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9 Carries & Whitney Loop

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  • 9 Carries & Whitney Loop

    I've been mulling this over all winter so I thought I would seek some input.

    I was all set to do the 9 Carries last spring, and then my non-portaging buddy rolled in from Michigan so we went to Lows for a few days. Nothing wrong with that.

    However, before I depart for Michigan permanently I want to complete the 9 Carries and re-do the Whitney. I did Whitney (stopped at the lower dam due to the 14 billion blackflies that seemed to follow me wherever I went) some years ago but due to family stuff it was a rushed trip. Never made a single cast or had a single fire.

    So, all things being equal, between the 2 trips which one would you do in the spring and which one in the fall? I would love to get back into some brookies, but my primary goal is solitude. I'm fully geared up and have my No Bug Zone at the ready.

    My trips will take place in mid May and mid October.

    Thank you!

  • #2
    I'd do 9 carries in the fall. I thought real hard about this, and I can't think of a good strong case for either, except maybe fishing might be better in St. Regis in the fall. I'm not an angler, so YMMV.

    St. Regis will likely be pretty dead by mid-October. That's typical getting into leaf off/rainy season, and that tends to drive most people off. I don't think Whitney will be particularly busy spring or fall. I bet there's good deal of day paddlers out in mid-May in St. Regis though. Overnighters likely less...


    • #3
      One consideration is water levels. The Nine Carries is nearly entirely on kettle lakes and ponds, and accordingly, the water levels won't likely be substantially different in mid Oct as opposed to mid May, at least not in any way that will affect your trip planning.

      But parts of the Whitney Loop are on streams/rivers, and there will likely be a substantial difference in water levels on these stretches between your two timeframes, with water levels being much higher in mid May than in mid Oct. Higher running water can be both an advantage and a disadvantage... beaver dams might be easier to deal with, whereas stretches of swift water and rapids may demand more skill (or an increased willingness to portage).


      • #4
        Thank you both -

        Montcalm, my 9 Carries plan was developed with suggestions you made from last year before my buddy changed that. This plan will now shift to fall.

        DSettahr, I have been reading your report on your trip to Inlet and just this morning was checking out your photo's to help select campsites for this trip.

        Again, just exactly what I was looking for.

        Thanks again!!

        DSettahr - Some years ago my son and I camped on #26 on Rock Pond. I had planned on staying there again, but it looks like that will change. I enjoyed that site - swimming and fishing right off the rocks and the tent site was pretty level. Maybe I'll get lucky again and claim the island!


        • #5
          Gates are another consideration. Looks to be on track for early gate openings -- or at least not late -- so mid-may I'd plan on them being open this year. If they remain closed when you go, that would provide unmatched solitude to the backwaters of the Whitney Loop. The downside is that it's not as easy to bail early and drive back to get your gear if needed. No gates of note on the 9 carries to deal with. Personally I'd do Whitney if the gates were still closed like a few years ago when they opened late due to a late spring.

          Another consideration is the wind. I'd check the wind last minute and if it showed strong winds for the next several days, I'd go 9 carries. Solo, cold water, wind and waves is not fun. Forecasts usually get temps and winds roughly right 3+ days out. Precipitation...not so much.

          Whitney is longer, so I'd do that one first if I had ample time. 9 carries is an easy weekend trip if needed down the road.

          Otherwise agree it is a toss up.


          • #6
            I didn't think about the high water - but unless we get a significant snow storm in the next few weeks and/or a lot of rain, it probably won't be an issue. Also I don't know much about that stretch of the Bog River - but I do know it involves a good deal of portaging as it is, so maybe a moot point.

            Mud season - I had thought about - but... I bet the gates will be open. Again this year looking early as far as I can tell. Either way, I wouldn't think that a HUGE issue. It only blocks Lila and I don't really think it's going to be hugely busy mid-May. This has never been my experience this time of year. But I've been flapping my gums about it on this forum, so maybe that will change Seriously though, I think it's still too cold overnight and the water too cold for most folks (be careful with the cold water, especially if you are solo - make sure you have some kind of sat com device).

            Also I don't know how much experience you have in mid-October in the ADKs but it can get downright COLD at night. Be sure you have AT LEAST a 20 degree bag, maybe even lug a 0 at that time of year.

