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Old 12-17-2015, 07:20 PM   #1
SevernRidger
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Question Kayak trip Suggestions? Places with treatable water?

Hi All,

I am brand new to this forum after just perusing it for hours today for the first time. I will try to make this as quick and to the point as possible, so here we go:

I am interested in doing a multiday trip to a wilderness area in New England sometime next year. I have been looking for a place that is remote, has primitive camping (established primitive sites or state lands where camping is permitted under the usual stipulations), and somewhere where I will not have to pack in a lot of DRINKING WATER. I will be using a kayak (Jackson Rogue 10) that is capable of packing for relatively extended trips, as long as I can have a source of treatable water (have a steripen w/ prefilter, lifestraw, maybe iodine tabs as backup). Due to wanting to use my kayak and thus limiting my carrying capacity, I have been searching for a place that has pristine enough waters that I could safely treat the water for drinking.

As I said, I am new to this forum and have just begun my research into the Adriondack Wilderness as well as upper New England. I have found plenty of awesome looking places for a remote kayak camping adventure, but I haven't seen much discussion on drinking water...

Could anyone recommend a place/area/trip that would fit my criteria (if there are any in the Adriondack Wildernss or elsewhere)?

Places that caught my eye were the St. Regis Canoe area, and 5 Ponds Wilderness Area, just due to the remoteness/lack of motorized boats, but from what I gather you wouldn't want to be drinking that water even after treating...


Any help with recommendations or experiences are welcome.

Thanks!
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Old 12-17-2015, 08:07 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by SevernRidger View Post
Places that caught my eye were the St. Regis Canoe area, and 5 Ponds Wilderness Area, just due to the remoteness/lack of motorized boats, but from what I gather you wouldn't want to be drinking that water even after treating...
Where on earth did you get that kind of information? The reason you have not seen much discussion on obtaining clean drinking water is that is not really an issue. I dare say that most of us who live in or frequently travel the Adirondacks have no problem with taking stream or lake water for drinking in most places where we paddle. Properly treated, of course, either by filtering, chemically (iodine, etc.), steripen, or by boiling.

The major reason for treating is to prevent the possibility of disease such as giardiasis, though I know plenty of people who do not hesitate to drink directly from a flowing mountain creek or the middle of a lake while paddling through, and have not suffered any ill effects. I would hesitate if I were in a confined motorized bay or other area with heavy motorboat traffic or on a small pond surrounded by shoreline residences, but I am almost never paddling in such water anyway.

But welcome to the forum and the Adirondacks. I think you will be pleasantly surprised when you arrive. Do your homework, as there are millions of wild woodland acres and a thousand miles of water to explore. I highly recommend getting a copy of the Adirondack Paddler's Guide and accompanying map to help you decide.
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Old 12-17-2015, 08:43 PM   #3
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That is such a reassuring reply! Like I mentioned I have only spent a few hours on the forum, searching such things as "water treatment", "treating water", etc. For some reason I did not get many hits.

After I posted, I refined my search to "filter" and found a lot of good, reassuring information on the subject.

I have never been to the ADK, and I guess seeing some of the pictures of the tannin-stained water, I wasn't sure about the viability of filtering and treating the lake water. My mistake. I suppose in my mind I was thinking of clearer waters, but the fact that there shouldn't be much, if any, chemical pollution in the area should've been a good sign.

I appreciate your reply and invite any others with suggestions and first-hand experiences.

Living here in Maryland I have only done overnight kayak trips on water that I wouldn't think of drinking, even after treatment. The allure of the north is the remoteness, lack of civilization, and true wilderness settings.

I could've done more hours of research before posting my question, but there's nothing like direct answers from experienced paddlers of the region.

Thanks again, and I hope to hear more from others, including what they use for treatment and trip recommendations. I was looking heavily into Lows Lake, Little Tupper Lake, and the 5 Ponds Area. A few short portages wouldn't be a deterrent, but the ability to stay at one or several campsites and explore the area, and return to my vehicle at the end of the trip would be ideal.

