Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 in Review

12/26/2015 Meat Festivus 2 -Cascade Pond and Mitchell outlet falls NY 2 7.60

It has been almost a year to the day since Rob, Justin and I did our winter wonderland trip together. So it was time for us to hit the woods. The original plan was Cascade Lake and its environs, but with the forecast for rain, we opted for a location with a lean-to. So we chose Cascade Pond. My buddy Dan also joined us at the last minute. Leading up to the trip we joked about the food we had last time, and we referred to this trip as Meat Festivus 2. We started off at the dirt rd off Durant Rd and made the gradual climb up to the junction. It was a pretty hike going up the valley. We could see Blue Mountain over our shoulder through the trees. The temps were in the 40s and there was no snow. It wasn't long before we reached the junction with the old woods rd. The connector to Wilson Pond Trail is relatively new, though it has been in existence for a while. The only new part is the DEC signage. We paused just before the outlet of Cascade and noted the old location of the lean-to. Crossing the two-log bridge over part of the outlet and then rock hopping through the remaining to reach the other side. The lean-to was vacant so we got to work collecting wood and setting up camp.
Justin heard of some falls nearby, so he, dan and I headed off to find them while Rob held down the fort. We gave ourselves 2 hours there and back. We retraced our steps along the connector path past the junction to the outlet of Mitchell Ponds. The falls were downstream on this outlet. We followed a contour around staying high out of the spruce and in the hardwoods. After a drop into a small creek valley and then climbing back out, we resumed the contour and soon the sound of water signified we were close. As we approached we could tell this would be a nice set of falls. The first major cascade was the largest of them all and it was impressive. Dan crossed to the other side above the falls, while Justin and I crossed below. We took a short break and then continued down stream to check out the next series of drops. While they were less impressive than the first, they would have been worth the bushwhack all by themselves. In all the outlet dropped 200 ft over less than a quarter mile. The first set of falls was almost half of it. Justin's report and photos are here:

I also posted some photos in that thread. Back at camp, Rob was taking a nap. It was soon to be dinner time so we prepped our fire and food. We waited for the rains to come and they kept delaying. We enjoyed each others company and conversation well into the night.
We awoke to rains. Rob and Justin packed up and headed out while Dan and I remained and hung out in the lean-to as it rained all day. Dan and I sat around the lean-to and talked. Ate some food, talked more. The weather continued to be a light rain all day. Towards the afternoon, we headed out to collect some more wood. The rain turned to sleet and snow. By dinner time the rains had all changed to the wintery mix as the temperature began to slowly drop. The evening was relatively dry. Over night the temperature dropped and we had sleet and snow. We awoke to the ground with a layer of snow. The pond was also beginning to freeze up. We dawdled all morning and eventually hiked out on the fresh snow. The trail looked completely different from two days prior.

12/13/2015 Geminids 2015 -ONeill Flow NY 1 6.60
The Second annual trip to view the Geminid Meteor shower. The Geminids are considered one of the more spectacular meteor showers with potential sightings of 120 meteors per hour. The trip coincided with the peak viewing window. But alas, the skies remained cloudy and for the second year in a row, no meteors were sighted. We did have a delightful time regardless.
The 3.3 mile hike in was along a relatively dry trail, free of snow. We covered the distance quickly compared to last year breaking trail in feet of the white stuff. We passed by a small group coming the other way and shared pleasantries. They let us know our destination lean-to was unoccupied. Along the way we cleared a small blowdown. Arrived at the lean-to with plenty of hours of daylight left. After setting up, a group of 3 decided to take a hike to the northern end and check out the other lean-to. They also found a leaky rowboat. The others remained at camp, collected firewood and lit the fire. The temperature was in the 40s. The group returned from their scouting mission and we enjoyed the remaining daylight with the hopes of seeing meteors slowly waning. Food and drink were shared. The fire blazed and we talked and laughed around it.
The night was not expected to get very cold, and it wasn't. Two awoke early as they needed to depart to catch a flight. The rest slept in. When the sun was fully up, the last of the remaining group finally emerged from their slumber. Packed up and hiked out. While we didn't get to see the meteors, fun was still had.

11/28/2015 This doesn't suck- Thanksgiving on the NPT Catlin Bay NY 2 3.00

Thanksgiving 2015 is in the books. Eric (RevYJ), Ben, and I took a short hike in to Catlin Bay on the NPT beginning Thursday AM. We arrived at the lean-to before noon. The weather was clear and seasonally warm. No snow. Knowing the area was devoid of dead and down wood due to being a popular boater destination, we ditched our packs at the campsite and headed back towards the “mainland” in search of some downed hardwoods. It didn't take long before I found the first downed trees. I pulled them out of the brush and Ben dragged them back to camp. Eric found some more and brought those back. I continued up the hill where I found a series of downed beech and maples. I cut some decent sized pieces and brought them back to camp. By now we had enough to cook our Thanksgiving dinner and enjoy a decent campfire for the night.
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I started a fire and began preparations for our feast. Great camaraderie ensued as well as partaking in the refreshments carried in by Eric. Dinner for the afternoon was turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and peas. Eric also brought shrimp cocktail and Ben rounded out the meal with homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. We feasted, drank, and enjoyed some laughs. We ate early knowing the sun would set soon after and we wanted to enjoy the meal while it was still light. Long Lake is usually very busy. On one of my NPT hikes, I stayed nearby this lean-to and was given some beer by the occupants. Very nice gentleman from the NYC area, Russian immigrant brothers and two boys. Most sites along the lake are occupied in the summer months, but on Thanksgiving we had the entire lake to ourselves. The sun neared the horizon and just as the day began with a red sky, the colors emerged. We smiled as the day entered the night. I uttered a phrase I picked up from Dan on our summer canoe trip, “this doesn't suck.” Both Ben and Eric chuckled, agreed and repeated the utterance. As the sun went down to our west, the moon rose in the east. Over night, the moonlight would provide significant illumination of the woods. Both Eric and I commented the next morning that the light made the ground appear to have snow on it at first glance.

I awoke before the sun as I am accustomed. So did Ben. We each made coffee and headed to different areas to watch the sunrise. Over the next half-hour, the emerging sun would radically change the sky and even the surroundings. At one point the entire area felt as though it was enveloped in a pink hue. The photo looks as though the color settings were off, but it was truly like this for a few minutes. As the sun got closer to the tops of the trees, I ventured back to camp, refilled my coffee and headed towards the other side of the peninsula. Ben had a similar thought and we met near the point. We walked to the waters edge noting some remnant mussel shells and found a fishing lure caught in the rocks. Back at the lean-to, Eric hadn't quite arisen yet. He spent considerable time in his sleeping bag this trip. “It doesn't make him a bad person”, he would say and we would all agree. Eric is a self-proclaimed shelter-rat. A learned appreciation he gained while thru-hiking the AT. Both Ben and I made our breakfasts and the day was under way.

