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2018 Adirondacks:

After our 2017 epic trip around the Whitney Loop, this year we opted for more of a vacation than a slog. Taking a vacation for us meant staying multiple days in the same site and taking day paddles, rather than moving each day to a new site.


And though the trip had a few challenges - think rain and sore throats - we managed to have an excellent time just the same. 

What follows is a collection of photos from our trip, along with some sketches. I've also included notes loosely transcribed from my journal, which are shown in italics.

Lake Lila and Lows Lake

Day 1: We drove out to the Adirondacks with our little boats atop our car, arriving at Sabittis Road in the William C. Whitney Wilderness Area in the afternoon. 

We opted to spend the first night at Round Lake, loading our gear into our boats and putting in. The sky was decorated with voluminous clouds, some carrying rain to the south, but sparing us.

Paddling along the eastern shore, we found Site 6 at the north end of the lake. It was a rather bumpy site, set amidst tall white pines, red maples and white and yellow birch.

Day 2: We awoke to mist on Round Lake and heavy cloud cover above. I might have slept four hours total, with a scathing sore throat, headache, and the rumblings of a head cold. And then there was the sciatica pain. When it rains, it pours.

We paddled out of Round Lake to the take out, where we loaded our gear and boats back onto the car and drove the bumpy dirt road in to Lake Lila.

After a lot of shuffling of gear, we finally put on our yokes and walked in the half-mile trail to the beach on the edge of Lake Lila. We took another round trip to bring our gear in.

I felt like poop and Glen agreed I probably had a fever. He suggested we give it up and head home, but I didn't want to ruin our trip, so we paddled over to Snell Island, just a short distance from shore, where we had the island all to ourselves.

In the evening, we sat out of the wind on the east side of the island. I felt a bit better, though still experiencing a headache. I thought "may tonight bring good sleep and may tomorrow not be too rainy".

Day 3: We paddled to shore and walked out to the car for another book and another day's worth of food and supplies. More  people were aloading at the parking lot and portaging belongings to the put it. Two guys were piling - or heaping - stuff into their canoe. I asked "is there going to be room for any humans in there?" to which the older guy responded kiddingly, "Hey, we're going out for three months!"

We paddled to Site 24 and enjoyed a snack and the beautiful, sandy beach, and then headed over to Shingle Shanty Brook. We passed Spruce Islan and Sites 17 through 20. We ate lunch on a little point, sitting on rocks warmed by the occasional sunshine. Glen found the mouth of Shingle Shanty and we began paddling through the narrow, winding channel, only to encounter a substantial beaver dam about 300 feet in on our paddle. Neither of us felt much like hauling ourselves over the dam, knowing there would be many more dams like it further along. We had, after all, paddled Shingle Shanty in 2017, so we knew what lie in store for us.

We opted to paddle over to the northwest side of Spruce Island. On the way, I experienced a first - and what I hope to be a last - when Twyla squatted and peed in my boat. Note to self: Sometimes when Twyla is shivering, it means she has to pee. 

Supper was very good, with pasta topped with homemade tomato and bell peper sauce with oil cured olives. After eating, we headed out for a saunter around the island. We check out the large white pine that had gotten shattered by lightning, its top now a head-down spear in the ground. Surrounding plants were burned brown. We heard the sound of what Glen believed were pine sawyers, beetles making little sawing sounds from under the bark. 

Nighttime came quickly and sleep was restful, interrupted only by rain and wind shaking the tent, and by a few crazy paddlers making their way through the lake in the pitch black. Other than some residual congestion, I was feeling pretty good, all in all.

Day 4: It rained all night. A lull in the precipitation in the morning allowed us time to use the loo and get the dogs down to the water's edge for a drink. I boiled some water for tea and climbed back into the tent.


We switched our mattresses into chairs and settled in for breakfast, while the wind pummeled our tent. The dogs snuggled into the gear at the foot of the tent. Cribbage playing commenced.

We pretty much spent the day in the tent. Endless reading. Wendell Berry and other authors. A strong, wild wind persisted all day, making paddling, if not impossible, at least not advisable.

Day 5: We woke to temperatures in the 40s and the winds a-whipping. We hopped out of the tent long enough to pee, let the dogs run around a little, and heat water for tea.

We continued our cribbage touranment in the tent, waiting for the sun to come out and/or the winds to die down.

A tune had been making its way around my head for a few days, so I set about writing it down. It had been a while since I transcribed music to a page, so that kept me occupied for a little bit.

The rest of the day was more of the same weatherwise, though there were little breaks in the foul weather that allowed us to walk around the island and look at plants and fungi.

Day 6: We paddled out early in the morning from Snell Island at Lake Lila. Once back at the car, we packed up the next week's food and drove out from Lila, back out the bumpy dirt road. With the forecast calling for two solid days of rain ahead, we detoured to the Village of Tupper Lake to buy some reading materials. We stopped by Well Dressed, a deli, for a heavenly trip to the bathroom and a real toilet and hot, running water. While there, we got a couple of very good toasted bagels - raisin for Glen and sesame for Mary. We then drove south to Horseshoe Lake and put in at Lows Lower Dam on the Bog River.

