Thursday, September 2, 2010

Well, the vacation is finally coming to an end...

So, I suppose I've been neglecting this blog a bit lately, but I've been on extended vacation for a bit.. whateves... I suppose I should have posted that before I left.

Anyway, with the change of the season comes the fall of the holiday; school starts in a few days. And along with it a restarting of this blog full force. Yup, that's right. Or, at least as full a force as school will allow. I plan to post daily / semi-daily thoughts about Kingston, law-school, maybe even an interesting lecture summary or two, along with all the regular updates. It'll be nice to keep a record again of things I'm reading/thinking about. I tend to use Google Reader quite a bit as it's just the easier way out, but it doesn't really provide a chance to explore, which is what this blog was originally for. So, gonna try to get back to those roots.

But before all that let's get to some of the vacation pictures. First, the Manhattan, Adirondacks, Montreal vacation.

I figure we've all seen NYC and Montreal, so I'll limit those fine pics and stay focused on the wilderness, for the most part. I still can't totally stay away from these street lights...

... or the Manhattan skyline.

Ok, so, after an always great time with Milan in NYC, Jer and I headed to the Adirondack region, which if you can tell by the budget map below is about 1.5 hours south of Montreal in New York State.

The Adirondack Park is a publicly-protected area located in northeast New York. It is the largest park and the largest state-level protected area in the contiguous United States, and the largest National Historic Landmark.

The park covers some 6.1 million acres (9,400 mi²/24,700 km²), a land area about the size of Vermont, or of the Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier, and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks combined (Wikipedia). I've been camping almost all across Ontario, but never tried the States in any real way, and seeing as Jer had tons of experience from his teen years at Racquette Lake camp, it seemed like a good time to visit. Btw, if you do click on the Racquette Lake link, get ready for a shitty website (I should talk...) and even shittier music.

Anyway, below is about the size of the Adirondacks.

The route pictured below is roughly the one we would be taking by canoe through the river system.

Approximately 95 kilometers of water and 8 kilometers of portaging through Raquette Lake, then via the Raquette River to Forked Lake, Long Lake and finally via the Stony Creek Ponds and the Indian Carry to Upper Saranac Lake. The route then proceeds via Bartlett's Carry to Middle Saranac Lake and Lower Saranac Lake, ending at the New York State Boat Launch on Lake Flower. We budgeted 3 nights and 4 days.

This was our motel the first night before heading into the wilds. Running water, yes. Draining water, no.

Ended up renting a canoe down there instead of bringing one of my own. We figured it would just be easier considering the miles we were putting on the road. Moreover, it probably wasn't the smartest idea to leave a canoe on your car in Manhattan or downtown Montreal.

Jer getting some final tips...

errr... sort of.

For sale by owner. We didn't stop to check how much it was going for, but it doesn't seem that hard to convert your vehicle (30 minute bolt ons... )

So yeah, as you may have noticed the route is a straight one, so we had to drive down to Racquette lake from the town of Saranac (where we rented the canoe), drop the car, and then grab a taxi back to the car after the canoe trip.

Hoss's, where you always get "full-hookups".

There is a slightly longer canoe route that we could have taken that starts at Old Forge but decided for the slightly shorter one due to free parking and being old.

Ok, finally on the water.

Ducks on the pond...

Yeah, it took us a bit to get settled that first day, and yeah, we check the map quite often as the route was not marked very well and there were a few tributaries we needed to avoid. Actually, in general, all the portages, lakes and rivers weren't marked as well as I've seen in most Ontario parks.

Speaking of portages, we decided to skip the first one and try to maneuver our way through the waters... While it probably wasn't the smartest thing to do (we were pretty jacked!), it did turn out to be a highlight of the trip.

Walking the canoe through the water and over beaver dams kicked big time ass.

Another portage, and Buttermilk falls.

Ok, that was about it for day one... We started around noon (with all the driving and renting of canoe that morning) and finished up around 6 to set up camp.

Just as we got the tents up and ate it started to rain.

Campsite, complete with lean-to (not seen in Ontario...) and our tents.

Keeping the beers cold...

It ended up raining all night but stopped before we got off in the morning. Wet tents but dry clothes.

We stopped in the town of Long Lake that morning (about 6 miles on the water from our camp site) for a $13 lox and cream cheese bullshit bagel. It was pretty tasty, but where the fuck do you get off charging that much for a bagel!... jackass.

