There is a well-known story included in the wonderful Adirondack Reader (a collection everyone on the planet should own, in my humble opinion), which happens to be one of my favorite Adirondack tales. It is a narrative account of the journey of a young teacher and his student on the Raquette River in 1843 when its course was still largely unknown to the white man. Teacher and student made it as far as they could on a raft until they were stopped by debris clogging the river near approaching rapids. There on the banks they were come upon by the soon-to-be-famous guide Mitchell Sabattis. Sabattis and party agreed to guide the young travelers, saving them from their predicament.
The two men needed a proper craft to continue their voyage, so Sabattis and his companions built them a canoe. They selected a tall conifer with a straight trunk and a diameter of a foot-and-a-half and felled it. From that trunk they easily spudded off a sheet of bark roughly five by fifteen feet in dimension. With careful cuts of the outer layer of the bark they folded the whole into a canoe shape, then sowed it in place using the roots of the very same tree as thread. To seal the threads and make the craft watertight they chewed the sap of this tree and made gum which they pushed into the holes. Thus it was that one tree – a conifer of marvelous qualities – supplied the hull of a canoe that carried four men and their gear down the rapids of the Raquette River. » Continue Reading.
This year the Raquette River Blueway Corridor’s Advisory Committee will be hosting several events throughout the corridor during Raquette River Awareness Week (Saturday, July 28th through Saturday, August 4th) to highlight the assets the Raquette River has to offer.
A variety of events held in communities all along the river will feature the grand opening celebration of a canoe access trail to the Raquette River near Moody Falls in Sevey Corners and will be punctuated with three screenings of “The Raquette River Experience”, a travel documentary on the Raquette River produced by the Raquette River Blueway Corridor’s partner, WPBS-DT, Watertown, NY. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have announced a plan to update the popular Second Pond Boat Launch on Route 3 in Harrietstown, part of a 10.5-acre Intensive Use Area that provides key access to the Saranac Lakes. A part of the plan includes a land swap with the adjacent High Peaks Wilderness Area.
The DEC is planning to rebuild and expand the boat launch and resurface the parking area, including the addition of a new firewood storage building, the removal of an old cabin, and the construction of a new registration booth and invasive species kiosk. According to press reports a boat washing station, considered important to prevent the spread of invasive species by boaters, was not included in the plan. » Continue Reading.
If all has gone according to plan, while you are reading this Saturday morning I will be having breakfast with my friend Vinny. Vinny sprained his ankle on a trail run some weeks ago and has been nursing it back to health. As many of you surely know, a sprain can be a tricky thing, more severe and with a longer healing time than a broken bone, so it is taking some time.
I’m hoping that by this morning I will find Vinny has recovered sufficiently to be able to join us for a hike into Lost Brook Tract. But this is no certain thing, for there have been setbacks. Vinny wrote me a couple of weeks ago to tell me that he had “pushed too hard” with some sort of activity and was paying the price. Those of you who have met Vinny through my previous Dispatch should not be surprised to hear this. Vinny doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy to sit around and knit afghans with his ankle elevated, peacefully waiting for it to heal up. » Continue Reading.
What follows is the Spring 2012 Forest Ranger Activity Report for DEC Region 5, which includes most of the Adirondack region. Although not a comprehensive detailing of all backcountry incidents, these reports are issued periodically by the DEC and printed here at the Almanack in their entirety. They are organized by county, and date. You can read previous Forest Ranger Reports here.
These incident reports are a stern reminder that wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Hikers and campers should check up-to-date forecasts before entering the backcountry and always carry a flashlight, first aid kit, map and compass, extra food, plenty of water and clothing. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods and always inform others of your itinerary.
Adirondack Lakes & Trails Outfitters in Saranac Lake will host an Adirondack Stand-Up Paddle Board Festival, on June 23rd from 8 am to 4:30 pm at the Village of Saranac Lake’s Lake Colby Beach.
