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Old 06-30-2016, 08:38 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 11
High Falls Loop/Five Ponds for 1st backcountry overnight

It was a trip of firsts: first backcountry overnight, first trip into Five Ponds, first use of my bear canister, and fittingly-first bear encounter!

I was looking for a long hike that was an easy drive from home-Wanakena is only a little more than an hour away, and a trip into the remote Five Ponds Wilderness seemed to fit the bill. This was a totally new experience for me-hiking was always about mountains and day hikes. Over time I have been investing in overnight gear and finally decided to pack it all up and head out through the loop trail toward high falls and then on to Sand Lake-truly the boonies.

I didn’t consider several things when planning this long trip-1. A full load in my Atmos was way more than I was used to, especially on day 2. I’m used to fast attack day trips. 2. 30% rain became 100% thunderstorms. Early on I made great time, made it to High Rock in about 90 minutes, Big Shallow lean-to in about 4 hours. Once you get off the loop trail the Sand Lake trail is more rugged with more ups and downs. Skies then darkened and I hustled toward Little Shallow Pond lean-to.

At the shelter I met a pair of exhausted hikers who were trying to do the Cranberry 50 and ended up in Star Lake! In their defense the signage where the Sand Lake trail turns right was damaged and needs repair. The skies were rumbling, so I decided to return to a great spot I saw right after the bridge over the Oswegatchie, but was delayed for an hour with a torrential downpour after returning to the Big Shallow lean-to.

Finally set up camp by the river (site 26?) and had hammock and tarp ready by 6. After washing up in this awesome spot I hear a huge crashing sounding the woods over the bridge. I look up and see my first HUGE bear across the river about 100 feet way. We just sat there and stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity, then I got smart, grabbed my hiking poles and banged them together screaming “Get outta here!”. He darted way quickly, thank god.

After an understandably fitful night of sleep I reluctantly put on my wet boots (absolutely needed gaiters on this trip) and headed out towards Janack’s Landing. I skipped High Falls because my feet were re-soaked with the dewy grass and ferns, my shins were scratched into a road map, and If I heard one more deer fly I was going to snap. Even with a head net they were relentless. (I hate head nets). There was a deep beaver pond that has a 100 foot+ long tree bridging it-I took 2 steps on the wet log and mucked my way to the nearest beaver dam instead.

The trip out was awful. My pack seemed so much heavier the second day. My shoulders and ribs (?) were so sore-I had to stop and take off my pack to rest 3-4 times. Other than the beaver dams and the bugs the rest of the loop was quite nice, would have made a more varied trip to the interior than the trail to High Rock. Despite the stops I was still back to my car by 11 a.m. Stats: 16+miles Wednesday, 8+ today. I will be better prepared next time-S&S

Last edited by slowandsteady; 07-01-2016 at 12:17 PM..
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Old 06-30-2016, 08:43 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Webster NY
Posts: 17
slowandsteady, Thanks for the report. My brother and I will be doing our first backpacking trip into Moose River Plains in late August so your report will be useful as insight into some of the things we might encounter...any pics to post? Thanks!
"Get busy living, or get busy dyin."
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Old 06-30-2016, 09:00 PM   #3
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 243
great report, and every trip can be challenging and leave something to be learned! yeah, shins... mine got chewed up on a bike trip last fall - pedal met shin numerous times!
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Old 06-30-2016, 10:19 PM   #4
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Northampton, MA
Posts: 373
That's a lot of hiking with a full pack in rain & mud! Other folks are stoic about rain, but I find it makes everything much worse, whatever you're wearing & equipped with. Congratulations on a successfully completed trip.
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Old 07-01-2016, 08:30 AM   #5
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Schenectady, NY
Posts: 3,756
Those tests of fortitude are always the ones best remembered...what doesn't kill you will only make you stronger! Or at least, that's what I tell everyone during arduous trips!

And yeah, let's see some photos.
Oh, and welcome to the forum.
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Old 07-01-2016, 09:51 AM   #6
Loopin for the Lama
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Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Winooski, VT
Posts: 51
Nice on the perseverance front; Iím lucky (or a weenie, take your pick) in that I live very close to the park (Burlington VT) and I can almost always look at the weather forecast on say a Monday and if Wednesday or Thursday looks good just tell my boss and most always am given the OK, so I miss a lot of crappy weather.
"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
--Hunter Thompson
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Old 07-01-2016, 12:05 PM   #7
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 11
Added photo link above, thanks for the comments. Another 1st-this was my 1st post to this board, I also have many posts on the ADK high peaks forums.
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Old 07-01-2016, 02:39 PM   #8
Bark Eater Too
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Location: Wilmington, DE
Posts: 236
Welcome, slowandsteady. Thanks for the report!
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