It is good to hear that I can have sustainable clean drinking water from these sources with the right treatment efforts!
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Old 12-17-2015, 09:06 PM   #4
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Don't fear the tea-colored water from dissolved tannin that tints most (but not all) of the backcountry waters. It is harmless and tasteless.

Just one more thing (among many) to help you properly prepare.... there is a wealth of information and knowledge on the NYSDEC web site. Stuff that will make your life a lot easier and to keep you out of legal trouble as well. Make note of the different types of camping opportunities... there are campgrounds (for a fee but with public amenities) and then there are primitive designated campsites (free) in many parts of the "wilderness". Some are just tent sites, others have log lean-to shelters. And there is the 150 foot rule, where with certain restrictions, you are free to camp in truly primitive fashion wherever you like as long as you are at least 150 feet away from waters or trails and obey certain other simple restrictions. Please observe Leave No Trace principles in all cases.

There is so much on the NYSDEC site that it can be a little difficult to navigate, but here are a few of the pages you should definitely visit (click):

Primitive Camping
State Land Camping and Hiking Rules
DEC Campgrounds (pay to stay)
Bears and Bear resistant Canisters

And for specific questions with official answers, any Forest Ranger or Conservation Officer would be happy to answer your call. That's what they are there for. The Adirondacks are primarily in DEC Region 5 and Region 6.
Look them up by region here.
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Old 12-17-2015, 09:34 PM   #5
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Wldrns,

All much appreciated. I have done a lot of reading on the NYSDEC website and there truly is a plethora of information there. I have read many times about the 150' rule and would probably only use that as a last resort, although the completely primitive aspect appeals to me. That said, there appear to be many established primitive sites around the areas I have been looking at. I would like to avoid campgrounds, as I never much like to have a bunch of nearby neighbors or plan to have the need for "luxury" camping amenities. I abide fully by Leave No Trace principles while camping or enjoying the outdoors. In MD, there aren't many primitive camping opportunities, especially of the paddle-to variety, but there are a few. I will always pick up a few pieces of trash someone else has carelessly or intentionally neglected. I really do appreciate the thoughts and recommendations, and that is sound advice for anyone planning to enjoy the great outdoors. We all have seen too many deplorable sights of negative human impact and I will not willfully contribute to that.

At this point, this trip is only an alluring and motivating sparkle in my mind, and I know I have much research to do, and many more possibilities and locations to learn about. That said, I am so thankful for your response and the jump start it has given me into planning a potential trip to the Adirondacks!

Once again, any and every reply is welcome and appreciated.

The adkforum is only the second forum I have joined amid my many interests and hobbies in my life, but already it has proven to be a great tool.

Thank you!
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Old 12-17-2015, 09:48 PM   #6
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You can go anywhere in New England and if you stick with fresh water ( as opposed to the ocean) never have to carry drinking water.
There really is not a lot to discuss except that no one wants giardia and fecal related illnesses. Its not pollution per se but animals are not selective where they go. The water is brown because the forest is mostly evergreens and evergreens are loaded with tannic acid which is not surprisingly found in tea.
Maine has a lot of paddling too. You will be most limited by the carrying capacity of your little kayak and portaging that , which I hope you have thought about. Portaging in all of the Northeast is usually a factor, though the Oswegatchie in the Adirondacks and Lows also has little.
I second Wildrness suggestion of the Paddlers Map. It will bring things more in focus.
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Old 12-17-2015, 10:15 PM   #7
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Water filters

I've not owned a Steripen but it seems like a good system for treating water in the northern woods. There are better choices than a lifestraw for water filtration for wilderness camping - check out the many small filters designed for backpacking, either operated as a small pump, or by gravity flow. Sediment, tannins, and algae will clog your filter, and it's really nice to be able to replace or clean the filter element on your unit. I'll usually pump a gallon or so of water as soon as i set up camp - that's enough to get me through dinner and breakfast and in my boat again in the morning. - Kalmia
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Old 12-17-2015, 10:21 PM   #8
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I've been drinking untreated ADK water since I was a kid- lakes, ponds, streams, and the occasional skidder rut if I'm thirsty enough. I've never used a filter. Only got giardia once in the mid-1990's drinking out of a steam that I didn't know flowed out of an newly active beaver pond. I'd been getting water out of that stream my whole life with no issues.

