And Into the Forest We Go

Some months have passed — and seasons changed — since our five-day paddling trip from the beginning of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail in Old Forge, NY, to Long Lake, NY. Though there was certainly magic to our travels, in the days that followed when we returned home, Jenn and I were still shaking our heads with thanks at the good fortune we had and the intense weather that we mostly avoided.

Our first day began in Old Forge, a hot and muggy day with the threat of thunderstorms looming. Jenn, the other guide, had messaged me the day before: “Have you ever seen a worse forecast for five days of paddling?”

We spent the first four lakes of the Fulton Chain “camp shoppin.”  Boy, the champagne tastes of these local Adirondackers! “Meh, that one is a bit small,” is a direct quote from Ruby, one of our senior paddlers and a veteran of many previous trips. If recollection serves, the five-bay boathouse filled with Chris-Crafts was more to her liking.

After passing through Fifth Lake — the hardest of all of the Fulton Chain I kept insisting, due to the piranhas — we met our first of several “Trail Angels.” (Sorry if this sets up like a Dickens’ novel.)

I came up to New York State Route 28 last, only to see everyone loading boats and gear into the back of a truck I didn’t recognize. It turns out that at one of the many camps we had passed a few kids had shouted out “we like your camp.” The owner — whose name turned out to be, no joke, David Carry — then hopped into his truck and made sure we didn’t have to carry any of our stuff further than up to the road!

Thus, after a bit of a shower on Fourth and Sixth lakes, we were able to make our first day destination on Seventh Lake: the lovely Arnold’s Point. With a cozy lean-to, Dutch oven calzones over the fire, and nighttime yoga with Jenn, the new route was off to a great start.

Day two, we met our longest carry and our second angel. Amy from National Geographic met us on the Brown’s Tract Carry to photograph us from the air … so we may find our way into national print on this trip! Let the record show that she also contributed to this long soul busting carry, bringing LOD-GE (pronounced Looo-D-Gee) the Dutch oven while we walked and talked.

The second day ended, and day three began on Raquette lake, the very first spot facing the W.W. Durant. The Pohls (proprietors of that fantastic business) will be glad to know that I infiltrated and thwarted a plot to pirate the vessel and have at the galley, though there was a lively discussion and some surprisingly well developed plans to that end.

On day three, we again were well treated by the big lakes (which can be formidable to paddlers), coasting a moderate westerly wind. We even lashed our boats together and raised a tarp in order to sail the north passage of Raquette lake, which was both fun and timely. Less than 30 minutes after dropping our sail, a thunder squall burst through that was definitely better experienced on land than in the water.

After paddling most of Forked Lake, and with Deuce and some of the others setting up more sailing, we landed at the one lean-to on Forked, where we were treated to a homemade vegetarian meal AND dessert, courtesy of Galen and Ollie Halasz. Kudos to them for figuring out the partially obscured instructions for the upside down cake in the Dutch oven, which turned out fabulous. The sunset that night was also fabulous.

To learn more about the Northern Forest Explorers, click here.

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