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Trip report Oswegatchie Traverse

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  • Trip report Oswegatchie Traverse

    Trip report 8/10/09 to 8/16/09 Oswegetchie River from Lowe’s lower dam to Inlet.

    We started the trip with the long drive from CT to Wanakena and stayed overnight at the Packbasket Lodge. Rick the owner drove with us early Tuesday morning to Lowe’s lower dam to drop us off. He then took my wife’s car back to the lodge until Sunday morning then left it at the Inlet parking area for us.
    This trip was just myself and my long time friend Jim. No one else wanted to attempt the 3 mile portage from Lowe’s Lake to the Oswegatchie River.
    We started paddling at 8:30 in the morning on Tuesday and made camp at site # 28 at midafternoon. We were going into site 27 but a young man in a kayak coming from the west got there mere seconds before us and informed us that he “called deebs on 27” for his family also coming from the west. No problem, 28 was open and just down the lake.
    We planned two nights on Lowes so Wednesday we got up early in fog and explored the western end of Lowes including Bog Lake, and Grassy pond.
    Thursday up and at the portage at 8:30 in the morning. We planned on two trips for each leg of this portage. The first .8 miles to Big Deer Pond was brutal with a swamp to our right. The skeeters only slightly outnumbered the deer fly, and both were very hungry.
    Big Deer Pond was nice and still, not even a ripple on it.
    The next 2.2 miles were fairly uneventful but tiring, total portage time just over six hours.
    At one point near the end we flushed five ruffed grouse which was kind of neat. There is a lot of down trees from the 1995 microburst. At least half of the portage from Big Deer pond to the river was through raspberry bushes crowding in on the trail. From Lowes Lake to below High Falls the only other people we saw were a gentleman with his teenage daughter who hiked from Lowes to the river to fish for native brook trout. They reached the portage just in front of us and we saw them again on our last leg of the portage, they said the fish weren’t big but very willing to bite.
    Once at the river we ate a snack and jumped in the water to get ready for the upper Os River. The first beaver dam was just out of sight right around the corner. We stopped at site number 9 for the night. Sleep came easy despite all the pains from the portage. Doing a double portage means 9 miles instead of three.We only planned one night on the upper part of the river so we started down early on Friday.
    Total beaver dams canoed over 45, total beaver dams that we had to lift over 15.
    We missed many of the camp sites on the way downriver, but not from the lack of looking. I think many of the camping sites above High Falls see seldom use and the site numbers are situated to be seen from down river coming up not going down.
    High Falls was very nice, we saw no one from the portage to the falls. At the falls we only saw a cooler in the lean to at the top of the falls.
    After lunch at the falls we continued down river to site 25 which was full of tents but we saw no one. Just a little down river we saw a bear coming into the river to the right, Jim at first thought it was a black lab. It was very surprised to see us and took off into the woods. Again we missed many of the camp sites on this part of the river and the ones we did find were overgrown.
    Late afternoon we met another canoe and they indicated that the lean-to just down river was open. But when we reached it two other boats were there and they were staying. We continued to site 37 for the night.
    Camp site 37 turned out ok so we stayed Friday night and Saturday night. Saturday we paddled back up river to find some of the sites we missed and to explore and swim. It was a very relaxing day. Sunday morning started at 8 or 8:30 took our time going down river. Stopped for pictures at High Rock and made it to Inlet sometime after 12.
    Great trip, glad we took our time. Very interesting river, with the beaver activity and all the twists and turns.
    It only hurts for the first 100 paddle strokes.:D

  • #2
    Hey CT,

    Nice report. And very informative.

    Did you use wheels to portage from Lows to the O?
    Would it be better to go from Inlet to the Lower dam?


    • #3
      Sounds like a good trip . Its amazing how the forest seems to swollow up the sites and trails that dont see much use.


      • #4
        No wheels on the portage. As hard as the portage was I think wheels would be worse. The trails are not really suited for wheels. At .6 miles from Big Deer pond there is a beaver dam to cross with a couple of small jumps if you want to keep your feet dry and out of the mud. Also there are some large trees across the trail.
        We spent Saturday paddling up from site 37 toward High Falls with an empty boat and although it was not bad going up, going down was much better. Also above High Falls with all the beaver dams going down is the way to go. As I said we had to lift over 15 dams going down, I think that number would be a lot higher if we were going up stream. We saw quite a few people going up river on Friday afternoon and some were having more trouble than others. All that being said going down river would be best in my humble opinion.
        It only hurts for the first 100 paddle strokes.:D


        • #5

          Thanks for your comeback. It really is a trip I was looking forward to, but with all the obstacles I don't know if I can do this with my 11 yo son. It would probably be too much for him to handle. It sounds like quite an adventure though.


          • #6
            Save this trip till next year and be sure to give yourself enough time for you and your son to enjoy it. We did 6 days and 5 nights and planed on not moving camp for two nights. but if we had to we could. Just pack light take your time and enjoy. Also going in August is good when you have to get in the water to go over some of the dams, the water is nice and cool. Good luck and let us know how you make out.
            It only hurts for the first 100 paddle strokes.:D


            • #7
              Glad you had a good trip . We did it in June with just 2 nights camping. Travelling light and 1-timing the carry made everything fairly easy, and high water in the Os reduced the number of beaver dam lift-overs to just a handfull. Most of the smaller dams were fully submerged, and we didn't see anything that resembled a rapids. We did see lots of mosquitoes and black flies, though!
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