I still drink unfiltered out of many bodies of water but I pay attention to where beaver are active.
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Old 12-18-2015, 12:02 AM   #9
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A good portion of my AT hike I didn't treat the water. One thing I read was that hikers tended to not get sick regardless of water treatment, but that they did get sick in groups - read poor hygiene. That being said, a lifestraw is super handy, and I use iodine tabs now when the water looks sketchy. But, water from a place where no animals are above it (like halfway up a steep section of mountain) is fine for me.
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Old 12-18-2015, 08:09 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yellowcanoe View Post
You will be most limited by the carrying capacity of your little kayak and portaging that , which I hope you have thought about. Portaging in all of the Northeast is usually a factor, though the Oswegatchie in the Adirondacks and Lows also has little.
I second Wildrness suggestion of the Paddlers Map. It will bring things more in focus.
Thanks for the suggestions. I will definitely invest in some literature and good quality maps if this trip becomes a reality.

I know the kayak I want to use is rather small compared to the many who use canoes or touring kayaks in these regions. However it is perfectly capable of handing multiday trips with the right packing, but the ability to treat water on the go is a must. The versatility to run rivers and paddle moderate stretches of flat or open water are what helped me pick this boat for the multitude of waters I like to paddle around my area and for other trips. I also own a 17' canoe, albeit it is not an ultra-light Kevlar but rather a Coleman plastic rec boat. I think for this trip I will try to limit our portages to just a few short ones if any, and operate out of a base camp and explore the area.
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Old 12-18-2015, 08:26 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Wldrns View Post
Don't fear the tea-colored water from dissolved tannin that tints most (but not all) of the backcountry waters.
Out of curiosity, where would these clearer waters be? I have to be honest, while the portions of the ADK wilderness I've looked into thus far look beautiful and awe-inspiring, I guess I was picturing a place with luscious tree-lined banks, rock outcrops and cliffs and clear waters the likes of which are hard to come by in my area.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalmia VT View Post
There are better choices than a lifestraw for water filtration for wilderness camping - check out the many small filters designed for backpacking, either operated as a small pump, or by gravity flow. Sediment, tannins, and algae will clog your filter, and it's really nice to be able to replace or clean the filter element on your unit.
The lifestraw would likely be a backup with steripen as my main method of treatment after prefiltering. Although I am always willing to look into other methods and acquire new gear to try out, and you make a good point about being able to clean the filter for reuse.



Thanks to all for their insights. While I think my initial question has been answered beyond a doubt, if anyone else wishes to share on this topic it is still appreciated.
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Old 12-18-2015, 09:24 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by SevernRidger View Post
Out of curiosity, where would these clearer waters be? I have to be honest, while the portions of the ADK wilderness I've looked into thus far look beautiful and awe-inspiring, I guess I was picturing a place with luscious tree-lined banks, rock outcrops and cliffs and clear waters the likes of which are hard to come by in my area.
There are a few remote spring-fed lakes with ultra-transparent colorless water, shockingly clear. However the ones I am familiar with would require portages that I don't think you would want to take. Other waters are tannin tinted to varying degree, some more or less than others. Big lakes tend to have less tint than small ponds.

But once again, the water in Adirondack moving creeks and streams of all sizes and the vast majority of the lakes you would be in, is clean and transparent. It is just that there is a tea colored tint. A transparent tint only, not opaque, not silty, and not polluted. As a licensed guide when leading others folks, to be perfectly safe from any possible pathogen (such as from the potentiality of a dead animal laying upstream) and for liability sake, it is easy to effectively treat the water with any of the previously mentioned methods.

