Sunday, December 13, 2009

2009 in Review

27-28 December 2009.

Sgt Pulka's Maiden voyage. Todd, Chris and I left Roch at 8:15 headed to Cranberry lake, Peavine Swamp trail. Upon arrival we geared up and noted the tracks of a x-c skier ahead of us. We started off at a quick pace (pushing 3mph on snowshoes). Pulk was working great. We eventually ran into the skier on his way out. We chatted for a bit and then continued. At the leanto, Todd and I set up our tents/tarps while chris went for firewood. I finished setting up and began cutting breaking up the fine mixture of birch and maple Chris was able to scavenge. Todd joined me and Chris set up his rig. I made a fire bed and lit the fire before the sun completely set. Soon we had a nice little blaze going. We cooked up some sausages (and other foods) and sat around for a few hours. While I do not mind solo trips, the short days makes for a long boring night when alone. It was good to be with friends. I retired first and slept very warm... too warm in fact. The next AM Todd expressed a similar issue. I awoke before the sun at my typical time and made some cocoa. Chris was already awake so I didn't feel bad about making noise in the leanto. We left about 24hours from when we first began and made very good time on the return. Stopped at Stewarts for coffee/food. 9 miles total.

Nov 27-29 Bear Lake redux

another trip to Bear Lake to do work on the Lean2 site. Arrived Friday around noon. Quick hike in arrived to Lake just in time to see the tree fall. Set up camp and then immediately got to work. We (Pete, Paul and I) moved the “tooth” and dug a hole for its placement and planted the tooth. This took 3 hours, during which the rock cart flipped up and caught my knee. At one pint I was bracing this 1500lb behemoth between me and the firepit boulder for leverage. By this time, sun was setting so we headed down to camp. After dinner, it was dark and without a fire we decided to retire. Chuck arrived around midnight. The storm came in and since the wind was now from the East, I had to batten down the tarp. The winds were ferocious. The tarp withstood the pounding, though it was cold with the wind robbing my down uilt of its trapped heat. Heard a few trees/branches fall during the night. One right in the middle of our campsite, just a few feet from Chuck's tent. In the AM, we got to work and set the tooth. Then collected more rocks, none as large and we completed the firepit and hearth during which my second brush with near injury occurred. One of the large beech levers slipped out of chuck hand and slammed into my forearm. We prepped the landing site for the helicopter with logs to hold the materials and left garbage collected from around the lake. Evening around the fire with beer and sausages, Chuck, Judy and I. The night was warmer and I only awoke once to natures call. Next day, we cleaned up, covered the tools, hid the canoe and hiked out. 3 Miles and a few bruises

Nov 14-15 Bear Lake in Black river wild Forest with Lean2Rescue

Lean2rescue has built a leanto and will be assembling it this winter onsite. This trip was to prepare the foundation and dig the outhouse. I was on the road at 4:40am and got to the McKeever TH at 8AM. As I waited in my car, I heard another approach. I saw the camo canoe zip past me, so I started the car and followed. I got to the Bear lake Trailhead and met up with Paul. Others soon arrived. We loaded the caoe and began the push. About ¼ mile in, we realized we needed to rebalance the canoe, so Chuck, his son Matthew and I took our packs and we hiked them to the lake and then returned to help with the canoe. Arriving at the site, it was drizzling.. I quickly setup my tarp and others used it to stow their gear. Matthew was wet and cold, so we got him a dry spot underneath. We then go to work digging holes. 4 feet deep and 24inches across for the foundation.

The rain eventually stopped (it was never really that bad). With the holes dug we began looking for rocks. After quarrying and moving a few it began to get late so we set up camp down near the lake. Paul cut us some wood for the fire and then he (and others) left. Chuck, his son and I grilled sausages and had some beverages. Went to bed and slept great.

I awoke with the sun and went to explore the other campsite. After breakfast, Paul returned and we went to work quarrying more rocks. We broke a few straps (1 rated at 900lbs). We completed 3 foundation holes. Late afternoon we returned after stashing the canoe and paddles.