The all day event and will include stand up paddleboard (SUP) inspired activities for the whole family and feature a short race course of three miles, a longer 6-mile course, race of six miles, and sprint/fun races.
The sprint/fun races will include an obstacle course, person and dog race, tandem race and sprint time trials. There will also be food, music, paddleboard clinics, demos of boards and equipment, and board and equipment dealer reps on hand. » Continue Reading.
On Sunday July 1, 2012 will mark the 50th annual Willard Hanmer Guideboat Race commemorating Willard Hanmer the preeminent Guide Boat builder of his era. The race has been celebrated every year since 1962 on the Sunday closest to the 4th of July. This year, to celebrate the craftsmanship of this uniquely Adirondack craft, the organizers are planning a display of over 50 guideboats in a guideboat parade on Lake Flower prior to the race.
Following the parade will be guideboat, canoe and kayak races. This year the one-person guideboat race will follow the traditional route on Lake Flower, carry around the dam and down the Saranac River to the Fish and Game Club where there will be food, refreshments ands festivities for the whole family. Canoes and kayaks will be following the one person guideboat course, also going down the river. For those wishing to race in either the guideboat, recreational canoe or kayak classes contact: [email protected]» Continue Reading.
There are only three more days until the deadline for submissions to the Adirondack Paddlers Photo Contest. By this Friday, May 11, photos from pond lilies to loon babies should be on their way to the contest’s Flickr site. Start the process at Adirondack Explorer.
Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company, View, and the Adirondack Explorer are co-sponsoring the inaugural contest. The rules are simple: photos have to have been taken in the Adirondack Park and from a canoe or kayak. » Continue Reading.
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail’s film festival in Lake Placid on Friday night will feature footage from all over the world, from Russia to Hawaii, from the Grand Canyon to the North Atlantic. But for many Adirondackers, the highlight will be a movie made by Saranac Lake resident Mike Lynch.
Lynch, an outdoors writer for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, canoed the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail last summer—from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine—and has created a 37-minute film about his adventure titled Through Paddle. Click here to read my earlier interview with Lynch on Adirondack Almanack. » Continue Reading.
The 7th annual Reel Paddling Film Festival (RPFF) will be making its way through the Adirondacks this spring and summer with showings in Lake Placid, Old Forge and Tupper Lake. The Reel Paddling Film Festival highlights the best paddling films for the year in ten categories: Instructional Paddling, Environmental Paddling, Kayak Fishing, Sea Kayaking, Stand-up Paddling, Short Paddling, Canoeing, Whitewater, Documentary Paddling, and Adventure Travel Paddling. » Continue Reading.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a $5,120,000 investment for NY Works projects that will allow for eight flood control system and dam repair projects in the North Country. Projects slated for the Adirondack North Country include the Lower Lows Dam and Upper Lows Dam on the Bog River. Those dams, made of concrete and located in a area classified Primitive, are favored by paddlers on the Bog River, Hitchins Pond, and Lows Lake. The other dams slated for repair are Palmer Lake Dam in North Hudson (popular with anglers); Taylor Pond Dam in the town of Black Brook, southwestern Clinton County (part of the Taylor Pond Wild Forest); Kingdom Road Dam which holds back Lincoln Pond in Elizabethtown; Main Mill Dam in the City of Plattsburgh; and Whiteside Dam. All are considered “Critical Dam Repairs.” The funds will also support a Malone flood control project. Two notable back country dams gave way late last summer during Hurricane Irene. The Marcy Dam is expected to be rebuilt. DEC has decided that the Duck Hole Dam will not be rebuilt. » Continue Reading.
With days reaching into the 50s, but much colder waters in still in the mid-30s, it’s a great time to remind paddlers and other boaters of the dangers of falling overboard in cold water. Of New York’s 25 fatalities associated with recreational boating in 2011, almost a third of those deaths involved small paddled boats, when water temperatures were cold.
