Thursday, October 11, 2012

Waiting for Winter: Canoe Camping in the St. Regis Canoe Area

We arrived, as usual, just as the sun was setting on the western shore of Hoel Pond. Quickly, we loaded up the boats, signed into the registry and launched. In fact, we we so quick that I hadn't bothered to take off my jeans. You know, just in case there might be a fashionable event somewhere in the upcoming no service area.

But I managed not to step into the pond and arrived nice and dry at our Campsite. For some reason, The Boyfriend decided to drag Out the fifteen year old Mountain Hardwear Tent to see if it was still backcountry friendly. Setting up the tent was helarious - no waterproof zippers, crinkly clear plastic to serve as windows built into the fly...and pretty heavy eastman poles. About the same size but about twice the weight as our newer tent, it was fun - and easy to cook out of with its one ginormous vestibule.

The next morning started out as any other in the backcountry - with Vespi heading down with all the other anomals to drink her fill from the water's edge. The brisk fall temperatures bring with them a thick fog on the pond, which slowly rises as the morning moves along. We had brought the big gas tank this time, so no stress as I crouched over the Whisperlite, working through the oatmeal, bacon and eggs. How can one go camping withhout bacon? Seriously.

We finally made it onto the water around ten, but were still rrewarded for our sluggishness with crystal clear glass. The foliage colors were holding on strong in certain places...but so many of the trees lining the shores of this adventure would be diffent varieties of
pine you almost couldn't tell what time of year it was.
But at the put-in for the first portage....it was definitely autumn :)

The temperature began its slow climb for its brisk 42.0 F as we exited the tent, but she hardshells never came off pretty much the entire trip. While most people look for breathability, I love the idea of trapping the warmth close to my body. Between the sun and the shell, I am never cold - at least while paddling.


A second quick portage led us through some gorgeous post-peak foliage and onto Long Pond, where we would be doing most of our exploring this trip. Thinking ahead, we chose to set-up camp where we ate lunch and paddle around with much lighter weight boats for the remainder of the day. This gave me time to take a nap...which Vespi thought was entirely agreeable.



After a quick paddle to the trailhead, we spent the majority of the afternoon hiking past Mountain Pond up to the summit of Long Pond Mountain. From there, we snuggled under our emergency bivy and watches the sunset over the autumn Adirondacks. We could see the many campsites we've stayed at over the years, see how long the lakes and ponds actually are...and even caught sight of a new pond on the backside of the mountain that we had nevere really noticed on the map. It was the kind of moment that most couples dream of - a private summit, snuggly warm under the blankets watching the sunset..and my ever present Hot Toddy thermos ;)





Vespi lead thhe way back down through the dark and we eventually arrived at what we thought would be a peaceful dinner at the already set-up tent. But as soon as we began to cook dinner, an army of small mice began their attack. These were brave mice, running through the boyfriend's legs, crawling on the tent and generally taking over the entire site. As we crawled into the tent to hide away from these crazed creatures and try to enjoy our dinner, a conclusion was easily reached. The water was glass and you could see the reflection of stars in the clear night sky in the water below. We would pick up camp, and paddle further down Long Pond until we reached a suitably mice-free campsite.

This might have been the best decision of the entire trip.
We turned off our headlamps and paddled to the stars. We could see the glow of the treeline above us and stayed in the middle of the pond to avoid obstacles. As we got closer to presumed site locations, the boyfriend would turn on his crazy bright Petzl lamp. The light would reflect off the trees along the shoreline and we would distance ourselves just enough to see the small reflective disc that marks legitimate sites.

This might have been one of my favorite paddling moments of all time.
And completely unphotographable (at least by me)

When the initial alarm went off, it blended in with the sounds of raindrops on the fly. Easily enough, the decision was made to pull the sleeping bags back over our heads and settle in for a few more hours sleep. Cooking breakfast in the rain was easier with the huge vestibule, and we were on the water -still raining - by about noon.


But we are not ones to be deterred from our plans by a little soaking, spine chilling rain. We cinched up our hoods and headed out to explore narrow sixe tunnels off of the main pond that led to even more secret places. Like finding the magical tree trail, paddle canals have very much the same aura. You slow down your pace, duck under fallen branch and hold your breathe over shallow passes. And then, you get to see the beauty that is hidden there, in the forests.

Eventually, it was time to go home.
So of course, the sun came out.

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