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Old 05-31-2005, 09:12 PM   #1
Wildernessphoto
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Paddling Duck Hole 5/28-30

What a beautiful place!
Redhawk, Peanut Butter, and her son, Cold River Bob, Saratoga Filly, and myself made our way to campsites near the "Works" on Friday so we could get an early start paddling our way to Duck Hole on Saturday.
The opening of Henderson Lake, and both the Preston Ponds to the general public has created some beautiful views of the high peaks that hadn't been seen before.
We gathered at the trailhead at 8:00 and proceeded to get unloaded, and move our gear 1/4 mile to the launch site on Henderson Lake. It was a beautiful day with sunny sky's and little wind.

We finished loading the boats and headed out on Henderson Lake. Once we rounded the point and headed north, the view of the mountains was breathtaking! There's a nice view of Indian pass from the south. I ended up shooting 2 rolls of film before we reached the portage point.

We arrived at the portage, and found a new lean-to had been built on the site just up the hill from the start of the portage. We proceeded to get set up for the long portage to Upper Preston Pond. There was 430' of elevation climb over 1.5 miles. Hawk and I portaged our Hornbeck's, Peanut Butter and Paul portaged a Wenonah Kevlar 14' and Cold River Bob and Saratoga Filly, portaged a 14' Old Town canoe. This was a learning experience for all of us since none of us had portaged these boats before. Hawk had gotten a mounting kit from Pete Hornbeck, and I tried a homemade copy of that rig. Now I know why Pete get's the big bucks for his kit. Mine failed on the way up the hill, We were all struggling to make it in one trip, and realized after struggling for a while, that the best way to get our gear to the top alive, was to break it down and leap-frog the gear by portaging the boats for a while, then come back for the packs, and then move the packs ahead, and come back for boat's and this went on, and on, and on, and on…until everything was at Upper Preston Pond.

We loaded up the boats, and were greeted with somemore amazing views of the Seward range, MacNaughton, and Panther as we paddled across the pond. We arrived at the portage between Upper and Lower Preston Ponds, and proceeded across the point on the left side of the stream. The beaver have the outlet blocked, so you have to portage. This portage was short, only 700' or so. The portages need to be opened up some because of the difficulties getting through the spruce undergrowth, but that will happen in time.

Lower Preston Pond was just as nice with mountains coming down right to waters edge. As you proceed to the left you will find an island, you go around it on the left and find the outlet flowing into Duck Hole. This is a beautiful stream, but it has a lot of jagged rocks, and deep holes so you end up walking your boat a few feet, and then getting in and paddling the deep holes, then walking and paddling. Expect to see some ware-and-tare on the boats in this area. You come to a log jamb, just above the falls, and on the left is a steep bank where you take out and a 600' path is cut to Duck Hole.
It's a steep climb on both sides or this portage, so you can only get one or 2 boats across at a time.

We finally reached our destination after 9 hours of paddling, and puffing. But what a place, The views were amazing, and the company was great! We were getting hungry so Hawk was calling on the Rino's GPS for the greatest wilderness chef in the world to get supper started, but the response came from Couchsachraga. Val was too far away to fix a meal, so when we got there, the runner up of the Great ADKforum cook-off made supper for us. We basked in the sun, and enjoyed just being there.

We got worried about Kevin and Val when they hadn't returned by dark and couldn't make radio contact with them. We left a radio on but they finally wandered into camp after midnight. We hit the hay and spent the next day just wandering around, cutting firewood, paddling and enjoying each other's company. We had a famous Kevin fire going all day, and into the night. Bob got us up early, and we broke camp. We were on the water by 7:30 and back to the cars by 2:00. We stopped to look at the cabin on Upper Preston and then hoofed it down the portage to Henderson. We only got a brief 10-15 min. shower each day. Other then that, the trip was perfect. I think a good time was had by all, and the views are amazing!

A lot of pictures were taken so I'm sure shots will follow.

Thanks to Kevin for starting www.saveduckhole.com We will be compiling information on what to do, to save this jewel of the western High Peaks.

