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Old 05-24-2010, 07:34 PM   #1
DSettahr
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Spruce Lake (West Canada Lakes Wilderness) 5/22/2010

Pictures Here

Last spring, my uncle adopted the second Spruce Lake lean-to in the West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area for our family through the ADK's Lean-to Adoption Program. Six of us, myself, my friend Anna, my parents, and my Aunt and Uncle decided to make the spring trip into the lean-to on Saturday this past weekend.

The drive in through the Perkins Clearing Easement to the Spruce Lake trailhead at the end of Jessup River road is in as good as shape as ever, but that is not to say that the road is all easy going. It took us about an hour to reach the trailhead from Route 30. There's some rocks here and there that require careful navigation around, but any car, regardless of clearance (or lack thereof) should be able to make the drive provided the driver is willing to drive slow enough.

On our drive in, we ran into Tom Eakin on his way out, who is pretty much a living forest ranger legend (he was Lary Weill's boss in the Excuse Me Sir, Your Socks Are on Fire books). We chatted with him for a couple of minutes before moving on.

Lyme Timber has been harvesting this area hard- I'm hard pressed to think of any other areas in the Adirondacks that have been harvested so much in recent years. At least the harvested areas have opened up some really nice views of Pillsbury Mountain on the drive in.

After reaching the parking area (actually 2 parking areas, with room for about 3 cars each), we disembarked and began our hike in. The hike into Spruce Lake is mostly on old logging roads, and while there is a decent amount of uphill, it is easy going the whole way; it's 3 miles to Spruce Lake and an additional mile along the shore to the second and third lean-tos at the north end. I was surprised at how dry the trail (and even the general area) was- I have never seen these trails this dry or these streams this low in the spring before. The trails were in excellent shape overall.

The junction where the yellow marked trail from the trailhead reaches the Northville-Placid Trail is much better marked than it used to me. 2 years ago, the side trail was unmarked, but it now has yellow markers the whole way to the junction with the NPT. A number of signs have been put up in the junction as well. I guess the DEC got tired of searching for lost hikers who had day hiked into Spruce Lake from the Perkins Clearing Easement, and missed the junction in the dusk on their way out. You can't miss this junction now.

Just after crossing Bloodgood Brook, I heard a commotion off in the woods to my left. I looked over just in time to see a mother bear and one cub take off into the woods, and a second cub quickly climb a tree. I snapped one picture of the cub in the tree before he decided he'd better join his mom and sibling, jumped down, and ran off in the woods. One of the cutest things I've ever seen in my life. I can finally say I'm no longer a virgin when it comes to backcountry bear sitings! Despite having spent more than 200 nights in the woods, and gone on more day hikes than I can count or remember in the past few years, I'd still never seen a bear in the Adirondack backcountry. (I'd even completed my 46 without seeing one!) Seeing one finally was definitely a highlight for me.

Just before Spruce Lake, we stopped briefly to check out the remains of an old lumber/lease camp. All that's left really is the garbage pile, but there's some interesting glass bottles and jars to be found in those sometimes.

When we arrived at Spruce Lake, we found that the first (southern) lean-to was quite a mess. Broken glass and garbage was everywhere. The log book was missing (presumably it had ended up in the fire). What a shame... at least the clearing (the old lean-to site) down by the shore was in decent condition. Despite having a no-camping disc up in it, people have illegally camped there often, and left it a mess.

After regrouping, we continued north to the second lean-to. This lean-to is generally the most popular lean-to on Spruce Lake, and therefore the most often abused and trashed. It was surprisingly clean (in comparison to how it has looked in the past). Someone had dumped a bag of garbage down the outhouse though, and various animals had obviously been working on digging it out.

This is the lean-to where, during one of my winter adventures on the Northville-Placid Trail, we were forced by a spring melt to use a canoe left at the lean-to to paddle up to the next lean-to. Melt water had rendered the Balsam Lake Outlet crossing impassable between the second and third Spruce Lake lean-tos. There was no sign of a boat of any kind on this trip.

We ate lunch, and got to work cleaning up the lean-to. It wasn't too hard to get all of the trash collected and bagged (again, the lean-to was surprisingly clean). The lean-to itself though is kind of in rough shape- there are sections where the floor sags a bit when you step on it, and the whole shelter is kind of leaning to the side. Some of the dates inscribed in the wall are from the 60's, so the lean-to has obviously been around for quite some time. I'm not sure how much longer it will last... I wouldn't at all be surprised that if and when it becomes unsuitable for use, the DEC will tear it down and replace it with a new lean-to that is farther back from the shore.

After we finished with our lean-to duties at the second lean-to, some of us took a quick side trip up to the third lean-to while the rest of our group started back. At least at the third lean-to, the group had left all of their trash in the cooler rather than tossing it on the ground. Empty oreo wrappers, food wrappers, etc... There was quite a bit of trash. I couldn't believe that someone would carry in a cooler, and then just leave it full of trash without carrying it out. We picked up what we could. On the plus side, there were tens of painted trilliums in bloom. The whole lean-to was surrounded by white and red flowers!

