Sunday, April 29, 2018

A Paddler Looks To Spring, Quiet Waters

The trail to the Chubb River We paddlers are impatient to be on the water now that the lakes, ponds, and rivers are becoming free of ice. One paddling enthusiast recently shared photos of his kayak in the snow in Lake Placid, on the path from Averyville Road to the Chubb River, with a view of the open waters of the Chubb.

Somewhat too cold for me still, but with my wetsuit, I’ll be out soon.

The bank of the Chubb River A wonderful way to spend a couple of hours is to paddle up the West Branch of the Ausable River starting at the beach in Wilmington, with views of Whiteface Mountain, an Osprey nest, and, if you’re lucky, the Osprey feeding their chicks. For a pleasant afternoon on the water I enjoy Moose Pond, the one near Bloomingdale. If I feel adventuresome, I’ll drive to Tahawus and carry my Hornbeck the quarter-mile to Henderson Lake. That’s my favorite.

There are so many more opportunities to explore that situates one in the Adirondack wildness, especially if a few nights of camping are involved. Among many, there is Little Tupper Lake and its companion Round Lake, and Lake Lila. I write about these favorite places in my own book In Praise of Quiet Waters.

“I prefer paddling wild places – the winding stream and placid pond – to large lakes abuzz with powerboats,” Phil Brown writes in his introduction to Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures. Dave Cilley, in his guidebook and companion Adirondack Paddler’s Map, rates each trip with a degree of wildness as it relates to road proximity, noise, and degree of encroachment by other forms of civilization.

Henderson LakeWhen looking for new places to paddle, the first piece of information I want to know is if motorboats are allowed. Peter Bauer, in his report The Myth of Quiet Waters, concludes that there is scant opportunity in the Adirondacks for quiet, motor-free lakes when considering that of the one hundred largest lakes in the Park, only eight are motor-less. Smaller lakes and calm river sections are our salvation.

The state has identified some thirty-five small lakes and ponds in the Park that have no motor access or limited motorized access. Of those waters, Fish Creek and the adjoining ponds are the only ones I’ve paddled, enjoying them in the spring and fall when there are not many people in the popular Fish Creek and Rollins Pond Campgrounds. Evelyn Greene has paddled more of them. She spoke highly of Jabe Pond in Warren County and Oliver Pond near Minerva.

Collage of book covers for Brown and DuvallEvelyn, in her continued quest for quiet waters, said, “As a naturalist who values native flora and fauna, I support more waters made safe for them, and for older and less-able citizens who are happy to paddle their own canoes in exchange for the feeling of wildness that motorless waters provide.”

Evelyn took advantage of the newly purchased Boreas Pond Tract and wheeled her Hornbeck canoe the five miles round trip to LaBier Flow, paddled up the Flow to the Boreas Ponds, and explored the ponds for a few hours. Even after acknowledging this was a grueling trip for someone her age, she wants to increase the wilderness feel and not let motor vehicles close access to the Ponds. In an Almanack article, Evelyn suggested allowing horse and wagon service to LaBier Flow as a possibility of easier access for those of us who have limited mobility, similar to what happens at nearby Camp Santanoni.

The DEC is in the process of updating plans for the High Peaks, including parts of the Boreas Ponds Tract. This plan will address the issue of how far the Gulf Brook Road will be open to vehicle traffic, i.e., for us paddlers, how far we’d have to transport our canoes and kayaks to reach the Ponds.

In the meantime, enjoy the access we currently have to quiet waters.

Evelyn advises us to look for privately owned wild sites. “You can ask permission from owners to use really wonderful places that no one else uses. State land is not the only possibility for quiet waters.”

Photos, from above: The trail to the Chubb River and the Chubb River (with permission of Craig MacCue); Henderson Lake; and collage of paddling books.

Related Stories

Award winning author Lorraine Duvall's newest book contains stories about where she has lived in the Adirondacks for the last 24 years, titled "Where The Styles Brook Waters Flow: The Place I Call Home." She writes of her paddling adventures in the book "In Praise of Quiet Waters: Finding Solitude and Adventure in the Wild Adirondacks." Some experiences from her memoir, "And I Know Too Much to Pretend," led her to research a woman's commune north of Warrensburg, resulting in the 2019 book, "Finding A Woman's Place: The story of a 1970s feminist collective in the Adirondacks." Duvall lives in Keene and is on the board of Protect the Adirondacks.


3 Responses

  1. Lorraine,

    You are not alone in wanting to be on the water. Being on the outlet of Canada Lake, way down near the southern edge of the blue line, the flow and sun enabled a lovely afternoon of paddling recently. That adventure is documented at the end of the blog with URL attached.

    Perhaps you will enjoy the account.

    Randy Fredlund

  2. Susan K Gaffney says:

    Missing that, certainly. My Placid Boatworks Spitfire now lives in northern Minnesota.

  3. Randy Putnam says:

    Thanks for a great read! Got my Hornbeck 3 years ago after lugging around a 55 pound touring kayak for way too many years. Used to backpack, now I paddle in for a few days camping and relaxing by the shores of Lake Lila, Little Tupper, etc. The Hornbeck has opened up so many new opportunities that I, at 73, would never have enjoyed with older, heavier equipment. Go light, go often!

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