Arrived at TH at 8am. The crew was an hour ahead of me but with what they they were pushing I figured to catch them about half-way. As I approached the two canoes, I could see i was in for a world of pain this weekend. I threw my pack into the second canoe and helped push. We slogged through the mud the remaining 2 miles to the lean-to. Set up camp and got right to work removing the old roof. The roof looked in ok shape. In fact the crew replaced it just last year but it leaked. While installing the new roof the rain came. it rained continuously. We finished the roof and went to collect wood. After a fire was made and dinner was eaten the rain stopped. The fire was great. Went to bed and slept like a baby in the hammock. the rain came again during the night. I awoke warm and dry and made breakfast from the comfort of the hammock. back at the lean-to, paul was tending the fire. When everyone was up and ready we continued the days work of bundling the old shingles and digging a new outhouse hole. After lunch we loaded tha canoes with the tools, etc... and began the push back. The first hill was a killer. At the top I became the mule and was pulling the tow line. Through all the mud, I was soaked. Back at the car I changed and headed home. During the trip we joked how if this were our job we would quit, yet we gladly volunteer for this work whenever it is available. As Paul says, we are a stupid bunch. Oh, i made jambalaya for dinner for Chuck and I. The Genny lights I carried in were good too.

Columbus Day Weekend

Met Kayakrski in Wanakena at 8am. Weather was misty, but forecast called for a nice weekend, possible showers on Sunday. We began hiking and getting acquainted with each other. After about 2 miles on the HFL we came to where I had tagged the TH Leary Trail on my GPS. Good guess, tagged it perfectly from the old maps. Gregg had inquired from the Ranger about the Leary trail in our plans. The Rangers report was spot on. {paragraph removed to allow you to experience it for yourself} We took a compass bearing and bushwhacked through, over, under, around, etc... to end up at the High Falls Loop 300ft from where we expected. Not bad considering we knew we were "bending west" due to the swamp. Ironically, at the end of the trip I looked at the old map and it shows a faint dotted line marking a path exactly where we traveled to avoid that swamp. Eerie to say the least.

We crossed a beaver dam to get to the Five Ponds Trail and we followed it to Big Shallow where we ate lunch. By then, the weather had begun to clear and the sky was looking blue. We saddled up and headed to Sand lake. After stopped numerous times to enjoy the views and other treats along the way, we arrived at Sand Lake; tired and hungry. We had traveresed a little over 12 miles, some of which was through the thickest blowdown and new growth i have ever experienced.

The sun was out and we enjoyed the chance to dry ourselves out and warm up. We made camp and collected wood; plenty to be found. Some nice treasures from the old days were found rusting in the near vicinity. A nice fire and stars emerging eventually gave way to my heavy eyelids. I ventured to my hammock while Gregg stayed up a bit longer. I slept soundly until the pitter pat of rain awoke me. A slight rain, but I was warm and dry. I was again fast asleep and awoke with the rising sun. I tried to stay quiet as I made a new fire to remove the morning chill. Gregg soon awoke from his slumber and we both warmed up and ate breakfast. We were on the trail sometime after 9.

On the way to High Falls we encountered the wet section. This was the wettest I had ever seen it. At one point I realized that any effort to stay reasonably dry would be futile so I just high stepped it through hoping my gaiters, boots and fast feet would keep my socks relatively dry. the splashing soaked my pants but in the end it seemed worth it. Soon after, we saw the first people on the trail; a couple of guys and a dog heading out. We warned them of the upcoming wetness.

We arrived at high falls and were the only people there. Strange considering last year at this time it was packed. A quick bite, and relaxing rest on the rocks we headed out. We saw a few more people on the way to Cowhorn, most were on their way back from Cat Mt. One group I noticed a small tree sticking out of his daypack. Thoughts of one of the Karate kid films entered my mind; the one when he went to get that bonsai tree from the cliff. Those thoughts gave way to just how wrong it was for him to be taking a tree, even such a small one. Trail was mushy on the way toward the cat Mt turn. many people=lots of mud. After the junction, the trail was much drier and not well marked. I always end up getting off the trail in this section in the winter since there is nothing to follow. This time of year it was easy to see the foot tread. The trail to Bassout was very obvious this time of year as well; I made a metal note of its location for a future exploration.

Gregg stopped for water and I continued to cowhorn Junction to wait. At the Jnct, I could see the beginning of the old trail to nicks, it disappeared within a few feet. Another future exploration. At Cowhorn junction it began to snow! It really started coming down as we hiked the esker skirting Cowhorn Pond. At cowhorn we decided to both sleep in the shelter and we collected wood. A business card for Hawks Vittles was tucked nicely among the hanging pots/pans in the shelter.

Lots of dead dry hardwood would make for a nice hot bed of coals. I built the base fire and Gregg tended it. We eventually had a nice rager going. After dinner, I soon went to sleep. I awoke at one point feeling very toasty warm. the next time I awoke, I could feel a chill. The reason became apparent in the AM when the frost was visible. The temp had dropped below freezing; my water bottle had ice. After a quick bite for breakfast and a nice warmup from the new fire we headed out a little before 9am.

