Lake Lila, NY, Hang 8/23 to 8/26 Trip Report
I still haven't unpacked from my trip, but thought I'd post a quick report before I forget the details. I took my 19-year old and 12-year-old son to Lake Lila in the Adirondacks, William C. Whitney Wilderness. This was the 19-year-old's first hammock hang. We definitely didn't pack light, so we took the father-in-law's 1995 Cadillac with my Old Town 169 canoe strapped on top.
We left NJ at two in the morning, since it's a seven-hour, 338 mile drive and I wanted to be at the kayak rental place in Long Lake when they opened at 9 am. The nice lady strapped the kayak on top of the Old Town Canoe and we were off to Lake Lila.
It's a little insane to take an overloaded Cadillac down the six-mile dirt road to Lake Lila, but I did it last year in a torrential downpour. The kids thought I was going to rip off the exhaust or an oil pan, but if you go slow enough, it's okay. There's some serious erosion on the road, so it's best to heed the 15 mph speed limit.
From the parking lot, it's 1/3 of a mile to the lake. We decided to take the canoe down first. My 15-year-old hiking boots both decided to spontaneously disintegrate, so I went barefoot the rest of the trip. This might sound a little insane, but I don't wear shoes for six months out of the year so my feet are plenty tough. By the second day of the trip my 12-year-old son had also decided to go barefoot.
My only concern with going barefoot was poison ivy or oak. Amazingly, I could not find any. My 12-year-old recently had a run-in with poison ivy and I wanted to show him what it looked like so he could avoid it. Don't go to Lake Lila looking for poison ivy or oak to show your son.
After two or three trips back to the car, we had the canoe loaded up and were ready to find a campsite. My 12-year-old, none too keen on being in bear country, wanted to camp on one of the four island campsites. Snell Island is the closest island, but it was occupied. Then we went to Canada Island, Buck Island and Spruce Island, but they were all occupied. By this time we had canoe'd for about three or four hours and four or five miles, had seen about 16 of the 26 campsites, and they were all occupied. I anticipated crowding in August. I wish we could have gone in September or October, but August was the only choice what with college and school starting.
My kids were getting tired and finally, about 4 pm, we found a campsite on the south shore. It had a nice beach, and the campsite had plenty of trees for hanging hammocks (some campsites at Lake Lila are absolutely unsuitable for hammock camping, unless you cut down a lot of brush to get a hanging space for your hammock).
Spaghetti and meatballs for the first night's dinner (I brought a cooler), then bacon and eggs in the morning. We had dehydrated chicken noodle soup, along with cheese and crackers, for lunch on the second day. Dinner: hamburgers and hot dogs.
The rain started that night, and it rained till about 2 pm on the third day. We were kind of stuck in camp, under our tarps. We spent the day carving stuff, making tent spikes and cooking apparatus like pot hangers. At 3 pm, the skies cleared and we took off for a hike to Mount Victoria. As we passed Buck Island, we noticed the campsite was unoccupied. We checked out the campsite and it was beautiful, much better than the one we had. We decided to abort the hike, leave the kayak on the shore to let people know there was "no vacancy" and headed back to our campsite to pack up and move.
We tossed everything in garbage bags and the campsite was vacated in less than 15 minutes. When we were packing up, I found that my 19-year-old son had tied elaborate knots on the whoopie slings, ridgeline, and even around the toggles on the Marlin spike hitches. He did not trust Amsteel Blue, or whoopie slings or Marlin spike hitches. It was not easy to convince him that the knots were unnecessary.
We finally got back to Buck Island and by 6 pm we had our camp set up and dinner cooking. I heard my 12-year-old talking to someone, and it wasn't me or my 19-year-old. "Who are you talking to?" I asked him. He said he was talking to his mother on the cell phone. I was surprised, because in 2010, we couldn't get a signal anywhere on Lake Lila. I miss those days.
The wife said that there was a hurricane on the way and we needed to get home, that the NJ shore was being evacuated. I didn't believe her, so I called a friend who confirmed, We had planned on staying another day, but cut it short and left on Friday instead of Saturday.
The DIY hammock setups, with Byer Moskito Hammock, Funky Forest Tarp, whoopie slings, soft shackles, and adjustable ridgelines worked out great. In high winds, I think the Funky Forest Tarp might need more tie-outs than I used, but other than that it kept us dry.
I really appreciated the bug nets on the Byer and on my Hennessy. A friend of mine insisted that there are no mosquitoes, no see-ums or black flies at Lake Lila in August, that they're all gone by the end of July. He is totally full of crap, or senile.
Next hammock hang, I'm definitely going to reduce the weight a lot. I'm going to go with no cooler, which means no bacon and eggs in the morning. Sigh. I love bacon and eggs at the campsite. As much as I like the Trangia Swedish mess kit, I think it's just too heavy to justify bringing along on most hikes. I can bring two DIY penny alcohol stoves next time and it will be just a couple of ounces of weight.
I'm also going to go with dehydrated meals next time, though I'm still gonna bring things like fresh fruit and carrot and celery sticks that can go without refrigeration. I have never been constipated in my life, but I am concerned that it could happen with those dehydrated meals. I don't want to be on the trail and have to work it out like a mathematician with a pencil. I will miss my cooler, but I won't miss the weight.
I would like to get a water filter and stop carrying water, but my 12-year-old son just can't tolerate the coloration of trail-source water. My 19-year-old had no problem drinking boiled lake water, but the youngest just couldn't deal with it.
While I love my machete, it has limited use and weighs a lot. It's great for bushwhacking, but no good for chopping firewood. However, I was really impressed with the Bahco 9" folding saw I brought along. That is an amazing piece of camp gear. If I can ever tear myself away from it, I will miss my machete.
I'm also going to get some zing-it, fling-it, or dynaglide line for bear bags and general purpose camp rope. The rope I carried was just too heavy, especially when you consider that it can't come close to the weight-bearing capacity of the lightweight, high-strength lines.
Thanks to Hammock Forums members for all the advice and guidance that made my trip a success. I look forward to seeing some of you at the Gathersburg, MD, Hammock Hang in October so I can learn even more about hammock hanging, ultralight camping, rope-splicing, and all the facets of this wonderful hobby.
And the funniest part of the trip was Saturday morning, August 27, as Hurricane Irene slammed into NJ and high tide was flooding my town, all I had to do was take the Old Town canoe off the top of the car, drop it next to the back door, and load up the family. It was the first time I can recall being able to navigate my entire NJ shore town via boat. I'm glad the canoe was handy!