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Old 06-27-2019, 10:19 AM   #1
madison
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Eighth Lake to Raquette Lake, Nessmuk style

This past Monday I met my distant cousin Will for the 1st time in the Taproom parking lot at Raquette Lake. We are both the great-great-great grandsons of George Washington Sears, AKA Nessmuk, who's fame is modest and mostly confined to Adirondack canoe enthusiasts, but who I am sure needs no explanation on this site.

Our families grew apart over the generations and we didn't know each other, but I learned about Will from the Mountain Home article about his re-creation of Nessmuk's most well known voyage from Old Forge to Paul Smith's and back a few years ago. I reached out, and we decided to try and find an exact spot where Sears had camped or spent time, and go there together. I found a passage in his writing that indicated he had spent some time on the little island on 8th Lake where Alvah Dunning had a cabin, and there was now a lean-to, so we decided to camp there a night and then continue on through Brown's Tract Inlet to Raquette Lake and camp there the 2nd night.

The plan hit a slight snag when we got to the island to discover that the lean-to had been removed recently and there were now "No Camping" discs all over the island. So we headed across the narrow channel and discovered an unoccupied and huge lean-to, complete with benches and a couple of impressive single log camp chairs. We camped there and spent a pleasant afternoon getting to know each other, paddling around 8th and checking out the other campsites and fishing. Will outfished me 6-0.

On Tuesday it rained hard in the morning, but it let up a little after 9 and we headed out for the carry to Brown's Tract Inlet. This was my first time on this stream, and I enjoyed it very much. Based on the map and Will's memory from his trip a few years ago, we were expecting the stream section to take at least 2 hours and to carry over a few beaver dams, but with the water level high from the all the rain this spring, we got to Raquette in about an hour and never had to lift over a single dam.

After replenishing our beer & ice supply at the General Store in Raquette Lake, we paddled out to Big Island and stayed at lean-to #2, pleasantly situated in a protective cove with a beautiful point to lounge on. I finally managed to get on the board with one little 10 inch bass caught in the grasses near shore. We agreed our mutual ancestor would not be impressed. After the wind died down we spent another pleasant evening paddling around Big Island and had some excitement when my pup, on her first canoe trip, managed to flip the canoe with an ill-timed jump to shore. Luckily there was no gear in the boat and we were in only 2 feet of water, so no harm done.

The next morning was clear and warm and we lingered on our point as long as we could before heading back to the boat launch. All in all, a very pleasant time, connecting with the past and present. We hope to make this an annual tradition, choosing a different section of Nessmuk's trip each year.
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Old 06-27-2019, 11:39 AM   #2
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Great TR, thanks for sharing! I'm currently reading Canoeing the Adirondacks with Nessmuk, edited by Dan Brenan, which is basically a lightly edited collection of the articles by Nessmuk originally published by Forest and Stream. I'm sure you've read it anyway. Fantastic read, imo not just for the contemporary account of the trip and the guides of that time, but also for the comparison of the spaces between then and now.

Thanks again, very cool that you have the personal connection too.
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Old 06-27-2019, 03:35 PM   #3
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What a cool story. Thank you for sharing!
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Old 06-27-2019, 04:56 PM   #4
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The Lean2Rescue team, at DEC's request, removed the leanto from the island and vastly improved the double wide leanto nearby on the mainland. The Dunning leanto at the north end of the lake was also renovated and slightly moved. It has been designated as handicapped accessible (although IMO would still be tough to get to in a wheelchair).

I believe I paddled and guided a group on a day trip with a grandson of Nessmuk a couple of years ago as part of a NFCT event organized by Mike L.

I love paddling Brown's Tract into Raquette. It is my favorite segment of the 90 miler race. I will be there again in a few days at ~ 0400 AM as part of doing the Cannonball-90 (the entiire 90 mile in a single day).
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Old 06-27-2019, 07:31 PM   #5
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That's a great story, I'm glad you were able to meet your long-lost cousin. I stayed a night at the lean-to on the island in 8th Lake in 2014, on my first trip after building my first canoe. It was a very nice spot but also heavily overused and eroded, and I picked up a very large garbage bag full of trash (and, serendipitously, a bag to hold it all) on the lower part of the island. I think it's good that that lean-to has been removed, and I am sure the island will still be a nice spot to picnic or explore. Is the privy still there? It seems like it might be handy to have one there given the amount of non-camping use the island is likely to get, but I don't know.
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Old 06-27-2019, 09:01 PM   #6
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Most likely the privy has been removed from the island location, but I do know that a fresh new one was dug and erected behind the new large leanto and at the Dunning leanto.
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Old 06-28-2019, 10:11 AM   #7
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We spent a little time on the island and never saw a privy. The nearby double lean-to is impressive.Wldrns, did your group make the nifty single log camp chairs that are in front of the fireplace? If so, thank you and good work! Those were well used during our stay. I can report that they are the perfect chairs to drink a Big Slide Double IPA from.
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Old 06-28-2019, 11:04 AM   #8
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My son and I used to put the canoe into Eighth and fish, and we camped for Columbus Day weekend a couple of times. From our experience, you were very lucky to get the lean to, it has been occupied every time we have been there except once when we had lunch there and checked it out. It is often small parties who are parked mid lake at the pull off from 28, and canoe across the lake to the site ( they are often gone ' day tripping") and they claim "exclusive" use of the site, regardless of what the "rules" say about allowing additional campers up to the capacity of the lean-to. It is a very nice spot close to the road, one reason why the proposed "no motors" restriction for Eighth never made sense to me (although a 10 horse restriction would put the waterskiers out on Seventh.)
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Old 06-28-2019, 12:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madison View Post
Wldrns, did your group make the nifty single log camp chairs that are in front of the fireplace? If so, thank you and good work! Those were well used during our stay. I can report that they are the perfect chairs to drink a Big Slide Double IPA from.
Yes, we are a talented crew. You should see some of the free stone fire pit lays that one expert can do.
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Old 06-29-2019, 11:54 PM   #10
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Great post thanks for sharing.
A couple friends & I have enjoyed spending a few days at Tioga Point past few years during the early season. Great spot, love that lake, and Autumn the AFR is super nice! Looking forward to visiting again next year!
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