Friday, May 13, 2016

The Three Saranac Lakes: Canoe Tripping Early Season in the Adirondacks

The off-season in any resort town is wonderful.  The pace of business slows down and residents have more energy to spend on their own adventures.  For the boyfriend and I, this means ski trips to Tuckerman Ravine and canoe tripping in the Adirondacks.  While the trips to Tux are exciting and exhausting, they are certainly not as relaxing as camping on an island in the middle of a lake in the middle of nowhere.

With temps last week scheduled to be in the 70s, we packed up our dry bags and set off to paddle the big water of the Adirondacks.  For us, the "big water" is the trio of Saranac Lakes, where motorboats and jet skis rule the waters during the summer.  But off-season, before the trees have filled in and the kids are out of school, the Saranac Lakes are more of a quiet backcountry adventure than a constant Fourth of July celebration.  The waters are calm and you can hear the various bird calls, see the bald eagles fly overhead and watch the frogs playing frogger as you paddle the Saranac River.
For this trip, we decided to set up camp on one of our favorite island on Middle Saranac, a quick 3 hour paddle upstream and through the Upper Locks.  This would give us the opportunity to make a huge day trip on Wednesday with almost 3 miles of portaging.  Weight makes a difference - and the last time we had done these portages we definitely had the wrong boats!  The boyfriend ended up with bruises on his biceps from carrying his 60 pound kayak, while I had a massive headache from my solo canoe bouncing on the top of my head for miles.  I remember feeling that no one must ever do these carry routes because our first experience was so horrible.  Not this time.  This time, with our 38 pound Northstar Northwind 16, these two seemingly long portages were so easy it was laughable.  Don't get me wrong, 1.5 miles portages are nothing to laugh about - especially when one is up and over an Adirondack hill - but the experience was so exponentially better it was amazing!  It just goes to show how far our canoe tripping skills have come ... and how much we still have to learn!
The Northwind seems to be a great canoe for us - finally!  The short length gives us maneuverability in the tight portages of the Adirondacks while the shape of the hull gives us increased stability in the often white capped waters.This time, with our 38 pound Northstar Northwind 16, these two seemingly long portages were so easy it was laughable.  Don't get me wrong, 1.5 miles portages are nothing to laugh about - especially when one is up and over an Adirondack hill - but the experience was so exponentially better it was amazing!  It just goes to show how much we still have to learn!  But the Northwind 16 seems to be a great canoe for us - finally!
The short length gives us excellent
maneuverability in the tight portages of the Adirondacks while the shape of the hull gives us increased stability in the often white capped waters.  The view from our island was simply stunning.  One of the few islands in the Adirodacks that is simply a tall mound.  The kind of mound that your bear cache will simply roll down from the top straight into the water if you don't figure out a flat enough space.  I am pretty sure this is the campsite where I sorrowfully watched one of my dry bags full of dry clothes roll down the island into the water.  I was NOT making that mistake again!  That damned slippery Bear Cache was not going anywhere!
While paddling a marathon over three days is always a great excitement, our favorite part is always just sitting on the shoreline at our campsite, staring out at the water while we relax and recover from life and paddling.  It is the many colors of the slowly sinking sunset that we watch as we sip on hot toddies and chocolate, nibbling on whatever weird concoction we were eating that night.  My favorite is still the couscous with coconut flakes, dried pineapple pieces, a little dried milk, nuts and lots of curry!




May You Find 
the Spirit of the Mountains 
Within You 




One must take time to listen 
or one will never hear 
what the mountain has to say.


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