Follow me and my friends on our adventures outside.

paddling the wayyyy upstate, new york

i recently spent five days and four nights in the adirondacks with one of my old housemates frank and his brother adam - aka "the gills".  frank has been on a few multi-day paddle trips with me in the past, but this was adam's first adventure with us.  actually, it was his first adventure in quite some time.  he was a little unaware of what he was getting in to.  i planned this trip before i knew adam was coming, and didn't take into account the fact that we would be paddling with some one who was not versed in multi-day water trips.  frank assured me adam could handle it, so we went ahead with the plan - a 32 mile, 3 day, 2 night paddle from flood wood pond to tupper lake, in the st regis canoe area with an overnight hike at the end.

the route

sunset over follensby clear pond, a pond i passed on my way to meet the gills on night one

we met on floodwood rd, in santa clara ny on sunday evening.  we grabbed an amazing roadside campsite, overlooking middle pond.  we lived it up with cheddar brats, chili cheddar brats, doritos and lots of beer to keep us warm - the temps were down into the mid 30's that evening. 

the gills house for the next 4 nights

 we were up early the next day, before the sun was over the trees.  we had a small breakfast, packed up camp and organized gear for the journey ahead.  

sunrise and my bed for 4 nights - toasty warm and super comfy - sleeping on the ground is bogus

early morning at middle pond, we had to build a fire to warm up

after the outfitter opened, which was right down the dirt road, we secured the 18' kevlar beast that the gills would be paddling.  we unloaded all of our gear and left adam to watch over it while we ran shuttle down to tupper lake.  we got back to the put in around 1130, we decided to get our lunch on before hitting the water, so we could power through until the first campsite.  we were finally on the water by 1230pm and paddled directly into a southern wind, at 10-15mph.  this would be the norm for most of the trip.  

the gills learning to paddle their ship as a team.  in the stream that connects floodwood and little square pond

the gills on fish creek, this is where we encountered the first rain of the trip, but not the last...

the sun came out, and brought back our southerly wind that impeded our process here on little square pond - floodwood mountain rises in the background.

after we made it through the wind on little square pond, and adam recovered his hat that blew off his head, we made our way through a channel and into fish creek bay.  this bay leads into the massive (for the area) upper saranac lake, which we had to paddle to the south end of.  it was 4 o'clock, and we decided to make a try for the bottom of the lake, 6 miles away.  the wind again picked up and battered our spirits pretty fast - after about a half mile of brutal paddling into 20mph winds, i called an audible and we headed north for buck island to set up camp for the night.

light painting fun - frank keeping warm by the fire at camp the first night of paddling.  buck island on upper saranac lake

frank shooting some night skies

our view from buck island campsite, there are some pretty massive houses on this lake

the rain held off for us until around midnight, then it let loose and didn't stop until 7 in the morning.  we were fortunate that the temps were only down into the 40's that night.  as we climbed from our sleeping quarters, the rain let up just long enough to pack it all up and get on the water fast.  we had a big day ahead of us, with 15 plus miles to cover, 6 of them on the windy open waters of upper saranac lake and 1.1 miles carrying all our gear and boats.

the gills pulling into the leeward side of deer island on upper saranac, after a windy, rainy mile of open water.  if it looks miserable, that's because it was.

the rain that we just paddled through, on the narrows section of upper sarnac lake

the rain pestered us the rest of our way down saranac lake, but was nice enough to stop once we reached the end, and it was time to portage.  we stuffed all we could into as few bags as possible, made make shift straps with webbing and rope and carried our gear and boats in sections.  it took us about an hour and half to complete the portage, and we were quite happy once it was over.  we ate lunch before loading the gear back in the boats, and the weather cleared out while we ate.  

the brothers gill portaging their gear and boat

the portage marker at stony creek ponds, where we put back on the water

spirits were much higher on stony creek ponds, where for a few minutes the wind was calm and the sun was out

gill teamwork on the water

the gills on stony creek ponds, right before the wind once again found us

the gills in stony creek, about to enter into the raquette river

with the winds calmer and sun in our faces, we decided to push some water to make as much ground as possible, so that we had 10 miles or less the following day.  we paddled until the sun was just about gone, after a solid 10 hours of paddling/portaging we had made it about 16 miles, a good day.  again the rain held off on us for the most part until we went to bed that night.

frank prepping breakfast on day 3 of our epic paddle. the rain began just before we were able to load the boats

morning on the raquette river, right before the rain set in for the day

we made good time on the river our last day, covering 8 rainy miles before ten thirty.  as we approached tupper lake and our take out, the wind once again picked up, and was blowing from the south, directly into our faces.  we struggled the final mile and half against this wind, in the open waters at the north end of the lake.  with nothing to shelter us from the wind, we powered through and finally arrived at our take out around noon.  the highlight of the day was the gills almost having a yard sale, 100 feet from the landing.  as they turned their giant craft towards the landing and perpendicular to the wind, the wind caught the broadside of the boat and almost capsized them, some how they managed to right it and made it in safetly.

almost swam here

unloading the gear at the landing after a brutally windy paddle

their 18' boat was enormous, especially on the vdub

we had plans of leaving adam at the take out with all the gear while frank and i returned the boat and picked up his car at the outfitter. the landing was cold and the wind was blowing 20mph so we decided to cram everything into my little car and make the drive just once, adam was pretty stoked on that.  so in went a folding kayak, gear for 3 people for 3 days and 3 full grown men - it was a bit uncomfortable, but we made it back to the outfitter in one piece and saved about an hour of driving.  we asked the folks at the outfitter where to spend our last night in the 'daks - and they suggested moose pond, so we headed that direction.  after an amazing late lunch in the town of saranac lake, we headed to moose pond.  The sun was in and out during our drive over, with some pretty dramatic skies to the east - it was beautiful.  we traded dry bags for backpacks, loaded our scaled down camp gear and hiked in about a quarter of a mile to an amazing campsite with a great view to the east of moose pond and mckenzie mountain.

view from the last campsite - moose pond

frank and i taking in the view

the moon rise over moose pond

another view of the moon rise - light pollution from lake placid is reflected in the clouds

hot tea with a view on a cold morning.  i pick the best spots to wake up....

the adventure crew at moose pond, adam thought the hatchet would make it more manly - i think it worked

although parts of this trip were agreeably miserable, it was an amazing experience for me.  to be in the mountains this time of year and experience fall in the 'daks was incredible.  thanks to the gills for the company - frank was his usual good natured self and adventure buddy, and adam did fantastic for having been thrown head first into such an epic multi-day trip. aside from some brotherly bickering over how to paddle a canoe straight, and the usual "we have to go how far today?!" they were great companions and made sure i didn't get eaten by a bear all alone.  i will definitely be doing a trip like this in the adirondacks again in the near future.