May section 1 trip
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May 1, 2013 at 10:44 pm #253
It seems early enough that you shouldn’t have to worry about a campground reservation and certainly not a two-night minimum before Memorial Day weekend. But I don’t live there, so I’m not 100% positive. Perhaps someone else can weigh in on that. Through-Paddlers certainly don’t think about that!
If you are not like Chris 😉 and don’t care about when you portage, there are also some really nice lean-tos on 7th lake before reaching 8th Lake Campground, one is on the island opposite the campground beach/boat landing. Yeah, you’ll have to load and unload right away, then portage, but if you are worried about camping reservations, know that you have this option (and the lean-tos on 8th lake as Chris pointed out.) Unless you REALLY want to stay in a campground, I’d definitely urge you to consider camping in the lean-to.
The Forked Lake Campground Road portage to the Raquette River seemed long to me (both times I’ve wheeled it), maybe because it was early in the trip. It actually isn’t very bad comparably. It’s a flat road. I’d agree with Chris’s suggestion on the stopping point for that reason–it might be better to get that much closer to Long Lake. My feeling, though, is that that Lean-To is VERY used and right along the portage trail. Again, if portaging first thing in the morning isn’t a big deal, camping on Forked Lake is nice. It’s a very pretty lake and I personally love any “campground” in which one can only boat up to the site. If you do decide to stay on Forked Lake, know that the free primitive NFCT campsite shown on the map adjacent to the stream is actually closer to the dark green area denoting the State Park Boundary. When you start seeing numbered campsites you are now in the State Park campground and have to pay for the site–which you can do by going to the Ranger Station to register, if it is even staffed this early in the year. Unless it is opening fishing weekend there or some other reason why the campground would be full, I can’t imagine you having any problem just showing up and getting a site the same day.
If you think about getting farther, like heading to the Deerland lean-to at the end of the last portage when the river flows into Long Lake, don’t. Unless that lean-to has been fixed, it was rather beat-up–and I thought this area was buggy and wet passing through it. Forked Lake is MUCH prettier! If you don’t camp at the state park campground on this trip, think about it for your next trip when you pass through the Saranacs. Also beautiful lakes and sites.
As far as the shuttle goes, that unfortunately sounds about right. I used St. Regis and I think it was around that price. There wasn’t much of a difference for gear. It’s still a vehicle and one person’s time driving both ways (even though you are only headed in one direction.)
Have a great trip!May 1, 2013 at 11:17 pm #247
“I don’t like doing carries first thing in the morning.”
aren’t both of these portages wheelable? I was under the impression that on the wheeled portages there is little unpacking to do. We travel ultralight (boundary waters trippers for many years) and use hammocks instead of tents, and on this trip will be using freeze dried food items. We will have only one pack per person, plus a food pack. As we have water filtration with us, we don’t carry a lot of water. I don’t see unpacking for the wheeled portages as there will be little weight in the boats, and are the portages at Raquette we will do as we do in Boundary Waters. One guy carries the canoe on his shoulders using the yoke, the other guy takes the packs.
I am curious about the lean toos. I have never stayed in one. Can a hammock be used in one? How do you handle cooking and bathroom use? I called the campgrounds and they will have just opened. They said no reservations needed as there will be very few people there at that time. The campgrounds give us fresh water we don’t have to filter, campfire, cooking grates and bathhouses and showers. Also, trees for the hammocks. Why do you favor the lean toos, or am I missing something here?
we have decided to take two cars and handle the shuttle ourselves. I’m not paying $165 to have someone drive one guy back 45 miles with no gear involved. Where do you suggest we leave the car at Long Lake?
Thanks for your help.May 2, 2013 at 1:46 am #264KalmiaMember
We left a vehicle at the DEC boat launch in Long Lake. That worked for us. [ATTACH=CONFIG]30[/ATTACH] Here’s a typical lean-to: I think they are a cozy option in wet weather. If there is a picnic table I’ll use it for cooking. Lean-tos do usually have an outhouse nearby. – kMay 2, 2013 at 2:03 am #254
I can’t answer the parking question for you and I don’t think you can hang a hammock, at least not easily inside a lean-to. The lean-tos are in forested areas so you should be able to use hammocks regardless.
