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Old 05-08-2012, 04:09 PM   #1
mike
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Middle Settlement Lake 5-6 to 5-7-2012

Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness

Middle Settlement Lake 5-6 to 5-7-2012

I had planned to hike into Middle Branch and spend the night, but for some reason I chose Middle Settlement when I got to the W. Okara Road trailhead.

The general plan was to hike in early afternoon, get to the lean-to and go about setting up camp quickfast(ie. find wood, blow up the big agnes pad, whip out the down quilt, etc)...and then spend the rest of the time fishing.

The hike into the lake was fairly uneventful, and pretty featureless. I did see one gentleman lying at a trail cross roads trying to decide on what his next plan was...but I didn't meander to talk to him for very long.

As I got closer to the lake I did notice that the black fly swarms were getting heavier. When I got to the mouth of the lake(east side) the scenery certainly changed(large glacial erratics and of course the lake itself). The black flies were a bit much though.

I started to southern end of the lake with the fun idea of bushwacking around to the west side trail and back towards the lean to....but the bugs annoyed me too much and I was way way too hungry for lunch to fart around. It was quicker to go the proper way, unpack everything then eat. Once again my stomach dictates my life.

I started to back track to continue on the north side of the lake when I saw a couple going towards that trail. After pleasantries/inquiries, I found they were hiking in for a day trip... They continued on ahead, while I slowed my pace as to not over take them too fast and seem to annoying.

I sort of felt bad for intruding on their time when I did reach the lean to, but we spoke for a bit, and they moved on to a sunnier spot back the way they came, and likely an area with less bugs.

The lean-to was in fairly clean shape. The log book was brand new, just a couple entries. The ADK group that takes care of the lean-to mentioned that they would be moving the privy soon...which is a good thing, because its a mess. The toilet seat is missing(no biggie, just sit on the wood) and the poop is nearly to the top. Literally full of poo. I can't imagine this lasting another month, its the most full I've ever seen an outhouse. The smell was BAD!

Another thing that I've seen mentioned here and other places about the Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness is that there was no wood. Very true. I had to hike pretty far behind the outhouse to find dead wood, gather it all up the best I could and bring it back. Quite a process, but part of the adventure. Plenty of signs that people have cut living trees though...and although there are several signs/graffiti in the lean-to asking people not to do this, its been done recently...

Camp got setup, but fishing did not happen as planned. The black flies were really homing in on me. I had to keep moving all day and into the early evening when the finally disappeared. I got maybe 15 casts in before I gave up. I failed to bring any bug spray(not that it truly helps with black flies anyways) and forgot my head net. Yes I said "head net". I hate using the thing, but this trip needed it.

Its interesting since only the weekend before I was at Woodhull Lake(not all that far), and there were no bugs. Of course its been a lot warmer since then. All those big hopes about the freeze that weekend helping kill off a round of bugs...yah right, not a chance.

The bugs all but disappeared by 8:30pm, and since I didn't have a ton of wood I putzed around and waited until nearly 10pm or so before I lit the fire. Lit the fire...and supermoon started to peak through the trees across the lake. It didn't get over the trees until 10:15 or so.

Spent the night tending to the fire, and went to bed a little after 12am.

I awoke at 7am or so, did some casting(got skunked!), and rolled out on to the trail by 9am or so. I wanted to get up and out from the lake vicinity before the bugs woke up. I came out of the woods with 30 or so black fly bites. Most on my arms, hands and head.

Pics can be found here, a facebook account is not needed to view the pictures as they are public:

http://tinyurl.com/cgw8s24

I had MANY other pics, but they were all ruined by flies that cut in front of the lens. It was tough to take pictures with swarms like that.

Gist of the story: GUESS WHAT?!? THE BUGS ARE OUT!!
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Old 05-08-2012, 05:14 PM   #2
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Nice TR
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Old 05-17-2012, 05:12 PM   #3
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Wood is a scarce commodity at both lean-tos in the Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness Area (Middle Settlement and Middle Branch). Both are high use areas, and are highly impacted.
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Old 05-18-2012, 03:12 PM   #4
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Yah honestly I likely won't go back there for a long time. Although I had the lean-to to myself, it was indeed sort of a pain walking WAY past the privy to find wood.

