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Old 08-04-2020, 03:01 PM   #1
Eddy Turn
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William Whitney portages

Hi everyone, new forum member hear. Next week we are planning our first trip to Adirondack, to WW wilderness. I'm somewhat confused with description of Little Tupper to Lila traverse in Dave Cilley Adirondack Paddler (fourth edition). Among other things: is Hardigan portage 1.75 or 2.2 miles long? It makes some difference for double-carry. Also, is Lilypad portage to Shingle Shanty through Mud pond closed, as the guide stated? From Lila travers thread on this forum I got the impression that it was opened in 2015.
Thanks and cheers!
Sergey
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Old 08-04-2020, 03:20 PM   #2
DSettahr
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I did this route a month ago as part of a longer traverse from Little Tupper to the Oswegatchie.

The portage from Rock Pond to Hardigan Pond is definitely more along the lines of 1.75 miles. It mostly follows old roads (and an old railroad grade). There's a few less-than-super-obvious junctions but as long as you pay attention the main route isn't too hard to discern. There's also some beaver activity along the portage- nothing that is worth getting back into your boat for but expect some mud.

As I understand it, the most recent court ruling determined that the "water" route from Lilypad to Shingle Shanty (by way of Mud Pond) is indeed trespassing. So you must take the portage trail instead. Honestly, this portage was not that bad- and from what I could tell, the upstream portions of Shingle Shanty didn't really seem super interesting, anyways (likely numerous obstacles to deal with).

All 5 of the portages along this route need some work- they weren't horrendous by any means, but they do need a little bit of side cutting and signage.
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Old 08-05-2020, 06:46 PM   #3
Eddy Turn
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Thanks, Dsetthar, that was helpful!
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Old 08-07-2020, 12:50 PM   #4
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The carries are long enough, the take-outs & put-ins sometimes messy enough, and Shingle Shanty meandering enough, that going from Rock to Lila might take longer than you expect. The first time I did it I got to Lila around sunset, and almost all the sites were taken. Apparently most of the popular lakes like Lila are especially crowded this summer. The second time I did it, last year. I camped at Little Salmon. So you might want to consider breaking that stretch -- or else starting quite early. If you do decide to split it, the best of the three sites is the one right on Little Salmon. The worst is the one just before Little Salmon, on the Salmon Lake outlet. Lila is much better than any of the intermediate campsites, but the earlier you get there, the better. [Just edited this: I realized after reading DSettahr's 2nd post that I had put Lilypad when I meant Little Salmon.]

Last edited by rickhart; 08-08-2020 at 11:03 AM..
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Old 08-07-2020, 01:05 PM   #5
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I planned on an extra night between Little Tupper and Lila but ended up pushing through all the way to Lila... mainly because the few designated sites between Rock Pond and Lila weren't very nice (small, not well established, overgrown/brushy, buggy, etc.). It also helped that I camped on the west end of Little Tupper and got an early start from there.

I did meander a bit on the way (especially on Rock Pond to check out the sites there) and did not end up getting to Lila until late afternoon. I was shocked to see how busy Lila was on a Thursday afternoon... nearly every site was already occupied. I legitimately began to get concerned that I would not find an open designated site and would be forced to do the 150 foot thing. About the 7th site I checked I finally found one that was open.

Rock Pond does have a number of nice sites (except Site #26, that one is a burning dumpster fire as far as campsite quality is concerned) and seems to get less use than Little Tupper.

Do also note that in the eastern two-thirds of the William C. Whitney Wilderness (everything from noticeable crook in the direction of Shingle Shanty eastward) camping is permitted at designated sites only.
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Old 08-07-2020, 02:04 PM   #6
Eddy Turn
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Yes, availability is abig concern. We plan splitting route to Lila in two days, especially, considering that the youngest paddler has just turned five, and hope to hit Lila around noon on Thursday. Still not sure it will help.
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Old 08-07-2020, 03:19 PM   #7
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Noon is better than late afternoon, as it gives you quite a bit of daylight to look around for an open site. My advice would be to grab the first open one you spot... Even if it's not the nicest. And even then, plan on spending extra time and energy looking for an open spot.

Thinking back on the sites between Rock Pond and Lila:

Site 31 was OK. Decent flat ground and the largest of these 4 sites (although that's not saying much). The site is located right on top of the old railroad grade (but after the portage trail ends so you shouldn't have any traffic passing through). There was also a huge anthill on the east side of the site (you basically have to walk across it to enter the site) that you'd want to make sure not to set up your tents anywhere close to.

Site 32 was also OK. It clearly gets very little use- the fire pit was filled with at least a year's accumulation of pine needles. OK as far as flat ground is concerned, the site is kind of spotty (room for a tent here, room for another tent over there sort of thing).

Site 33 has nice views from the site itself but is also lacking in flat ground. There's rocks and roots sticking out of the ground here too.

Site 34 is right smack in the middle of the portage trail between Little Salmon Lake and Lilypad Pond. It's got some OK flat ground but if you set up here and anyone else happens to pass through, they'll be portaging right through the middle of your campsite. Seriously, the fire pit and tent pad are right in the tread of the portage trail.

If you're planning to stay in any of these sites, I'd plan on 2 small tents max. (And you may struggle to fit even two tents on Sites 33 and 34.) Hammocks will definitely give you more options.
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Old 08-20-2020, 03:24 PM   #8
Eddy Turn
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Thanks for help, Dsettahr and rickhart. We are back from the trip. Camping on Hardigan and Little Salmon was tight but we had no problem with our 4-person tent. Site on Hardigan pond even accommodated a 12' tarp. Bigger lakes were very busy, and probably fully booked on weekends, but on weekdays we were able to get a site both on Lila and Little Tupper. The portages between these two lakes are in surprisingly poor shape considering that they see quite a bit of traffic. If I come there again I'll bring loppers and reserve some time for maintenance.
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Old 08-20-2020, 03:34 PM   #9
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Even though Lila and Little Tupper are both fairly popular, I don't think the traverse between those two bodies of water gets much use. Accordingly, those portage trails also see relatively little use. The vast majority (95+%) of visitors to the area don't venture beyond the main bodies of water.
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Old 08-21-2020, 12:41 PM   #10
Eddy Turn
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Not a ton of use, yes - we saw 3 parties/5 boats in 3 days we were there. I wonder how many people will drop their gear and crawl over 10" log or walk into an ankle-twisting hole before someone spends half an hour to fix it for years to come.
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Old 08-24-2020, 12:14 AM   #11
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Glad you did the trip. That stretch between Rock & Lila is really nice *because* it's so much less traveled. Esp. the Salmon Lake Outlet & Little Salmon have a really remote feeling to them. It makes the less-than-ideal campsites and the rough carries worth it -- plus the beautiful lakes/ponds on either end.
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Old 08-24-2020, 12:42 PM   #12
Eddy Turn
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The traverse definitely feels on the wild side comparing to more popular lakes and we liked the feel and enjoyed camping there. Portages are alive with mushrooms and some berries, though it was late in season. But I won't call the carries especially rough: all of them are flat, well marked and long established with obvious foot path and many of them follow forest roads. What makes them rough is lack of care. We used to travel in Canada where a week and more can pass without seeing a living person and still portages by August are mostly in better shape - maintained sometimes by local enthusiasts or just by a few paddlers traveling the route. Of course one do not expect families with small kids to do the cleaning - and we met 2 such families with kids as young as 3 and 4. That was very nice!
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