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Tuesday, May 31, 2022

More Siamese Ponds Wilderness - Day 182

  This was another day entirely on trail. I had high hopes for a "fast" day of hiking since most of this was well-established trail, even though it was in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area.

One of the highlights was finding this interesting fungus that I've never seen before. It's some form of Ganoderma. It's related to the Hemlock Shelf Polypore, also a Ganoderma. Gano=shining, derma=skin. These fungi always look like they are freshly varnished. It may be an odd growth form of Ganoderma lucidum. I found some pictures online, and apparently it can grow into these candy-corn stalks, or spread out into a shelf. Ganoderma lucidum

But something else trumped the lovely fungus. When Paul dropped me off the day before, he was praying for my safety and health, etc. He also prayed that I see some bear cubs. I interrupted and said, "No, no, Lord... skip the bears, I want a moose." And look what I got! Not a calendar-worthy photo, but proof that I'm not pulling your leg. We looked at each other a few minutes, then I loudly said, "I hope you are having a lovely day. Would you allow me to pass through your domain?" It turned and walked away, giving me passage.

If you've read North Country Quest, you know that Marie and I saw a moose, a bull, on our last Adirondack hike too. moose

I just got a kick out of this section of trail. I guess every trail in the woods must use this path! multiple trail markers

But the real story of the day was bridges, er... the lack of them. Sigh. At the first one, I probably crossed in the wrong place (no turn marker), so I don't know if there really was a bridge. I slid down a sandy bank and waded with the fishes! small fish

At Hour Pond Brook, you can see the bridge abutments, but no bridge. No rocks either. This was another wade. Hour Brook Pond

The Sacandaga River bridge is long gone, and they have no plans to replace it. This picture looks more serious than the actual situation. There are big rocks you can get across on. Sacandaga River

However, at the very end of the day, the outlet to Botheration Pond was a challenge. This is on a ski trail, but the bridge is totally gone. Yes, it's pretty much a sheer drop after the orange warning flags. You can see the abutment on the far side. Well, there was no other choice. I clambered down. This was where I was getting water for the night and morning, so I waded across and took care of that chore. Then I climbed up the other side.

The pond wasn't much of a botheration, but the waterway sure was! missing bridge

It wasn't even 4 p.m. yet, but it was a difficult day, and Botheration Pond was my planned goal, so I stopped for the night.

Miles today: 10.6. Total miles so far: 2313.2.

See Trail Built Just for NCT

Monday, May 30, 2022

Trail Built Just for NCT - Day 181

  Paul is very knowledgeable about the trails in the Adirondacks. When he was younger, he was an avid hiker. He also was on the Search & Rescue Squad for a number of years. Good thing I'm not easily spooked, because he likes to point at pretty much any mountain and tell a story of someone who made a stupid decision there and ended up either getting hurt or dying. But every piece of equipment he asked me about, I had. He was finally convinced that I was prepared.

They dropped me back at Oak Mountain in the morning, offering to take me to the end of the roadwalk. What? No way! I hike every piece, even the roadwalks. Sometimes, the roads are where you get the best views. This is East Mountain, I think. Not very big, but it's nice to have topography to look at. East Mountain

Bright Chicken Mushroom (Sulpher Shelf). Very edible, but I wasn't in hunter-gatherer mode. Besides, I'm doing the backpacking without a stove, remember? Incidentally, that turned out to be an excellent decision. chicken mushroom

Yet another rocky stream, but I love them all. This is just a little tributary to Wakely Brook. Now, let's go back to Paul's concerns. Mary assured me that there was trail that was built just for the North Country Trail along Wakely Brook to connect the Kunjamuk Trail to the Round Pond Trail, and that it was well-marked for the NCT. But Paul's back is aging (we are all getting older), and he hasn't been hiking much lately. He didn't know anything about the existence of this trail, and he was pretty skeptical. He doesn't like electronics, and wasn't too keen on the idea that I might have to bushwhack some more. rocky stream

While I was still on Elm Lake Road, I met a man who is very familiar with the North Country Trail, and he said I'd find the new trail with no trouble- he hikes it quite often.