I'll leave that area to others...need to find something a bit more remote I think... :P
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Old 05-18-2012, 10:03 PM   #5
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If firewood was so scarce and impact from overuse so great then why did you both have campfires and contribute to the problem?You're doing the very same thing that lead to the conditions you're complaining about.

Camping without a fire is ok,if you need one for cooking it doesn't need to be very big,a few sticks will get the job done for one person.
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Old 05-19-2012, 05:00 AM   #6
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Yah honestly I likely won't go back there for a long time. Although I had the lean-to to myself, it was indeed sort of a pain walking WAY past the privy to find wood. :P

Oh, how sad. You had a campfire burn for 2 hours just to watch it? Why do you think there's no wood there? It's because everyone else has to do the same thing. Go fireless!
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Old 05-19-2012, 05:27 AM   #7
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I would have traveled for the wood as well so I could build a campfire just to watch it.Why? Because I like to have a campfire and I like to watch it.It eases my mind and helps with relaxation.It's a personal preference type thing that is hurting nobody.Mike implied that he likes a campfire as well so he went and got the wood.He said he's not returning for awhile so in reality the search for campfire wood and the distance to it will lessen the impact of the area from him in the long run,something you two should be applauding.Anyhow,nice trip report Mike!
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Old 05-19-2012, 06:58 AM   #8
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He said he's not returning for awhile so in reality the search for campfire wood and the distance to it will lessen the impact of the area from him in the long run,something you two should be applauding.Anyhow,nice trip report Mike!
That's like saying you're not coming back because of the trash at the site,then leaving yours as well.

Until we are willing to take an honest look at our own impacts and how they affect things,conditions at these places will only continue to decline.It just keeps spreading farther out around the leantos,and for what? Mostly for the sake of looking at some flames.

Last edited by backwoodsman; 05-19-2012 at 07:12 AM..
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Old 05-19-2012, 09:10 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by backwoodsman View Post
If firewood was so scarce and impact from overuse so great then why did you both have campfires and contribute to the problem?You're doing the very same thing that lead to the conditions you're complaining about.

Camping without a fire is ok,if you need one for cooking it doesn't need to be very big,a few sticks will get the job done for one person.
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Oh, how sad. You had a campfire burn for 2 hours just to watch it? Why do you think there's no wood there? It's because everyone else has to do the same thing. Go fireless!
Few notes:

1. I don't think anyone(in their right mind at least lol) would have walked as far as I did for firewood. I took wood from an area that no one looks to have tread. I have a feeling the tree cutters don't go to my lengths. The area I took wood from had PLENTY, but it was indeed a far location to carry from. I would bet that most people on this forum have never walked a quarter of a mile for firewood, and then carried a large bundle back another quarter.

2. I did find a small bundle near the privy, but honestly that was maybe 1min worth of burn.

3. "everyone else" seems to be cutting down trees.

Keep the lectures to yourself, or at least ask questions before you fire from the hip.
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Old 05-19-2012, 10:05 AM   #10
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Keep the lectures to yourself, or at least ask questions before you fire from the hip.
If you re-read my first post you'll notice it starts with a question. Maybe you should read slower before firing from the hip.

I'm not lecturing you,just wondering what thought process gets to this "it's them that cause the problem not me " mentallity. Some people cut trees around the leantos because the ground is bare around them,like a state park. So the farther out it becomes bare,more than likely the farther out trees will be cut.Being good stewards of what we love and working to a better understanding of what it takes to help protect it is important,as well as teaching these things to the younger generation. In this situation the campfires are the root of the problem,it does leave a lasting impact.

It's simple, Leave No Trace.
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Old 05-19-2012, 10:12 AM   #11
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That's like saying you're not coming back because of the trash at the site,then leaving yours as well.

Until we are willing to take an honest look at our own impacts and how they affect things,conditions at these places will only continue to decline.It just keeps spreading farther out around the leantos,and for what? Mostly for the sake of looking at some flames.
Yep,looking at some flames.That's what I like to do at night when camping.As Mike said,cutting down live trees has far more impact than picking up some dead wood and burning it and taking extra steps on the forest floor to get it.I take my trash with me and others as well if possible so as for myself your first sentence is irrelevent.I can't help what others do.All I can do is be responsible myself and burning dead wood and hiking for it is infinitely more responsible than cutting live trees.Save your rants for someone who is really causing significant impact and leave us who just want a perfectly legal campfire alone.
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Old 05-19-2012, 11:24 AM   #12
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If you re-read my first post you'll notice it starts with a question. Maybe you should read slower before firing from the hip.

