I don't remember exactly when I started considering hiking the Northville - Placid Trail. It was certainly no more than a couple of years ago. I had finished climbing the 46 high peaks of the Adirondacks - thus becoming a "46'r" - before I turned 46. That was a long time ago! Mary, Steve Knoll and I had hiked most of the Long Lake to Lake Placid section of the trail a few years ago. That section, mostly following the Cold River, was very enjoyable and certainly planted the seed for hiking the entire trail. I guess ultimately it just seemed like a logical thing to do since I love hiking and the Adirondacks and a through trip on the N-P trail is certainly one of the major Adirondack accomplishments along with climbing the 46. (Another one being a day's ski up Mt Marcy and back an Adirondack Bar Mitzvah as a friend of mine called the trip.) Once I decided to go I figured I had better do it soon since my physical ability is certainly not improving over time. The next step was that I needed someone to go with me. When I brought this up with Mary, and we talked about which friends would be interested and have the time necessary, to my surprise she said that she would want to go. That was fantastic - I really didn't think she would be up for this. We also started getting various friends interested in joining us for part of the trip. Nancy and Steve Knoll signed on for 4 days. My son in law, Jason, was definitely up for a few days. And my cross country skiing buddy, Dave Loux, wanted to join us also. To make a long story at least somewhat shorter, the plan that gelled was that Mary was going to do the beginning and end and take a break in the middle. She realized that 13 straight days was probably too much. Nancy and Steve would join us from Piseco to Wakely Dam, day 3 to day 6. Then Jason and Dave would hike with me from Wakely to Long Lake, days 7-9, when Nancy, Steve and Mary left the trail. In Long Lake Mary would rejoin me for the final 4 days to Lake Placid and Dave and Jason would go home. Mary and I would have dinner out and the night in a motel in Long Lake - which just happened to be our anniversary. It was all worked out. We carried our packs around Troy to get in shape. We went for long day hikes on our July vacation with our packs loaded. We dried all kinds of things in preparation - bananas, peaches, apples, ground turkey, and peppers. We bought food supplies at Nori's, the health food store in Saranac Lake, ordered some freeze dried meals from Sierra Trader (Nancy and Steve did the same for our 4 days together), and combed the food store aisles for suitable items. We spend tons of time sitting at the kitchen table with pen and paper figuring out food. It was very complicated. People would be coming and going several times over the 13 days and there was no sense in carrying any more that necessary. We counted up the number of teaspoons of sugar needed for coffee for each section for example. On the other hand, we definitely wanted to have enough food. We would be burning a lot more calories than normal. Finally, everything was set except for actually packing the food and getting it to the appropriate people. We just had to make a trip to the Ziplock bag factory - the local stores in no way stocked enough bags. Then on the weekend before the Thursday departure day Mary realized that, despite her strong desire to be a part of this adventure, her back and leg pains were not getting any better. Walking was OK but carrying a pack was out of the question. Even if carrying the pack seemed doable taking the risk of having a significant problem miles from any trailhead made no sense at all. This was a major disappointment for both of us. Thus started a flurry of phone calls to rearrange the hiking partners and refigure the food. Dave thankfully was flexible and desirous of hiking the Long Lake to Placid last section taking Mary's place. But it wasn't until around 8pm on Wednesday night before the Thursday morning departure that Isaac Ray signed on for the first 3 days. Hooray for Isaac! Once again all was set. Dave Loux would drive Isaac and me to the Benson trailhead. (Mary, as it turned out, had almost a full time job while I was away packing up food for subsequent sections and driving back and forth 3 times to different meeting points.) Thursday morning, at our house, we loaded our gear into Dave's car. There were final instructions, no doubt a few admonishments to be careful, Mary and I hugged and kissed our goodbyes and we were off. A grand adventure lay before me - I was excited - in my subdued way.

Northville - Placid Trail Journal - August 17-29, 2006 Thursday, August 17
Well, this long anticipated hike is finally underway. On this first day I have to keep reminding myself that this is the beginning of 13 days of hiking, more than triple what I have ever done before. And nearly 5 times as many miles. This feeling really hit home when we said goodbye to Dave at the trailhead. He drove off - Isaac and I were alone. This is definitely it - we are really doing this. (Well, actually I am doing this. Everyone else is hiking just a part of the trail.) There was an amazing amount of planning that went into this. Then there was the frenzy Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week when Mary realized she couldn't hike with her back pain. She really put a lot of time into planning, buying food, packing food, making phone calls, etc. I know she is disappointed. And I will really miss her. Isaac Ray and I hiked in from the Benson trailhead starting around 10 AM. We stopped at Rock Lake for lunch and arrived at Silver Lake leanto about 2:30 or so. It's a beautiful day - partly cloudy, probably in the 70's. (A thermometer would have been a good thing to bring.) We saw no one. Nice leanto - mostly clean although someone left some mayo, salad dressing etc hanging from a tree limb in a plastic bag - ie: trash. That is disappointing. I would assume not a through hiker. (I'm already a backpacking snob I guess.) We just went for a swim in Silver Lake - a bit mucky bottom but not bad. Water was warm but still refreshing. I washed out my clothes in the lake (without soap). When the days are nice I'm going to try and stay on top of the laundry situation. I didn't bring a lot of clothes. We're just relaxing now Rock Lake at the leanto. This is an easy day - tomorrow will be longer, harder, and probably muddier. No mud today of any significance. There are some mosquitoes but I think they are fussy eaters and, so far, I'm not much to their liking. Two women arrived at the leanto late afternoon - Kim and Carrie. They are going to Lake Placid also on a slightly different schedule although we'll all be at Hamilton Lake Stream leanto tomorrow night. They are from Rochester - a speech therapist and a music therapist. This is just their 2nd backpacking trip ever and their 2nd attempt at completing the N-P trail. In the small world department, Carrie worked at Mary Nare's New Beginnings in Troy during her internship. They are friendly. We cooked our chicken sausages over the fire with rolls, green beans, and cookies for dessert. Satisfying and easy. But this will be our last fresh food for a while. We should try and get an early start tomorrow since it will be more difficult. I am definitely the old man here so hopefully I can keep up. Definitely an 800 mg ibuprofen day.

