Adirondacks, August 2013 – Part 2

Let us continue to the second part of our Adirondacks Trip, but the first part is here

Ski jump behind John Brown

On Saturday we woke up to just a beautiful day. We packed up and had breakfast, all kind of intermingled, and then headed out of town to the west, and then headed on the scenic drive up north to
Tupper Lake. The day was really extraordinarily lovely – the scenery and the sky and the light altogether. We pulled to a roadside viewing briefly in Tupper Lake (the lake is amazing! so many little grass islands!) before continuing on. We stopped for a brief break on the way, heading down a side road that turned ito
a dirt road, and finally onto a little trail to a place called Rock Pond. There were a couple of boats there, and someone had propped a solid-but-rough ladder onto a rock jutting out into the lake, but otherwise there was no sign of people. We sat in the cleft of that rock for a solid bit, just zoning out on the water,
sky, trees, and quiet around, then headed back. We saw some frogs, some awesome flame looking orange fungus, and a gorgeous woods walk.

Rock ladder

We went through Saranac Lake, and got to our campground just a minute past noon. It was pretty close to the road, which is meh, but otherwise was pretty nice. Half of it was meadowy, but we were in the back half, which was wooded, farther from the road, and overall a bit more pleasant. Being dryer didn’t hurt either. We setup, bought some firewood from the ranger, and asked for advice on where to paddle. He told us about a couple of rental places. Ampersand Bay, actually on the water, was the first one we tried, but they were out of boats. At the second place, instead of renting right away, we arranged for a multi-hour pickup and dropoff river trip the next day, after some discussion. So instead of paddling that afternoon, we drove over to Lake Placid and went to the John Brown State Historic Site. It was a Brown family farm where he and some of his sons are buried. Beautiful in the summer, I see how it could seem really remote in the winter, especially before the modern era. It is right in the shadow of the Olympic ski jumping complex, thee incredibly tall bizarre structures. Very surreal.

Anyway, we got the brief house tour from the (bored) ranger, walked around the grounds a bit, followed the advice of a sign to find the geocache on the grounds, and took a truly lovely walk on a wooded carriage path on the property. After that, we drove to where we could get a view of the jumps, then went back into town. We passed the lacrosse event (LAX should be for the airport, guys! really!), and braved all the crowds to duck over to the Great Adirondack Brewing Company. Nice enough, each of us partook of the flight. I’m not sure it was 14$ worth of good, but they had a surprisingly good blonde ale. We walked for a bit, took a “sideways cut” back to the main highway. We stopped at Tops to get bandaids and a cutting board (crucial!), then headed back to camp. Nathan happily made a fire, we threw together some surprisingly good fajitas, and sat back to enjoy the night. Wherein we discovered we could hear the road, the scenic railroad, and most of all, the music from the BBQ joint next door.

John Brown

Location – very convenient, certainly not remote. We live and learn. Next door neighbors also showed up, either Polish or Russian, and dragged like the half the forest back to their (small) firepit, in very large chunks. We watched them try to burn a giant stump, unsuccessfully, over the next two evenings! After that, we just sat and enjoyed the fire and whiled the evening away. Sunday morning, as I have written it, we “woke up!”. Had some oatmeal for breakfast, and got started early enough that we were planning to head into Saranac Lake and look around a bit before our canoe trip, but then we looked up and it was 9.30 AM already and about time to head in. We went over to the outfitter, and while we had to wait a few minutes for the shuttle van, we were pretty quickly on our way. The other passengers were French Canadian, and much to my shame I didn’t even essay any French.

Anyway! From the Pine Street Bridge, we set off down the Saranac River. This was a lovely calm paddle, through woods, marches, along roads and wild lands, past a few houses, with some straightaways, but many a wriggle….We didn’t see all that much wildlife, but we did see some (peregrine?) falcons, some herons, a couple of turtles, fish, misc smaller birds, and one clutch of baby ducks that swam them dove to their nest in freedom while their mother “decoyed” us away. (Ok, that sounds like a lot but I swear it wasn’t! ) We only saw a few other boaters the whole way. We passed under “First Bridge”, and at the second bridge, a footbridge to the Moose Pond trail, we took out to have some lunch. Triscuits and apples and peanut butter, oh my! After a brief bio break (pretty trail!) we were on our way again. The third bridge was shortly after the second, and low enough that we had to duck, and then we had a long uninterrupted stretch. It was just…very pleasant. Beautiful sky, lovely scenery. After we hit the fourth and last bridge, there was a mega set of twistys, then, just as the river straightened out, it entered wholly public lands, and the change in flora was delightful and fast full-on forest on both sides. After a final straight push, we got to the takeout point right when we had arranged to be picked up, 2 PM. At which point we sat, talked, skipped rocks, and generally just sat around and waited for an hour for our ride to show up. Nathan helped some people get their boat out of the water, and we chatted for a minute or two. It was, for sure, an exceedingly pretty place to wait, but an hour was kind of a while.

Nathan having a good day

The van did show up eventually, with an apology, and speedily took us back to town. The driver gave us some suggestions of things to do (Mt. Baker, Stevenson Cottage), and we very almost went to the cottage, but at the end we bailed. We went and got soft-serve, continued towards Lake Placid, missed the turnoff for the Adirondack Loj, and aimed for this waterfall I saw on the map near Keene. Hurd’s Falls? Something like that. The drive over to Keene was gorgeous, and we got on the sideroad for the falls, and pulled over at the obvious pullout. It was marked private, but that wasn’t quite true, and also, there was a clear use trail down to the falls. It was really great – a top rocky rapid portion, then a big pool area, then the real falls, split into two zones by a large rock rib, then continuing in a pool, a quick riffle, then on there was the Ausable River. A family group or two were down there swimming, and we talked to one gentleman for a while (live in Missoula, MT, had been in SF 10 years, in-laws have a cabin in Keene, so they summer up there), and then sat and stared at the water for a bit, scrambled back up the hill to the road, and headed to the campsite to change. We went to Nonna Fine, an Italian restaurant in SL, for tasty if uninspired Italian food. There was a family there with a kid that seemed to have real proto-movie star looks – wonder what it’s like to grow up that way. Anyway, it would have been great if a few more people had been able to join us for the final weekend, but it was pretty awesome regardless. After supper, we went back to the campsite, campfire and bed. The last morning, well, it was the drive home and the slow return to normal.

Waiting for pickup

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