A quiet and quick pace, my guess is we were both tired. We ran into a family on the way in who directed us around the newly placed logs since they were floating! Back at the car at 11:30 where we met Mark L (from the forum) he remembered me from last years CL-50 hike. What a coincidence. Sat 12.2mi, Sun 15.1mi, Mon 7.5mi. Total miles: 34.8.

24-26 July 2009 Lean2Rescue Woodhull Lake

Was supposed to introduce Pam to the world of Lean2rescue, but the forecasted rain caused her to bail. As promised the weather was sour for the hike in. Poured for over and hour from the TH on. Afterwards just a steady drizzle. After an hour with the poncho, I decided I might as well get wet quickly than slowly and off came the raingear. I slogged the 7.2 miles from Woodgate to Woodhull Lk. Where I met Dick (lean2rescue) Kevin, Tommy and Pat. Pat was guiding Tommy and dad on their first backpacking experience. I showed tommy how to properly use a hatchet and start a fire with wet wood, He was proud of the fire he made. Soon Martha and Sam (L2R) arrived. The rain had since stopped. The rest of the crew arrived and I finally got to meet Ordin (Chuck). We finished putting on the face logs for the lean2 and scouted a site for the new outhouse. Sat came and we headed out to the do the other jobs. I was planning on doing the bridge for which I got the measurements but instead was assigned to log detail. We boated back to the trucks and went to the marked trees. We cut a huge white pine and while using a poor man's crane to hoist the 18ft sections onto the trailers the “crane” tree was uprooted. We harvested that wood and made our way to the lumber yard. Back at the lean2 we carried th eold outhouse to the new location and awaited for the bridge crew to return. We had a great time socializing, beer and venison abounded. Rain came again as the sun set. I fell asleep before the rest of the crew and was an early riser on Sun. We loaded up and were on our way. 7.2 miles and loads of work/fun.

17-19 July 2009 Lake Lila/Mt Frederica

Left Fri AM arrived at parking lot by early afternoon. Forecast was gloomy. Potential rain Fri afternoon/night, thunderstorms Sat. Carried kayaks 0.3mi to put-in (carried the girls 'yaks too as they packed too much stuff and the boats were to heavy for them). Paddled around to find a suitable campsite. Chris went to explore the island site while we checked out the ones “around the point”.#17-20 looked like primo spots esp. #20 but they were all taken. We found Chris on the way towards Buck Island. The site there look good and was open. We got to the site deep into the hemlocks still with w slight view of the water. We made camp and collected some firewood. Went out for a paddle “around the island”. I decided to fish instead. I hooked a monster Large-mouth bass. I kept him on the line as he jumped out of the water, but lost him as he swam towards the boat. The one that got away! Got skunked the rest of the weekend. Back at the site, I wasn't hungry so I didn't make dinner, I just finished off the rest of my lunch snacks. Chris and the girls made hot dogs, I ate the last one else it would have gone in the trash. Used the ursack for the first time. No critters even attacked it. Slept great in the hammock. I awoke at first light and went out to fish a little. Got back to camp and made some coffee. Everyone else eventually awoke and after b-fast we made plans for the day. We paddled down Beaver river to the “falls”. On the return trip saw an eagle trying to fish. He got skunked too, man they are huge that close up. We paddled around to Mt Frederica. Climbed the 1.5 miles(ft elevation) to the summit and looked out over Lila. Sun was shining. So far the only rain was a slight drizzle as we embarked in the AM. Back down the Mt and we had lunch at the leanto (site #7). Paddled across Lila (wind was 45* bhind us so it was fun and tiring) to Shingle Shanty Brook and we went upstream to the first beaver dam. It felt like downstram due to the wind! The way back to the campsite meant going directly into the wind. What fun! Waved breaking over the bow of the boat, the ups/downs we a lot of fun. Back at camp we sat around a bit and eventually made dinner. The evening went quickly and soon we turned in. Slept great and again awoke before all. I had hot chocolate and kashi.Packed up camp and made a bee-line to the put-in. 2 more trips with the boats and we back on the road! About 15 miles in the boat and 5.2 miles on foot.

3-4 July 2009 NPT from Piseco to Spruce Lk

Picked up Alanna at 9am. Left trailhead in Piseco at 12:20 in pouring rain. Didn't wear raingear but protected the packs. Sloshed through the mud and stream crossings to eventaully get to Spruce Lake #2 by 4:30. Set up camp, collected some wood and rested. Ate dinner as the sun was setting and then lit a fire. Went to bed soon after the fire died down. Rained through the night. i awoke at 5am with the "sun". It was overcast and a fog was over the lake. I brought my hammock and sleeping nag to the shelter, retrived the food cache and made myslef some coffee. Alanna awoke at 6am, turned over and went back to sleep. She got up when her alarm sounded at 6:30. We were back on the trail by 7:40 (carrying an extra 5-10 lbs of trash left at the site... grrr) and reached the car at 12:15. 21 miles total. Even with no sun shining I still managed to get sunburned.