We returned to the first lean-to, where we again collected what garbage we could. There was a group of 5 hikers, who were section hiking the NPT, eating lunch in the clearing down by the lake. They had a dog that was all bark and no bite, and actually quite friendly once you took the time to sit down, let her sniff your outstretched hand, and say hello. They were headed up to West Lake for the evening; I recommended the South Lake Lean-to instead as the best lean-to in the West Lake/South Lake/Mud Lake area.

The hike out was fairly uneventful. Overall, the trails were in good shape as I stated; incredibly dry for this time of year. The black flies were out, swarming, and biting some, but they didn't bother you at all if you kept moving. At Spruce Lake the breeze from the water kept them at bay.

There was some blowdown here and there on the trail, but nothing major.

A good spring day trip back into one of my favorite destinations.

Last edited by DSettahr; 05-24-2010 at 08:29 PM..
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Old 05-24-2010, 07:38 PM   #2
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loon on Spruce Lake made our day.Looncry and son gr8 TR,DS
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Old 05-24-2010, 08:52 PM   #3
Justin
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Cool Report D!

Congrats on catching a glimpse at your first wild Adirondack black bear!
Still waitin' on my first.

That's pretty cool that you were able to run into Ranger Eakin... although I doubt that's the first time for you... you do seem to know that area very well.

I was lucky enough to read one of Larry Wiell's entries in the log book at Cedars #2 a few years ago....A cool little story about his long a-waited return trip he took there with his daughter... very fun read!

It's good to know that you are one of the lean-to adopters for Spruce Lake Lean-to #2.
Please let me know anytime when you may want or need an extra hand, I'd be glad to help out!
When I was there with some friends a few years ago, we did our best to re-support that sagging floor with a few 4-5 inch diameter (dead) spruce logs that we cut to length, and then wedged them tightly in between the loose floor boards and the ground.
Our makeshift repair held out pretty good for our stay, but we knew that it probably wouldn't last for very long.
It wouldn't surprise me if some knucklehead probably yanked them out for fire wood or something.

Sorry to hear about all the garbage you encountered!
What the heck is the matter with some people?
We cleaned up a bunch of trash when we were there also, and I remember telling you about the garbage I encountered near the north end of the lake last year.

This drives me nuts!

You do a great job with your TR's, and I enjoy reading them all.
I like to share a few of my own from time to time, but all these beautiful "favorite" Adirondack locations keep getting trashed and it never seems to get any better, only getting worse... and it all kind of makes me think twice now about sharing detailed descriptions about some of these beautiful places on a world wide public internet forum. Especially now when the DEC is taking the hit like it has, and there will not be as much regulation enforcement in some of these places as there once was.

So please... Everybody, If you read these Trip Reports and plan your own adventure into these areas,
Please...PLEASE carry out what you carry in, Please be respectful of others who enjoy the outdoors, and have some fun and enjoy yourself, just keep it clean for cryin' out loud!

Last edited by Justin; 05-24-2010 at 09:36 PM..
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Old 05-24-2010, 08:59 PM   #4
DSettahr
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin View Post
When I was there with some friends a few years ago, we did our best to re-support that sagging floor with a few 4-5 inch diameter (dead) spruce logs that we cut to length, and then wedged them tightly in between the loose floor boards and the ground.
Our makeshift repair held out pretty good for our stay, but we knew that it probably wouldn't last for very long.
It wouldn't surprise me if some knucklehead probably yanked them out for fire wood or something.
Your repair has been replaced with some rocks that seem to be doing the trick, at least for now.

As for detailed trip reports to cool places, my goal is to write so many of them that people will be so overwhelmed with different trip reports, that they won't all concentrate in one place.
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Old 05-24-2010, 09:22 PM   #5
b00tz
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Thanks for the report! I'll be up that trail tomorrow. I hate to hear about left trash and the lost log book! Looks like I might hit a thunderstorm thursday or friday, hopefully I'll be at brooktrout lake by then....
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Old 05-24-2010, 09:40 PM   #6
Justin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSettahr View Post

As for detailed trip reports to cool places, my goal is to write so many of them that people will be so overwhelmed with different trip reports, that they won't all concentrate in one place.
Good luck with your goal, and thank you for sharing your experiences with everyone who views this forum.
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Old 05-25-2010, 11:59 AM   #7
viewseeker
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSettahr View Post
Pictures Here

Last spring, my uncle adopted the second Spruce Lake lean-to in the West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area for our family through the ADK's Lean-to Adoption Program. Six of us, myself, my friend Anna, my parents, and my Aunt and Uncle decided to make the spring trip into the lean-to on Saturday this past weekend.

The drive in through the Perkins Clearing Easement to the Spruce Lake trailhead at the end of Jessup River road is in as good as shape as ever, but that is not to say that the road is all easy going. It took us about an hour to reach the trailhead from Route 30. There's some rocks here and there that require careful navigation around, but any car, regardless of clearance (or lack thereof) should be able to make the drive provided the driver is willing to drive slow enough.

On our drive in, we ran into Tom Eakin on his way out, who is pretty much a living forest ranger legend (he was Lary Weill's boss in the Excuse Me Sir, Your Socks Are on Fire books). We chatted with him for a couple of minutes before moving on.