Silver Lake LT


Friday, August 18
We ended up playing cards with Kim and Carrie last night until 9:30 or 10. It was fun. They are good company and there has developed a kind of instant camaraderie. Isaac and I slept in the leanto and the women had 2 solo tents they used. I don't think they would use the leanto for sleeping anyway. I slept my usual camping sleep. Heard an owl who, who, whooing during the night. When I woke up at 7 or so I was perpendicular to the sleeping pad! Breakfast of granola bar, oatmeal, dried fruit. On the trail by 8:30 - pretty good. We left just before the women. We offered to hike together but decided we were different speeds. As it turned out we were indeed faster, but not much. Weather started out overcast and slightly cool - ended up sunny/partly cloudy and probably in the mid seventies. We took a long break at the Mud Lake leanto for snacks around 11:30. The trail had a fair amount of West branch of Sacandaga River blowdown to detour around but not too much hassle. It is amazingly dry. Lots of small streams have no water and old mud holes are firm enough to walk through. The trail and weather is about as good as you could ask for. Kim and Carrie caught up to us at Mud Lake - only about 15 minutes behind. On to Whitehouse and the West Branch of the Sacandaga River. Easy smooth trail mostly downhill. The trail crosses the West Branch on a hugely long suspension bridge that ends right in front of a fireplace and chimney - all that is left of the white house. We went for a swim - well actually more of a float - in the shallow running water. Absolute heaven - refreshingly cool. We sat in the river with the water rushing past. Ate lunch by the shore - crackers, provolone, soprasata, and dried fruit. We really weren't all that hungry since we snacked a lot at Mud Lake. Back on the trail mid afternoon with damp swimsuit (ie: shorts) and Tevas tied to the outside of my pack Remains of white house an effective air drying method. It was a relatively short hike to Hamilton Lake Stream leanto from Whitehouse - 2.3 miles. But enough to get all sweaty again. The trail crosses the stream on another suspension bridge. The water looked inviting for another swim – although it was not a big as the West Branch. Unfortunately the leanto was another 0.3 miles along the trail and the shallow tributary it was on was not very inviting. No problem. After dropping our gear at the leanto we walked back to HLS for a swim, washing out of shorts, shirt, underwear and socks, and pumping some water. Once again, very refreshing. The swim that is. I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see how fresh the clothes feel. It has to be an improvement – even without soap. We’re back at the leanto now – relaxing. Kim and Carrie are here also again – mostly doing their own thing. Everyone is compatible – I don’t feel at all infringed upon. On the contrary, it’s nice to have the company. I’ll make dinner soon. The mosquitoes are only a slight annoyance. Last night they disappeared as it got cooler – even though it only got slightly so. Hopefully we’ll get the same break tonight. This was a momentous hiking day for me. I’ve never gone anywhere near this distance (11.15 miles) with a pack before. There were ups and downs but mostly mild. If there was a lot of climbing it would be much, much more difficult. (That will come on Thursday with Jason.) The swims were wonderful – reinvigorating. Ike is a fine hiking

Hamilton Lake Stream

partner. He is definitely stronger and faster than me if he wants to be but we’re going at the same pace. He slightly twisted his ankle last night stepping down from the leanto and then again on the trail today so that was bothering him a bit. He’s not a complainer. I feel good – legs are a bit sore but that is not unexpected. Feet are fine – no blisters, no sore toenails. The stretching job that Troy Quick Shoe Repair did on my boot worked. Well, I should start dinner – more later.