The previous afternoon we had joked about carrying empty backpacks to the car and making a beer run. It seemed like a good idea the day before, but at this point it wasn't going to happen. I headed out to collect some more wood. We lazed around all day. Talking, wood collecting, etc... We did take a short walk to the other Catlin Bay Lean-to where a father-son were packing up. The boy was decked out in camo gear, and a utility belt. He also had an airsoft rifle in the shape of an AR-15 with a piece of rope as a sling. We walked along the shore line checking out the campsites. Saw a paddler off in the distance. Found another fishing lure, a little cleo. On the way back, Ben picked up a piece of spruce he thought would make a nice hiking stick for his father. I found a piece of cedar and gathered a section of its bark. Back at camp, Ben would carve out his staff, while I peeled the bark into long strips and twisted about 6 feet of rope with it. It varied in thickness from 1mm to 3mm. It has a nice smell. I kept some more fibers to make more rope at some point. Eric took another nap. I ate a sandwich of leftover turkey and some split pea soup. The winds began to pick up. The forecast had called for potential rains later in the day. We contemplated moving to the other lean-to as it was deeper in the woods and not right on the lake's edge. We decided to take the chance and stay. I had a tarp we could cover the front if needed. With the clouds, we realized we would not get a sunset like the night before, nor would the moon provide as much light. The night sky would still be bright enough to function however. We stayed up later, got the fire really going. The sky had a misty rain which was barely noticeable, but over time we could feel the surface of our clothes getting damp. Cooked some knockwurst and went to bed. II slept soundly for a good number of hours. I awoke at 3 am and could see the glow in the firepit. I heeded natures call, and crawled back under my warm quilt. We expected the temps to drop to the upper 20's. It didn't feel that cold. We would find out later it was. I guess being out there for a two days, we began to acclimate a little. I fell back asleep, restlessly at first. It was quite light out when I awoke for good. Restarted the fire and got some water on for coffee. I fired up some maple sausages and some corn bread. Even with a slow morning, we were packed up and gone by 9. The hike out was much easier with the lighter packs. We could tell it was colder than we thought as our fingertips were chilled. We made it back to the car quickly and thus ended Thanksgiving 2015.

11/09/2015 Little used trail -East Pond NY 1 10.20

I got an early start due to the potential rain in the evening and the early sunset this time of year. I arrived at the Thendara Trailhead and was geared up by 8:30am. The parking area was quite full, I assume due to hunting season. I wore a blaze orange hat and vest for the occasion. At the trail register I noted another pair signed in yesterday on their way to East Pond and then Otter Lake. Last month someone also mentioned the trail was flooded.
After a brief mile and a half I turned off the Otter Brook trail and onto the East Pond Trail into the “minimal maintenance area”. Last time I was here was 3 years ago and I enjoyed how wild the trail was. This time would be no different. It might even have been more wild this time. Lots of blowdown and leaves and few markers made the trail not so easy to follow if one didn't pay attention. I soon arrived at the flooded beaver section. There were multiple herd paths checking out possible ways across the alder swamp. I finally decided that the beavers are the cause and also the solution to the problem. I made my way to the dam itself and slowly walked along the mucky edge.
Continuing on the trail was as I remembered. I passed through the old hunting camp areas, crossed the log bridge and the big beaver dam. As I was heading through a slightly more open area, with confiers ringing the tall grasses, some motion ahead caught my eye. I froze mid step and saw the critter move from the grassy trail and under the conifers. At first I thought it was another hiker's small dog, but immediately realized it was a snowshoe hare. Seconds later a significantly larger mammal crossed the trail in stealthy pursuit. My wind attempted to fill in the visual gaps to identify what I just saw. I walked very slowly and less than minute later I saw the snowshoe hare coming towards me along the trail. It must have circled back and since I was downwind it hadn't made me yet. It came rather close before it turned abruptly into the brush. On its heels was the hunter. It too quickly turned off the trail and this time I had a clear view of its face and then as it turned body profile and tail. It was a fisher cat! My first sighting of one of these magnificent animals in the wild. And in pursuit of its prey. Amazing. I am so happy I got to experience this so close up. Of course for these animals it is an everyday occurrence. I am not sure the hare would be to happy with the eventual outcome though. With a smile on my face and a slight dis appointment in not having been able to catch it on film, I continued on. Little Simon Pond had a lower water level than last time, and its outlet was much easier to cross. I arrived at East Pond and saw two tents already at the campsite. I circled around and snapped a few photos of the pond and then headed towards the trail to Blackfoot Pond. Where the trail headed off the contour line, I continued on the old woods road hoping it would remain somewhat visible and take me to my goal; the old wakley camp from the 1903 map. The rd faded in and out, but as long as I kept the line it would reappear. Sometimes all I had to do was look a bit to my left and right and I could make out the faint grading from above (or below). It wasn't long and the outlet of Blackfoot appeared. Near the outlet was the old camp, I poked around a bit but didn't see anything. I don't expect too as these spots are so old but sometime I get lucky. The sky dropped a few sprinkles so I decided to head back. The rains were not supposed to come until a few hours later, but I didn't want to take the chance. I couldn't find the old road tread so I just followed a northern bearing to hit the other corner of the lake and the trail. The rain came and went but not enough to consider donning my jacket. Back at East Pond, the two tents were joined by their occupants. They welcomed me to join them. I setup my hammock a short distance away.
Tim and Scott took a short hike down to the outlet of East Pond and I ended up taking a short nap after a late lunch. It started to get windy late in the afternoon. Had some good conversation with Tim and Scott. They made dinner, I wasn't hungry. It was dark early. We warmed by the fire and after a while looked at the clock. We laughed as it was only quarter after 6. I think we made it to 8pm before I finally said I was heading to bed. Slept great. The wind flapped my tarp a few time which woke me. Even still I probably had almost 10 hours of sleep.
I waited until I hear the others get up before I made any noise. After breakfast, they packed up and headed out. I took my time and then packed up myself. Even with the slow morning I was on the trail by 8:30. I stopped at a few spots on the way out to explore a bit. No remnants in the old hunting camp areas. The glacial deposited sand/gravel hill had a fire ring and a small pile of wood in the far corner.

10/12/2015 NPT lean-to and trail stewardship NY 2 23.20

Hit the trail at 11am, temp was in the low 40s. The air was crisp and the leaves crunched under my feet. Fall was in full swing in the West Canada Lakes Wilderness along the Northville Placid Trail. I passed by the Cedar River Flow and the side trail to Little Moose Lake. I arrived at the Carry lean-to where I made a twig fire to cook some dirty rice for lunch. I flipped through the shelter log and entered my message. Extinguished the the remains of the fire and headed towards Colvin Brook. Soon after the turn-off, the refilled my water bottle from the spring. Another mile down the trail and I would have to cross the Cedar River. The last two times, it was an easy rock hop. This time, the water level was just a bit higher. Most of the way could be rock hopped, but the first few yards couldn't. I removed my boots, hiked up my pants and entered the frigid water. I was careful with each step, and never stepped onto any rocks. I did not want to have any chance of slipping. It was slow going and my feet were numb by the time I reached the other side. Dry socks and boots and they were warm again. I sat down to read the shelter log. Only 2 entries since my last trip here. One was an epic adventure which the explorers were soaked after bushwhacking down Blue Ridge to intersect the Sucker Brook Trail, and then having to cross Colvin Brook nine times before reaching the beaver swamp. Tired and wet, they just went straight across making them even wetter. They were pleased I had left wood and kindling as it made starting a fire easy for them. They left their email address. I will send them a note. (5.4 miles today)
I began to clean out the firepit and noticed it was still warm, a stirring of the ashes and some coals were visible. This lean-to is rarely used, yet the last two times I have visited there have been glowing embers. At least the area immediately surrounding the firepit is not easily combusted. I gathered some wood, and replenished the emergency fire pile. I decided to not do too much and just gathered wood and rested. I cooked some dinner and contemplated staying up to see the Draconids. A minor shower, and I would have to stand in the creek to watch, so I opted to go to bed. It got cold overnight.
I awoke to sun rising over the river and opted to have an easy breakfast. I was not looking forward to crossing the river, especially with the air as cold as it was. I bit the bullet and headed across. Due to the air being so chilly, the water at first didn't shock me. Soon the real temperature became apparent as my feet again began to numb. On the other side, I dried off my feet and put on my dry socks and boots. It would take a few more minutes of walking before my feet warmed up again. At the junction of the NPT I headed towards Cedar Lakes. This section of trail is the part which I “maintain” as a volunteer trail steward. It is about 3 ½ miles along the Cedar River and the Lamphere ridge. The second half of the trail is “new” having been rerouted from the other side of the river. The older section followed an old woods road which crossed the river twice and another brook as well. I always pause at the old crossings. One of these days I will follow the old road. The river crossings are at shallows, but I think the crossing of Grassy Brook might be difficult as it used to have a bridge.
Along the way I would cut blowdown and clear the drainages to help alleviate some of the wet sections. In rainy weather, it wouldn't matter. I made it to the dam slightly ahead of schedule and at the first lean-to, I made a twig fire to cook some venison for lunch. Just as it was ready, a few hikers stopped by on their way out from Cedars #2. I shared a few bites of vension with them and told them about the spring just off the trail at the Colvin Brook junction.
I rested a bit and contemplated the route for the second half of the day. Knowing that the construction workers would be starting the basement work the next AM, and not wanting Emily to deal with it alone I changed my schedule to get me closer to the car. I headed back up the trail the way I came and just passed where I had lunch the previous day, I turned off the trail to head to Little Moose Lake. A few years back, I began to explore this old road but had turned back on account of time. I gave myself an hour before I would need to turn around this time. About 30 minutes in , I was at the beaver dam which was as far as I had gone last time. The water level was lower and the dam was easily crossed. The trail is now marked as a bicycling trail. Odd, since this is a wilderness area. 15 minutes later I was at the old cabin on the lake. Lots of other artifacts around, and some trash had fallen down the hill into the lake. Not knowing what else was there, I chose not to gather water here. After some photos, I headed back. I stopped at the Cedar Flow campsite, where I often stop and/or camp while in this area. I made some dinner and the sun soon set. I was only half an hour from the car now, so I could get get home early in the AM. (17.8 miles today)