Methinks you obsess far too much about the quality of water you will find once you get here. I don't know where you got that idea, but don't worry about it.

You should consider packing for at least some short portages between waterways. You will be missing a lot of landscape if you try to go completely portage-less. Unfortunately kayaks are generally much more difficult to manage on a portage than canoes. Some portages are wheel friendly, others not so much. Do you have wheels for your kayak? The paddling guide and map references will give you portage information.
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Old 12-18-2015, 09:28 AM   #13
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Mr Ridger,
Welcome to the forum...as you already found out, there is a wealth of knowledge and experience here.
It seems your water filtration question is well covered.
Now on to your trip desires.
Nearly any of the designated wilderness areas will satisfy your desire for solitude and scenery.
Would you prefer to combine some hiking with your paddling?
Would you prefer a loop route? Or would you want to do some sort of through trip?
Can you estimate your ability/willingness to carry, in terms of mileage?
And what about flat vs whitewater? And lastly, are you travelling alone? (this affects shuttles, safety)
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Old 12-18-2015, 10:24 AM   #14
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Methinks you obsess far too much about the quality of water you will find once you get here. I don't know where you got that idea, but don't worry about it.
You're right! I just didn't find much information at first but that is probably because it is well known up there. I am used to the waters around here and the population density leading to pollution impacts. Case closed on the water quality topic.

A few short portages wouldn't be out of the question, but no I do not have wheels for my kayak, yet. That may be something I will look into as they would come in handy for other trips as well.

Quote:
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Mr Ridger,
Now on to your trip desires.
Nearly any of the designated wilderness areas will satisfy your desire for solitude and scenery.
Would you prefer to combine some hiking with your paddling?
Would you prefer a loop route? Or would you want to do some sort of through trip?
Can you estimate your ability/willingness to carry, in terms of mileage?
And what about flat vs whitewater? And lastly, are you travelling alone? (this affects shuttles, safety)
Sorry to be so vague, but the truth is I am still weighing my options and thinking what I would like to do and where to go.

My idea is that I would be traveling with at least my girlfriend (she has a smallish kayak too, but we could take the canoe if we opted for that), and maybe a couple of friends as well, but more than likely just the two of us.

Depending on what we want to do, I thought we could explore several different areas and maybe do a short river trip (maybe part of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail) which could have some minor ww (Class I-II) but mainly just moving water. But the main journey would likely be an extended lake trip (been looking at Little Tupper area perhaps) where we could set up camp and explore the area by day. LT area looks like it might be a good choice due to Round Lake and Rock Pond at either end being accessible by boat, albeit with some beaver dams to cross.

Throwing in a day hike or two would be ideal as well to mix it up and gain a new perspective of the area. While looking around Lows yesterday I saw some cool pics from Green Pond mountain? but not sure about the trails there, seems like a small area.

If we do take the kayaks, which was the first idea, I would like to limit any portages to short (<300 yds) and firm carries.

I will get the paddlers map and keep looking into the different options. These are just my initial thoughts as I wait out the winter (mild so far) and plan for next year.

Thanks for the tips and advice.
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Old 12-18-2015, 10:51 AM   #15
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Between LTL and Rock is one portage. None between LTL and Round.
Short carry Hitchens to Lows cartable. Usually there is a bog on Lows that you need to drag across. Its wet usually.

You will note when you get here that the water is quite dark in slow moving sections. There is much organic matter that falls to the bottom and decomposes slowly contributing to that dark color. Look for bryozoans. They are plentiful and they can grow only in unpolluted water.

You did not say when you will come. June and July are bug season. Plan for insect netting and a good shelter. Sleeping outside on the rocks is not a good plan.