It’s about 6:30 AM. Dinner last night was yummy – pasta with pesto and rehydrated ground turkey that I had dried. The meat worked out well even though I wasn’t sure just how to handle it. I put it in my insulated cup with some boiling water and it just sat while the pasta cooked. That was enough time to change the Grape Nuts consistency to an edible addition to the pasta. We also had greens with “imaginary dressing” – we had fun with that. The advantage being that we had every single dressing and brand name available to us. Kim and Carrie were making and eating their dehydrated dinners in the leanto with us. They were impressed with our menu – especially the dried bananas before dinner snack. Quite the gourmets we are. Oh, I forgot one thing from yesterday’s hike. After about 10 minutes of walking I started getting sore on the sole of my left foot. It hurt a little with each step. It definitely had my attention. What was going on? Will it get worse? Can I walk like this for another 110 miles or so? Am I going to have to limp into Piseco and go home? And what was the cause? I didn’t remember any acute injury. Plantar fascitis? Acute cancer of the foot sole? Then I remembered that when we were swimming on Thursday in Silver Lake I got a cramp in the same spot. So I concentrated on stretching out my toes with each step and told myself this is no big thing. Basically I channeled Katie and listened to my body – or however she would put it. Anyway the pain went away in a minute or so. Crisis averted. Miraculous cancer remission. After dinner and clean up (by Isaac – I cooked, he cleaned) we all sat around talking until around 10:30. Of course hiking and camping was a big subject but we also talked about music a lot since Carrie is a music therapist. Both Carrie and Kim work with disabled kids at a cerebral palsy type center in Rochester. Carrie is a little younger than Katie, red hair – looks a lot like Rachael Levitz, afraid of the dark (kind of a problem when camping). Kim is a little older, married to Jason – a country music loving (except for the Dixie Chicks because of their anti Bush statement) Republican. Carrie and Kim, however, are firmly anti Bush liberals. No problem there. We will part ways today. They are camping at the state campsite at Piseco Lake. We should rejoin them at Wakely Dam and then our plans are different again. They have been great company. Well, I should get going here. It is supposed to rain tonight and we won’t have a leanto. Isaac will be leaving and Nancy and Steve joining. I don’t know when I’ll be writing again. It’s about 10:45 and we’re on the Piseco community center porch sitting out a rain storm and looking for David and Nancy/Steve. It started raining – fairly hard – just after we passed this inviting looking porch so we ran back to it for shelter. I guess it was inevitable that the great weather would not last forever. Breakfast was good and easy – granola, milk, dried fruit assortment. We were on the trail at 8:45, before Kim and Carrie. An uneventful 3 to 4 mile hike to the road. The welcoming committee hadn’t arrived yet or maybe they were just somewhere else along the road. So we started walking toward Piseco – and then the rain came. Maybe it won’t last long – I’m hopeful but not optimistic. This reminds me that when I was packing up this morning I couldn’t find my pack rain cover. I looked everywhere. I know I had packed it at Silver Lake. I was getting upset, discouraged and concerned since it was supposed to rain today. When I had my pack all set to go I lifted it up onto the leanto floor, off the ground where I was packing it, and there was the cover under the leanto. Nancy and Steve just drove by and didn’t see us. We were not quick enough to get off the porch and make ourselves more visible. I’ll continue later.

Kim, Carrie, me ,Isaac

5 PM This is what camping is all about. We are sitting here under a tarp in the on and off rain right next to Falls Stream. No leanto here. But on the positive side I’m with my friends Nancy and Steve snacking on soy roasted almonds and I’m relatively dry. My water bottle has some very gross looking water in it. There was a little milk left in the bottle from breakfast so it looks cloudy and has a persistent head of foam that any brewer would be proud of. Back in Piseco on the porch we caught Steve and Nancy’s eye when they drove back down the road. Dave Ray, Isaac’s dad, arrived soon afterwards. It was nice to see everyone and tell them our stories. We all congregated on the community center’s porch. Nancy had brought a yummy Our tarp lunch – chicken salad, tomatoes, fresh fruit mix. I rearranged all the food and the little bit of gear that Isaac had been carrying. I sent a lot of food home with Dave. Mary did an amazing job organizing the food for this next part of the trip so I really didn’t need any of the old food. I actually took a little of the new food out. Why carry extra weight? With the extra gear and the new food my pack was definitely heavier. We drove back to the little store to use the phone to call Mary and found out that the phone was the other direction at the airport. So we drove back to the porch where Steve and I got out and walked to the airport so I wouldn’t be cheating on my complete hiking of the trail. (In the Piseco area the trail goes along car roads for 3 miles.) Feeling generous however, I allowed the pack to ride in the car instead of forcing it to walk the road with us. Carrie and Kim passed us when we were on the porch and then we saw them again at the airport. I called Mary and used the airport bathroom to wash up with soap and running water. Although I enjoyed using the facilities, talking to Mary was much more exciting. I miss her. On the other hand, she is not missing out on anything too great here with this yucky weather. I’ll take a break – dinner time. 9:00 PM I’m in my tent and have all my damp clothes off. Although I really wasn’t overly wet there was a pervasive dampness. It is snug and comfy in here however. The rain falling on the tent and sound of the stream just a few feet away is nice. It would be better if I wasn’t alone. Dinner under the tarp was good. I made pasta with anchovies, garlic, walnuts and grated cheese because it seemed the easiest prep which was important under the circumstances. N & S had one of their freeze dried meals – pasta alfredo and veggies. We shared everything. We played cards for a while and turned in early.

Can you hear me now?

The rain is on and off but mostly on it seems. I hope it gets over tonight so we can hike tomorrow without rain gear. Steve and Nancy are good sports about this lousy weather and I appreciate that. In any other situation they would have probably bagged today and started tomorrow when the weather was nicer. I probably would have done that. But because I was depending on them they are here. Good friends. Well, I’m getting tired of sitting up in the tent writing, so I’ll call it quits for tonight.


Monday, August 21
9 AM Wow, I missed a whole day of writing. I guess that should tell you something about yesterday. What a day! We are sitting in the leanto at West Lake waiting for the water to boil. I’ll start where I left off Saturday night. Oops – no time. The water is ready. 5 PM All is well with the world again. We are at the last Cedar Lakes leanto having just gone for a great swim and washing of important body parts. I’m sitting on the grass in front of the leanto with a plethora of things hanging on bushes, on the leanto roof, on the fireplace stones, on a clothes line, and on the grass in the sunshine drying out. There is a lot of drying out to do. But I’ll back up to where I left off Saturday night in my tent. It rained all night it seemed – hard at times. I was comfy enough, dry – it wasn’t cold. The sound of the rain on the tent and the very nearby babbling brook made for ( or at least didn’t inhibit – take your pick) a very good night’s sleep. Best so far. I’m sure the ground is softer than the leanto floor. That is until the inevitable need to pee happened sometime during the night. It was still raining. The thought of going outside to pee was not at all appealing. But the choice was pee or stay awake and think about peeing. The solution was to kneel inside the tent with the door open and pee into the vestibule. Why not – dirt is dirt whether it was just outside the tent or further away. Problem solved. Back to