So... what's going to be the situation when I get to where the junction should be? There were blue Blazes and an emblem! The trail started out looking really good with clear treadway and decor.

Pink lady slipper orchids in bloom. lady slipper orchid

I'll bet you are expecting another horror story. Not this time. The only thing "wrong" was that the trail did not stay as clear. There was need for a lot of maintenance. There were quite a few trees down across the trail which slowed my progress.

One of the neatest places was a nearly sheer rock cliff beside me on the side of a small hill called Pine Peak. Can you see the rock face beyond the trees? It's always hard to capture things like this with the camera. You can also see a red DEC marker. rock cliff

I accidentally found a really nice campsite. The trail made a sharp right turn, and I missed it. The NY DEC doesn't seem to believe in turn markers. So, I crossed a small stream and realized there were no more blazes. I started to go back, when I noticed that I was on a slighly elevated and nicely level area (with water right there). I was also at least 150 feet off the trail (which you are supposed to be). And it was 4:30. That's quite perfect. I stopped for the night.

This evening, I noted that the ratio of blackflies to mosquitoes was now favoring the mosquitoes. Never mind! I got the tent up, did my camp chores and crawled inside with a book. The relief of taking off the headnet each evening is exquisite. campsite

Miles today: 14.3. Total miles so far: 2302.6.

See Oak Mountain Again

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Oak Mountain Again - Day 180

  The day began with a beautiful, misty sunrise on Pillsbury Lake. But I was not sorry to leave the blackflies behind.
lake sunrise

We've waited so long (42 years since the trail was authorized) to have a route, or even encouragement in the Adirondacks. You have no idea how happy it makes me to see the NCT recognized on trail signs. They aren't everywhere yet, but getting a "toe in the door" will lead to allowing more markers. NCT trail markers

There were a few miles of road walk in the middle of the day. These miles were known to me. In fact, I camped along a section of this road in Sunny. You may remember I joined a weekend work crew in August 2020.

Butterflies often like to congregate near damp spots on dirt roads. Easy to get a nice picture of a tiger swallowtail. Common, but beautiful! Tiger Swallowtail

After I crossed Route 30, the trail joins a snowmobile trail that Mary Coffin and I scouted on that same weekend. There is a really nice bridge across Hatchery Brook. Hatchery Brook Bridge

This is all legally blazed with NCT blue strips now. It was wonderful to have no trouble following the trail! At the top of the hill, the trail turns down to cross Oak Mountain Ski Resort property (really only a hill). Look at this sign and blaze! This is the sort of thing we'll need a lot more of to complete this trail. The key words here are "Protected in perpetuity by trail access easement." That means legally protected. Big stuff. trail easement sign

I followed the markers down the hill on trail I helped build two years ago! This is looking back from the bottom. The trail comes down the edge of the tree line on the left. Oak Mountain

The Oak Mountain owners are friends of the trail. They had let me leave supplies there to pick up. Oak Mountain Lodge

I was going to stealth camp up near the snowmobile trail and just drop down to the lodge in the morning to get my supply drop. But I had used my power pack to charge my phone several times, and I knew it would need several hours to charge so I preferred to reach the lodge for overnight. I called Paul and Shirley (they live 30 miles away), to see if they would be my backup if the Oak Mountain folks would not let me camp near the lodge. That's not really in their agreement. Shirley said, why don't we just come pick you up for the night?

Silly me, I said no, I'd be fine. But the snowmobile trail was very hot in full sun. I finally realized I was a complete dope. I called Shirley and told her I'd be glad to spend the night with them if they were willing. Good call! There was a family reunion going on at the lodge, and the owners weren't even there.

I forgot to take any pictures with Paul and Shirley because we were having such a good time talking, and looking at maps, and all that sort of thing. (And they supplied a shower and a nice meal.)