I'm not lecturing you,just wondering what thought process gets to this "it's them that cause the problem not me " mentallity. Some people cut trees around the leantos because the ground is bare around them,like a state park. So the farther out it becomes bare,more than likely the farther out trees will be cut.Being good stewards of what we love and working to a better understanding of what it takes to help protect it is important,as well as teaching these things to the younger generation. In this situation the campfires are the root of the problem,it does leave a lasting impact.

It's simple, Leave No Trace.
Actually your question was an assumption on what I did. Which I replied directly to.

And you're still preaching and lecturing. I don't know to whom though. I don't think many people in this forum are the audience you are looking for.
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Old 05-19-2012, 06:11 PM   #13
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You have to travel farther & farther to find wood. Lean-to's Like MS look the way they do because the available wood is gone. People cut living (and dead standing!) treees because the available firewood is gone. Everyone just HAS TO HAVE thier fire.

I like a fire as much as the next person, but don't have one because I wish to leave as little evidence of my being there as possible. Besides, there is certainly enought "atmosphere" w/o one.

All of us are only one person or one small group when we are out there. It's easy to think that we are alone. However, it is the impact of the many that we will see. Humans have trouble realizing the impact of our society.
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Old 05-19-2012, 07:15 PM   #14
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I also had a fire when I camped at Middle Settlement several weeks ago. And I'm about the biggest LNT preacher there is on these forums... and probably also the forum member who is the most hyper-sensitive to impacts.

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Old 05-20-2012, 08:41 AM   #15
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DSettahr how dare you enjoy your time at a lean-to. Scumbag.

Serious question time(about your trip): Did you have to cross that swampy beaver flow to get to the hotel ruins? I got there...and decided not to...I lamed out. Although I was a bit confused on where the trail went...
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Old 05-20-2012, 10:53 AM   #16
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... And I'm about the biggest LNT preacher there is on these forums... and probably also the forum member who is the most hyper-sensitive to impacts.

But you seem to have a "roaring" fire on every trip, why?
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Old 05-20-2012, 12:05 PM   #17
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Do as I say, not as I do. I believe is the answer to this question.
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Old 05-20-2012, 12:33 PM   #18
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I cold-camp about 90% of the time and 90% of my fires are by necessity (cooking or drying clothes/footwear). The rare recreational campfire is for morale after a particularly hard day on the trail and it never fails to help. People have been doing the "cowboy TV" for thousands of years, it's hardwired in our genes. There's nothing wrong with building a campfire as long as you respect the environment by keeping your fire safe, only as big as it needs to be and making sure your firewood is strictly of the "down & dead" variety. No matter how far you have to travel to find it...
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Old 05-20-2012, 01:00 PM   #19
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It just seems to me that anyone that would show such disregard to an obviously highly impacted (possibly over impacted) area is not being a very upstanding steward of the land, possibly this is just a lack of experience, or respect.
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Old 05-20-2012, 01:12 PM   #20
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I cold-camp about 90% of the time and 90% of my fires are by necessity (cooking or drying clothes/footwear). The rare recreational campfire is for morale after a particularly hard day on the trail and it never fails to help. People have been doing the "cowboy TV" for thousands of years, it's hardwired in our genes. There's nothing wrong with building a campfire as long as you respect the environment by keeping your fire safe, only as big as it needs to be and making sure your firewood is strictly of the "down & dead" variety. No matter how far you have to travel to find it...

You don't use a stove? Everyones clothes & footwear gets wet from time to time. Yes, it sucks, but don't you have clothes made from quick drying fabrics? Don't you carry extra clothes?

Hey man, you're outside, what more entertainment do you need? I know that man has been making fires for centuries. It's time that changed. I give you the High Peaks. Everyone had to have a fire at the end of their day, and the area shows that. Now other areas are being imapcted. Someday, there will more "no fire" zones.

I am glad that you use dead & down and keep your fire small.

Years ago I used to have fires because it was just the thing to do. After several years of looking at the damge that other people cause, I stopped having them because I felt very selfish in just having a fire to watch it burn. It's like having an SUV that gets low mileage, pollutes more and contributes to the high price of gas just because you can.
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