            Also one last consideration about length - Whitney is long, but you have experience there. Bugs likely won't be an issue, but they could. Cold could be an issue, probably more so in fall but either could get quite dangerously cold. Muddy, boot sucking portages could be worse in spring - but sometimes it's actually really dry in May... again... it's a tough call. Either way Whitney is going to be way more demanding, so much so I'd probably try to do that in the summer and do something a bit easier in shoulder seasons.


            • #7
              Thank you for the replies guys. Mooregm, I see you are pacing your replies to the board - just like me. Join '06 with 16 posts - pretty good.

              Anyway, I stand in and canoe all winter chasing steelhead so I am pretty comfortable there. I have lost a boot or 2 over the years in the mud. I limped out of the carry off Hardigan last time around carrying one boot, so I switched to waist high stocking foot breathables with an LL Been wading show - no more issues there.

              The Marmot 0 degree bag comes along in May and October and I use a 4 season tent during these months as well.

              I have been all over LTL over the years but when I did this trip before I got a late start on LTL and the wind was up. I decided to go for it. I battled for 3 1/2 hours and couldn't make any headway. I crossed over and tried there with the same results, so I spent the first nite across the lake at Eagle Point. Wind blew non-stop all nite and finally at 10 am the next morning I went for it. Still plenty of wind, but I crossed LTL and Rock Pond and made it to Hardigan for my second nite. Long day for me - I'm in my sixties.

              I was blessed on this trip because the weather was great (also in May) after that first day. Just needed to be able to leave on Sunday as i had planned instead of Tuesday with my unplanned Eagle Point visit. Nice enough site though.

              So I'm going for it in the spring unless things look really stupid, in which case I will do 9 Carries, and if that looks bad I'll check the water levels and re-visit the Oswegatchie and finally explore above the falls.

              Thank you for all of the input guys - very helpful!!


              • #8
                It's the "eventful" trips you remember the most. Speaking of 2006, mine was a trip from Old Forge to Lake George via Saranac/Champlain in May 2006. Was a mile off shore going south down Lake Champlain in 6'+ waves thinking I probably didn't make a great life decision. The waves were not as concerning as I regularly paddled in such waves, it was the water temps that if I ran into trouble things would go south quick, thus my comment about wind above. I think that was one of the few times I ever chose to actually wear my life jacket in thousands of miles of paddling.

                Also portaged from Blue Mountain Lake to Long Lake via 28N on day 1 of that trip. Made it up and over the mountain past the museum + trailhead nearly 2 miles, then someone I knew stopped offered to shuttle me the rest of the way. Ridiculous choice as it was, it was surprisingly an easy carry...wheels on pavement and leash connected to my belt. Like it wasn't back there. My shuttler confessed he said to himself "what is that idiot doing walking a kayak up here"..."wait I know that idiot!".

                I had planned to go all the way back to Oneida Lake via Hudson + Erie Canal, but I had only 30 minutes of sun from Old Forge to Lake George. It was cold and rained every day, so it just stopped being fun, so figured I should stop. Ironically the next 3 days turned out to be beautiful.

                Enjoy the trip. Let the weather dictate your plan in the shoulder seasons if you want to enjoy it. I've done parts of that trip, but holding until my kids are older to do it end-to-end in one go.

                Aside: Does the gate for Low's Bog River Lower Dam parking close? It's pavement to Horseshoe Lake, and you could paddle the creek or portage the road, so it's not a deal-breaker, just curious.


                • #9
                  I don't know for sure, but I think the road to the dam closes - I think there's a barrier there IIRC, but it's rather short ways from the pavement.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mooregm View Post

                    Aside: Does the gate for Low's Bog River Lower Dam parking close? It's pavement to Horseshoe Lake, and you could paddle the creek or portage the road, so it's not a deal-breaker, just curious.
                    Yes, that gate is closed until after mud season. it's 3/4 mile to the dam from the gate on the road. Personally I'd rather do the portage than attempt the creek, as that is a nasty and thick with obstacles and woody debris way to go.