Miles today: 13.4. Total miles so far: 2288.3

See West Canada Lake Wilderness

Saturday, May 28, 2022

West Canada Lake Wilderness - Day 179

  This was going to be a long day if I made my goal because all the miles were on trail, and all in the West Canada Lake Wilderness. It rained in the night. Actually, it rained the previous night as well. Other than having to pack up a wet tent, the worst part was that all the shrubbery and ferns were holding water, so I got pretty wet hiking in the morning. My camera got pretty damp too. It wasn't happy about that. It did recover, but I had to use the phone to get most of these pictures, and it takes forever to transfer and integrate them into my filing system. (That's part of the reason it has so long to continue the catch-up posts.)

This picture gives a good sense of what the morning was like.
foggy wetland

But the day cleared, and I was glad because there was just one beautiful scene after another. This is Brooktrout Lake. Brooktrout Lake

I had been noticing on the map that the trail seemed to go right across South Lake. I assumed that was a slight error in the mapping. Nope! The bridge looks iffy, but it was fine. This was another surreal, fantasy moment. South Lake bridge

Then the trail crossed West Canada Creek. This is a stunning bit of scenery. It reminded me of the Agamok on the Kekekabic Trail in Minnesota. West Canada Creek

Here is the view from the bridge.
West Canada Creek

My goal for the night was Pillsbury Lake. There was a shelter there (I prefer to sleep in my tent, but that meant there would be a clearing), but it was a Saturday, so it might already be taken. I made it to Pillsbury Lake, and the site was free! I have since learned that you aren't supposed to tent near a lean-to. But there was no one else there to care. Well, except for a million blackflies. That night was the very worst of the hike with those little horrors. Pillsbury Lake

I have to show you my food cache for this night. I'm pretty proud of how high and how isolated I got it. Maybe I used a skyhook. (old joke) Seriously, that little orange bag looks like it's just floating up there! food cache

I met two backpackers on this section. They were the only other backpackers I saw in the entire Adirondacks.

Miles today: 11.8. Total miles so far: 2274.9.

See Wolf Creek

Friday, May 27, 2022

Wolf Creek- Day 178

  The beginning of this day was all on dirt roads. The road junctions were well marked, for which I was grateful. Adirondack Road Junction sign

Sure enough, at Red River, I began to see many designated campsites. These are for car campers. Each site ideally has a picnic table, a latrine, and a stone fireplace. In reality, most sites randomly had two of the three, or several broken items. This is a very popular area for weekend family campers. It's possible that my stealth camp the previous night wasn't illegal. The DEC site isn't too specific, but I think dispersed backcountry camping is allowed. campsite

I took a break at one of the sites (broken picnic table, no fireplace, marginal latrine), and a ranger drove by. When I started walking again, he was coming back the other way. I flagged him down and asked him about the condition of the trail to Wolf Creek. I'm feeling gun shy about off-road trail, in case you can't tell. He said it was passable and marked as NCT. He said he, personally, went through last fall and helped put up the markers. I also asked about the condition of the bridge over Wolf Creek, and he said it was there. He also mentioned a nice clearing just past the bridge where I could camp.

At the end of the road... big smile on my face! An actual NCT emblem in the Adirondack woods. And, I was not going all the way to Wolf Pond, but only to Wolf Creek, another 2 miles. NCT emblem in Adirondacks

Well, there just had to be some challenge for the afternoon. This was one of the harder climbs, going up about 500 feet. That wouldn't have been too bad, but a lot of the trail was the typical Adirondack, rocky, washed out trail/creek, so the going was slow and difficult. rocky trail

Near the top, the bedrock broke out in some places, which reminded me a lot of Minnesota- similar volcanic geology, so I shouldn't have been surprised. open bedrock

It took me almost 2 hours to go those two miles, but sure enough, there was a nice bridge at Wolf Creek. Wolf Creek Bridge

I was glad, because looking down from the bridge, the creek was rushing through rocks below me. Wolf Creek

It would have been fine, though, because upstream was a nice placid spot where I filtered water. I could have crossed there, but I didn't have to! Wolf Creek

Sure enough, there was a clearing just past the bridge, but I didn't like it. It was right beside the trail, it had berry bushes, and was in full sun. However, I poked around in the woods behind that clearing, and there was another clearing. It had either been a cabin site or a dump. There was all kinds of rusty junk piled around. But it was hidden from the trail and there was plenty of open space for a tent. I'll spare you another picture of the same tent in brown woods, but this was a really nice place.

