fri AM which meant tonight was their third night, the limit for staying at a leanto. Etiquette is still to share.

At the tent site on the other side of Beaver Cr was the volunteer trail steward, Ben. I read his last enty in the West Lake leanto. He knew Brandon the AFR from the area and during our conversation he figured out who "I" was. Apparently Brandon told hime the story of our adventures back in June and he had seen my log entry from my NPT hike.

At Cedar #1 we met a group that we had passed the previous day going the other direction. They were just leaving. We took a quick swim and collected a bit of wood before the approaching storm. Built the fire and put plastic over it. After the quick rain shower we cooked dinner and I started the fire. The rains came again, this time quite hard but the fire had a hot enough core by then and weathered it. Ben came by on his way out.

We went to bed early. Rains came throughout the night but we were warm and dry, at least I was. Since we retired early we awoke early. An early start was a good choice because the sky opened up on us for the last 3 miles. At least we had 2 miles dry. The dam at Cedar was in good shape, some of the bridges on the trail had seen better days. They seemed structurally sound though. Back at the car we dried off and headed to the diner. Since Ian's car was gone, we knew he had survived. Bryan will be sharing his photos with us.

St. Regis Canoe Wilderness
Wednesday AM my father and I departed for the northern Adirondacks. Last fall we did a loop in this area and this year we decided to make it more of a canoe camping/fishing trip instead of a canoe/portage trip. After a 6-hour drive we were at the parking lot. We unloaded the car and attempted to jump start some other paddlers whose car wouldn't start. It appeared to not be a battery problem but something more serious. Fortunately they had AAA and the outfitter was only a mile down the road. We packed up and made the 1/4 mile carry to the put-in. Since this was mid-week, the lake (actually pond, which was a continuing discussion for the next few days) was mostly vacant. We took a site after only paddling about 1/2 hr. The forecast called for a potential storm in the afternoon and then clear days. Hung the hammocks and collected wood. Dad did some shore fishing and landed a few small perch. The storm came later than expected but was a doozy. We stayed dry under our extra tarp and drank tea. Pop-up winds and rain would continue through the night. <br><br>The next day was overcast and we set out to fish. We paddled around from cove to cove landing perch, bass, and cisco (lake herring). We rested for lunch back at camp and then set out again in the afternoon. While out we noted the skies getting dark and small drops came on soon after. We decided to hunker down under some trees near the shore. The rains came very hard but we were dry under the coniferous tree umbrella. After the rain dispersed we ventured out only to be greeted by a giant rainbow acting as an arch over the mountain to the east. A little more fishing and we headed back to camp for dinner.<br><br>On the last day we decided to pack up early and fish/explore the short paddle back. We took a few side trips to some other ponds via the connecting streams. Saw quite a few species of waterfowl on the connecting streams. The streams were easily navigable even with the beaver activity and the low water. during this time time, dad landed our largest fish of the trip... a 12-in perch. (when we returned home we ended up ordering fried perch for an appetizer at dinner!). <br><br>&nbsp;<br>

Bear lake redux
My father arrived from Germany late Wednesday night. Thursday afternoon we were eating giant burgers at Van's Tavern in Barnveld on our way to Bear Lake. Since my father only visits once a year at most, I wanted to share with him a place in the Adirondacks which is very special to me. A year and a half ago myself and the volunteer crew Lean2Rescue built the new leanto at Bear Lake. It is a thing of beauty. All cedar with a giant firepit up against a monster glacial erratic.<br><br>We hiked in slowly and I marveled at how the trail always looks different to me due to my coming in many different seasons. the last time I was here was at the beginning of April in the sleet/rain. We arrived at the leanto and I set up our hammocks. We were both still full from our burgers we never cooked "dinner". We shared a beer and hit the sack.<br><br>The next day we arose to a clear sky. We went to the waters edge to see the condition of the boat and canoe. We carried in paddles with the knowledge the boats were there. As the boat was in better condition (read: leak was slower) we took that. we paddled around a bit and made a few casts. We explored a little of the other side of the lake and then headed down the outlet creek. The water level was very low. Even the holes for the beaver lodges were now exposed. we estimated the lake and outlet were at least a foot lower than normal. A a relatively large bend in the creek my father caught our first fish. A bluegill not much bigger than the mepps spinner he was using as a lure. LOL. I spotted some rusting material up in the woods, so we beached the boat at the beaver dam and went to explore. We found the remains of an old camp. Just trash (empty metal gallon containers prolly used for fuel) and 2 rusting 55 gallon barrels converted into stoves. An old steel fishing rod was leaning against a tree. Probably has been leaning there for longer than I have been alive.<br><br>Back at our camp, we had lunch of cheese and sausages. We planned our afternoon hike. we visited the leanto at Woodhull Lake 2.5 miles away and then returned. Dinner was smoked bratwurst and a lentil/sweet potato stew. We shared another beer and fell asleep before the sun even set.<br><br>Da awoke early and went to fish from the shore. He came back with the story of an 8 inch brookie. He landed it near the inlet creek. Prolly colder water there. We made some tea and talked for a while. After breaking down camp we headed back to the car. while the trip was not a lot of distance, I am glad I got to share the place with my dad. I am still trying to convince my wife hike in with me to see it. I figure I have a few more decades to work on that. <br>