In almost every one of those fatal accidents life jackets were not worn and in some cases weren’t even on board at the time of the accident. The Coast Guard estimates that 80% of all boating accident deaths might have been prevented had a life jacket been worn. In New York, life jackets are required to be worn on any boat less than 21 feet in length between November 1st and May 1st. » Continue Reading.
My Adirondack family has finally stored the winter gear and is getting ready to take out the canoes for a paddle. Safety is always a concern when paddling with children so we want to take whatever precautions necessary to assure a fun experience.
Adirondacks Lakes and Trails Outfitters owner Steve Doxzon says, “This time of year it’s the cold water that is the biggest issue. People need to dress for the water temperature not the air temperature. It may be 70 degrees outside but the water is still only 37 degrees.” Doxzon especially urges a person kayaking to dress accordingly as there is a greater chance for capsizing and hypothermia. He reminds paddlers that sudden changes in conditions, like windy days, are something to be wary of when getting out on Adirondack lakes, rivers and ponds.
He also reminds boaters that from November 1 to May 1, it is NYS law that life jackets must be worn by all people on a boat under 21feet in length. Though he recommends all his clients to wear Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) at all times, the law only requires boaters to have approved wearable life vests for each person available during those months. After May 1st, pleasure vessels must have US Coast Guard approved wearable PFDs on board for each person on the vessel. All children under 12 (aboard boats 65 feet or less)are always required to wear a PFD.
“We didn’t get a lot of snow this year so there isn’t the snow pack from the mountains. The rivers are not running as high as usual,” says Doxzon. “That may give people a false sense of security. It is really the water temperature people need to be prepared for. It has been getting down into the 20s each night so the water is going to be cold.”
According to Doxzon a person can reach exhaustion or unconsciousness in water temperatures below 32 degrees in less than 15 minutes. He reminds paddlers that in these cold-water temperatures to stay close to shore where they can get back to shore or in their boat in that 15-minute window.
If this is a bit early to be out on the water, Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters is hosting the Reel Paddling Film Festival on April 27that 7:00 p.m. at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. With a mix of paddle sport films, door prizes and silent auctions, all proceeds will go to support the Northern Forest Canoe trail.
With over 50 stops throughout Canada and the U.S., the Reel Paddling Film Fest showcases the best paddling films with the hopes of encouraging more people to explore the world waterways.
Doxzon says, “The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is a 740-miletrail from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine. This festival supports efforts to maintain this trail.”
So whether you’re just starting out or an experiencedpaddler, be careful during this seasonal transition into the summer paddlingseason. Enjoy yourself and explore those Adirondack waterways!
Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time Lake Placid and the High Peaks: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 activities. Her second Adirondack Family Activities book for the Champlain Valley will be in stores summer 2012.
More than seven thousand people have climbed all forty-six of the Adirondack High Peaks. Not to denigrate the achievement of those hikers, but bagging the peaks is no longer a rare feat.
In contrast, only forty or so people have paddled the entire length of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail—a 740-mile route that starts in Old Forge and ends in northern Maine. One of them is Mike Lynch, the outdoors writer for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. Lynch paddled the NFCT this past summer and wrote about his adventure for the newspaper and his website, Northeast Outdoors. He also is working on a documentary film.
Lynch will give a slide show on the forty-five-day trip at the Guides House in Lake Placid at 7 p.m. Sunday, October 9. The Guides House is next-door to High Peaks Cyclery on Main Street.For more information on the talk, e-mail Lynch at [email protected]
Meantime, you might be interested in reading Lynch’s responses to questions we asked about his trek.
Just to set the scene: the Adirondack leg of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail starts on Fulton Chain of Lakes and ends on Lake Champlain. Paddlers canoe down the lake and then along various rivers and water bodies in Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire, and Maine. The route has a number of tough carries, so Mike brought a canoe cart.
Lynch did the trip solo from Old Forge to Saranac Lake, where he was joined by Jacob Resneck, a friend who used to work at the Enterprise. After Jacob left, Mike was joined by his fiancée, Ariel Diggory.
