Saturday, September 22, 2012

Long Lake to Saranac Village - September 17-21, 2012

The crew - Bill, Chuck, Erik, Mike, Jeff and Tommy
For years, I have been coming up with reasons why I couldn’t go with Mike, Chuck, Bill and the rest of the crew on one of their canoe camping adventures.  I did do the Androscoggin and North Branch of the Ammonoosuc with them a couple of years ago, but that didn’t involve camping.  This time, I decided it was time to take the plunge. We would be paddling a section of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail from Long Lake to Saranac Village – 5 days, 4 nights. 

The crew included Mike, Chuck, Bill, Jeff and Tommy.  We put in at the Long Lake Boat Ramp on Monday morning.  It was sunny and warm, and we had the wind to our backs.  The scenery was amazing.  We paddled from Long Lake into the Raquette River and camped at the Deep Hole lean-to near the Cold River. 

View of the mountains from Long Lake
We awoke Tuesday morning to a cloudy day.  Rain was expected, so we broke camp quickly and continued down the Raquette River to our first portage – Raquette Falls.  Rain started shortly after we took to the river, and it was poring heavily by the time we reach the portage.  This portage is about a mile long with rocks, roots and hills which make using a cart difficult.  Most of the crew started down the trail with packs.  I followed Jeff’s lead, attached the portage yoke to my boat, and headed down the trail with my boat shoulders and my large pack on my back.  It was a tough haul, but I made it through.  On my second trip, I was able to carry the rest of my gear.  I took a hike to the Raquette Falls while the rest of the crew finished the portage.

Our campsite for the evening was only a mile downstream at the Palmer Brook Lean-to.  We set up camp in the rain, and settled in for a long, soggy evening.  Fortunately, I was able to keep all my gear dry. 

Jeff and Chuck in Stony Creek Pond
The sun came up Wednesday on a beautiful day.  We paddled down the Raquette River and up Stony Creek to the Stony Creek Pond for our second major portage – the Indian Carry.  This is a 1-mile portage that would take us into Upper Saranac Lake.  Fortunately, we were able to use carts for this portage.  We put in on Upper Saranac Lake and paddled about a mile to our next campsite on a point jutting out into the lake.

Mist covered the lake as we awoke on Thursday.  It was just beginning to burn off as we paddled the mile to our next portage – the Bartlett Carry, which would take us to the Saranac River and Middle Saranac Lake.  Once again, the day was sunny and warm, and the scenery was spectacular with mountains surrounding the lake. 

Morning mist on Upper Saranac Lake
Below Middle Saranac Lake, we continued down the Saranac River, through the upper lock and into Lower Saranac Lake.  After passing through Lower Saranac Lake, we stopped to camp at a lean-to site on the Saranac River above Oseetah Lake.

We awoke on Friday to a cloudy day, and began the last phase of our journey to Saranac Village.  We paddled down the Saranac River and passed through the lower lock before entering Oseetah Lake.  From there it was a short scenic paddle to Saranac Village and the end of our trip. 

Long Lake to Saranac Village from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

Northern Forest Canoe Trail
My Pictures
My Video

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Stuck in a hole… September 8, 2012

I guess it had to happen eventually, and when it did, I didn’t even realize what was going on.

We did our annual RICKA Flatwater/Whitewater trip yesterday on the Fife Brook Section of the Deerfield. Release was at a nice level - 1,100 cfs.  Most of the flatwater paddlers portaged Zoar Gap, but a few of the whitewater paddlers decided to run it. I got video of everyone else coming through, and then went up for my run. My plan was to hug the right side, but as usual, I got pushed to far left and swamped in the big hole at the bottom.

I ended up in the water and remember thinking that I was staying underwater for a long time. Usually I pop right up. After a couple of seconds I hit bottom which was really weird – that never happens. I pushed off the bottom (whacking my knee in the process) and tried to swim back up. It took a couple of seconds, but eventually I broke the surface. My boat was right there, so I grabbed on and started kicking hard toward the nearest eddy.

I thought it was odd at the time, but it wasn’t until after we finished the trip that Andy (who happened to be sitting nearby) explained what probably happened – I got sucked under in the hole. Thinking about it, it’s the only explanation that makes sense for why I remained underwater so long and went down so deep. Fortunately, it wasn't a keeper, so I just continued downstream. I would have been in big trouble if I got sucked down again without big breath of air. Yikes – that’s a scary thought.

Here's my video of the rest of the RICKA crew:

Running Zoar Gap from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

My Pictures

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Manville Dam – September 4, 2012

I didn’t have a lot of time to paddle today, so I decided to check out the progress of the new park down at the Manville Dam.  I put in at Rivers Edge and paddled down to Manville.  I saw several herons along the way, but they are elusive and won’t hang around for a picture. 

The park looks like it is done, but it is still fenced off.  The new dock and boat ramp are in place.  I like the way they exposed the old mill race which runs to the old Manville Mill site across the street.

Hopfully it will be open soon.

New dock and boat ramp