June 24-26. West Canada Lakes Wilderness.

En route to trailhead I received text from Ian saying he will be late. Plans changed to me waiting at the Pillsbury Leanto. GPS had me turn downa dirt rd which eventually becae a field. Dirt rd is kind. There was a high likelihood I could have gotten stuck there. So I backtracked and found the right dirt rd. man it took forever to get to the TH. Once there, i quickly changed into my hiking clothes and was on the trail. it was a steady uphill for almost two miles until the junction with the French Loui Trail. I made the turn and headed more uphill. I was wet with sweat and then the beaver field soaked my pants with the condensation on the plants. Then it started to rain... and rain it did. The water was washing my sweat into my eyes makiing them sting. the trail became a river. As I approached the shelter I was greeted by a little dog (named Mia). With Mia was Brandon, the Asst Forest Ranger, and his father Brad. They were trying to get a fire going. With a lot of coaxing and a wee bit of help from me, the fire was finally ablaze. We talked, they cooked steak and then Ian arrived. He was a few hours behind me, but he made it. Ian went to work getting set up. Everytime he touched hi hammock it would start to rain again. Eventually we all went to bed. I, of course, awoke first. We planned out our day. We would bushwhack to Whitney on the old footpath. Barely discernible and completely gone in many places. But by "feel" we were able to stay on track. Some old mud prints, broken branches etc... also veried our path. Sometimes signs from old trail maitenance were seen. Zrelatively easy bushwhack, just head west young man. At Whitney the old leanto site was obvious. The ground reminded me of the old leanto site at Grassy Pond in the HaDeRonDah between Middle Settlement and Middle Branch. We borrowed the boat and "rowed" to the southside where we noticed a yellow disk on the island. We weren't close enough to see if it was a legal site. From the south side we climbed to the ridge 500' away to meet the French Louie Trail and headed to Sampson. There was no sign to the leanto but a "Y" stick hung on a tree. This leanto gets heavy use and a stream runs almost into it. A lot of trash. Must be fish here as some bones were still on the firepit. After a quick break we headed back to Pillsbury through the river, I mean trail. boy was it wet and flooded. I realized then the driest part of the trip was the bushwhack. Back at Pillsbury we started another fire and ate... a lot. The sun even came out. I was tired. I would find out later it was due to sunburn. Slept great. Enjoyed the canoe landing int he AM. Will have to considered carrying a boat in here someday. The trail needs some serious work though, especially the old bridges.