What was your favorite part of NFCT in Adirondacks? “On the Raquette River just after you enter it from the northern end of Long Lake. I entered this section in late evening, and the lighting was spectacular. The reflections on the water were near perfect. There was also a young loon ahead of me for a short period.”
What was your favorite part outside New York? “I enjoyed nearly the entire 350-mile section in Maine, starting with Umbagog Lake and ending on the St. John River in Fort Kent. Some of the highlights included paddling on glass-like water on Umbagog, Flagstaff, and Moosehead lakes either just before sunset or during it. The rapids and wildlife on the Allagash River were also amazing. We saw about a dozen moose in that region, along with probably thirty bald eagles.”
What was the hardest portage? “The hardest portage was what I thought was the Mud Pond Carry in Maine, but in retrospect may have been some other path. The first section was in a bog; then the trail led to a forested area with a lot of large brush from prior logging operations that was difficult and dangerous to walk over. Another hard portage was a twenty-mile walk from Rangeley, Maine, to Stratton on a paved state road. Although this portage was long, it wasn’t too bad because the road was paved and we had wheels.”
And the scariest whitewater? “I wouldn’t characterize any whitewater we did as scary. We paddled Class I and II rapids and portaged around Class III and up. Because we scouted the more challenging rapids, we were able to pick lines that we could handle. The highest waves we faced were on the St. John River because the area received a lot of rain while we were in that region. In one short section, the waves were breaking over the gunnels as we paddled. The most difficult paddling was actually on windy lakes. We faced large swells and very strong winds several times.”
Best wildlife sighting? “That’s an easy one. Ariel and I saw an abundance of wildlife at the north end of Churchill Lake on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway one evening after an especially intense thunder and lightning storm. The water here is a few hundred feet across as it narrows into an outlet that leads to a dam. As we arrived there, we were greeted by a rainbow. Then we saw two loons on our left. Then a moose, half-submerged in the water, appeared on our right. After seeing it, we decided to float and watch it feed in the water for a while. As we were sitting there, a young calf stood up in the grass on the shore. Then an eagle swooped down on our left and caught a fish. There was also about a dozen Canada geese swimming very close to the moose and four or five otters playing in the water to our left. The scene ended with the moose walking out of the water. But before leaving, she nursed the calf. We watched this entire scene for about forty-five minutes, enjoying every second of it.”
Most memorable people encounter? “There were many, many memorable people encounters. I met great people everywhere. I found that the people in the smallest towns were often the friendliest and most down to earth. In Rangley, for instance, a couple named Bruce and Claudia let us store my canoe under their house while we stayed at the Rangeley Inn across the street. I also used their computer, and Bruce took me on a drive for moose.”
Was the NFCT easy to follow? “For the most part, but we did experience a few problems. One of the difficulties we had was trying to follow some of the portages that used streets. We got off track in Plattsburgh and a few small towns in Vermont early in the trip. In Quebec, New Hampshire, and Maine, most everything was straightforward. Well, except for the Mud Pond portage and maybe the Spencer Stream area in Maine.”
Did you have any unforeseen difficulties? “I guess the size of the waves on some of the lakes were larger than I anticipated. I had heard stories about the large swells on Lake Champlain, Raquette Lake, and many lakes in Maine, but it’s a different thing to experience them. Also, walking upstream on the rocks was tough at times because the rocks on the river bottoms were extremely slippery. The first half of the trip I also had pretty bad blisters from my new watershoes.”
How often were you paddling upstream? The majority of upstream paddling occurs between Vermont and Maine. It starts on the Missisquoi River as you leave Lake Champlain and is pretty constant with a few exceptions until Errol, New Hampshire. I read in an Adirondack Explorer article that there are 160 miles of upstream paddling. I never added it up myself. It seems like a lot when you’re about halfway through the trip. Luckily, the majority of the second half of the trip is downriver or on lakes and ponds. The worst upstream section was probably on Little Spencer Stream in Maine because the water was so low.”