Miles today: 13.5. Total miles so far: 2263.1

See Road Walk

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Road Walk - Day 177

  This day was 100% on roads, but most of it was pleasant enough. This is still the long temporary detour I explained yesterday. First, I had to walk the mile back to the trail, which included passing this covered bridge which is not old. This was built in 1995 to commemorate the hundreth anniversary of the creation of the New York State Forest Preserve. Thus was born the Adirondack Park, sometimes known as the "Forever Wild" law. Old Forge covered bridge The road runs beside First through Fourth Lakes of the Fulton Chain for several miles. You don't see the water often, however. There are many, many "old money" homes and cottages here. You can't see most of them, either. But I enjoyed the classic gateways, and liked seeing dates from the early 1900s that indicated one family has owned that property for a long time. There is still a great deal of private property inside the "blue line" (the boundary of the Adirondack Park). The existence of the blue line allows the state to buy the land inside it whenever it becomes available. stone entrance gate

I walked through the village of Inlet. If I'd realized it has a nice grocery store and deli, I might have bought a meal there. However, I had the correct number of meals with me, and I didn't want to carry extra stuff. I did take a rest on this nice bench. There were quite a few benches in town. I thought this was going to be one bench put out by the church, but there were lots, all over town. bench at Inlet, NY

The funniest story at Inlet was that I sat on this bench and ate the second half of my Woodchuck sandwich. It had been wrapped in stiff paper and that made quite a ball of trash. I usually carry my little bit of trash in a pocket, but this was bulky.

So I was sitting there wishing for a trash can. Just as I was doing that, I saw a man coming up the hill toward me on the sidewalk, and he was... can you believe it... dragging a brand new trash can on wheels. I figured he was going to turn into one of the driveways below me. Nope. He brought it all the way up the hill. I couldn't resist telling him that this was the first time I'd ever wished for a trash can and one was brought right to me. He laughed, but said there was no liner in it yet. I said "no problem," and he was going to walk on. Then he asked what I wanted to throw away, and I showed him the paper. It wasn't icky or anything. He said, "Oh, I can take that." He opened the can, and I tossed the paper inside. Then he turned a corner above me and dragged that can out of sight. Was this a human homeowner or a trash can angel? I'll let you decide. <wink>

Once I entered Moose River Plains Wild Forest, Moose River Plains trailhead

I was still on road, but now it was dirt. This was Thursday before the Memorial Day holiday weekend. I had been told that this road was recently opened to traffic for this year's season. I have never seen a backcountry dirt road that was so busy in my life! There was a car or truck passing about every five minutes. I think people wanted to claim their weekend camp sites. dirt road

My plan was to camp near Fawn Lake. I was getting hot and tired. I saw a man clearing the driveway to his cottage (on the map it looks like he might own the last piece of private property for miles). There were supposed to be established campsites along this road. I asked him if there were sites on Fawn Lake. "Nope, but there's a nice one at Red River in about a mile and a half."

Hmmm. I looked at my map, and the Red River was more like three miles away. (people who are used to driving places don't have much concept of distance) I had already done a long mileage day because it was road walk. There was no way I was going three more miles.

I started looking for a place I could slip into the woods. You are supposed to camp at designated sites only, but I knew I could camp with such a low profile that I wouldn't create any problems (OK, unless I got caught- then I might have a problem). What I wasn't sure I could do was find a relatively level place. On my left was a steep wooded hillside about 200 feet high. Nor could I easily get down to Fawn Lake. It was 50 feet downhill on my right and also thickly wooded.

