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Putnum Pond & Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area – Spring Trout Fishing and Backpacking

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There are so many places to visit that often making a decision on a destination can be the hardest part of a trip. This time the chosen route was to the justly popular Putnum Pond and Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area.

Our first night we found ourselves at the Grizzle Ocean lean-to. Despite having plans to put some more miles on and hike further along the trail, we decided to stay put when we found the accommodations to our liking. After noticing some fish carcasses at the waters edge it became clear someone had success and so I snapped my fishing gear together and began casting. While I didn’t have luck yet on the fish, I did come across a patch of wild cranberries while stepping out to the edge looking for solid footing on which to take a cast. The cranberries went right into the Foraging Pouch with hopes that it would be added to a trout for the nights meal.

We made camp and began to settle in and later went back out for the magic hour in hopes of hooking into a brook trout. Ken saved the day with a licorice flavored egg that was weighted to the bottom of the pond not more than 15 feet out from shore. It caught a good size trout and allowed us to add some calories beyond our dehydrated meals.  I had mostly brought spinners as they had worked well from a canoe on previous trips.  Turns out many of the ol’timers use worms aka “Adirondack bacon” and even dip them in garlic scent before weighting them to the bottom of the ponds.

Back at camp, we added the cranberries to the trout and some spice and wrapped it in some heavy duty tinfoil before placing on the coals. It was delicious. Maybe the best trout I’ve had period. Although hunger is the best spice and also meeting a trip goal on the first night made it all the better. It was followed up with some Chaga Tea collected on the trail and venison tenderloin carried in for the first nights dinner.

After a long drive and hike with fully packed gear it was time to hang the bear bag and get some sleep.

We woke around 8am for breakfast and coffee and a few more casts before we hit the trail toward Pharaoh Lake.

We arrived about 2pm at a lean-to after two scout leaders who had settled in. They had taken a different hike than the scout troop which was climbing the nearby peak of Pharaoh Mountain with some challenging vertical gains of very tight topo lines. They graciously shared the space with us as Ken and Scott slept in the lean-to and Ron and myself setup our hammock rigs.

Lucky for them they were camping with bushcrafters and we had wood processed and a big fire going in no time to dry and warm us all up. After the heavy rains in the last few days, it took some scouting to find proper dead, down and dry materials that wouldn’t need to be babied all evening.

This crew has been great to camp with..everything from fire to food to water purification just happen with minimal communication necessary. I feel lucky to find a few friends who are as into these adventures as I am.

Off to enjoy some sleep after a fun long day and I think we all slept well minus some snoring and bodily sounds and smells going on in the lean-to.  Glad I had my hammock and the sounds of loons to lull me to sleep.

We hit the trail and hiked along some beautiful creeks and classic Adirondack scenery. All the camping sites and lean-to’s provided excellent accommodations with beautiful views, water and fishing opportunities.

We ended up hiking for most the day and finally made camp at Little Rock Pond.  With some other groups out and about some of the sites were taken limiting our choices but this worked well with our plan to have a shorter hike out on Sunday knowing we all had 4+ hour travel time to get home.

Little Rock was a beautiful spot full of the sounds of spring peepers, barred owls and bitterns. Scott hooked into a trout big enough for supper and so Ron cooked it in a pot with butter cooking it to perfection.

The trip came together wonderfully with some excellent camping, hiking, fishing, scenery and friends.

Now it’s time to pick the next destination and find a free weekend.

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Adirondacks – Cedar River Flow

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Back in November, I had an opportunity to explore the Cedar River Flow. My friends and I had plans for Bog River Flow but due to construction on the dam we were unable to access the area.  Good thing the Adirondacks are so full of great options for public open space to explore.

 

 

Autumn Canoe Camping in the Adirondacks

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My friend Ron and I had a great trip in early October to the St. Regis area of the Adirondacks. We hit the autumn colors at peak, portaged to hidden ponds, caught brook trout for dinner, had a crayfish boil, lounged in our hammocks and just enjoyed the incredible beauty and peacefulness the wilderness area offers.

 

It’s wonderful to return to an area you’ve been before but have a completely new experience based on hitting a few side ponds, staying at different campsites and going in the “off” season. We could have counted the people we saw and heard on one hand.  The video sums up the trip nicely and shows a mix of it all including some bushcrafty skills mixed with modern gear.