09/06/2015 The Notch -off the NPT NY 1 5.50

After last weeks mini-exploration of the notch, I decided to head back and spend a bit more time exploring the area. Parking on Godfrey Rd, would make it a short hike to the stream and the old woods rd. I rock hopped across and refilled my water bottle. I also filled up the platy as it was dreadfully hot and I knew the drainages to be rather dry. My shirt was already soaked in sweat. I turned off the woods rd and headed up the first drainage. Soon it seemed like I was following an old tread. Not a surprise in this area. The travel was not difficult even with all the blowdown. It was generally open hardwoods. I was out of breath quickly though due to the steady climb. As I approached the last few contour lines from the heaight of land, I took a bearing and headed north to the next drainage. I followed this one down back to the old woods rd. From here I turned north again and followed the old rd to the fork. A little ways past it would cross another drainage. This one had flowing water and also the campsite. I filled up with water, ate my lunch and then explored the immediate vicinity for a bit. There was quite a bit of old rusty metal pieces scattered around. Looked to be parts of wagons and old cars.
I gathered up some wood and began to set up camp. A piece of bark fell off one the pieces and I noticed the inner layers were quite fibrous. I separated the fibers and sat down to make some rope with it. A two strand twist and about an hour was all that was needed to make about 6 feet of rope. It was a nice relaxing way to spend time in the woods especially while it was so hot. After, I decided to go down to the creek to wash up. I was hoping to explore more, but the temp and humidity was not encouraging. A camp rat I became. I started a fire to cook my ribeye. As I wasn't too hungry I opted to not make my rice side.
<p> Night came and I slept soundly. I was awake before first light. I restarted the fire and made some coffee. I slowly packed up and headed down the trail back to my car. I noted a few people had signed in at the register since yesterday, all heading down the NPT.

08/27/2015 NPT -Woods Lake to W. Stony Cr. NY 1 16.80

A quick getaway to the newest official portion of the NPT. I arrived at the trailhead late AM and headed towards Woods Lake. The woods Lake section of trail is one that has seen much use over the years as the Lake is less than a mile from the Rd. The trail forked with two spurs each heading to different parts of Woods Lake. The new portion of ther NPT takes the right fork and heads uphill. The forest here is predominately hemlock, ash and oddly oak. I do not see much oak in the Adirondacks so this was new to me. Only a few hundred yards in, I noticed some chicken of the woods mushrooms growing on a stump. It must be the season as I would come across this fungus quite a lot more over the next 24 hours. The trail followed a ridge above the lake which could be seen below. Campsites dotten the open forest. Soon the trail headed away from the lake and across the shoulder of Little Cathead Mtn. Some neat rocks and cliffs along this section. The trail switchbacked quite a bit as I made my way towards Abner brook. As it has been so dry, the drainages provided no water. My first source was the outlet of Grant Lake. I stopped for a break, food and water. At this point I was about halfway to my destination. Not sure of where I was planning to camp, but I knew it would be in the vicinity of West Stony Creek (North Branch).

I continued on in the almost perfect hiking weather, mid 60s. The humidity was high so I was drenched in sweat. Almost no bugs too. As I crossed Abner brook I commented to myself that the beaver activity will soon make the bridge obsolete. As the trail turned it joined onto an old woods road. I remembered reading about this old roadway in one of my many books. I will have to consult to see where it heads in the other direction. The next 2 miles or so of the trail would follow this old road bed although sometimes it would deviate for a bit to avoid wet sections or areas with heavy blowdown. At one of these deviations the new trail passed right over the remnants of a fire ring. A small sapling was growing in the middle of it. The area looked like it could have been used as a hunting camp at one time which might explain the old fire ring. The trail eventually intersected with the old Notch Rd, but only briefly. I checked out the crossing of Stony Creek and then decided to explore the Notch rd briefly. An old firepit and a new debris hut were spotted up the hill. Someone had some fun building a fort. Nearby was an old dump of metal barrels commonly found along these old woods rds.

I headed back to the NPT and continued on to the bridge which would be where it intersected the old NPT. From here I took a bearing and headed North in search of Justin's secret campsite. He said it was ten minutes North from here, so I figured about half a mile and double/triple the time for me as I wasn't exactly sure of the heading. There was a drainage about half a mile up the hill from here so I figured this would be a good place to start looking. A few times I thought I spotted places where humans had walked, and likely they had but there was no obvious trail to follow. The drainage itself was dry and I followed it upstream a bit looking around. It is likely I was within 100 yards of Justins campsite and still didn't see it. I continued on to the next drainage and did the same with no luck. I followed this drainage all the way down to the old notch rd and made my way back to Stony Creek. I knew there was a campsite along the creek so I headed towards there. I found the campsite in relatively good shape as opposed to the one nearest the trailhead which was filled with trash.

I made camp and gathered a small amount of wood. My normal camp routine would follow. Make dinner, hang out, go to bed. I awoke at first light and restarted the fire to make water for coffee. I didn't rush, but was still on the trail just after 7:30. Seeing as it was so early I decided to hike slowly back to my car. I took a break again at the outlet of Grant Lake as it would be the last water source until woods Lake. Back at the car and changed out of my hiking clothes by 11 am.

08/15/2015 Colvin Brook -Perseids! NY 2 24.00

The last few years my annual trek to the adirondacks for the Perseid meteor shower, or any meteor shower has been met with cloudy skies. This year would be different. As the new lean-to adopter for the Colvin Brook Lean-to I decided to visit the lean-to, do the general cleanup, and bring the new log book while hoping to catch the sky show this year. A fellow backpacker, Ben, joined me as we hiked the 7 mile Sucker Brook trail to the Colvin Brook lean-to on the Cedar River. Yes this is confusing. The trail is the Sucker Brook Trail, the lean-to is called the Colvin Brook Lean-to, and it is on the banks of the Cedar River. The lean-to is also known as the Cedar River Lean-to, but with other lean-tos with similar names, it would be confusing no matter what. The Sucker Brook trail begins at the Lewy lake campground and due to this proximity it gets a fair amount of use from the campground visisotrs. The trail is a smooth, and well worn path nearby the Suck Brook through the hemlocks for a few miles and then it begins the climb to the height of land just west of Lewey Mountain. The climb is not insignificant and due to my lack of hiking the last few weeks (due to my canoe trip) I was breathing heavy earlier than usual. We paused before we crested and then made the final push. At the height of land the woods were rather open in a beech and maple hardwood forest. Many use this as a jumping off point to summit Lewey.