August finds water levels on the Saranac River can be exceedingly low. Read. drag. Or they can be in flood earlier ( read don't do it)

Your kayak will be loaded pretty heavily and for larger lakes that get rough like Little Tupper ( its notorious) you will want a spray skirt that stays on.
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Old 12-18-2015, 11:40 AM   #16
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Yellowcanoe,

This is only in the infant stage of planning, so I do not have things planned out yet like timeframe, but I would probably come after the majority of the bugs are gone, but when it could still be warm enough to enjoy swimming (so maybe September?).

I appreciate all of the responses I have gotten so far, and I know that I will spend a lot of time on this forum searching through threads with relevant information to my forming plans.

Thanks to all about the water quality issue as well.

When I get a more concrete plan in place, and if I have more questions, I know where to turn.

Thanks again, I look forward to visiting this beautiful part of the country in 2016!
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Old 12-18-2015, 01:34 PM   #17
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September is a real nice month to paddle in. The water is warm enough for swimming; I swam at the end of Sept. The water was just getting cold enough to make you think about swimming or not.

But the nights can be below freezing. Because the ADK paddling area is high on the ADK dome in general fall comes earlier. Color will be noticeable the last week of Sept.. some hints earlier.

Don't worry about answering all our posts. Go read, think and practice pack your boat. The trip day is a horrid time to find out it all wont fit!
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Old 12-19-2015, 10:56 PM   #18
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You don't have much faith in a good filter.
I would recommend a back packing filter with a ceramic filter cartridge. MSR has a good one called the MiniWorks as well as the Vario from Katadyne that I use. I had a Katadyle (still have it actually) filter with ceramic filter that I got back in the late 70's only replaced it because the new ones are 1/2 the weight. I remember a trip in the Andies where the only water source one day was a small pool/puddle that mules were drinking out of and pooping and peeing near. We filtered the water with no issues at all. That is what a proper good filter is for.
I recommend a ceramic cartridge filter because they are easy to field strip and clean in case you have to filter water with lots of particulates in it and it clogs up. You'll know when it needs to be cleaned because it will pump harder and flow slowly, but any water that flows through the filter is potable. I have used the Steripen, a good purifier (not filter) but you are dependent on batteries.

Adirondack water in general is as nice as your going to find anywhere. Do you know where the tap water in your home comes from? Probably from a hole in the ground, like mine, or from a lake somewhere, treated not unlike you can do on your camping trip in the north country. I would guess that you'll enjoy your drink of Adams Ale more here than any water you'll drink back home.

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Old 12-20-2015, 11:07 AM   #19
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CT Yankee, I don't know who you were addressing. Yes I know where my drinking water comes from. The Poland Spring aquifer via a private well( don't get me started on buying water in plastic bottles). And I have used a Mini Works for 25 years .

But to the OP, the steripen does not work well when there is particulate matter. Because there is little roiling of algae, when you dip a bottle in the water you may come up with ( and probably will) shards of algae. For Steripen to work it has to have water with less particulates.

This is not pollution. It gets worse in Northern Canada where there is even less disturbance of the water. Few live there.

I cant advise on LifeStraw. You may want to prefilter your water if you use a Steripen.

If you were addressing someone else I suggest using the Quote function and edit out what is not pertinent.
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Old 12-20-2015, 11:11 PM   #20
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Yellowcanoe, I was trying to make the point that in the north country (Adks to Maine) the water you drink is probably better (when filtered) than what most people have at home and don't give a second thought to. I live in north western Connecticut and have very good well water at my home, most likely not as fine as yours in Maine or at my camp in Lake Clear in the Adirondacks , also from a well, the hole in the ground mentioned in my previous post.

I was simply trying to let the OP know that he would not have to worry about the water on his trip up north wherever he may decide to go.

I paddled the Connecticut river from South Pittsburg to the Long Island Sound last year and drank filtered River water the whole way with no problems and no worries. I did have a couple of Beers at the Harpoon Brewery in Winsor VT. There is a designated camp site on the river about 1/2 mile from the brewery. Had I nice dinner there, they had a band that night, overall a good evening at about the mid point of the trip, highly recommended. Of course , then it was back to river water.

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