Drying out at Cedar Lakes leanto

sleep. I’m glad I’m a male. We got up and had breakfast under the tarp. It was still raining lightly on and off. Granola was easy and good. Whereas I stayed dry overnight my pack did not fare very well. I had it tied up to a tree with the pack cover on and everything all closed up. But in the morning the inside of the pack was wet. There was standing water in the bottom – which fortunately didn’t have anything important. The clothes which were in plastic bags were dry. But my camera, which was in a zip lock bag at the top of the pack was wet. The ziplock was folded over but not zipped. A big mistake. There was standing water in the bag. Ugh. The water must have dripped in from the top and be oriented just so to get into the ziplock. The camera still seems to take pictures but a lot of the functions do not work. I guess there is a reason I always look at the ads from Best Buy and Circuit City with the Sunday newspaper. I think one of the true pleasures of backpacking is packing up in the rain. You should all try it. That’s what we did. It was not heavy rain – just on and off showers. We were on the trail around 9:30 with heavier packs due to the wet gear. A bit late since we had a long 11+ mile day ahead of us. There were 2 guys, Ben and Eric, and Ben’s dog Campy ( short for Campignola – Ben owns a bicycle shop in Oswego ) camping nearby who left just before us heading the same direction. As nice as the trail was the first 2 days this was just the opposite. Lots of mud, water, rain showers on and off. Nothing heavy. It was the kind of rain where you would get equally wet whether you had rain gear on (from sweat) or off (from the rain). We left it off. There were even a few glimpses of sun that occurred throughout the day. Just a tease as it turned out. We saw a few guys packing out heading back south from Spruce Lake. They had been fishing. The fishing, apparently, was not too good but judging from the amount of stuff they were carrying out they weren’t lacking for anything. We ended up meeting Ben and Eric at the 2nd Spruce Lake leanto for lunch. The 1st leanto was occupied by 2 fishermen with way too much gear to have packed in – life jackets, cooler, etc. We concluded that they were flown in. Strike one. We chatted a bit but they were kind of cool to us. Not at all typical of people you meet in the woods. Strike two. When we told them about the other fishermen we saw packing out who had remarked on the poor fishing the fat guy (yes, I’m being

judgmental) said “we have all the fish we need to eat – we’re good at this”. Strike three. OOOOOOK – we moved on. Ben and Erik said that when they stopped at this same leanto and asked if they could eat their lunch there the guy said “well, we’re trying to keep the leanto clean”. Ejected from the game. They moved on also. At lunch (2nd leanto on Spruce Lake) the sun was in and out. Weather was looking better – still some threatening clouds around - but definitely improving. At least that is what we thought. We enjoyed talking with Ben and Erik. Not as good company as Kim and Carrie, but pleasant enough. Then, out of the blue, when I was walking by Campi (the Dog) he bit me on the calf. Nothing major – no blood – but the skin was broken. Ben was hyper apologetic. (It turns out he is always saying “sorry”.) He’s never done this before – etc, etc. It was surprising but not too big a deal. He’s had all his shots. Then Campi did the same thing to Steve. Campi spent the rest of lunch tied up. Back on the trail it was more of the same – mud and water. There was a lot of navigating around and through wet hazards, hopping from rock to rock, walking on corduroy (logs placed crossways on the trail), half rotted logs spanning water and mud, wood plank walkways. Anything wood was very slippery and we had to be careful not to lose our footing and fall. This went on virtually all day. About 20 minutes after leaving the lunch leanto it started raining – pouring – hard. We debated whether to stop and get on our raingear but decided against it since we were somewhat wet already. Well, we were soaking wet very quickly. Now we had the lousy trail conditions plus squishy feet. I should have at least put my gators on. Oh well. The day went on forever. There was one water crossing coming up – Sampson Bog Outlet – that a sign at the trailhead had ominously warned: “bridge out – crossing may be impossible – plan accordingly”. There was this nagging concern – would we be able to get across? Would we have to carry our pack over our heads as we waded through neck deep rushing water as leaches sucked our life’s blood? Would we have to turn back, return to Spruce Lake, and stay with the 2 guys and get their leanto dirty? As it turned out the crossing was a bit tricky but not too big a deal. The rain continued on and off. When I stopped for a quick rest and bent over with my back parallel to the ground so as to take the pack load off my shoulders, water ran off my pack cover, down my neck and onto the ground. I was one with water. Nancy fell at least twice – once with her rear end firmly in the mud. (Well, actually not that firmly at all – it was soft squishy mud. It’s just that it was deep.) I tried to pull her back up – nothing happened. Steve and I both pulled – nadda. We summoned a helicopter with our Dick Tracy wrist radio (cell phones are worthless here) and they lowered a hook to hoist her out of the muck with a great sucking sound. The rear of her pants looked like an adult version of catastrophic diaper failure. Finally we arrived at the bridge over West Canada Creek which, although newly rebuilt, was amazingly crooked. We crossed successfully and were quickly at the 1st leanto since Spruce Lake. It was empty. It could have been home for the night. We could have been done with this long, difficult, wet day. But the plan was to stay at South Lake leanto with its “magnificent crescent beach” only ½ mile away. Never mind that this was not much of a beach day – we’d already had our fill of water. On we squish, squish, squished. Then we missed the turn off to the leanto and were past the barely floating wood planks before we realized it. Oh well, the West Lake leanto was not too far away – occupied. The next leanto on West – occupied by 10 Colgate University students. On to the last West Lake leanto – our last hope. It was late, nearly 6:30. When we were maybe 100’ away there was a water hole in the trail with a log floating in the middle. Definitely floating – not at all connected to the ground. No easy way around. We discussed and considered the discouraging options. We took off our packs, boots, and socks, unpacked our Tevas or Crocks and got them on. Steve waded on through the pool. There was a 2nd water hole beyond the first that was over his knees. Not very enticing for relatively vertically challenged Nancy and me. We were so god damn close to this (empty as it turned out) leanto after hiking 12.3 miles in the somewhat unpleasant conditions and now this. Nancy and I decided to fight our way through some dense vegetation to the lake shore, only about 15’ away, and wade through the much shallower sandy bottom water. Finally we were at the leanto, tired and wet and getting settled in. The leanto itself was OK but it was surrounded by the woods – no view. There was a pile of what looked like sawdust on the

