Adirondacks, August 2013 – Part 1

My hikes/trips file does note that we went to Zurich Bog, but I have no further notes or photos from that trip. We did, however, go for a long weekend to the Adirondacks, for our first trip there, and I have copious records of that trip. Yay! We were up in the general High Peaks region, both on the southern and northern sides, and all in all, it was a solid visit.


We left ROC via dropping some stuff at the library, and dropping some other stuff off at Kendrick (our property manager). The drive was pretty uneventful, although Montezuma was looking pretty cool and I was sad we couldn’t stop all that much. We got off of I-90 around Utica and started north. We stopped at the Trenton Town Park for lunch, which had a nice pavilion, with day camp (?) kids running around. I was very amused to see that the “swimming beach” was a fenced in pond. From there, we kept on driving north, as “woody” turned into “woods”, and we ventured deeper into the park itself.

It slowly was feeling more parky, but man, any real lake just seemed swarmed with cabins (or “camps”)…and all the ones for rent at “no vacancy”! On a Wednesday! People here really seem to go for the week long trip. I wonder how much it costs to have even a small lake all, or even almost all to yourself. The first couple of towns, Old Forge and I think Raquette Lake were kind of scary crowded (get me out of here! style), but as we got up to Long Lake and Newcomb, it was much less dense. Just before Newcomb, we ran into several sets of one-lane highway, where they were resurfacing the road. Despite the annoyance, the unsurfaced part of the road was wrecked enough that I could really only applaud the work. We
stopped in briefly at the Adirondack Interpretive Center, run by SUNY-ESF on their own land tract. Small, but nice, with student interpreters. They run several nature trails, a couple of hiking trails, and a real trail or two on their land. After that, we went to the campground and set up for the evening. Harris Lake campsites are pretty darn close to each other, but there is enough wood screen for it to not be a huge problem. Most sites are right on the lake, and we were right next to the launch. We then drove back out of camp, picked up some firewood, and went to check in at the local outfitters, Cloud-Splitters (right on the Hudson!). They were super nice – they rent bikes and boats and sundries, and they have a giant tow wagon they drive through the campsite twice a day, peddling ice and firewood.

Harris Lake

They also drop off boats! We arranged for a canoe drop off the next day, to be actually used pending weather. I also bought the map I needed for my hiking book. We headed back to the campsite, only to discover I no longer had my wallet. We had seen it for sure when buying firewood, so we checked there first, but no dice. Fortunately, it was in the outfitter parking lot. Yay! Headed back, had hotdogs and beans (delicious!) for supper, and sat with the fire going for a good couple of hours before passing out.

More Harris Lake

I’ve got a couple of notes here about “frogs”, “kid picked flower”, and “bad puns”. The frogs I don’t know, other than that I must have seen some frogs. The flower…ah, I remember. There was a little planted area right next to the restrooms, with like one pretty bloom in it…and this tiny kid walked right up and picked it. Nice job, kid. He did give it to his mother, but still. And the puns….oh the puns were everywhere. Almost all the cabins seemed to have a pun as a name. A coffee place was the “Adirondack Bean-to”. The “Otter Limits”. Things of that nature. Groan-worthy all around.

On Thursday we got up, and had breakfast. It was pretty grey all around. The boat drop off was awesome, however. Their firewood travelling wagon thing is pretty cool, full of cubbies for woods, and all sorts of doodads hanging off. It looks like it has been around forever, though they said they just got it that year. Anyway, we finished up with our morning prep, and set out in the canoe, just as the weather turned from fair to amazing. First we went for a little paddle just on the lake, passing by a large family of ducks right on the beach, and then headed out the inlet to the lake, heading up along a small chain of lakes. Nathan had to do a carry at the Santanoni Gate House, which we stopped to look in at a bit. We did not stop to go up to the Santanoni Great Camp, which apparently is pretty cool, but perhaps another time. Anyway, after the carry there, the water runs through a great section with marshes on either side, and then you come around the corner to another carry, where Nathan managed to get knee deep in mud. It looked like he had just collapsed under the canoe (which he had, a little), but most of it was just the mud sinking. Regardless, someone walking through the woods carrying a canoe looks kind of hilarious to me.