It was a splendid day of blue skies, high clouds and a warming sun - a real treat after a low of 32 overnight. We paddled along the Bog River west toward Lows Lake, getting out for two quick mini-portages past a floating bog. We decided to stop at Site 10 for the night. Once we took out, I began to set up camp while Glen treated some water for drinking and cooking. Twyla sought out the few remaining patches of sun to speed her drying out, since she had fallen in three times this day.

Day 7: Sun was abundant and warmed the sand of the little beach at Site 10 on the Bog River. We breakfasted on the beach and packed up our gear. We agreed to explore the area around Sites 14-18 and to decide by around noon whether we would stay the rest of the week or call it a trip. I think we were both conflicted, but it's so damned beautiful out there and we didn't want to miss out on the rest of the trip, even if staying meant we had to wait out a couple rainy days in the tent. It was decided - we would stay!

We paddled along into Lows Lake from the Bog River, passing a few islands west of Site 18, looking for a sheltered site away from the big winds blowing off the lake. We chose Site 19, a pretty upland site on the north shore of an inlet. I wondered if there is a specific name for the plant community comprised primarly of red maples (Acer rubrum) with an understory of ferns. There was lots openness to all-day dappled sunshine on the site. We took out and set up the tent.

Looking to take advantage of the good weather, we set about exploring the inlet. We paddled past the magical-looking floating bogs in the inlet. With the full warming afternoon sun on our shoulders, we paddled silently around the bogs, observing the cotton grass, pitcher plants, cranberries and many other plants that make up the complex ecosystem of the bog. 

After supper, we wandered in the woods for a bit and then settled into the tent for the evening. 

The rains came during the night. Thanks to Glen for treating extra drinking water in advance of the lastest round of storms.

Day 8: Rain! It rained all night and all day. Tiny breaks in the rain allowed for quick trips to the loo and quick walks with the dogs to the water for drinks and leg stretching. 

I finished Hazel Dawkins' murder mystery and handed it off to Glen, who read much of it during the day. Reading was interrupted occasionally by cribbage playing and eating.

Supper was good. Homemade tomato sauce on pasta - yes, it's one of our staples for camping.

Day 9: Rain on and off overnight, light rain all morning and then heavy downpours! Water was seeping under the groundcloth and between the groundcloth and the bottom of the tent floor. Oh goodie!

We took the dogs down to the water's edge and then on and around small paths in the woods. Glen won the nine-game cribbage tournament this morning that we started the day before. We read more books and I doodled in my sketchbook. Our drinking water supply was dwindling and we would run out by afternoon, so we were hoping for some break in the rain so that we could paddle out and filter more water for supper and breakfast.

When we checked two days earlier, the forecast called for lots of rain yesterday and today. Well, we got that. Then it was supposed to be sunny and nice the next few days. But, with no cell phone signal, we could only hope that the forecast was still calling for this stalled out weather system to move on out.

Glen ended up heading out in the spitting and sputtering afternoon rain to filter more water, while Mary put together a fabulous supper - brown rice, corn, tomatoes, onions and tempeh in a cumin, chipotle sauce.

The sun finally made an appearance in early evening, lighting up the tree tops and filling the sky with oranges, reds and golds.

Day 10: I'm not sure why, but yesterday was the last day I wrote in my journal on this trip. It appears we stayed two more days - today and then paddled out the following day.

Based on the photos from these days, the weather improved significantly. The sun rose over the misty inlet, providing a great view for our breakfasttime. The waters had turned calm after the winds finally died down.


After we tended to chores and took the dogs for their at least twice-a-day walk, we put in and made our way out of the inlet we were camping on, and paddled across Lows Lake to the Beaver River. We paddled the Beaver River toward Nehesane Lake and back, and explored for most of the day. The dogs - and humans - were glad to be out of the little, soggy tent and moving around in the sun and dry weather.


Based on the photos, I apparently was drinking wine - maybe even straight from the bottle - when we got back to our campsite later in the day. I would try to deny this, but there is photographic documentation.

We ended the evening, settling down into the tent, and slept through the mercifully rain-less night.

Day 11: Well, all good things do come to an end, and so it was with our trip. We broke camp, hoping that one day we would camp at Site 17 again. We left by mid morning, knowing we had a couple-hour paddle at least to get back to the car and then several hours on the road to get back home.

Our paddling took us back through Lows Lake, where we saw a couple guys set up at a campsite a ways away. They were perhaps the only other insane - er, I mean intrepid - campers out on Lows Lake with us during the two-day downpour. They appeared to be fishing and hanging out.

The foliage colors were really starting to pop, especially the striking reds of the red maples and the golden yellows of the birches. 

The water was beginning to get a bit choppy again as it appeared another stormy weather front might be moving in.

As we paddled the last stretch of the Bog River west of Lows Lower Dam, the reflections of the jagged rocks in the river were breathtaking. I always say Mother Nature is the all-time greatest artist.

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