Wet and tired at West Lake leanto

floor next to one wall. We figured it was small critters chipping away at the “Great Stuff” type foam chinking between the logs. Steve and I went down to the lake for a bit of washing up. Getting into dry clothes felt really, really good. The rain had stopped. Ben and Eric arrived with Campi, the attack dog, and we shared the leanto with them. We got Ben to promise to never say “sorry” again – something which he was very sorry to always be doing. Campi spent the whole time tied up and periodically growled at Steve. Dinner was couscous, veggies, rehydrated ground turkey. Very tasty and easy to make which was good because we were all huddled together inside the leanto in the dark. But I had twice as much food as I could eat. Campi got the rest. Hopefully that will put me in his good graces. We all decided to forgo hanging our food bags and turned in early. My still damp feet (the Tevas were still wet) dried out in the sleeping bag. It was a comfortable night. Monday morning Ben and Eric were off before us. We probably won’t see them again. Steve has Ben’s bicycle shop card in case we want to sue him later for the dog attacks. Don’t get me wrong – they were very pleasant and easy to get along with but it was no great loss to say goodbye. Since we didn’t get up until around 8 AM and took our time getting going, we weren’t on the trail until around 10:30 or so. Fortunately it was to be a short hike day especially since we went further than we planned on Sunday. All the wet clothes from yesterday, despite being hung from everywhere inside the leanto, really didn’t dry out at all. The main concern was the socks and boots. I had one more pair of dry socks but why put dry socks into wet boots? The weather looked good – fair weather clouds, cool, breezy. We had to re-wade through the lake to get back to the trail again. So with Tevas on, various articles of wet clothing tied to the outside of our packs off we went. Putting on the wet socks and boots was only briefly uncomfortable. Even when everything starts out dry it gets at least somewhat wet with sweat, Goretex lined boots or not. The trail was in better shape – still some wet and mud but no where near as bad as yesterday. Nancy was hurting and going slow – her blisters were a problem. But she was a trooper and plugged along. She compared yesterday’s long rainy hike to having a baby – it’s going to happen whether you want it to or not so you just have to deal with it. I wonder how Mary would have done. I’m not sure. We made several stops but nothing big. At the outlet of Beaver Pond we stopped at the bridge and had a snack, but we were only ¾ miles from the leanto. It was the first place we were fully in the sun and there was a great view of both Beaver Pond and Cedar Lakes. The day was glorious (and still is) - sunny, breezy, warm but not too hot, low humidity. We were anxious to get to the leanto. I pushed on ahead of Steve and Nancy and past a couple, who looked very clean and neat, and their dog, who pulled menacingly. (What is it with dogs on this trip? I miss Charlie!) “Is the leanto empty?” I asked. I’m sure my heart rate rose even more than the exercise induced rate in expectation of their answer. “Yes it is, we just left it” the woman said. YES – was I ever happy! I picked up the pace so that someone would not get there in the next 5 minutes before me.

Nancy and Steve at Beaver Pond outlet bridge

There was a welcoming pile of freshly picked blackberries on the fireplace when I arrived at the leanto. Nice. The leanto is situated just back from the lake about 100’ but there is a view of it through a clearing filled with berry bushes and low vegetation. A decent size area of true suburban type grass is directly in front –

great for spreading out wet stuff. As lousy as yesterday was this is just the opposite. Sun, a swim, true dryness, a great leanto to ourselves. Our mental attitude soared also – we really went from one extreme to the other. The swim was

heaven – even better than the West Branch of the Sac. A little while after I dried off from the swim, did some more housekeeping stuff, and settled in to do some journal writing, Kim and Carrie arrived. I knew they were planning on this leanto. We were all happy to see each other. (Nancy and Steve had met them at the Piseco airport.) There was a lot of talking about our experiences with yesterday’s weather and trail conditions – exchanging stories. They set up their tents on the grass in front of the leanto. We all had dinner together – talking and laughing. Dinner for me was tortilla shells with beans, onions, red peppers and cheese. Good and fairly easy to prepare. I think I was supposed to eat this the first night of this section but I thought it would be more complicated than the other dinners. In the rainy conditions and with no leanto at Fall Stream camp I wanted to keep it simple. Nancy and Steve The gang at Cedar Lakes leanto had Jamaican chicken – it was good but very salty. Overly salty is a common theme with these dehydrated dishes. I’ll get to experience this myself on the last leg with Dave. The stars were amazing, the loons were calling, we were dry and happy. All was right with the world. Well, at least our little part of it. I wonder what’s happening with the real world – but I’m not wondering too much. I miss Mary – she would absolutely be loving this. I’m excited to be seeing her tomorrow. Time to call it a night - it’s about 10:30. Steve and Nancy are asleep. I’m not tired at all. Maybe their chocolate pudding dessert is keeping me up. I hope not.