Lyme Timber has been harvesting this area hard- I'm hard pressed to think of any other areas in the Adirondacks that have been harvested so much in recent years. At least the harvested areas have opened up some really nice views of Pillsbury Mountain on the drive in.

After reaching the parking area (actually 2 parking areas, with room for about 3 cars each), we disembarked and began our hike in. The hike into Spruce Lake is mostly on old logging roads, and while there is a decent amount of uphill, it is easy going the whole way; it's 3 miles to Spruce Lake and an additional mile along the shore to the second and third lean-tos at the north end. I was surprised at how dry the trail (and even the general area) was- I have never seen these trails this dry or these streams this low in the spring before. The trails were in excellent shape overall.

The junction where the yellow marked trail from the trailhead reaches the Northville-Placid Trail is much better marked than it used to me. 2 years ago, the side trail was unmarked, but it now has yellow markers the whole way to the junction with the NPT. A number of signs have been put up in the junction as well. I guess the DEC got tired of searching for lost hikers who had day hiked into Spruce Lake from the Perkins Clearing Easement, and missed the junction in the dusk on their way out. You can't miss this junction now.

Just after crossing Bloodgood Brook, I heard a commotion off in the woods to my left. I looked over just in time to see a mother bear and one cub take off into the woods, and a second cub quickly climb a tree. I snapped one picture of the cub in the tree before he decided he'd better join his mom and sibling, jumped down, and ran off in the woods. One of the cutest things I've ever seen in my life. I can finally say I'm no longer a virgin when it comes to backcountry bear sitings! Despite having spent more than 200 nights in the woods, and gone on more day hikes than I can count or remember in the past few years, I'd still never seen a bear in the Adirondack backcountry. (I'd even completed my 46 without seeing one!) Seeing one finally was definitely a highlight for me.

Just before Spruce Lake, we stopped briefly to check out the remains of an old lumber/lease camp. All that's left really is the garbage pile, but there's some interesting glass bottles and jars to be found in those sometimes.

When we arrived at Spruce Lake, we found that the first (southern) lean-to was quite a mess. Broken glass and garbage was everywhere. The log book was missing (presumably it had ended up in the fire). What a shame... at least the clearing (the old lean-to site) down by the shore was in decent condition. Despite having a no-camping disc up in it, people have illegally camped there often, and left it a mess.

After regrouping, we continued north to the second lean-to. This lean-to is generally the most popular lean-to on Spruce Lake, and therefore the most often abused and trashed. It was surprisingly clean (in comparison to how it has looked in the past). Someone had dumped a bag of garbage down the outhouse though, and various animals had obviously been working on digging it out.

This is the lean-to where, during one of my winter adventures on the Northville-Placid Trail, we were forced by a spring melt to use a canoe left at the lean-to to paddle up to the next lean-to. Melt water had rendered the Balsam Lake Outlet crossing impassable between the second and third Spruce Lake lean-tos. There was no sign of a boat of any kind on this trip.

We ate lunch, and got to work cleaning up the lean-to. It wasn't too hard to get all of the trash collected and bagged (again, the lean-to was surprisingly clean). The lean-to itself though is kind of in rough shape- there are sections where the floor sags a bit when you step on it, and the whole shelter is kind of leaning to the side. Some of the dates inscribed in the wall are from the 60's, so the lean-to has obviously been around for quite some time. I'm not sure how much longer it will last... I wouldn't at all be surprised that if and when it becomes unsuitable for use, the DEC will tear it down and replace it with a new lean-to that is farther back from the shore.

After we finished with our lean-to duties at the second lean-to, some of us took a quick side trip up to the third lean-to while the rest of our group started back. At least at the third lean-to, the group had left all of their trash in the cooler rather than tossing it on the ground. Empty oreo wrappers, food wrappers, etc... There was quite a bit of trash. I couldn't believe that someone would carry in a cooler, and then just leave it full of trash without carrying it out. We picked up what we could. On the plus side, there were tens of painted trilliums in bloom. The whole lean-to was surrounded by white and red flowers!

We returned to the first lean-to, where we again collected what garbage we could. There was a group of 5 hikers, who were section hiking the NPT, eating lunch in the clearing down by the lake. They had a dog that was all bark and no bite, and actually quite friendly once you took the time to sit down, let her sniff your outstretched hand, and say hello. They were headed up to West Lake for the evening; I recommended the South Lake Lean-to instead as the best lean-to in the West Lake/South Lake/Mud Lake area.

The hike out was fairly uneventful. Overall, the trails were in good shape as I stated; incredibly dry for this time of year. The black flies were out, swarming, and biting some, but they didn't bother you at all if you kept moving. At Spruce Lake the breeze from the water kept them at bay.

There was some blowdown here and there on the trail, but nothing major.

A good spring day trip back into one of my favorite destinations.
Awesome. reading.. Ill be there in 18days for my section hike to blue Mtn. im excited to look around as ill have extra time in that area waiting for a partner coming from pillsbury trail on sunday.. we plan to stay at the south lake LT... sounds like the bears are still afraid of humans...thats a good thing..
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