We then headed downhill. It was more gradual and soon Colvin Brook would come into view. We would cross this meandering stream 10 times over the next couple miles. We then entered a flooded spruce swamp. The water was murky and gross. We made our way through and then entered an even wetter alder swamp. Both of these flooded sections were courtesy of the local beaver population. It took quite a while to navigate the fingers of flooded streams through the alders to other side. From here it was less than a mile to our destination. We arrived to the smell of campfire, yet no one was there. A few charred logs were leaning against a tree and I thought perhaps the air wafted over them and that is what we smelled. I then noticed wisps of smoke in the firepit. A wave of the hand exposed a glowing ember. A few waves of my sit pad and flames erupted. The shelter log had no one signed in for 3 days.

I set up my hammock, I was looking forward to it as I used a tent for my Lake Superior trip. Ben set up shop in the lean-to. We relaxed and then made dinner. Ben had a mountain house while I used the fire to cook some venison and a side of rice and veggies. The sky had been cloudy or overcast all day and I wasn't optimisitc about our chances to see the Perseids. As the sun set and the woods darkened, the clouds lifted. The first star appeared, or likely a planet. The another, and more. I ventured out to the sandbar in the river and noted the mily way was visible. Ben joined me and for the next hours we strained our neck watching the sky. We saw satellites fly by and then I spotted the first shooting star. Moments later a second one we both witnessed. A least this year wasn't a flop! There was a longer time before the next meteor appeared, but it was bright. An enormous ball of light with a bright tail. We would see a few of these bright ones over the next hour or so, but none as bright as that. At one point we both saw a flash in the sky. It was like someone just took a photo. Perhaps this meteoe burned up so fast no tail appeared? Our necks were getting sore yet we kept saying, just one more. Eventually I had to go lay down. I was tired and my neck hurt. I was glad to see the Perseid sky show.

Morning came and even though I tried to sleep in, I couldn't. I restarted the fire, made breakfast and we discussed our options for the day. French Louie's cave would be a 16 mile round trip hike. 10 miles RT to the dam, or to Little Moose Lake. The last two options were to explore the unamrked path which appears to head up Round Mt or to be camp rats. We opted to go to Cedar dam.This would also allow me to visit the Lamphere Ridge section of the NPT which is now also my responsibility as a trail steward. We crossed the river in front of the lean-to and continued on the Sucker Brook trail to the junction with the NPT. This was only a mile. We turned left and headed down the NPT (Southbound). A little more than a mile later we took a short break at the campsite where the trail used to ford the river. A picked a few pieces of dried spruce gum from a scarred tree and the pieces soon warmed in my mouth to the point I could chew it. A little less than 2 miles we would get to the dam and then we went to the Cedar Lake lean-to for an early lunch. A thru-hiker name Joe was having a snack and resting. He had come from West Canada Creek lean-to this AM and was heading to Stephens Pond for the night. This would be a 26 mile day for him. We talked about the trail for a bit and I gave him some intel about
the trail ahead. Tomorrow Joe would have a “short” 13 mile day as he was also going to hike into Blue Mtn Lake to the Post Office. We wished him the best and he headed off. We finished our lunch and then headed back to our lean-to. It was hot and muggy. By the time we got to our home base, we were both soaked in sweat. A sponge bath and dry clothes were on both our minds.

During dinner a few raindrops fell, but nothing ground drenching. The sky was over cast and we were glad to have seen the meteors last night because these conditions did not seem favorable. As the sky darkened a spotted a star. Perhaps the clouds were clearing. A few more appeared and Ben headed to the river. We had decided that sitting on the larger rocks and leaning back on others might be more comfortable. I waited in the lean-to. More stars appears and Ben spoke above the gurgle of the rapids, “I saw one”. I headed to the river and found a rock to sit on. Unfortunately the stars began to hide as clouds moved in. Eventually much of the star studded sky was obscured. At least we had seen a good show the previous night.

I went to bed, and soon Ben followed. The night was warmer than the previous, but I still slept well. We had noticed some pink flagging while navigating the swamp a few days ago. We wondered if it was a marked route. The flags headed towards the beaver dam which provided easy access to the spruce swamp, so we avoided the alder swamp. The flagging continued through the spruce but we still had to navigate the big muddy spot. We both made different choices but made it through unscathed and more importantly without falling in. The rest of the hike out would be hot and muggy and we were glad to get back to the car to change out of our sweat soaked clothes. A stop for coffee and we headed home. As we approached Blue Mtn Lake and wondered if we would see Joe walking the road; generally an undesirable aspect of the trail. Within seconds of my spoken wondering, we saw Joe heading down the road. We asked if he wanted a ride back to the trail head. He was glad to take it. We dropped Joe off and headed home. 3 days, 24 miles and a gorgeous show in the sky.