As far as lean-tos go–I find them novel and quite nice if it’s raining. Sometimes there are camp journals left in them you can read and add to. You get to sleep in the open with a roof. Of course if it is buggy, then they aren’t nearly as nice to sleep in. They have wooden platforms and you just lay down your thermorest (if you old like me) and sleeping bag. Fireplaces are in the front open end–and are pretty similar to what you’d find in the BWCA. Sometimes there are grills for them too. Like the BWCA there are “Minnesota Johns” or outhouses–you shouldn’t have to dig any cat holes. Upper Saranac Lake Campground even furnished toilet paper in the outhouses. Such luxury! But alas, no showers. And yes, no potable water. I did take water out of these lakes and boiled it when making dinner, but I pumped all my drinking water. Some, but not all, have picnic tables. I’ve set up my campstove on the edge of the lean-to to cook when its been raining and I do hang all my food well away from the sites.
For me the unpacking part just means loading up your canoe, paddling a short distance, then unloading to do a portage so soon–even if its wheelable. You still have to take everything out to strap on the wheels. Speaking of which, stern carts are a big pain and not dependable for carrying any weight. Here’s a link to a paddler from last year who didn’t get very far using one of those models. http://nfct2012.blogspot.com/2012/06/catastrophic-failure.html Low kayak carts or the bigger bicycle wheel type carts that you center under your canoe and cinch straps around are the best solution. Still, you’ll need to figure out the balance point. Regardless, I carried a bag even when leaving the second bag and the paddles, etc. in it while wheeling. There’s a trick to it and I still think it can be easier to shoulder the boat–unless distances are super long. I’m a BWCAW paddler too–and never even used wheels until the NFCT. There are several carries following roads where wheels could easily be used if you have them, but aren’t necessary unless the distance is an issue. Some as you are probably aware, are pretty long–1 mile or more. The portage around Buttermilk Falls and the last portage into Long Lake will remind you of BWCA portages–they are rooty and rocky and wheels are useless.May 2, 2013 at 2:04 am #255
@Kalmia 230 wrote:
We left a vehicle at the DEC boat launch in Long Lake. That worked for us. [ATTACH=CONFIG]30[/ATTACH] Here’s a typical lean-to: I think they are a cozy option in wet weather. If there is a picnic table I’ll use it for cooking. Lean-tos do usually have an outhouse nearby. – k
You beat me to the response! I agree, very cozy 🙂May 4, 2013 at 7:22 pm #248
We are evaluating kevlar vs royalex canoes. We have kevlar ourselves, but have decided to rent when we get there and not trailer ours up. If I understand correctly, the only two portages that cannot be wheeled are the last two on Raquette River? What is the carry like there? Would you opt for the much lighter kevlar boats? Our experience in Boundary waters with kevlar Minnesota II’s is that they are faster then the royalex canoes as well. What have you guys paddled? What are those last two portages like to carry?May 5, 2013 at 5:32 pm #242Chris GillMember
Both are rocky, rooted trails. The Buttermilk falls Carry is very short and the next one is about .4 miles if I remember correctly? I would opt for the kevlar boats.May 7, 2013 at 12:53 am #256
I agree. No reason not to use kevlar on this section.
@Chris Gill 235 wrote:
Both are rocky, rooted trails. The Buttermilk falls Carry is very short and the next one is about .4 miles if I remember correctly? I would opt for the kevlar boats.May 7, 2013 at 12:55 am #257
I paddled a kevlar Wenonah Minnesota II. @markaroberts 234 wrote:
We are evaluating kevlar vs royalex canoes. We have kevlar ourselves, but have decided to rent when we get there and not trailer ours up. If I understand correctly, the only two portages that cannot be wheeled are the last two on Raquette River? What is the carry like there? Would you opt for the much lighter kevlar boats? Our experience in Boundary waters with kevlar Minnesota II’s is that they are faster then the royalex canoes as well. What have you guys paddled? What are those last two portages like to carry?May 12, 2013 at 12:44 am #249
Have any of you stayed at the Old Forge Camping resort? Any comments on it? How far a walk is it to the put in? Any restaurants in walking distance from the camping resort?May 13, 2013 at 10:34 pm #258
No. I stayed at a lakeside motel near the Visitor Center. A visit to the Hardware Store in Old Forge is rather fun. Hardware is only one thing that is sold there.
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