Tuesday, August 22
6:30 AM Well it must have been the chocolate that kept me awake for what seemed like a very long time. It didn’t seem like I slept much. The day is looking excellent – blue sky, mist rising from the lake, birds singing, loons calling, peace in the Middle East, Iraq war over, Bush to resign because he realizes that he has screwed things up for badly. Steve and Nancy leave today. I’ll really miss their company – they have been great. Kim asked Nancy last night if she would be sad about leaving the trail today. Nancy didn’t hesitate with her answer – “no”. I feel good – no blisters, no soreness of significance. I had a little possible precursor to a cold scratchiness in my throat last evening but it seems to have gone away. Isaac thought he was getting a cold on Sat. I don’t want a cold. One thing that has been a disappointment is the amount of trash left by others. This leanto is good but others have had food, inflatable boats, and a beat up canoe that I doubt would float. There was a huge blue tarp at Rock Lake, our lunch spot on the first day, a falling down tent with gear and food inside at Fall Stream campsite, a beautiful pair of hiking boots placed on a rock in the middle of nowhere on the trail. All this pisses me off. The rule “pack it in, pack it out” is definitely lost on some people. Well, time to get up and get going. We need an earlier start today. I can’t wait to see Mary and go out for dinner. A cold beer sounds really good.


Wednesday, August 23
2:30 PM Jason and I are sitting by the shore of Stephens Pond. It’s a beautiful spot. We obviously got here early so there is a lot of down time. It’s partly sunny, a little cool with a light breeze. Good hiking weather. I’m thinking about a swim. The fact that I’m “thinking” about it instead of getting right in is an indication of the coolness and fairly easy hike today. But let me back up to where I left off, yesterday morning. We all left our Cedar Lake leanto around 9:15 together – Kim, Carrie, Nancy, Steve and me. The day was beautiful – fair weather clouds, partly sunny, warm but not hot. Part of getting ready was tending to one's blisters. Carrie gives us periodic blister updates – it popped, etc. She is dealing with them and, as far as I can tell, they don’t seem to affect her hiking. Nancy is hurting more. She’s been experimenting with mole skin, duct tape, Stephens Pond and some other product specifically for blisters that is worthless. Even when all patched up she is still moving slow – obviously in pain. The best thing would be NOT to do exactly what we HAVE to do. But she’s not complaining – once again I’m impressed and appreciative while at the same time feeling bad for her. Steve, Kim and I seem to be free, at least for now, of the dreaded blisters. We all hiked together, separately. We’d be together, then apart. One person would lead, then another. Kim and Carrie decided on my trail name. “Speed racer”. I don’t consider myself speedy, although I guess I’m the fastest of this group, and I’m not in a race. Whatever. We all stopped together for a “packs off” break (as opposed to a packs and boots off break or a packs on break) at a spot where the trail was right next to the Cedar River. It was very picturesque and nice to have a view of something other than endless woods. The sun was out. I took out my camera to snap a few photos (ie: store a few million pixels of visible information in digital format to download off the memory card onto my computer in the future) and low and behold it worked! I mean everything worked. All the functions. Including, I presume, all those that I have never figured out Packs off break how to use or why I should. Hurray for Olympus cameras! Carrie dropped her Olympus off the suspension bridge over the Sacandaga River. It bounced off at least two rocks. It worked! We are going to write Olympus with our testimonials and how Olympus should be the official N-P trail camera. Should be good for at least 2 new cameras we figure. We stopped for lunch at the Cedar River leanto located just a bit before the river enters Cedar River Flow which is the lake formed by Wakely dam - salmon in a pouch, cheese, cookies. Simple and good (a recurring theme food wise). The trail turns into an unimproved dirt road (ie: no vehicular use) and then an improved dirt road (you can guess what that means) as it approaches Wakely dam. It seemed like a long time on the road. The packed hard surface seemed tougher to