06/30/2015 Section Hike-Wakely to Piseco NY 4 35.00

The last day of school was Friday. My backpack was in my car and I drove straight to the DOT facility in Piseco where I would meet the rest of the crew I would be leading on a 35 mile section of the NPT. This 4-day trip is one of a series of section hikes coordinated by the NPT Chapter of the ADK. I hiked South on the NPT to Buckhorn Lake also known as Fiddler's Lake. I explored a bit on both sides of the lake and noted one recently used campsite on the northern shore, and a derelict site on the southern. A beaver noted my presence and slapped his tail a few times as he swam in a circle. As it was close to dinner, I headed downstream of the outlet to the campsite below the bridge. As I gathered some firewood I cleared out a spring for water. After my fire was lit, I returned to the spring to fill up my water bottle. Cooked some venison and had a beer by the campfire as the sun began to get low in the sky. Soon after I finished it was apparently dinner time for the locals; the mosquitoes came out in full force. I retreated to my hammock and waited until the air chilled a bit more; I fell asleep. I didn't stir until first light. I packed up and headed back to my car. Since the crew wouldn't arrive for a few more hours, I went into Speculator for breakfast. During my coffee I learned that one of the escaped convicts had been killed. The search continued for his fellow prison mate.
At 8 am the first of the crew arrived; Will and Skip. We waited for the others who weren't due until 9. Nancy was the last to arrive and she was still early. Quite the punctual group. We left 3 cars at the DOT and drove 2 to Wakely Dam. We signed in at the register and headed down the trail. The weather was perfect for hiking but we knew this wasn't to last. One of the participants had decided not to come due to the weather forecast. For the same reason, I adjusted our itinerary. The first night was to be at Colvin Brook, but since this required crossing the Cedar River on rocks, I decided to not put us at risk of having to cross again with high water from the impending storm. This would lengthen the first day by 3 miles, but shorten the second day by the same. The group stayed together and hiked at a decent pace. I noted some of the aspects of the trail of historical significance and we just chatted. The Lamphere Ridge is now the section of trail which I will be maintaining. Will helped out a bit by cutting some blowdown. He loves his saw. You could see a grin spread across his face when he would start cutting. We arrived at Cedars #1 well in front of the rain. Setup and wood gathering were the first order. Nancy and I would be the only ones not in the lean-to, so the others started gathering wood first. A decent pile was created of hardwood. A dead cherry tree was located and some large chunks were returned to the campsite. Fire and food were soon being enjoyed, and then the rains came. I retired early as did Nancy. The other guys stayed up with the fire for a while longer. The storm continued through the night.
In the AM, the rain came and went. Since we had hiked extra yesterday, we were in no rush to get moving. At a point where the rain seemed to break, we headed down the trail. The NPT is typically wet, and the West Canadas are often the wettest section. Coupled with a storm for the last 12 hours, the trail was a mess. We stopped at Cedars #2 for a quick break, paused at the junction to Cedars #3. Even though the trail was sloppy I was enjoying the hike. The others seemed to be too, as least there wasn't any grumblings that I could hear. We stopped for a quick lunch. Rains came but nothing like the previous night. The trail changed a lot through this section. At one point the remnant telephone pole was noticed. This was from when the ranger station used to exist. Was odd seeing it in the woods laying among the fallen spruce trees. Odder still was the ladder leaning up against the back of a tree a few feet off trail earlier in the day. The beaver activity at the reroute along with the recent rains had made a big mess of the trail. Even though our feet were wet, we tried to not step even deeper into the wet. We took a break after the really wet reroute before the fireplace clearing. The field was tall with weeds and they were soaked. We signed in at the register and a few contemplated moving closer to the fireplace for photos, but opted against it. We were close to camp and I suppose we all wanted to take off our wet socks. Bruce took a few last photos and I followed him back on to the trail. Then he went flying; a slip on a wet rock and he was down. Immediately I told him not to move, so as to assess the situation. Fortunately he had only turned his ankle, but this type of injury would make for some important decisions moving forward. We were now 16 miles in on the 35 mile end-to-end trip. The closest emergency egress by foot was over 10 miles and it would end at dirt road parking area, not exactly a place to get help. Bruce and I slowly made our way to the rest of the group and I apprised them of the situation. So as to not slow the entire group down, I had Bill lead them to the next junction and wait for Bruce and I. We would repeat this process continuously over the next two days. We eventually made it to the South Lake lean-to. A couple was just packing up and heading to Colvin Brook lean-to and the Sucker Brook trail. The same procedure from the last night would repeat. Camp setup and firewood, followed by dinner and conversation. First aid supplies were combined and I discussed our options with Bill. As a last resort, we could activate the SPOT emergency beacon. We decided to re-assess the situation in the morning to see how Bruce's ankle felt in the AM. For the next few hours at least, he would rest it, try to “ice” it with the lake, but it was quite warm. Kept it elevated. Will had some compression tape which was also applied. For dinner, both Skip and Bruce had the same Mountain House meal, beef stew. Skip's meal must have been a dud because while Bruce was saying how tasty his was, Skip complained about his. I ate my leftovers from lunch the first day. I stayed up a little later than the previous night, but everyone kept thinking I was already asleep while sitting in the lean-to so I figured it was time to go to bed.
The next morning, everyone was up before me. This is rare for me as I am usually the first one. We didn't dawdle this morning even though the view was amazing. As the sun came up and lit the far side of the lake, the morning fog was melted away. Then a rainbow appeared. Cameras csme out and some good shots were taken. At present one of them is the now the header for the page. The swelling on Bruce's ankle had gone down some, and he didn't want to slow everyone down, so he along with me would head out first and wait at the junction with the french louie trail to ensure we all made the right turn. Bill would again take the lead in the second group. At the junction, Bruce continued while I waited for the group who was behind us by about 10 minutes. While they took a break, I rejoined Bruce and then the rest of the group leap-frogged us. I would stay with Bruce and the others would continue to Spruce Lake #3 and wait for us (lunch time). Walking slowly through this section allowed me to see some things I had missed on all my previous jaunts through here. Of note was just how neat the waterfall from Sampson bog is when hiking upstream towards it, Also just north of Spruce Lake is a small “cave”. (Bill noticed it too). I went to check it out and I guess I startled a fawn because it bounded right down the trail past Bruce. I never saw it. Also at the N. end of Spruce I wandered to the shore to see if a remnant campsite I had read about still existed. I found a small flat, clear area which could easily be sued, but no signs it was ever used; meaning no campfire ring. We arrived at Spruce #3 right on schedule and the group had only been there for fifteen or so minutes. They had walked slowly and cleared quite a bit of blowdown. We made another assessment of the situation and Bruce opted to continue to the planned campsite. We would go slow, but he would do it. The next rendezvous would be Spruce #1 and then the Jessup river trail junction. Which was always in my mind as a backup egress for Bruce. The crossing of the outlet from Balsam lake was a challenge. The extra water made this normally uneventful crossing a serious stream. Crossing the Jessup later on would seem like a cake walk in comparison. We again split into the two groups. Based on our morning, I estimated we would make it to camp by 6:30; about 5 and half hours from now. The flat areas we would make good time, but the ups and more-so the down would decrease our rate considerably. The cold streams felt good on our feet as it was getting warmer. The mosquitoes also began to emerge to our dismay. The last time I hiked this section in this direction the temp was in the 90's and it was very dry. This time it was almost the complete opposite. Besides the bugs, the worrying about my hiking companion, and the mud, the hike was great. As we approached Fall Stream, our campsite I inquired about the time. 6:27. Three minutes to spare. The other had already set up, started a fire and gathered some wood. They were 45 minutes ahead of us, maybe more. With everyone set up, more wood was collected. Dinner and conversation ensued. This campsite oddly gets 4G service, Nancy's news feed updated with the news that the other convict had been shot and captured. These convicts had been national news for the last few weeks. Since we had embarked on our trek, I hadn't though about them. The trail is so separate from the rest of the world. Simpler yet complex in its own way. It becomes a new reality and assimilates those who hike it. Just one of the reasons I enjoy being there.
It isn't often my tarp is drier in the morning than when I went to bed. But this was the case today. Only a bit more than 4 miles out. Bruce and I headed out first. Towards the end of the day yesterday, the strap on Bruce's pack was beginning to dig into my collarbone. When I donned it this morning it was though I had never taken it off. I usually carry a much lighter pack, so this pain is not what I am used to. From here out the trail is relatively flat with one significant downhill. I was worried about the wetness and potential falling on this. Bruce and I made it down slowly without incident. The rest of the group didn't catch up to us until we only had about a mile to go. At the end of the trail, at least one would need to walk to the cars, it ended up being three. When Bruce and I signed out at the register, we approached the bridge to find Nancy and 4 backpacks. Soon Will, Bill and Skip returned to the bridge with the 3 cars.
Even though the trail was a muddy mess, and a slight injury which slowed the progress and seemed to be the focus; it wasn't. Of course the safety of everyone is always paramount, and trail conditions can make a hike enjoyable (or not), but while we were hiking we talked about everything from old movies to the BSA, the trail itself and other trips we have done. The group was a fantastic crew, each and every one of them would be an enjoyable trail partner. We all had our own experiences leading up to this trip and now have this as a shared experience. The rainbow over South Lake, the dew covered spider web at the West Canada Creek bridge, the bear tracks, the moose poo, red efts, loons, the fawn, the smiles and laughs we shared. These are what keep bringing me back and why I invite others to go with me. Thanks to all who who were a part of this adventure. I am happy to have shared it with everyone.

