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Old 07-22-2010, 09:12 PM   #1
Swamp Booger
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Little Tupper/Lows Lake 6/27-7/1/2010

Sorry for the delay in getting this TR completed. Hopefully, it will be of benefit to some and at least entertaining to others.

"Months of study and planning resulted in a great 5 day canoe trek with my oldest son, who lives near Pittsburgh, PA. The idea of tackling this particular trek came as a result of several other trip reports (and pics) posted on this forum. “Thank you!” to those who previously shared their own experiences.

Day 1: As my wife was serving as the health officer at the Sabattis Scout Reservation on Lows Lake, it worked well for us to drive my vehicle to the Little Tupper Lake put-in early Sunday morning. We had driven up to the camp on Saturday from my home near Pulaski, NY. Our plan was end the trek at the camp and to retrieve my vehicle when my son headed back to Pittsburgh with his.

On the way to Little Tupper from the camp, we were treated to the sight of a bear cub crossing the road in front of us! I suspect that had we been just a few seconds earlier, we might have seen its mother. I have seen them before on that same road, but was glad that my son actually got to see one.

We launched on Little Tupper at 7:45am after signing the registry. There were only a handful of vehicles in the parking lot. With the air nearly calm, we were amazed that we paddled the length of the lake in a mere 1 ½ hours! Apparently, we had gotten into a rhythm that propelled us faster than expected. We saw no sign of life until we spotted a canoe beached on the same island that my wife and I had camped on a number of years prior.

After a short break, we headed up Rock Pond outlet. My plan was for us to spend our first night on Rock Pond. While we probably could have pushed on to Hardigan Pond, we had no reason to hurry, as I was allowing us 4 nights to complete the trek. On the way up the outlet, we met 2 guys at a beaver dam who said they had been fishing Rock Pond and were headed back to their campsite on Little Tupper. They were the last people we would see until we arrived at Lake Lila 2 days later.

We set up camp on the Rock Pond island and ate our lunch of PBJs, etc.. My son slept in a one man Alpine Design tent I had bought for him to use, and I slept in my Claytor Jungle hammock. I have a Northern Designs 3 man tent that has served me well for years, but at 13 lbs it is just too heavy for this sort of trek.

After a dinner of Heater Meals, we explored Rock Pond and did some fishing. We caught several large-mouth bass, but since we had already had our dinner, we let them go. We decided that of the campsites on Rock Pond, site #25 may be the best. When we neared one of the small rocky islands, we were dive-bombed by several seagulls. Our wondering as to why was answered when we spotted a chick on the island.

We slept well in spite of rain and thunder rolling across the sky. Morning greeted us with misty rain and wind. We quickly downed our oatmeal and packed up. I was dismayed to discover that I had apparently left my rain-jacket at the Scout camp, and so made a makeshift “jacket” out of a garbage bag. Thankfully, when I went to change into my hiking boots for the carry to Hardigan Pond, my rain-jacket showed up in the bag I had put my boots in. (Sometimes it's tough getting old!)

Day 2: We started the carry to Hardigan Pond at about 8 am. The carry was easy to find and follow, as (we learned later) most of the carries had been newly signed and trail marked just this past Spring. However, we were a bit shocked to discover that what the guide book described as an initial muddy section was actually flooded. In addition, the beavers had really been at work on their dams at the crossing of Louie Lake Outlet, such that we actually paddled the canoe on the upstream side parallel to the dams, rather than tackle the difficult footing of the trail that went along the bottom side of them. We ended up dealing with several flooded “muddy” sections on some of the other carries as well.

We arrived at a wind swept Hardigan Pond at lunch-time. Except for a couple of short sections, such as the beaver dams on Louie Pond Outlet, we were able to “wheel” the canoe most of the carry, using my Paddleboy Yedo wheels. That proved to be the case for most of the carries as well. The one notable exception was the carry from Lake Lila to Harrington Brook.

After eating our lunch of PBJ’s and fruit-cups, we paddled the length of Hardigan Pond. We found that the carry to Salmon Lake Outlet was also signed, but initially flooded. Needless to say, we got wet and muddy almost to our waists, but were determined and prepared to do whatever it took to complete the trek. Once on the outlet, we went over a couple of beaver dams and then enjoyed the rest of the stream to Little Salmon Lake with no difficulty.