Buck Settlement
A quick jaunt to Buck Settlement with Ian. We decided to take the easy access route which was only .7 miles though it started with a stream crossing just above a pretty waterfall. (This gorge carving stream eventually pours into the stream which makes the gorge through Watkins Glen State Park.) Easy hike in mostly along a long since abandoned wagon road. The stream crossing is known as Ebenezers crossing named for Ebenezer Buck whose homestead is where we would be camping. Immediately past on the old wagon rd the remnants of a bridge abutment was visible. After a few hundred yards of a gradual uphill we past the old cemetery in which Ebenezer, and Jane his wife (among others) are buried. We would stop and pay our respects on the way out. A sharp turn on the FLT over a small creek and continued on the old grade. The trail meandered off the old grade and eventually the leanto came into view along with the old stone walls which lined Ebenezers homestead. At the leanto a few hikers were resting. They soon were on their way and we made camp. Then the rains came. Big powerful thunderstorms which boomed in the distance and dumped torrents of rain. We were dry and happy. Great food, and company. Slept well. The next day was a lazy Sunday and with a short hike out, we sat around. Eventually we were back to Ebenezers crossing and the previous days rock hop was now a raging stream with a waterfall just a few feet downstream. Crossing was precarious due to the potential injury possibility if we were to lose footing. so we went slow and ensured we has good footing before each step in the only 6-8inches of water. The depth wasn't the issue as the slick slimy smooth rock which the water cruised over was a nice slide. Easy peasy!<br>


After weeks of heavy rain, the sky finally cleared and I was on the
trail again. Or shall I say swamp. Due to all the rain, the trail was
soaked. the typically muddy areas were completely underwater and the
typically dry parts in the pine forests were swampy. No lack of water in
the potentially dry creek beds though. So onward and Eastward went
myself and 7 others, 2 of whom were novice backpackers. The first day we
spotted cars and hiked 8 miles to the bivouac site which was situated
in a spruce stand next to a nice pond. After dinner and conversation we
retired to the sounds of crickets and frogs. Slight rain overnight but
awoke to a warm day. <br>
The second day had us walking on both roads and trails. Soon after
crossing a swollen stream we rested for a snack and a car pulled up. It
was my friend Glen who had previously canceled on the trip. He opened
his car and carried out a cooler with sodas and oreos. with our
itnierary in hand he guessed at where we would be and hit it on the
mark. While we continued on our way East, Glen would hike West from a
different spot to meet us at our evening's campsite. 8 miles later, 5 of
which were on roads with limited water availability we finally arrived
at the campsite. Glen had chosen a different spot which made for less
walking today at the joy of the group. He also carried in 20lbs of other
joy. The impending storm made a spectacular light show even from that
distance. Soon it was upon us. The rains came and winds blew with the
cloud to cloud lightening above. Amazing.<br>
Soon morning came and the ground was wetted through; the leaves still
dripping. Some were slow to arise but we had another 13 miles to get
back to our awaiting car. The day was supposed to be the hottest so far
of the year so we tried to get out as early as we could but we ended up
on the 5 mile road walk during the hottest part of the day. A few in the
group were surprisingly happy for t

Another jaunt to Bear Lake

Weather forecast called for rain... and lots of it. I set out early to try to get ahead of the approaching weather system. On the trail by 8am and headed down the dirt road (closed for mud season). Noticed many of the small streams were quite swollen. Little snow left, only on the northface side of the valley. At the top of the rifge before the descent to Bear, the wind picked up considerably. From my vantage point i could see the lake still had some ice/snow. As I descended past the cliffs which were now partially waterfalls. (They were frozen back in February). At the shore of Bear, there was about 6 feet of ice left along the shore. This would all be gone by morning. Made it to the leanto and decided to get the fire going first before the weather turned. The wind made it difficult to get the lighter to work, but once it ignited I had a blaze going. I collected some more wood. There was considerable blowdown from the winter months now exposed. Quite dry too. I cooked up some sausage I picked up from the local German butcher and awaited the rain. Well it didn't come. Instead I got sleet. If I had to choose, I would take sleet. After eating, I prepped firewood. Way more than I would ever use. I left a large collection of processed wood under the leanto to stay nice and dry. The sleet turned to rain which would continue into the next morning. The last time I was here, was with a much larger group. We had built igloos (3 of them). There were only a few spots of snow left up here, and part of one of the igloos was still visible, but only if you knew it was there.4 small piles of snow which a careful eye made the circumference of the igloo. I spent the afternoon whittling and reading the shelter log. After dinner, I watched campfire tv till "lights out". I slept soundly and warm. I awoke early, but went back to bed as it was still raining. When i finally emerged, I made some tea. The rain eventually stopped as it turned to snow. When the snow finally ended, I headed out.