06/13/2015 Paddling the Chenango River ny 1 38.00

We found a great egress point just before the bridge where the Finger Lakes Trail crosses the Chenango River, just south of the town of Oxford. The nice people at the nearby farmhouse let us park in their yard, and cross their field to avoid having to climb up the steep bank from the river. We drove north 38 miles to the town of Eaton to another bridge where we would enter the River. we ate lunch at the car before we pushed off.
The recent rains had swelled the river. Many strainers and the increased volume made for some technical canoeing. This was the first time Dan and I have canoed together and it took a bit of time for me to learn his style. He is a very accomplished paddler and his skill and knowledge would benefit us greatly. I certainly learned a lot of technical aspects to river canoeing in the fast moving water. The first third of the trip invloved some serious obstacles and fast water. The mileage went quickly as we were constantly having to navigate the obstacles. There was one log jam which we both had to lay down in the canoe to get under. Fortunately the water wasn't fast here. There were a few places we had to carry around. It was getting late and we still hadn't gotten to the Rt 80 bridge, so we stopped at a gravel bar which abutted a nice mowed yard with some trees, a picnic table and firepit. Dan went up to the farmhouse and asked for permission to camp for the night. The nice couple was more than generous and even told us where the cut firewood was. Dick and Jinks used to have a business renting boats and guiding trips down the river. They wrote down their names, address and phone in case of emergency. We would use them to send a thank you note.
I cooked up dinner; chicken and sausage jambalaya. I thought I made too much, but we ate it all and Dan said he could have eaten more. Good to know as we are in the middle of planning our 10-day paddling trip to Lake Superior. The sun set and out came the planets and stars as well as the lightening bugs. The field flickered with them as the sky overhead sparkled with the stars. The enjoyment of the night lights was to be short as we were both tired. I fell asleep quickly, I have no recollection of being in my hammock before I dozed off. I awoke as the sky began to lighten, but soon fell back asleep. I knew we had a lot of miles to go but I was still so tired. I eventually got up and Dan soon followed. Dan made coffee as I readied the morning meal (breakfast burritos). We ate, cleaned up, loaded the canoe and shoved off. It was at least 20 minutes later before we got to the bridge where we expected to camp near. Good thing, as the banks were not conducive to a couple of weary paddlers at least not nearly as nice as the homestead of Dick and Jinks. That spot was beautiful.
The river changed from here on out. It gained water from tributaries and straightened out. There were fewer technical sections, although one just before lunch was a doozy. We had to enter the chute stern first and the maneuver around the log jam to avoid another strainer. Our first attempt we had to retreat as we didn't come around enough. Powered back to the eddy and re-positioned for the second attempt which was executed nicely. The kayaker watching all of this must have been entertained. A mistake in this situation with our laden canoe could have been disastrous. The morning was long miles of slower moving water except for the occasional log jam, strainer and fast water like the aforementioned obstacle. We took a break for lunch at a gravel bar. Dan was in charge of lunches, and today was fish sandwiches on homemade bread. The fish was striped bass which he caught in Connecticut. After a filling meal in the early afternoon we headed back out. The water was wide and relatively flat for miles. I was getting tired. A lot of paddling I am not used to. My back was getting stiff and my shoulders ached. Dan took pity on me and we took another rest at another gravel bar. I took a nap while he took a swim. The break helped a little, but boy was I out of shape for canoeing. Later on I took an excedrin to settle my back pain. I should have not waited so long. The sky began to look threatening and a few sprinkles started before we got out our take out. By the time we got the truck all loaded and were heading back it was a full on downpour.
We have no idea how many miles we actually paddled, but the Rt 12 which we drove back to my car was 38 miles straight north. With all the twists and turn we had to have done significantly more. Along that stretch of river besides the water and countryside we saw a lot of wildlife. All kinds of waterfowl; wood ducks, mallards, mergansers adults and young. A very young baby merganser was quite close at one point. Very cute. We saw countless deer at the waters edge. Mink, muskrat and a wild turkey. At one spot where we had to carry around a tiny dam, the water's edge was covered with what looked like some insect infestation. A closer inspection revealed thousands of tiny frogs which were leaving their birthing pool.
A fantastic trip, I was hurting towards the end. I expected to hurt more today but am surprisingly not in much pain. A few sore spots and that is it. I wrote 38 miles, but it had to be in the forties.

06/01/2015 And then the storm hit. -Cold River Loop NY 1 28.00
The weather called for thunderstorms and this is the height of black fly season in the Adirondacks. So what better to do than my annual Cold River Loop in 2 days instead of the normal 3.
Left Rochester at 5am and was on the trail a bit after 10. The sky was blue and it wasn't too hot. The breeze kept us cool and the bugs away. We stopped for a quick break at the Blueberry Lean-to and filled up with water, had a snack etc... We passed by a few hikers climbing the Sewards and Seymour. Two pages of hikers climbing the mountains in the trail register, we were the only ones circumnavigating the ranges. The trail was dry and we moved at a good pace. The first half of the day would be slowly gaining the little elevation we would encounter. The entire 28 miles would have a gain of 2000'. We saw the peaks to our west which all the day hikers would be climbing. We would see them from the other side the next day. We descended the shoulder to the junction with the Northville Placid Trail. A small group of college/HS guys with large packs made their way up the NPT and asked which direction to Duck Hole. I gave them some info and asked if they were going all the way to Placid. They had started in Long Lake and would be circling somewhat back via Upper works trailhead. We fixed the large arrow in the trail, and they asked if we could pass along the info to their straggling buddies. We headed down the NPT paralleling the Cold River. Passed along the info to the two stragglers and then stopped for a late lunch break. We had done about 9 miles so far. The sky was a bit overcast by now, but still not threatening. I had expected to be hiking in the rain by now, so the good weather was a bonus for me.
The next stretch of the trip always seems longer then it should. We passed by the outlet of Mountain Pond and then to the old logging camp. From here it was still quite a ways to Rondeax's hermitage, Ouluska pass etc... Since we weren't in sight of the Cold River, this was just an undulating rocky, rooted trail with only the forest for a view. We eventually made it to the Hermitage. Took a short break, commented on how we were all probably a bit dehydrated. We would now head towards the bank of the Cold River. Soon we hit the Ouluska Pass lean-to and then follow the curvature of the river to our home for the night at Seward Lean-to. It is about 2 miles from Ouluska to Seward, and we soon heard the first rumble of thunder off to our north. The sky ahead still looked blue, and we wondered if the storm would pass us by. Wishful thinking. With about a mile to go, the sky opened up. This wasn't just rain, but a torrential shower of water. It was like standing under a hose. Within seconds were were soaked. I couldn't see through my wet/foggy glasses. I picked up my pace and sans glasses pressed on to the Seward Lean-to. There was a a giant puddle right in front. Soon after my arrival, Ben showed up and then a few minutes later Ryan. It wasn't long after we were all situated in the shelter, did the rain subside a bit. The puddle began to soak into the ground, a resident frog seemed to enjoy the puddle and us. He sat there in his glory looking up at us three. We had done 14 miles in just under 7 hours (including our breaks), the last mile in a thunderstorm. We ate dinner, crawled into our bags and except for nature's call didn't leave the shelter until the next morning.
It rained on/off throughout the night. Of course it was raining as I had to heed nature's call. We awoke relatively early. I made a cup of coffee and was not looking forward to putting on my wet hiking clothes. We were packed up and and on the trail a bit after 7am. The morning went quickly and without much fanfare as we hiked in the wet, the trees would drop their moisture. It would rain a bit more too. Ben's kneee was sore. i think he was having the same issue I had a few years back. I know the feeling well. He needed to keep hiking or else he would get tight, Ryan needed more breaks due to his pack weight, sore hips and shoulders. Ben was only a few minutes ahead of us when we caught up with him at Calkins Creek lean-to. Ate a bit, I described the junctions to ben so he would take the correct turns (he had a map too, but the unmarked path up Donaldson and Seward is used so much it is easy to mistake for the real trail). We followed behind, Ben left little markers at the junctions so I would know he made the right turn. We would then catch up to him at the junction with the horse trail. From here we would only have 1.5 miles to go, almost exclusively downhill. The trail in was nice and dry yesterday, but now it was a sloppy mess. It didn't matter as our boots were just as wet already. Back at the car, Ben opened up a beer for him and Ryan. I congratulated the group for a job well done. This was an aggressive hike even for me. 14 miles per day isn't usually aggressive for me, but since I had to include the driving, it took up the extra time. We now had a 5 hour drive home.