27-28 June Allegany National Forest NCT

Toby, Chris and I met at Jay's Diner at 8am. After breakfast we drove to TH near Willow Bay Campground. Hit the trail about noon. Saw a scarlet tanager fly through the trees... hope he keeps eating up any gypsy mothe larvae he finds! After about 300ft gradual elevation gain we descended back to the reservoir (4 miles) a neat campsite a few hundred feet up the run. We continued to Tracy Ridge trail. We took the left turn and gained about 700ft in elevation over the next mile or so. After a fgew side trails to see some vistas (none to be found) we made our way to Johnycake Run and back to the reservoir level. Made camp for the night. I went stoveless this trip and had a hummus, avocado, and tomato flatbread sammy for dinner. Toby yogied some beers from a pontoon boat tied up nearby. Keystone light, but after a day of hiking beer is awesome, and free beer can't be beat! Set up hammock with tarp folded back to sleep under the stars. Awoke to moonlight lit up hammock as it dipped to the horizon, and then back to dark when the stars appeared. Gazed for few minutes and back to sleep. Awoke to an overcast morning with a rainbow over the hills reflected back into the reservoir. Toby slept in as Chris and I had our breakfast. We woke up T at 8:30. At 9:15 we were back on the NCT, 6 miles back to the TH. As we passed by the “cool campsite”, I hung my hammock over the edge of the creek for a photo shoot. Rained on/off all morning but we didn't get wet. Rainy drive home. 15.4 miles total.

20-21 June Black River WF- Chub Pond

Left Roch at 8am. Met Budge and Sarah at the Syr Park&Ride at 10am. Drove together to TH. Talked about bushcraft on the way up. Nice folks. Weather called for rain all day. We were prepared to get soaked. Rain did come, but never got below the canopy. Sun appeared just as we arrived to the Lean2. Got measurements of the bridge for Chuck (Ordin) so we can do repairs. Set up camp. Collected wood. I ate lunch while budge and sarah finished setting up. Small hike to end of peninsula. Did some fishing, no luck. Saw humminbirds and loons. First time seeing loons for budge and sarah. They don't have em in Britain.Awoke early, tried to fish again no luck. Sat on the Princess bench for a bit to take in the view. Shoreline covered in broken (hatched) turtle shells. Watched a beaver swim across the lake. Broke camp at 8am. Remarked how we lucked out with the weather. Trail was soggy in many places due to atv and snowmobile use. Grr. Great trip. Nice to meet new people. 7.6 miles.

24-25 May 2009 Five Ponds WA

Left at 4am and arrived at Wanakena TH just before 8am. Rain appeared while I was driving. I contemplated whether I would need rain gear when I arrived. I did. After donning my poncho, I set out on the trail. About a mile in I came to a hunter's path. I decided to check it out for about ¼ mile before I headed back out. It has been obviously cleared over the years evidenced by the path cut via saw (I am guessing after the '95 microburst). I wonder if this was the old Dobson Trail? The rain ended and I continued to wear my poncho out of fear the rain would start again and to allow it to dry. I passed by High Rock and continued on to the junction with the five ponds trail. I have since removed my poncho and put on bug dope and a net. Skeeters were in full force. I headed to Big Shallow after crossing a few beaver dams and checking out the campsites on the Oswegatchie. Recent trail maintenance with log disks cut as steps in muddy sections. I arrived at Big Shallow and wasn't alone. A man by the name of Dan, from Liverpool was there. He had camped either there or Wolf Pond the night before. Ate some lunch and chit chatted with Dan. He told me some stories about the '95 microburst. The wind was blowing so it kept the skeeters and any black flies at bay. Another two people showed up. They stopped to take a photo and then were on there way. After lunch and filling up with water, I headed back out. I spotted a pink ladyslipper on the trail and snapped a photo. Back at the high falls loop trail I looked for the old junction of the Leary Trail with no luck. I stopped on the bridge to take respite in the breeze. Dan showed up and we again chatted for a bit. He also looked for the old Leary Trail with no luck. He passed on by me and I continued to High Falls to meet up with Rob and Lee. I turned around and the three of us headed back to High Rock. Rob and Lee we the last of the group that was supposed to hike the CL-50. A few had bailed after the first day due to bugs and injuries. We arrived at High Rock around 4:30pm. I totaled the miles in my head. Almost 20 miles for the day. No wonder my heels were starting to hurt. After making camp, I went to the river to soak my feet. I soon realized the cause of my heel uncomfort. A blister the size of a marble! I administered some first aid and decided against putting my feet in the water. My tender heel make walking now slightly painful. Made some dinner and we had a small fire and retired early. Rob and Lee were both tired. It was their big mileage day. I got up after sunset and restarted the fire as I knew the bugs would be gone. After a few minutes of campfire TV, I returned to my hammock. I awoke early and made some cocoa. The two others slowly emerged and after breakfast and packing up we were under way (about 7:30ish). We arrived at my car and 9:15 and I gave the guys a ride back to burnthbridge TH. Total miles for the trip 23.8.