Cedar River leanto

walk on. I noticed a little pain on my right outer shin – shin splints? Nothing major – I tried to walk on the softer shoulder. (Back to the present for a moment: I just spotted a couple of loons on the pond.) When the building and civilization of Wakely dam came into view I picked up the pace, speed racer that I am. Would Mary and Jason be there? I was excited. Alas, once again, as in Piseco, no welcoming committee. The caretaker directed us to a site where Carrie and Kim had camped last year. Right on the water and somewhat away from the camping trailers. It was fine. Plus there was a nice swimming rock down by the shore that Nancy, Steve and I took advantage of. I did some cleaning – of me and clothes – and some housekeeping, set up the tent and before I knew it there was this excited “hi” coming from nearby. Mary and Jason had found us. There was a lot of hugging and kissing and talking. Everyone was very, very happy. We introduced our friends Carrie and Kim and decided they should join us for our dinner out. After dressing up in my sport coat, dress pants, shirt and tie we threw all the packs (Jason’s, Nancy’s, Steve’s and mine) into my little tent and all 7 of us piled into the Subaru and headed down Cedar River Road to Wakely Lodge for dinner. Mary had made a reservation, or at least she inquired as to whether they could serve 5 (now 7) of us for dinner. As it turned out the restaurant/gold pro shop (it’s on a golf course) was empty when we got there so I guess there was little to be concerned about. They had cold beer, my number one desire – Ubu from Lake Placid brew pub for Steve, Nancy and me. Hopefully this would be an indication of my successful final destination. Bar food was good enough but under the circumstances would have to earn an excellent rating. It was great fun and a welcome break. The TV was on with some news program I think – I didn’t look at it at all. Back to the Wakely campsite, a flurry of final instructions and arrangements, hugs and kisses and they were off. Jason, Carrie, Kim and I walked over to the dam and looked around. I didn’t talk as much as usual I guess. They all had the Cedar River Flow Rochester commonality thing going. Back at the campsite it was the same – plus no campfire. I suppose I was a bit less excited about the hike. Nancy and Steve were gone. The excitement of Mary’s brief visit was just that – brief. I’m sure I’ll get into it again. Anyway it’s good to have Jason here. Plus Friday night in Long Lake Mary and I will have a dinner out and a motel reservation. This morning, Wednesday, we were up around 7 or so. Jason made breakfast – fresh orange juice, a real treat, and tofu scramble. Kim and Carrie left around 8. They had a long day ahead of them. They were going past Stephens Pond, where we are staying, to Lake Durant state campground for a shower, and then to Tirrell Pond. A 16 mile day – wow. At least it is fairly level hiking. We won’t see each other again. We have each others email addresses and promise to send pictures, this journal, pasta puttanesca recipe, etc. I’m sure we’ll keep in touch, at least in the beginning. But this brief close friendship, where we have shared many happy times as well as difficult challenges, will certainly fade. Good memories will, however, remain. We hugged awkward goodbyes. It wasn’t that the idea of hugging was uncomfortable – it wasn’t in the least. It’s just that they had their packs on. Jason and I were on “the trail” by around 9. I put “the trail” in quotes because the next 6.6 miles was walking on the Cedar River Road. It was at first dirt, then gravel and finally paved. We ground out the miles quickly. The trail leaves the road at the former Mc Cane’s resort. The new owner is not friendly to hikers. The story from ADK and internet sites at first was that he would allow through hikers to cross his property but you couldn’t start or end your hike there. Plus you had to call and get permission ahead of time. The ADK article gave the phone number. I had called several times and left messages but I never actually talked to anyone or received a response. Then I learned that the guy was getting so many phone calls for permission he decided to let through hikers cross without advance permission. There didn’t seem to be anyone at home when we arrived. After reading the various no trespassing by order of the sheriff and trail closed signs we walked across the lawn, around the garage and back onto the real trail. It took all of a minute. The next 2.5 miles to Stephens Pond was easy – very mild ups and downs and a few mildly challenging muddy spots. While we were sitting down for a rest, water and snack break an older guy came by on a 4 wheeler. Apparently we were still on Finch Pryne (or Finch AND Pryne as he put it) land. We talked for a while about loggin’, snowmobilin’, government bureaucracy

and the like. We were all friendly enough – it was obvious he was in the mood to talk since he had immediately turned off his machine when he came upon us. We did not, however, exchange email addresses. The leanto at Stephens Pond was empty. It is set back from the lake with no view but a very short walk down to the pond brings us to this pretty grassy clearing right next to the pond. In addition to the loons, 2 herons just flew by. It’s buggy by the leanto. Tonight is supposed to get very cold, the 30’s according to Mary, so hopefully the bugs will calm down. Since we got here early, besides having a big chunk of time to write we also have a good supply of firewood. I didn’t go for a swim, just a chilly sponge bath. I feel good. 9:30 PM Dinner was Chinese noodles in some type of sauce with dehydrated ground meat and red peppers. Pretty good. Freeze dried veggies on the side. We had a nice campfire. Conversation came easy. It’s nice to spend time alone with Jason - he’s a good guy - smart and caring. I’m happy that Katie and he are together. He’s going to make a Relaxing at Stephens Pond great father - coming up soon! I thought the bugs had disappeared but as I sit here propped up against the back wall of the leanto I here the mosquitoes buzzing around my head. I hope it’s just my light. It hasn’t gotten very cool yet. I hope it does - then maybe no bugs. Ah, the advantage of a tent. Jason is already asleep. I guess I’ll do the same.


Thursday, August 24
9 AM We’re still in our sleeping bags. Well, at least I’m sitting up now. It’s raining. Not heavy, just a steady slow rain. Not a great motivation to get up and going. I’m counting on the saying, “rain before 7, clearing my 11”. Fortunately we have a short day - out to Lake Durant campground and route 28 and then on to Tirrell Pond. Well, Jason is now up and dressed so I guess I should get going too. The bugs, by the way, went away last night as soon as I turned my light off. It was cool but nowhere near the 30’s. 4 PM I’m sitting here on the sandy beach on the north end of Tirrell Pond. It’s a mixed bag in the sky - beautiful blue, white puffy fair weather clouds, and dark threatening clouds. There are periods of sunshine but not a lot and not right now. We just went for a swim and did some laundry. Poor Jason - because of his injury he has to keep his thumb dry. It’s impossible to dive into the water and keep your thumb in the air. Still, he enjoyed getting 99% wet as much as I enjoyed 100%. Having all these spots to swim and having mostly cooperative weather certainly makes this trip much more enjoyable. Oops, spoke too soon, it’s starting to rain we’re heading back to the leanto. It rained for about 10 minutes but now seems to be stopping. I love leantos - when it’s raining you can be dry and comfortable and still be very much outside. Definitely better than being cooped up in a tent, especially a small tent like mine and especially with a tall guy like Jason.