05/17/2015 Black Flies and no fire? -Upper Gull Lake NY 1 7.60
The plan began with Mike and I doing a canoe trip, each in our solo boats. As time progressed, his wife Chrissy was joining us as well as another couple. The week of the trip, the other couple bailed. The days leading up to the trip included an open fire ban across NYS. This and the rported emergence of the black fly swarms were enough for Chrissy to bail. In the late afternoon of Friday, the ban on campfires was lifted, but Chrissy had already decided not to go. So Sat AM, I met Mike as we had originally planned so many weeks ago. I transferred my canoe to his car top and we set out to the Adirondacks.
I short few hours and we pulled up to Big Moose Lake. On the approach rd we saw a man donning a full bug shirt/head net system. At least we would be on the water most of the time. We quickly loaded up our canoes and headed across Big Moose. There was s gentle breeze out on the lake which mitigated any bug issues. Fortunately we didn't have to paddle against the wind. We turned up North Bay and into the "no wake zone" due to the loon nesting area. soon the trail to the Gull Lakes would appear on our left. The take out was just as muddy as I remembered it from 2 years ago. We switch to our hiking shoes and loaded our packs and canoes overhead to begin the 3/4 mile portage to Lower Gull. This portage would be generally uphill the entire way (+142 feet). At Lower Gull we spent some time exploring as we had not far left to go and it was barely after noon. We watched some loons on the lake as well as a heron fly around, circling and landing in his nest.
After a circumnavigation of the lake, we headed to the next portage. A brief (but steep) uphill and then a level quarter mile to Upper Gull Lake. We arrived at Upper Gull without fanfare. Noted some wood had been left; we would collect more. We made camp and had a snack of smoked ham and cheese on the rock overlooking the lake. Oh, we also cracked open a beer. The rest of the afternoon included some good food, conversation and an exploration of the lake. Saw a mallard, a family of GoldeEyes, a lone Canada Goose and a beaver. After dinner, we again went out for a paddle. Night came, we had a small fire. As it was close to the new moon it got dark, and with the clear skies the stars were easy to see.
I fell asleep quickly and awoke to a loud beaver tail thwap right in front of the lean-to area. I guess he was paying us back for disturbing him earlier on our evening paddle.
We arose as the sky began to get light, although official sunrise would not be for a while longer. We made breakfast, packed up all lazy like and we were still on the trail out by 8:30. We didn't dawdle too much at Lower Gull and continued down to Big Moose. As I arrived to the end of the portage, a couple of guys were just pulling up in an aluminum canoe. They asked how far it was to Gull Lakes. I gave them the info they sought and we chatted a bit. By now, Mike had completed the carry. We put back on our paddling shoes and headed back down Big Moose. The lake was very calm which made for an enjoyable paddle but the black flies would swarm us every once in a while if we got to close to land. In general most people would complain about the level of black flies, but we had experienced worse. While they were annoying at times, it wasn't so bad. A few bites, but they didn't detract from the trip.
The first paddle/hike of the season. A little less than 8 miles, 2 of which were portages.

04/19/2015 Ice Out at Chub Pond w/meetup NY 1 8.80
Annual trip to Chub Pond with the meetup group. Most of the people I had done other trips with, though not all together. Eric (Rev Yukon Jack), Dan, Mike, Sheldon, Kalie and myself were at the trailhead a little before noon. The forecast included potential showers, but it didn't look likely. We headed up the trail and noticed tracks in the mud; the snow was gone from the trail for the most part. As we approached the Gull Lake outlet, the source of the tracks became apparent. The DEC has carted in materials for the bridge replacement. Temporary plywood had been laid over the old bridge for safety. The trail was wet, but not as sloppy as I expected for this time of year. Temperature was perfect for hiking. When we arrived at Chub, the lake still had ice on about half. We set up camp and a couple from Boonville arrived. We invited them to stay with us, but later on they left. The guy had gotten rather intoxicated and was saying some rather inappropriate things. We think his girlfriend suggested they move on to another campsite. We ate, we conversed, we watched the wind blow the remaining ice around the lake. Th sun set and the stars came out. Great view of the sky before we retired, knowing it also meant the night would be cold.

It had gotten down into the twenties over night. However the loonss and beavers were still active. The ice was almost completely gone by morning. Only a few remnants in the sheltered coves. We lazed around all morning which is typical for this trip as it is such a short distance in. I noted in the shelter log three people I knew had been here in the past month. Dave and Pat from Roch, and B Jackson from the forum. I wrote our entry and we headed home. Our party spread out a bit on the hike out. The air was still a bit chilly but that made the hiking out less sweaty. Another great trip for the meetup. while I hope this trip stays an annual, I also hope to find someone else to do it and then I can lead another for those with more experience.

04/02/2015 And the ice is slowly melting -Lower Sargent Pond

The weather in our local area has been warm and most of the snow is gone. The gardens are beginning to show life. Of course our north woods neighbors will still have some snow for weeks to come. The forecast up north was variable. Eric decided to stay home and avoid the potential rain and instead continue with outside chores at home. Rob would potentially meet me friday afternoon. I set out early Thursday AM and was at the trailhead by 11 am.
My buddy justin had been here the weekend prior and reported deep snow but a well packed trail from the snowmobiles. He also left a nice pile of wood at the lean-to. The trail register showed little traffic this year. Also noticed Lower Sargent had been "reclaimed" by the DEC late 2013. A fish barrier dam was constructed and the pond "roteoned" to kill all fish. Little Tupper brookies were stocked in 2014. It will be a few years before they mature and begin to reproduce. What was once a special trout pond, hopefully will be so once again as long as no one re-introduces bass again.
On the trail without snowshoes as it was hard packed for the most part. This would not be true of the return trip. Temp bagan in the high 30's and would warm as the day progressed. The sky was blue and I remembered to put on sun=screen. Some slight ups and downs and a couple oc minor streams and I was at the shore of Grassy Pond. Snapped a couple photos and pushed on.
At the junction for Sargent and Tioga Point trail, I opted to continue on the trail instead of cutting across the lake as Justin et al had done. I shy away from crossing frozen lakes when solo "just in case". I followed some older tracks but the snow was deep in the spruce protected trail. As it moved away from the pond, I headed off trail where the snow was less and followed the shore. Years of fishing traffic had created a well established path around the shore. I passed by a few old campsites which were now marked "no camping". I arrived at the lean-to on the peninsula right on schedule.

I made a quick little fire and roasted some venison hot dogs and relaxed. This would be my standard operating procedure for the rest of the day and the next. I relaxed and ate food. I did explore a bit around the lake, but didn't venture too far. The pond was beginning to melt, I could see pockets where the lake had bubbled up through the 6 inch ice. I used these pockets (about 8 inch diameter) to fill my water bottle. 

The almost full moon was my nightlight as the fire waned. Night came and I slept soundly. I awoke to the rain in the middle of the night, but was asleep again soon. Like usual, I was up before the sun. The forecast had called for a foggy morning and they were right on. So far the forecast had been 100%. I made a quick breakfast and waited for the sun to burn through the morning fog. Following the path of the moon rise, the sun emerged from the treeline horizon casting some great shadows in the clouds and reflections on the ice.

