There is magic in the feel of a paddle and the movement of a canoe, a magic compounded of distance, adventure, solitude and peace the way of a canoe is the way of the wilderness and a freedom almost forgotten, the open door to waterways of ages past and a way of ice with profound and abiding satisfaction. -Sigurd Olsen
When we arrived at the Low's Lower Dam parking area on the Sunday afternoon before Memorial Day Weekend, we were disappointed to see lot so full people were parking up the road! Quickly though, we noticed that everyone was leaving to go back to work on Monday. Moving everything to the launch area was a slow process as we waited for several larger groups of canoes and kayaks to disembark from the lake. We didn't mind though - we will always choose less people on the water over more any day!
|The Boyfriend carrying our Minnesota II through the Ruins at Low's Upper Dam|
|The Firepit at Campsite 12|
Holy Crap was it hot out! In fact, our first reaction upon arriving on the backside of Campsite 12 was to rip all our clothes off and jump in the lake -- and then very quickly run right back out because even though the sun is hot, the water in New York is still really cold in May!! We clean and dry clothes on, we quicky went to work making up camp. I immediately headed to the firepit while Aaron set up our MSR Hubba Hubba sans fly. Potential storms meant that this would probably be our own opportunity to sit outside in the evenings or sleep directly under the stars and we were going to enjoy the night! We stayed up late and generally took the time to match our lives with the calming pace of the wilderness.
|The Infamous Breakfast Sandwich|
|Passing through the bogs of the Bog River|
Our Second Day on the water had us traveling even further into the backcountry under another gorgeous sky, crossing over what had been our first ever bog passing years ago. Even thought the river is fairly wide, this bog stretches for about a quarter mile with one canoe wide strip of water on the south side. Whereas the first time we had wondered if one carried their canoe over the bog or dragged it or what, now we simply kicked off our shoes and walked along the logs lining the narrow passage through which we led our beloved canoe.
|View of the Low's Lake Bog from Site 39|
|The Storm Clouds Rolling in From the Northeast|
|The Kanauwake style Culvert|
|The Portage Dock at Clear Pond from Bog Lake|
A total of twelve miles away from our original launch site, Clear Pond is reachable only by human powered boats. We felt good and strong as we settled into the campsite for lunch, but acknowledged that this was not going to be a leisurely break - we had taken a lot longer to get to the site than we had anticipated and we were going to have to hustle if we were gonna get back to Site 28 by dark. So we pounded down our instant mashed potatoes, drank tons of water and headed back out for one of the most nerve wracking experiences of our lives, never mind our paddling careers.
|Entering the Forest Preserve Wilderness Area|
Even though we thought the tail wind on Bog Lake was nasty, it wasn't until we got back to Low's Lake that we began to seriously doubt our chances of making it back to camp without getting wet. We stopped briefly at our originally intended campsite, Camp 39, to rest our bodies. I'm not sure about the BF, but I was seriously regretting our decision to not camp here as I looked across the water. Sure it was only about 200 yards, but it looked more like a raging river than a calm flat water experience that they show you in the pamphlets.
|Looking out into the wind|
|A calm moment at Site 39 before crossing Low's Lake|
When we got to our now beloved campsite, the first thing we did was grab each other and embrace. We had made it. I let the tears that I had been holding back flow down my cheeks and we just stood there for a few minutes to let our heart beats calm down and our bodies rest from the stress. I have never been so happy to get out of a canoe in my whole life! We barely had enough energy to eat our dinners and passed our pretty quicky after making one decision: we were not going to test Poseidon again tomorrow. Instead of exploring the remaining north west side of Low's Lake, we would take the long way back to Camp One. We had had enough wind for one trip.
|Our MSR Hubba Hubba at Site 28|
and check out all the nooks and crannies of the islands. There was a short up and over portage to get us around the backside of Site 22 and we ended up coming up the north side of Frying Pan Island. Somehow, we ended up one island short of our turn, and eventually decided to take a long break in the warming sun of Site 17. I was shivering because the tail wind was just strong enough that paddling wasn't required. I need some tea and some good old-fashioned vitamin D if I was going to get the dexterity back into my fingers to hold onto the paddle.
This day seemed to be our eating day. We only paddled a few miles, but ate a double meal at our lunch break. I think that we were just so trashed from the previous day's mental and physical requirements that we just needed to regather ourselves. So we ate the extra meal, pounded the emergency coconut water that we always bring and laid in the sun until we could no longer handle the black flies. Then it was a relaxing paddle back down the Bog River toward our Site 12 - only the discover someone in a Kelty tent had already moved in! After not seeing any people what so ever for three days, it was a complete shock to realize that we were about to spend our final night in the wilderness and had paddled back in to civilization. It was a rude awakening. We kept paddling east along the Bog River and ended up at an interesting style campsite. Site 11 required us to lift the canoe out of the water and directly up a short hill. A very awkward undertaking, but wilderness life is supposed to be an adventure, right?
|Our Gear :)|
|Looking Back at Site 11|
|Heading East on the Bog River toward Low's Upper Dam|
It is amazing how only three hours away from our home base, it an amazing piece of wilderness that can bring peace and a sense of accomplishment to our lives. Already, we were planning our next great adventure :)
May You Find the Spirit of the Mountains Within You,
Merisa & Aaron