Lake Lila, Adirondacks – Whitney Wilderness Canoe Trip

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My wife, dog and I took a trip to Lake Lila in the Adirondacks to explore part of the Whitney Wilderness Area.  We portaged in and paddled around the lake exploring the surrounding nature and camping for three nights. I had a chance to have some fun working on my advanced wilderness bushcraft skills as part of Bushcraft USA and also paddle our new kevlar Mad River Explorer Canoe.

Adirondack St. Regis Wilderness Area – Nine Carries Canoe Trip

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Solitude and Wilderness is what we were after and like Nessmuk “We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it” and so we went to make it as smooth, as restful and pleasurable as we could”. Nessmuk was the pen name of George Washington Sears who wrote for Forest and Stream magazine and published “Woodcraft and Camping“. It may have been his travels and writings that planted in my mind the idea of canoeing this region that he so enjoyed.  It could be argued that Nessmuk’s travel writing and paddling of his canoe the Sairy Gump was the start of modern ultra-light camping and I think he would have been pleased to paddle the modern two person 40lb Wenohna Escapade that St. Regis Canoe Outfitters rented us for our trip.

Using the Adirondack Paddler’s Guide and Adirondack Paddler’s Map we were able to “stay found” and embarked on the Nine Carries Route into the pristine St. Regis Wilderness in the heart of the Adirondack lake country. The route included paddling Long Pond- Nellie Pond-Kit Fox Pond-Little Long Pond West-Fish Pond- Ochre Pond-St. Regis Pond & Little Clear Pond.  We decided to run the trip in reverse getting transported to Little Clear Pond and having the freedom to paddle back to our vehicle located on Floodwood Road, Lake Clear, NY at the St. Regis Canoe Outfitter at our own leisure. While it is possible for experienced paddlers to undertake this entire trip in one full day our plan was to spend 4 days and 3 nights from Saturday afternoon on September 15th until Tuesday morning on the 18th. The route included 9 portages (Aprox. 5 miles total with the longest about 1.6 miles), approximately 15 miles total distance and rated a 10/10 for most wilderness in the Adirondack Paddlers Guide.

Paddling in this region at the start of autumn would have been enough a reason to take this trip but the pursuit of trout fishing has become a pleasure of ours. There is a technique popular in the Adirondack lakes for trout fishing known as the “Wabbler and the Worm“.  It consists of a swival and a wabbler or a shiny oval spoon and then from the wabbler is extended 18″ to 24” inches of line with a hook and worm.  We tried the local technique with no luck, maybe we weren’t fishing where the fish were. Eventually we did seduce one brook trout from under a floating pond log to slurp at a panther martin spinner with worm.  In getting caught up in the appropriate tackle, I’m reminded to simplify my approach through Nessmuk’s wisdom as he writes “There is no one variety of bait that the angler finds so constantly useful as the worm”.

While we brought a modern tent to make camp quickly, the first night we were lucky enough to find an Adirondack Lean-to.  Traditionally the lean-to structure would be crudely assembled in the woods with balsam or spruce poles leaned from the back towards a high supporting front ridge pole.  The backside and floor would be covered with evergreen boughs while the front side would be left open to the radiant glow and heat of a camp fire.  The modern lean-to that we sheltered in for a night had the luxuries of peeled logs, a shingled roof, floor boards and a stone fire structure with a back wall that reflected heat into structure providing us extra warmth on a cold autumn night. Thanks to the Adirondack Mountain Club for the maintenance of these wonderful structures.

On the portage route the forest varied from conifer swamp species of  black spruce, tamarack, speckled alder and white cedar to Northern hardwood forest species of hemlock, yellow birch, paper birch, white pine and red maple. Along the trail the tracks of those animals who inhabit the forest were also frequently found. The ease of travel on the portage trail compared to the bushwhacking required off trail is surely recognized by both “man and beast”.

To step out into wild places for the chance to breath clean fresh air, drink crisp cold water and dwell in beauty has become a passion.  Traveling in the wilderness is an opportunity to exercise your true character, gain confidence, betray civilized society if for only a short while and build towards a life style of self reliance.  I’m thankful for the skills shared from previous campers, for the chance to explore and discover, take the winding trail and live to experience and share the natural world another day.

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“If you are a woods man you will strike but one match”. – Nessmuk

“If In Doubt, Scout – You Have to Go to Know”

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