Finally, I saw a possibility. Where once, LONG ago, there was a road angling up the hill on the left, I ducked into the trees. There were saplings in this old track, but also some open spots. You can hardly tell this was an old road except for the profile of the land. You can just barely discern the profile of the road cut. old road through woods

I climbed high enough up that to be completely out of sight from anyone on the road. I could still hear all the traffic, but no one could see me. I hung my food, crawled in the tent, killed the evening's selection of blackflies and mosquitoes, and read my book until it got dark. tent in the woods

I'm very good at "leave no trace." No one without a tracking dog will ever find where I camped.

Miles today that count: 15.7. Total miles so far: 2249.6 (additional miles that don't count: 1.0)
See Old Forge

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Old Forge - Day 176

  I kept my promise to myself that I would get hiking early, and had my feet on the trail at 7:15. There was a little repeat performance of the day before when the trail disappeared. However, I was close to the snowmobile route I needed to follow to get to the trailhead, so I just bushwhacked. It wasn't any big deal except that I wasn't able to verify the location of the junction. I'm still not sure how I could have lost a trail that leads to a place that obviously gets used a lot, but I wasn't willing to spend the time to figure it out. I had miles to walk!

On the way out to the "big" road that I would take for most of the day, I passed McKeever Station, a former stop on the Adirondack Railroad. McKeever Station

This temporary trail route has to come out to Route 28 to cross the Moose River. The ultimate route won't take 28. When Marie and I hiked with Mary in 2007, we stayed much closer to that plan. But there are issues with permissions, etc., so for now, we take a long road detour up through Old Forge. Moose River

I had decided I would buy lunch somewhere along the way. There was a North Country Market in Thendara, and they had deli sandwiches. They had named one "The Woodchuck." I had to try it! Roast beef, turkey, bacon, tomatoes, cheese, and Thousand Island dressing on marbled rye. It was delicious and huge! I ate half and saved the rest for another meal.

As I was leaving, I discovered they had an immense open grill covered with chicken halves out on the lawn. I said, "Oh no, I came too early."

The owner said they would be ready in another hour. But I couldn't wait, and I was full. He actually offered to drive to Old Forge and bring me a chicken dinner! I thanked him sincerely, but I knew I wasn't going to be able to eat half a chicken on top of that sandwich! big sandwich

This was a major road I was walking, but down in a little hollow I found this fine fellow just enjoying the warm day. buck in velvet

Old Forge is the quintessential Adirondack tourist town. I've been there a couple of times and done some shopping. I was even there as a kid with my grandmother to visit the Enchanted Forest. Back then it was like a storybook village with statues from classic children's books and rhymes. Now it's mostly a water park, although the other parts are still there. I looked it up, and it opened in 1956, so we must have visited when it was very new.

Old Forge is also the beginning of the Fulton Chain. This is a series of eight lakes created by dams on the Moose River. Canoeing the Fulton Chain was an option available one year from the Girl Scout camp I attended. I chose not to do this because that same year they started a "primitive" unit where we got to learn really basic camp skills. That first year, we literally carved the unit out of the woods. We started from scratch. I have never regretted my choice because it's where I learned many of my woods skills. We did not go to the mess hall for meals- we carried supplies to the unit every few days and did all our own cooking. We pitched our own tents and lashed tables. We built the first fire ring there and dug our own latrine. Nevertheless, I could still get excited about paddling the Fulton Chain! Fulton Chain sign

The worst part of Old Forge for me was that I had to walk an extra mile to get to a campground. It was fairly reasonably priced, but the bugs were as bad as everywhere else, and the site was dirt. However there was a picnic table. Also a long walk to the bathroom. But I did get a shower which felt extra good, as the day was hot, and I walked in the sun on the road. campsite

The best news of the day was that I opened the top pocket on my backpack to get something out, and my good headnet (the one I couldn't find when I was packing) fell out into my hand! Hooray! It has a much finer mesh. The most persistent of the bugs were occasionally able to get underneath it, but this one excludes most of them.

Miles today: 14.4 that count. Total miles so far: 2233.9. (miles that don't count: 1.0)
See Bear Lake Trail Adventure