Did you go through customs at the Quebec border? “Yes, on the Missisquoi River in Vermont I had to walk up a hill, then cross a bridge to the customs station. I was soaked to my waist when I showed my passport card to the border guard. He barely glanced at it, handed it back to me, and we went back down to our canoe.”
How many miles did you paddle a day? “We averaged fifteen miles per day. Each day was different though. I had three zero days on the trip. Otherwise we paddled between seven and thirty-something miles a day. How much we paddled a day depended upon a number of variables, including weather, the type of water. And whether I had any interviews to do that day. I took thousands of photos on the trip and hours and hours of video. That slowed us down.”
How often did you paddle in rain? “It was very dry in June and July. I didn’t paddle in the rain until just outside of Jackman, Maine, about five weeks into my trip. But from Jackman to Fort Kent, it rained several days. There were times Ariel and I had to seek shelter on the shore during thunder and lightning storms. The worst day of just rain was the second-to-last day of the trip on the Allagash and St. John rivers. We paddled more than thirty miles in the rain that day, including a hiking sidetrip to see some old ruins on the Allagash. That was a tough day. It was only about 50 degrees outside. We had to keep moving to stay warm.”
What did you eat? “When I was with Jacob during the first part of the trip, I ate lots of pasta. We also ate cheese and crackers, beef jerky, canned fish, and an assortment of other things that were easy to cook or could put hot sauce on. I ate granola bars throughout the trip at any time of the day. In Maine, Ariel and I ate packaged Indian food for dinner about one-third of the time. Oatmeal was a good breakfast. For snacks, we had Cheez-its, lots of Gorp, dried fruit, jolly ranchers. One of my favorite meals was dehydrated vegetarian chili. We also had some dehydrated mash potatoes that we mixed with dehydrated vegetables.”
Where did you sleep? “The vast majority of time we camped out. In the Adirondacks, I slept in lean-tos. In Vermont, Quebec, and New Hampshire, we slept at NFCT-designated campsites, in fields outside of towns or we just pulled over on the riverbank. For the most part in Maine, we were able to utilize designated campsites. Throughout the trip, we also slept at campgrounds a few times. I spent two nights in my own house in Saranac Lake, which is on the trail, two nights in a friends’ house on Lake Champlain, one in a new friends’ house near Stratton, Maine and three nights in a hotel.”
Most useful gear? “The most useful gear was my canoe, paddles, and wheels. The canoe I used was a seventeen-foot Old Town Penobscot. It’s a versatile boat that can handle a variety of situations, from intermediate whitewater to the varying conditions of lakes. As for paddles, I had one lightweight carbon-fiber bent shaft paddle for flatwater and a wooden straight shaft Sawyer Voyager paddle for rapids and situations where I needed something durable. Because there are a lot of long portages, I believe wheels are essential. Another thing that’s essential is a tube-repair kit and extra tubes. I popped about five tires on the trip.”
Advice for those attempting the trip? “My advice for those doing the trip is to talk to others who have done the trip already, read their blogs, and learn from their experiences. It helped me get a better understanding of what I was getting into. Also, consider the time of year. In the spring, the water will be cold and high. In the summer, the water levels will be a little lower, which will require more portaging. I would also say that it’s important to travel as light as possible without leaving essential gear at home.”
Photo by Mike Lynch: Moose on the Allagash River in Maine.
The Adirondack Almanack is a public forum dedicated to promoting and discussing current events, history, arts, nature and outdoor recreation and other topics of interest to the Adirondacks and its communities
We publish commentary and opinion pieces from voluntary contributors, as well as news updates and event notices from area organizations. Contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The information, views and opinions expressed by these various authors are not necessarily those of the Adirondack Almanack or its publisher, the Adirondack Explorer.
General inquiries about the Adirondack Almanack should be directed to editor Melissa Hart.
To advertise on the Adirondack Almanack, or to receive information on rates and design, please click here.