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Old 05-31-2005, 10:11 PM   #2
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All of us on the paddling trip were fortunate enough to sight the extremely rare Adirondack Bald Beaver while portaging between upper and lower Preston Pond.
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Old 05-31-2005, 10:38 PM   #3
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Some Duck Hole photos
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Old 05-31-2005, 11:20 PM   #4
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photo # 109 traveling on Preston Pond
photo #120 creek from Preston Pond to Duck Hole
photo #125 The take out at the end of the creek-just over that hump is Duck HOle

The new leanto on Henderson Lake is:

N 44 degrees 06.247 minutes
W 74 degrees 04.038 minutes
1854 feet elevation

It was a great weekend and the portage really wasn't that bad. It's just a mind killer on the way in. Fifty minutes of moving time going in and 45 minutes nonstop going out with the downhill. It helps to have a teenage son when it comes to portaging. Paul did live in his head net. There are only a couple of photos of him without the net all weekend. Food of course, was great. And where else can you sit on the throne and have a view that rivals a calendar photo. Kevin, of course, kept us cozy with a wonderful fire.
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Old 05-31-2005, 11:32 PM   #5
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Nice photos - that moon made for a lot of interesting photos this weekend.

I think I've seen one of them bald beavers. Nasty little creatures.
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Old 06-01-2005, 12:04 AM   #6
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Beaverus baldus- native to the coniferous forests and the higher elevations of the northeast deciduous forests. Can be found gnawing on food prepared by backpackers in the Adirondack Mountains. Can be baited with the wafting odors of high quality freshly prepared meals especially early morning.
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Old 06-01-2005, 12:42 AM   #7
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HEY!
I resemble those remarks!

(have ax, will travel...)

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Old 06-01-2005, 03:04 AM   #8
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sounds like an awesome time guys! wish i could made it out and have met some of you all.
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Old 06-01-2005, 05:10 AM   #9
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Great trip report, fabulous photos, scary about that beaver! It's a rush to have seen the pictures from here in Mainz, Germany. My friend here is jealous of what we get to do.
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Old 06-01-2005, 05:57 AM   #10
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Peanut Butter-
Awesome pics! The place wouldn't be so beautiful if you didn't have to work so hard to get there!! Never been there, but from how you guys rave about it, I definitely have to check it out.
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Old 06-01-2005, 06:48 AM   #11
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Looking at Peanut Butter's pictures makes me more upset than ever. I'm so sorry we didn't make it up there...looks like a great time!
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Old 06-01-2005, 07:47 AM   #12
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I've been to Duck Hole many times, so I KNEW what I was missing! Would have liked to have been there to enjoy the good views and times, and to meet some of those I haven't met yet.
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Old 06-01-2005, 07:57 AM   #13
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It was a great experience. Like Frvrwld said for her Santanoni hike, the effort to get there enhances the entire trip. It's a good feeling to push yourself. Sunday's lounging was very special because of the fantastic people. The portaging was tedious and my shoulders are still sore, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Hoping to meet a few more of our forum ghosts as the year progresses.

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Old 06-01-2005, 08:01 PM   #14
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This was my third trip in buy canoe and buy far the best yet.The people were all great and when someone had problems we all pitched in and helped .Like everyone has said the portage in was very demanding an took alot out of everyone, but when you started canoeing down Preston the views made the trip well worth it.
Once you got to Duckhole and started out across the pond and saw the views of the Sewards it made the whole trip worth it.

There isn't much more I can add to what has already been said except that I'm glade we all had a chance to do this trip, The company was what made it so special.. The trip buy canoe is a must to see .Pictures can not show its true beauty. Gary and I are already planning another trip in sometime.Maybe in the fall.
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Old 06-03-2005, 12:35 AM   #15
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I Proof tested the new lean-to on Henderson. It will handle the snowload if it can hold me!
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Old 06-03-2005, 10:20 AM   #16
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Here are some of the photos that I took this past weekend:

Photos from Duck Hole trip

The numbered photos are from this trip the rest are otherwise labeled photos from previous Duck Hole visits. I apologize for not having them labeled, I thought I'd be able to do that quickly this morning at work but apparently our Big Brother software won't allow them to be viewed, so labeling to follow
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Old 06-03-2005, 11:23 PM   #17
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I started scanning shots and thought I'd throw a few up before I left for the weekend.
Here's MacNaughton on Monday Morning:
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File Type: jpg MacNaughtonH2-best.jpg (75.0 KB, 41 views)
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Old 06-03-2005, 11:24 PM   #18
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Here's the Sunset Sunday night:
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File Type: jpg Sun-rays-Duck-Hole.jpg (73.1 KB, 41 views)
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Old 06-03-2005, 11:26 PM   #19
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And 10 min. later:
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Old 06-03-2005, 11:28 PM   #20
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and the sunset Saturday night.
This place is almost magical!
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