                    I had sort of an opposite weather cross-Adirondack trek in 2005. My home was 3 miles west of Boonville, and my daughter at the time lived across Cumberland Bay beyond Plattsburgh. My dream was a door to door trek. Since I knew I would have to portage many miles between waterways, I needed an appropriate boat. So I paid a visit to Pete Hornbeck and ended up with the very first hybrid carbon/kevlar 10.5' boat that he had ever built, an as yet untested real shiny black beauty. Having already done the 90 mile race for several years (most times in a considerably larger voyageur canoe), I was extremely familiar with the route from Old Forge to Saranac Lake. I relied on one of the designers of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (the year before it kicked off) who graciously and gratefully give me advice on the summer shallows of the lower Saranac River. Off I headed on one very warm July morning with my Knupac containing all my and Hornbeck on my back with all food and gear for my budgeted 10 day trek. The deer flies were at their peak, so I stayed on the water from sunrise to sunset to minimize being eaten alive camping on shore. Long story short, I finished exactly 7 days and 185 miles later, including a full 62 miles of carries, as my daughter met me with smiles on the shore near her home. Crossing that segment of Lake Champlain was the worst. The wind was strong from the south on that day, creating 4-5 foot rollers on the full fetch of the lake. My home made spay cover saved me that day as that little canoe bobbed up and over the broadside waves.
                    Last edited by Wldrns; 03-23-2022, 12:08 AM.
                    "Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth." -Walt Whitman


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Viking View Post
                      DSettahr - Some years ago my son and I camped on #26 on Rock Pond. I had planned on staying there again, but it looks like that will change. I enjoyed that site - swimming and fishing right off the rocks and the tent site was pretty level. Maybe I'll get lucky again and claim the island!
                      Some of the sites on the east side of Rock Pond were quite nice as well. As I recall, one of them had a small but nice sand beach (that you can see in one of the photos in my trip report).

                      And yeah, Site #26 I'm sure was once nice, but in the aftermath of whatever storm blew the trees over it was far from my favorite. I'm sure it will be nice again in time.


                      • #12
                        Ditto what was said earlier about water levels. The last time I tried to do this, the Bog River was very high & I was too nervous (solo, and the water cold) to do the stretch from the dams down to the Round Lake outlet. Another negative part of spring is that the leaves can make it hard to stay on the carry routes in places; I lost the trail on the carry from the RR tracks to Clear Pond. It wasn't awful, since it's pretty hard to miss the general route in either direction, but it was annoying. That would be less likely to happen on the 9 Carries.

                        On the other hand, it's great to be on Lila without crowds, before the gate opens!


                        • #13
                          Thanks again for all of the great info. Plenty of ideas to consider. I am going to plan for now on the Whitney Loop to the Lower Falls. I skipped going all the way around back to Round. Have heard plenty of stories about that stretch.

                          I am going to plan for 6 nites, with food for 7. Intend to take my time and do plenty of exploring.

                          Planning on leaving LTL and going to Rock Pond - Hardigan - Little Salmon - Lila - Clear - Grass Pond - paddle out.

                          How far can you paddle up Rainer Brook to the Pond? Is it worth a run up there?

                          Maybe a layover day if I feel like it. Making plans for a shuttle back to LTL at trips end.

                          Anything else I should check out along the way? Will climb Grass Pond Mt, explore the Upper Dam again, and just generally take it easy.

                          Thank you!


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Viking View Post
                            Thanks again for all of the great info. Plenty of ideas to consider. I am going to plan for now on the Whitney Loop to the Lower Falls. I skipped going all the way around back to Round. Have heard plenty of stories about that stretch.
                            I think I mentioned it to you before, but that's the part of this area I've skipped. Maybe I'll do it someday, but I'm not that excited about it...

                            Without that in there, it's no big deal - you'll have a great trip in the spring. Enjoy!


                            • #15
                              It?s been quite a while since I paddled Rainer Brook, there were many beaver dams
                              We turned around at the private land line
                              It?s a pretty paddle, and I doubt you?ll see anyone else in there
                              I remember one massive upturned tree root, it?s actually visible in sat photos.

                              Behind site 8 on Hitchins is a cool backwater with old cisterns in the water from the days of Lows operations, very cool and Myst like

                              Last edited by stripperguy; 03-26-2022, 11:27 AM. Reason: Add pics