Arriving at Little Salmon Lake, we checked out both campsites and decided that the one across from the mouth of Salmon Lake Outlet was more to our liking. By the time we set up camp, had “Hawk Vittles” for dinner, and rinsed off in the pond, I was exhausted and settled into my hammock for the night. As I drifted off to sleep, I did so with a sense of accomplishment, knowing that what my son and I had seen that day is not likely to be seen by over 99% of those that visit the Adirondacks.

Day 3: We awoke to partly sunny skies. After eating a breakfast of Hawk Vittles, we packed up and paddled the short distance to the start of the carry to Lily Pad Pond. Except for short sections at the beginning and end of the carry, we were again able to wheel the canoe along the well marked carry trail. Once again, the end of the carry was under water, but we simply took it in stride and dealt with it. Quite actually, I was really impressed with the great attitude my son had the entire trek. It was clear that he was thoroughly enjoying ever minute of the adventure.

Crossing Lily Pad Pond only took a few minutes. Since we had read that the carry to Shingle Shanty Brook was up and over a hill, we decided to down some snacks before we started the carry. While the majority of the carry was uphill, it is gradual and not difficult. We both found the burned over area it passes through interesting.

Arriving at the put-in to Shingle Shanty Brook, we took a break and ate our lunch before launching. Once on the brook, the high water moved us right along and carried us over all but 2 of the 8 or so beaver dams. We may have passed over others that we didn’t even notice. The many twists and turns lined with alders reminded me of the Oswegatchie River.

Once we broke out onto Lake Lila, we bore right and found the first campsite along the beach (#17) unoccupied, so we claimed it as ours for the night. Having planned for 4 nights to complete the trek allowed us to select a campsite mid-afternoon and have some time to relax and enjoy our surroundings.

Day 4: The wind that had greeted us when we arrived at Lake Lila the previous afternoon was back at it, pushing white-capped rolling waves when we set off at about 8:00am. When we came around the north end of Spruce Island, I quickly decided that we would have to “tack” our way across the open water. Even though I’ve learned by experience that my OT Penobscot handles rough water well, especially when kneeing while carrying a load, I didn’t want to take the chance of having the canoe rolled mid-lake. The tactic worked for us, although we both admitted after that we were pretty nervous.

This was to be a day of challenges. First the rough waters of Lake Lila, then the very rough carry to Harrington Brook. I was really glad that I had chosen my high-top hiking boots for the carries on this trek as we negotiated the many rocks and mud-holes. While wading through the rocks at the end of the carry to where we had set the canoe in the brook, I slipped and submerged one of the ammo-boxes we carried our food in. Thankfully, it took on only a small amount of water and when packing it I had the foresight to put everything in zip-lock bags.

It didn’t take long to paddle up Harrington Brook to Rainer Brook and to the take out at the railroad tracks. We pulled the canoe over one beaver dam just before going under the bridge that carries the tracks over Rainer Brook.

This carry along the railroad tracks and then along an old ATV trail proved to be a long one. The guide book lists the section along the tracks as ½ mile, but my GPS clocked it as being ¾ mile. Where the carry turns off the tracks is very well marked.

We ate lunch at the put-in to Clear Pond. As the wind was still blowing pretty hard, we followed the upwind (western) shoreline to the carry to Bog Lake. This carry, which was our last of the trek, proved to be short and pretty easy compared to the others.

When we arrived at Bog Lake, it was only 2:30pm. My original plan was for us to camp on Lows Lake our 4th night, but since the weather looked rather ominous and we were tired from the challenges we had already faced that day, we decided after some debate to call it a day and camp at the site near the end of the carry. After setting up camp, we enjoyed some leisurely fishing from the shore and picture taking before hitting the sack.

Day 5: Once again, we awoke to a windy day. We had no trouble finding the channel that is actually the beginning of the Bog River and followed it to Moose Bay. Once into the bay, we did battle with the wind until we made the turn to head east along the southern shoreline of Lows Lake. Making our way along the shore, we took several breaks, as we were in no hurry and had told my wife not to expect us to arrive back at the scout camp until dinner time. I would have taken the time to do some fishing around the floating bogs, but the wind put a damper on that.

As it turned out, we arrived at the camp’s Lows Lake waterfront in time for lunch. It was a bitter-sweet ending to our trek, as we were glad to be back to “civilization”, yet a little sad that our adventure had come to an end. We had successfully met some challenges and enjoyed a wilderness experience as a father and son team, one that we will never forget!