The next had dawned and the rest of the day was again just relaxing and staring out into the wilderness. I found an old saw blade and constructed a bucksaw using scavenged wood and a piece or rope I also found laying around. I also made some spruce gum which was not very "refined" as it had bits of bark still in it. But was good nonetheless. After a late afternoon nap, and not feeling very hungry for dinner I contemplated the accuracy of the weather forecast. It had called for a similar night as before, but the rain/snow would continue into the next day. Since Rob was only 50% for the trip, I figured I would wait until 6 at the latest and then venture out. I wouldn't have minded the next days hike in the rain if Rob had made it. <p>

At Quarter to 6, I packed up and headed out. Due to the warm weather and previous nights rain, the trail was beginning to melt. This meant the snow was like walking on sand. It gave way with every step, and often would sink in quite a few inches. This made travel slow and tiring on the legs. The minor streams on the ways in were starting to swell and some of the crossings required me to go upstream a bit. I didn't recall the trail being mostly downhill on the way in, but it sure seemed like it was uphill the entire way out. I arrived at the car at quarter after 7. I look forward to visiting this pond again in the future, especially after the brook trout begin to repopulate.

03/23/2015 Its purple -North Lake

Bill I, the author of the Discover the Adirondacks series of books, led a group of us to the very first lean-to he ever visited on North Lake in the South Western Adirondacks. This small group included some friends I have backpacked with before, some I knew but never had the chance to hike together and a few new people. While this was technically the first weekend of spring, it was still very much winter conditions. The lake was solid. Justin cut through 4 inches and hit the first slush pocket and then had to go another 18 inches to hit water. The temp on Sunday morning was zero F. Winter conditions for sure.

The trek across the lake began with 4 of us plus two dogs (myself, Justin, Bill, and Chelsea plus Lexie and Jenny). About 2 miles across the flat lake went very fast. At the lean-to, we cleared out the firepit and set up camp. This took a while as the snow was quite deep. Made for some nice snow benches surrounding the fire. As the day went on, 2 others joined us (Patrick and David) and after dark our last companion (Dave)arrived. This was a nice relaxing campout. Conversations, adult beverages and plenty of food made for a very pleasant trip. I do not recall why, but one of our companions when describing her sleeping pad mentioned purple. This became a running joke throughout the trip; it is purple was the characteristic of anything which would make it desirable. A bunch of us stayed in the lean-to. Justin slept in his tent and dan slept in a bivy on the ground just outside the lean-to. Like usual, I awoke first and restarted the fire. Since we didn't have far to go, we packed up slowly and sat around all morning. The temperature had risen to about 20F by the time we departed, but the wind was ferocious out on the lake. Good thing we had such a short trip out and it was not facing into the wind. Short trip, but loads of fun. Still not spring, regardless of what the astronomers say.

03/08/2015 Winter Wonderland in the Silver Lakes Wilderness

Rob, Justin and I again headed out for a winter trip. This time to the Eastern edge of the Silver Lakes Wilderness Area near Groff Creek. Rob and I met Justin at the trailhead close a little after 9am. The trail began down an abandoned road. Justin had been here the previous weekend so the trail was broken out. After about mile, we turned off the trail and headed towards Groff Creek. After crossing the creek we entered a hemlock grove which would be our home for the next 24 hours. We set up camp and collected firewood. Plenty of firewood.
To the west rose the southern portion of Southerland Mtn. On the southern false summit is a nice view to the south. We headed up the mountain. Justin had left some tracks part way from the previous weekend. We followed in his tracks. We gained elevation rapidly and then the terrain leveled off. soon I would take the lead and break the trail the rest of the way. As i approached a very steep section, I switchbacked the climb. The snow was deep and crystalline so it was like trying to climb sand. Pushing on, I paused at an overlook. A couple of large glacier erratics bounded on both sides by two hemlocks. The view to the South was intermittenly blocked by the leaf-less branches of the deciduous trees. Justin and Rob came along behind me. We still had one more rise to conquer to get to the real view. I was pleased with this one, but I set out again to the next rise. Following near many deer tracks the ridge came into view to my left. Seeing the easier approach was from the backside, I turned slightly north and came up to the top of the ridge from that direction. As I approached, I could see the view would be unobstructed. I stepped out into the open and scanned the 100 degree view of the silver lake wilderness. Soon Justin arrived and said we have a man down and Rob was waiting back at the other view point. I said to myself, this one was worth it. we took some photos and video clips so Rob could add them to the video he is making (and will upload to youtube).
It had taken about 1 hr 20 minutes to reach the viewpoint on the false summit. Justin surmised it would take half an hour to return to camp. He was pretty much right on. We slipped and slid back down the trail we had made. Met back up with Rob who at times would slide down on his rear. I was the first to tumble, and in the deep snow with snowshoes it took a minute or so for me to get back on my feet. Within seconds Rob and Justin also took a dive. We made it back to camp with plenty of sunlight to ready dinner.
With a fire lit, we socialized and ate. Dinner and conversation followed. It wasn't long past dark when I got tired. I excused myself to my hammock before I completely fell asleep by the fire.
<p> The temp at night dipped into the mid teens (according to Justin's thermometer). Due to falling asleep early, I was up before the sun. I restarted the fire and watched the moon. This was my normal time for waking up, but due to daylight savings time changing overnight, the clock registered an hour later.
<p> I made some coffeeas the forest began to gain light. Rob emerged and within a few minutes so did Justin. Since we had only a short hike out, we didn't rush our morning routine. In fact we sate around some more and ate lunch/brunch? It was close to 11 when we broke camp.
The working title for Robs video is Winter Wonderland. Link to the video will be added when he uploads it. His youtube channel is:

1/31/2015 to Preston Ponds with L2R

Left Rochester Saturday at 4am. The main crew had been into the site since Thursday. I was bringing in re-supplies. As I drove through the heart of the adirondacks the outside temp was registering minus 14*F. As I arrived at the trailhead at 9am, the temp had just reached zero. I loaded up my pulk and began the short climb to Henderson Lake. This portion of trail is well used by those climbing the high peaks so while it was generally uphill, the pulking went easy. At the turn off to Henderson, I followed remnants of the tracks left by my compatriots. Heading across the lake went smoothly in the old tracks even though the wind was beginning to pick up. As I rounded the peninsula, the wind was greater and the tracks disappeared. The windswept lake moved the snow around like sand in the desert. There were drifts, deep sections, some crusty spots. The view of the high peaks was ahead of me. I was now headed straight into the wind. The going was now slow and I realized how out of shape my snowshoe legs are.
An hour after I left my car I arrived at the Henderson lean-to. I took a break here before beginning the uphill woods section to Preston Pond. The woods had blocked the wind from the last few days so the tracks were again visible. The trail crossed multiple streams in this part and as I traversed one log bridge, my pulk fell off and the belt was damaged. Now began the long climb up the hill. This section was brutal the last time and history would repeat itself. As I gained elevation I could feel the temperature dropping. Also, the wind was beginning to pick up. I took my next break at the turn off to the canoe carry. I was about 50 yards from the lake's edge, but the wind was blown through so much all tracks were hidden. I could feel the increased wind off the lake and knew I would be walking directly into it.
Bundled up, the my head down I proceeded onto the lake. The wind had drifted up quite deep here. I pressed on, lifting my head every once in a while to ensure I was still heading in the correct direction. I arrived at the cabin to find it empty. The crew was delivering materials to the next lean-to location for the build this spring. Not sure how long they would be, I unpacked my gear and tossed a log into the woodstove. It had taken me just under 4 hours to go the almost 4 miles, and I was beat. Within an hour the crew arrived. They were happy for the supplies and the fact the woodstove was still going. Since the crew was smaller, there was room for me in the cabin, i would not have to spend the night outside.

We put a temporary roof onto the shed and called it a day. Socializing and food ensued for the rest of the evening. Lots of food. We crashed early and woke up with the sun. Ate more food and packed up the gear for the downhill trek back to the cars. The cabin is coming along nicely. The OSI is quite pleased with the work we have done so far. 

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