More mapping...

... and portaging. Man, I don't remember portaging being this hard! Either it's an age thing, or the rental canoe was a back killer, but man those portages were brutal. I don't think we packed that light (cans of food, two tents) which probably added to the pain.

We did get pretty lucky with the weather though!

Basecamp night two.

So we started to figure out that we were going at quite the breakneck pace. We were just over 3/5ths of the way through the trip with two days left on the schedule. If we could get back to Saranac before 2-3 pm the next day we could easily cut off a full day of canoeing.

Getting up early (and limiting pictures quite a bit!) we stormed off...

Oh, one cool thing we experienced was the lock system. We ran into two different types of locks on the way; one was an older style hand operated lock, and the other a bigger hydraulic one.

I think there's a way to portage around the locks, but I highly recommend you don't. It's kinda cool, very relaxing, and a rare experience.

Our final lunch... pretty typical meal. Beans and pasta cooked over a small burner.

And that's it really! We made it back into the town of Saranac on Flower Lake some time around 2 pm totally exhausted. Like, arms and shoulders falling off exhausted. We probably should have taken our time, but it felt really great accomplishing that distance in the short time we did. We basically got pretty luck with the weather, and we're both experienced campists/canoeists, so we probably over estimated the time required...

However, we aren't at all thinking about entering the Adirondack Canoe Classic, also known as the 90-miler, which is a three-day, 90 mile canoe race from Old Forge to Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks. The race has drawn as many as 500 competitors from California to Florida, New Zealand to Canada paddling 250 canoes, kayaks and guideboats.

Ugh... it felt good moving fast and not paddling and/or carrying a canoe.

That night we went into town to have a cold beer and something not out of a can to eat.

So yeah, great experience, some good pictures, and a greater understanding of the Adirondack area and lake/river system.

One last story... while there wasn't much wildlife on the trip we did see a baby bear crossing a 50 foot wide river not 40 feet infront of us. That was honestly a bit scary as we didn't know if we were paddling toward inadvertently getting between a mother still on the far side of the river and the cub... needless to say we started singing loudly and paddling quite hard for about a 1/4 mile after that...

Next day, we decided to cap off the Adirondack experience by climbing Mt. Marcy, the highest point in New York State, surrounded by the picturesque High Peaks region of the Adirondacks. It was there, it was a non-technical hike, and it is pretty legendary in our circles... ;) A must do.

Oh, and this: On September 12 1901, Theodore Roosevelt and his family arrived at their cabin near Mount Marcy. The next morning, a cold, foggy day, Roosevelt left for a climb to the top of the mountain, accompanied by friends and a park ranger. By noon on September 13, the Vice President and his party stopped to rest at the 5,344-feet-high summit on a large flat rock that offered a panoramic view of the mountains. They climbed back down five hundred feet to have lunch by a lake. At about 1:30, a park ranger arrived, running, bearing a telegram. Roosevelt understood as soon as he saw the messenger what had happened, saying later: "I instinctively knew he had bad news... I wanted to become President, but I did not want to become President that way." The route from Long Lake to North Creek has hence been designated as the Roosevelt-Marcy Trail.

Ok, a few pictures up, from the top, and down...

The trail wasn't that well marked and often extremely rocky. Nothing technical mind you, just sometimes hard to follow...

From the peak!

Cloud Splitter.

The girl in this picture was surveying/drawing a panoramic landscape from the top.

The hike wasn't too bad, and I made it up in about 3 hours, stayed up there for about 40 minutes, and then made it down in about 2.5 hours.

Alright, back down...

.. with a quick stop at Indian Falls.

South of Indian Falls the trail actually isn't that bad... you can definitely see the upkeep and work put into the trail, especially with the cleared spots and logs for irrigation.

Sometimes even rocks were used to guide the water down the mountain, keeping the path as dry, safe and clear as possible.

So yeah, from start to finish it was about 14 miles and an ascent of 3224' with a total height of 5334'. After that epic canoe trip I was just glad I didn't have to use my arms all day.

Lake Placid ski jumps!

Now, the outskirts of Montreal...

After getting down Marcy around 4 pm we drove that night into Montreal for the first of two nights...

.. and Montreal/Montrealers are some pretty fantastic people.

Great 9 day trip.. Bookended by some great cities, that canoe trip is something I won't soon forget.

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