Sunday, October 11, 2009

Remote and Difficult Adirondack Paddle Trips

The Adirondacks have a number of remote, difficult trips suitable for either long, single-day trips or for multi-day trips. One notable trip is the Cold River, starting at Tahawus and on to Duck Hole, paddling the entire length of river down to the Raquette, and then either upstream to Long Lake or down to Axton’s Landing.

Another involves a paddle down the upper East Branch of the Oswegatchie to Inlet starting from the Lower Dam on the Bog River, up Lows Lake , and over to the Oswegatchie via Big Deer Pond. (I know of one party that got to the upper East Branch from Stillwater Reservoir and then north via Salmon, Witchhopple, and Clear Lakes.)

A third involves the upper Middle Branch of the Oswegatchie. Just paddling this river, starting from Long Pond Road, is fairly difficult, but at least one party has done this by carrying a canoe into the Five Ponds Wilderness and accessing the river near Rock and Sand Lakes.

Extreme whitewater paddlers have also hiked up Johns Brook and Klondike Brook.

So, what’s left to do? I (and others) have looked longingly at the upper Independence River. Whitewater paddlers run a short downstream stretch known as the Fat Lady section. Access further up is more difficult and it’s not clear how high up in the watershed you can go. To my knowledge, this section of river has not been paddled.

According to posts on there is access to the upper Independence from the north off the Big Moose-Stillwater Road (though most access routes are posted and the carries are long and difficult) and from the south. One southern access starts at the end of Stony Lake Road, with a fairly easy several mile carry to a bridge over the river; a second is taking a spur (Ten Mile Truck Crossing) off the Partridgeville Road that gets you further upstream but requires permission.

Barbara McMartin (hiking guidebook author) describes access from the west, starting at the end of Beach Mill Rd. and taking a several mile trail leading to Gleasmans Falls. People who have hiked up the upper Independence describe it as similar to the upper sections of the East Branch Oswegatchie though there is also a quarter-mile gorge at Gleasmans Falls, with a drop of about 70 feet (probably Class 4-5).

This trip would pose the typical difficulties: a long carry, the likely need for high water levels, and difficulty using access roads (due to mud or snow) when the river has sufficient water.

So, check this out and let me know what you think.

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Alan Wechsler writes about outdoor recreation and is a regular contributor to Adirondack Explorer.

Alan has been coming to the Adirondacks since his uncle took him on his first backpacking trip—with wet snow, followed by temperatures down to zero degrees—at age 15. He says he still hasn’t learned his lesson.

Today, his frequent adventures into the park include mountain-biking, skiing (cross-country and downhill), hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and climbing (both rock and ice). A long-time newspaper reporter and avid outdoor photographer, he also writes for a number of regional and national magazines about the outdoors and other issues. Alan’s piece for Adirondack Life, Ski to Die, is an International Regional Magazine Association first-place feature-writing winner.

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