Just got back from an Adirondacks canoe trip, Little Tupper Lake to Rock Pond, with my sons and a couple of friends. We had a blast. Sorry for the video quality - I somehow set the camera to a lower resolution than normal.
My work schedule did not allow much packing time so, rather than leave something behind, I basically just threw the entire gear closet into a couple of plastic tubs and three backpacks.
My 14-year-old son Shelf Life and I drove up Friday from Jersey and camped on the Racquette River near Buttermilk Falls. We enjoyed PackIt Gourmet Texas State Fair Chili for dinner - very tasty. Shelf Life did not sleep well in the BIAS WW double layer - it was too stretchy for him. He really likes the tablecloth hammocks much more.
Saturday morning, we drove into Long Lake for breakfast at Long Lake Diner. We then went to Racquette River Outfitters to wait for 21-year-old son Vanilla Pudge (who drove in from Boston). We watched several people frantically trying to pump out a pontoon plane before it sunk.
Shelf Life played in the kiddie playground to pass the time. I think that's a beaver (or maybe a squirrel) he's riding.
Vanilla Pudge arrived and we picked up a kayak to go with my 169 Old Town Discovery canoe. We got to Little Tupper Lake around 10:30 am and started paddling. I told the boys it would be about a six mile trip and we should be there in 2 or 3 hours. We texted my friends KYBob and Gmarc (also driving from Boston), that we were departing for Rock Pond. They were about 3 hours behind us.
Shelf Life says, "Can I see the map?" And I said, "I didn't bring a map. The map's in my head." Shelf Life got a little concerned at that point. "You always bring a map," he says. "Well, I didn't this time," I replied. "It's impossible to get lost. The lake has only one outlet." This isn't necessarily true, but lying to the kid is sometimes the best policy. "The stream is right over there on the left, by those islands" I pointed, but Shelf Life and Vanilla Pudge began to doubt the map in my mind. Vanilla Pudge became convinced the exit was on the north side of the pond and paddled over there, while Shelf Life thought it was on the south side. I kept the canoe aimed at where the map in my mind told me the stream would be found.
We found the stream to Rock Pond with no problem, exactly where I said it was. My sons have new respect for the maps in my mind.
We hit some fresh beaver dams on the stream and had to get out and drag the boats over them. We came to the portage, pulled our boats up and walked to the end of what turned out be a 100-yard portage. Shelf Life took one look at it and said, "KYBob won't make this portage. He's too lazy."
It ended up taking four hours to reach Rock Pond and it was crowded: I saw at least ten or 15 canoes or kayaks, and the map (in my head) said there were only six campsites. It didn't look very good for us finding a campsite. Vanilla Pudge took the faster kayak down the east side of Rock Pond, while Shelf Life and I took the west side. We communicated via two-way radio and had excellent reception - we tried them last year on Lake Lila and they didn't work worth a darn. We found a campsite, not very hammock friendly but good for us three. The boys went fishing while I set up the hammocks.
The Packit Gourmet meals were a big hit - a two-person meal was more than enough food for three of us. All the Packit Gourmet 2-person meals are oversized if you ask me. And they're also the best dehydrated meals we've had so far. The only drawback I saw was that one particular meal, the two-person Big Easy Gumbo, required 32 ounces of water. When backpacking I would normally never have a pot that big, but this time I had my Swedish Army Trangia mess kit, so no problem.
My sons were extremely tired so they went to bed early. They like to complain that hammocks are not comfortable for sleeping, but they somehow managed to sleep in them for 14 hours. I woke up at dawn and went fishing, but only caught one smallmouth bass. Ever the proud angler, I took the fish up to Shelf Life's hammock to show him my catch. When Shelf Life woke up several hours later, he said he had a dream that I was standing next to his hammock holding a fish. "Strange dream," I replied. "I wonder what it means."
For breakfast we had fresh bacon, pork roll, eggs and cheese cooked on an Emberlit EL Mini titanium stove. We really enjoyed cooking breakfast on this grill; very easy to control the heat by adding wood as needed. We wrapped the breakfast in tortillas - no plates. While we were washing the dishes, I saw a canoe approaching our campground. It was KYBob and Gmarc. They had gotten to Rock Pond just before sundown the night before, and met kayakers just leaving who told them that the island campsite was available. They were camped no more than 1000 yards away from us the whole night!
The brothers went back to their island to go fishing, while we played Texas Holdem. Vanilla Pudge brought a full chip set and cards; the set weighed at least 15 lbs. We played much of the day. In the evening, we paddled over to the brothers' island and played more poker. Paddling at night is not Shelf Life's favorite activity (he thinks night paddling is stupid), but we got back to our campsite easily in the dark.
On Monday, we decided to hike the 1.7 mile portage from Rock Pond to Hardigan Pond. The portage used to go through a swamp, but this new trail was freshly cut and there was only one bad patch over a series of beaver dams. None of us could imagine carrying a canoe over those dams - the footing was extremely bad and a fall would be highly likely.
We had lunch at Hardigan Pond, then Gmarc and I stopped to gorge on blackberries & blueberries on the hike back. Shelf Life, Vanilla Pudge and KYBob did not partake. "How do you know they're not poisonous?" they asked. Well, I may not know much about plant life, but I do know what blueberries and blackberries look like.
In the evening we paddled out to the deepest part of the lake to take a swim. The boys decided to swim back to the campsite and leave me to paddle the canoe back. Just then the wind kicked up and I could not swing the canoe into the wind no matter how hard I tried. KyBob and GMarc watched me struggle from their island and I could hear laughter rippling across the lake as people watched me struggle. By that time, the boys had tired of swimming, so I picked them up (paddling backward into the wind because I couldn't turn the boat around) and we paddled back to camp. My canoe paddles much better in the wind with a couple of lard butts as ballast.
We woke up Tuesday morning and packed up. KYBob and GMarc were staying for a couple of more days, but they broke camp and paddled back out to Little Tupper Lake with us. At the portage, we ended up standing in some mud and both Shelf Life and Vanilla Pudge got leeches on their feet. It was their first encounter with leeches so there was some initial panic (not to mention the wounds tend to bleed for a long time).
Other than the leeches, mosquitoes and flies, it was a pretty nice trip! Looking forward to next year.