For pictures, go to my "Facebook" page titled PT’s Wilderness Retreats: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref...a=5&ajaxpipe=1
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Old 07-24-2010, 02:05 PM   #2
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nice report swamp booger. the hardigan trail was very muddy, yet we made good use of the wheels as well. we simply had way too much gear and had to do that portage in 2 trips the first time and then 3 trips the 2nd time. had we not taken an unplanned trip to louie pond over numerous dams and obstacles only to realize we took a wrong turn and head back to the portage trail, and if we knew about the portage from hardigan to salmon lake outlet, we might have been able to finish the traverse. louie pond took us a good 3-4 hours there and back out of our way and we just lost daylight very quickly.

congrats on making it that far. i would like to someday do the trek again but with the knowledge that i learned from last time. without all of our inexperience and rookie mistakes we would have had more time and energy to finish the trip. too many 'accidents' slowed us down like actually sinking a kayak in the 1st hour of the paddle due to overloading it, packing too heavily, taking a wrong turn, and a few more mistakes happened, but overall it was a great time and i've had a hard time finding more fun this summer than that trip
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Old 07-24-2010, 04:24 PM   #3
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Very interesting reading Swamp Booger. Thanks for sharing. Those are family memories to last a life time. I can really respect the amount of planning and preparation that went into the trip and I can really get a sense of the experience and "level headedness" with which you guys carried it out. When you mention that you had to "tack" your way across the open waters of Lake Lila- what exactly do you mean? I am assuming it is a paddling technique designed for rough water conditions, although I am not familiar with the term. We probably have done it on occasion, but just didn't know what to call it.
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Old 07-24-2010, 05:47 PM   #4
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Stratguitar577,
I'm glad you had as good time in spite of the obstacles you faced! In the end, that's what's it all about!

Bethfit,
By using the term "tack" (not sure of my spelling) I have in mind the method that sailors use to make their way either across or even upwind, by angling the boat to quarter into or with the wind one way and then the other. We handled the rollers on Lila by first quartering downwind and then making a quick turn to quarter upwind. We did that several times until we got to the opposite shore.
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Old 07-28-2010, 03:32 AM   #5
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Thanks Swamp Booger! I'll be taking a paddle around that area for a week or so. Think I'll be making base camps on Lila and Little Tupper and taking day trips from there. No way I'm trekking through that muck with a 65 lb rec kayak plus gear...lol. But day trips on water with a few carries and up a couple of the area mtns will be good. By the way...how bad were the bugs?

Nice pics on FaceBook.

Again, thanks for the descriptive TR...Kevin

Last edited by natrdude; 07-28-2010 at 03:35 AM.. Reason: Forgot to say something.
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Old 07-28-2010, 06:05 AM   #6
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Kevin,
You're welcome! The bugs (deer flies and mosquitoes) were a bit annoying when we were off the water between Rock Pond and Lake Lila. But we were prepared with head-nets, which really helped. We found it a bit strange, but were thankful, that from Lila to Lows, they virtually disappeared.
So you're going up for "a week or so"? Sounds great! Hope you have a great time! BTW, if you've never tried Hawk Vittles, I'd definitely recommend them!
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Old 07-28-2010, 11:05 AM   #7
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Thank you! I will bring the head net. And...Yes...I love Hawk Vittles myself and have the catalog in front of me right now...lol. I think I'll make Lake Lila my first base camp.
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Old 07-28-2010, 08:50 PM   #8
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From your pictures it looks as though you use the same Coleman Peak 1 stove and cook kit that I do.
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Old 07-28-2010, 11:14 PM   #9
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WillisB,
Good eye! Your correct on the cook kit, but the stove is actually a Brunton Cub. By leaving the smaller inner pots home, the stove fits nicely inside the pots. I also took my Bugaboo set. BTW, I found that by simmering and occasionally stirring the Hawk Vittles in the pan for a few minutes after adding the boiling water, they hydrated better.
When are you planning to do your solo traverse? I hope it goes well for you!
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Old 07-29-2010, 08:29 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by natrdude View Post
...how bad were the bugs?
I spend most of my time in swampy areas, but over the 4th of July Weekend and last weekend I didn't even bother using bug dope (or a head net - which I only use when absolutely necessary).
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Old 07-29-2010, 10:15 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swamp Booger View Post
WillisB,
Good eye! Your correct on the cook kit, but the stove is actually a Brunton Cub. By leaving the smaller inner pots home, the stove fits nicely inside the pots. I also took my Bugaboo set. BTW, I found that by simmering and occasionally stirring the Hawk Vittles in the pan for a few minutes after adding the boiling water, they hydrated better.
When are you planning to do your solo traverse? I hope it goes well for you!
Next week
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