Firewood wagon
Santanoni Gate

After that there was another short section, and what could have been another carry around some riffs, but we managed to power our way up and through into Belden Lake. Crossing that pleasant zone, we got to the Interpretive Center land ,and what would have been yet another carry, but we just parked ourselves there. we got out and went up and walked around a bit, and then turned back the way we came. The rocky part we had pushed up we pushed back through, but the second part was a perfect canoe “rapid”. Just fast enough to be fun but slow enough to be no real worry. Whee! By the gatehouse, we actually got a bit wedged, and had to get out and push, but it worked out ok. We came back without incident, stopping briefly for a photo op with a duck decoy, then came back to camp.

Portage through the woods
Decoy friend

At which point, to be blunt, we passed right the hell out for about half an hour. We had considered going to both the beach and the river, but once we were back in the boat, we headed just to the river. (The Hudson River, that is). We went downstream first (amused at the signs pointing up/downstream to Mt. Marcy / NYC ) and went to the outfitters to get some sodas. At that point, we turned back upriver. After rounding the corner, we were in an amazing forested passage, with almost no houses, and some fabulous exposed roots (startling a picture perfect doe and fawn on one bank), feeling like a moment straight from the 1800s, or earlier. After another carry over the campground road, the foliage turned to high banks and large bushes, and we went the further quarter mile to the rapids / turnaround point. The ride back was smooth, and we stopped for some of the great firewood at the carry point (easily carried in the boat!). After we came back, we had dinner, an excellent fire, and s’mores. After we ent to bed….a truly epic thunderstorm unloaded. Woo! Also, thanks rainfly.


It was pretty dratted wet when we got up the next morning. Breakfast was fine, and the morning was grey. The boat guy came to pick up the boat, and said that the weather would be drizzly then clear. He gave us an idea for a hike, and we drove up to the Tahawus Tract / Upper Works area. First we checked out this historic blast furnace, which was, frankly, awesome. Then we continued to the High Peaks trailhead, and walked in the drizzle to Henderson Dam. We then continued on the trail up to Lake Henderson, and it started to rain. Then it started to dump. The trail was turning into a horrorshow by the second, so we bailed. We came back to town and had lunch at the High Peaks diner, where Nathan could also get cell reception. It looked set to rain for a bit, stop, then start again, so we drove to Blue Mt. Lake to check out the Adirondack Museum. It looks awesome, tons of buildings, on 30+ acres, with exhibits and grounds likely worth the 18$
admission price. We got there at 2:30 PM…only to find they were closing at 3 PM for a special antiques show. D’oh! (I mean, that many buildings isn’t perfect rainy day fodder, but I didn’t know.) So we wandered the foyer and gift shop and left. Which is when I discovered that my camera wouldn’t start any more. ARGH. I dried it out from my pocket, still no dice. 🙁 E32 error. Anyway, onwards to Buttermilk Falls, where had a nice little side of road digression towards a pretty nice falls. Took a photo of a nice 4-person, 4-dog family scoping out a canoe carry. The dogs had PFDs with handles, which was cool. Went back, got gas in Long Lake, and the weather was still clear when we got to Goodnow Mountain. We decided to go for it – only 4 miles and 1k’ of gain, right?

Tahawus Ironworks

I grabbed a nice walking stick at the beginning (left by some other kind soul) and we went up. The weather was mostly fine, but the trail was notably damp. Eastern trail nature does lead to super wet trails! The trail was fairly nondescript, mixing flats with climbs, always very easy to find, and hitting a false summit just before the real summit (as you do). At the actual summit, I climbed the many painful stairs of the fire tower, and was
rewarded with a truly outstanding 360 degree view. The many clouds in the sky were letting through wonderful beams of light, making for a spectacular vision. The hike back down was pretty fast and mellow, though it did drizzle a little bit on the way. We headed back to the campsite at that point, stopping to pick up the driest firewood pack we could find. Getting back to the campsite though, we found that the driest was simply not dry enough, alas. Nathan tried to start a fire four or five times, to no avail – we
never got it going bigger than tinder. We ate hot dogs, talked to some people, stared at some turtles at the lake shore, and finished a quiet night.

View from the fire tower
Nathan shooting

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