28-29 March 2009. Chub Pond in Black River WF.

Glen, Pam and I left Jay's Diner at 9am for a quick trip to the ADK's. “We don't know shit trip”. The weather was supposed to be very nice and then turn to rain overnight. It was more than very nice, predicted mid 50's were in reality low 70's. Strange hiking on snow and arriving at camp with a frozen lake when the weather was in the 70's. Glen reminded me that it was exactly one-year ago that he and I (along with others) were there and the nighttime low was 4*F. When we signed in at the trail register I noticed Bill I. was going to Gull Lake. We exchanged pleasantries in the trail register. Beautiful day, and evening. Throughut the hike in we came across many animal scat which was emerging from its frozen slumber beneath the snow. Not sure what most were, hence the name of the trip. Rain didn't come until 3-4am. Hike out was damp and turned to rain. The combination of the warm weather and rain had increased the mud, and puddles on the trail. Some parts we were basically walking in a stream. Hike out as always was very quick. 2hrs. 9 total miles.

Feb 20-22nd Sugar Hill State Forest along the FLT.

The "Don't strand me Bro" trip. Todd and myself parked at the firetower and hiked down to the FLT and then to the Buck Settlement leanto. Saw a tree that had been skimmed by a hunters deer slug just before we go to CR21. About 1/4 mile back on the trail after CR21, we saw a tree stand. We came to an area of the trail that "felt strange". I paused to view a small knob and some scraggily underbrush and wondered "what had been here", "was the trail speaking to me again". I noted how the areas seemed odd to me though I had passed it a couple times before. We descended to Glen Creek where I had always thought there used to be something here. Todd called me the "trail whisperer". The trail does have a spiritual sense but it may be just that I see things and my mind wanders. Who knows, maybe the trail does speak to me. We followed the creek to the Buck Settlement Leanto. We set up camp, I decided to spend the night in the leanto. Collected firewood, made dinner and retired early. I did not sleep so well, why I constantly go against my better judgement and try to sleep in leantos time and time again is beyond me. I awoke before daybreak and remade the fire. The sun rose as did Todd. He packed up and headed back to the car. I mused whether to take a hike or to collect/prep more wood. I elected the latter and soon had a large pile of cut and stacked wood, half of which wood not be burned. Glen arrived at 11:30. I hadn't expected him until 3. He texted me that he wasn't coming about 1/4mile from the leanto as a joke but since my cell phone was off I didn't get it. His eyes bugged out when he saw the wood pile and said he was only joking about me doing that. We took a short hike to the old cemetery and then to Ebenezer's X-ing. Glen really liked the cemetery. Back at camp we chatted for hours about which I cannot recall. We made dinner and a big fire. Conversation circled around the weather and what was expected for the night. We were on bed around 8:30ish. I slept like a baby until 3:30 when nature called and then immediately fell back asleep until the sun was already up (7:30). We packed up and were on our way. We saw some neat shelters people had built "survivorman" style. Glen was parked on CR21, so it was a short, but uphill hike back. Awesome trip, Glen and I decided we would Section Hike the FLT, including the spurs, together. 8.1 miles.

Jan 24-25th Rimrock/Morrison Trail in Allegany NF.

We don't need no stinkin' snowshoes! Ok maybe we should have. Arrived at the TH and were underway by 11ish. Glen, Jen, Alanna, Pam, Amber, Rich, Toby, Jerry and myself took many wrong turns and eventually found our way to the resevoir, mostly along the Rimrock trail. We hiked on the frozen resevoir to the Morrison Campground. Estimated 2 miles along the frozen water. I made camp at a slightly different spot as I needed trees to hang the hammock. Made a quick fire to cook dinner. Was needed as most peoples stoves didn't work so well in the single digits. Was going to get cold. Went to bed early and slept great. Awoke to the ice booms every once in a while. Temp got down to -7*F at night. Was close to zero when I emerged and melted/boiled snow for coffee and oatmeal. Had sausage and cajun rice for dinner. First trip of 2009, and a frigid one.

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