Tirrell Pond

The hike today from Stephens Pond to here was easy - about 8 miles. Good trail, not much up and down. We got going around 10. The rain had stopped and it was cool with on and off sun. Good hiking weather. My pack felt especially light. Maybe it’s because we had eaten some food or maybe I’m getting used to it after 7 days. Anyway, without having to fixate on the trail so much (mud holes, rock hopping, etc) and less pain begging for my attention, there was more time to think. I’m worried about Mary’s back and leg pain. We’ve both been pretty fortunate in the health department. Is this something that is treatable? It seems that so many back problems turn into a chronic issue. I know she is missing being on at least part of this trip as was originally planned. Plus, we’ve never been apart for this long. She’s seen Sharon, her doc and close friend, and it’s getting checked out with x-ray, possible MRI, etc. That’s good. My dad, I’m sure, would have been especially proud of me in his understated way. He certainly wouldn’t brag about it. And I, in return, would have been happy to make him proud. I miss him and strive to be as good a person as he was. He died last October. About half way to Tirrell we went through Lake Durant state campground. We threw out our little bit of trash and called our spouses from the payphone. Both events were equally satisfying since no one was home and the trash/recycling center was very impressive. Not that I’m comparing. We got to the Tirrell Pond leanto at the north (further) end of the pond around 3:30. The leanto is situated back from the lake about 100 yards. There is no view of the lake but it’s nice leanto and empty. There is a father and son camping near the lake in a tent. 8 PM Dinner was Cajun beans and rice. Pretty good. I liked it better than the Chinese dish last night. Chai and homemade biscotti rounded out the meal. The dad neighbor came over before dinner and talked for a long, long time. He’s a retired cop from Plainfield, NJ but works as an arborist now. He really liked to talk! But he was pleasant enough. His son seems the opposite - quiet. (No wonder the dad was looking for someone to talk to!) He is into photography. One of his images won 1st place in the black and white category of the

Adirondack Life annual photo contest. Impressive. There is an entry in the leanto log from Carrie saying she and Kim missed “our friend, Bob” and thanking us profusely for including them in dinner out at Wakely. She also wished Mary and me an early happy anniversary and issued a brief “toe report”. Tomorrow will be a much more difficult day. Not only will it be more miles, 10.2, but there is the 1200 foot climb. It’s the only real climb on the whole trail. I hope to get an early start so we can take our time. I’m not worried about it. I feel good, no aches or pains. No foot issues. The little bit of shin pain I noticed yesterday on the road I didn’t notice at all today. Plus there is the treat at the end of the day - Mary and Katie are meeting us in Long Lake. Maybe they will start hiking south on the trail and meet us. I left a Tirrell Pond leanto message on the answering machine with that suggestion. Then they could carry our packs for the final stretch to route 28N. Yeah, right! Dinner out and a night with Mary at the luxurious Corner Motel in Long Lake (“cheapest place in town” according to the proprietor - a character of an older lady who we met when we made our reservation during our July vacation and it was the only room available anywhere) will round out our 22nd anniversary in relative style - August 25th. David and Mimi will meet us for breakfast on Sat the 26th since they will just happen to be in town to see their daughter, Arielle. Should be fun and a real nice break, but I don’t think I’ll have much to talk about. Well, time to hit the Thermarest. The stars are out, the fire is crackling, the bear bag is at least 30’ high and I only had one chocolate cookie.


Friday, August 25th
3:45 PM Meanwhile back in the real, non-hiking world, cars still motor noisily down the road, Stewarts still sells newspapers, and husbands still wait for wives. I know this to be true because Jason and I are sitting here on the lawn of the Corner Motel (oops, I mean the luxurious Corner Motel) having just been to Stewarts to try calling Mary and Katie’s cell phones and buy a newspaper (Jason) watching cars go by and looking for a white Subaru station wagon. Mary and Katie are meeting us here in Long Lake - at the trail head by plan but we were early and were offered a ride into town (1 ½ miles) in the back of a pick up. It’s partly sunny, mostly cloudy - warm but not hot. I just took a shower - with soap. Not as bucolically exciting as my swims, but the end result is definitely a cleaner Bob. The hike today, about 10+ miles, was not as difficult as I thought it might have been. We were up, ate breakfast (granola bar, granola, granola coffee) packed and on the trail by 9. Weather started out cool and sunny - it was 45 degrees according to our neighbor when we got up. The pond was beautiful in the rising sunshine with mist rising from the water. Today was the big climb over the ridge, 1200 foot vertical, and the only climb of significance on the whole trail. A few people I had talked with expressed the opinion that it wasn’t so bad and before you know it, it’s over. That was true. There is a long, fairly gradual climb and then a short steep pitch. The steep section had a couple of level parts that teased us into thinking we were done with the climb. Then a long down followed, longer than the up part. The guide book says it is easier going south to north than north to south. We could appreciate why. The trail was in good shape - only minor mud to negotiate. Morning at Tirrell Lunch at the bridge of Sandy Creek was hummus (just add water and a little olive oil - surprisingly good), provolone cheese, tuna from a pouch, crackers, and cookies. When we got to the highway we debated about walking into town vs. waiting at the trailhead for the girls. As soon as we decided on the former and started to hoist our packs we got the unsolicited ride offer. The older couple in the truck was turning out of the road where the N-P trail continues heading north. No doubt they’ve seen hikers before and offered the post office destination - typical for through hikers mailing themselves supplies. Anything was fine with us and, as it turned out the PO was just about opposite the motel. Since we are still waiting for Mary and Katie (it’s 4:20) and I’m up to the current time with my journal, here are a couple of observations: Regarding eating - I don’t seem to be eating any more than usual. If anything I seem to be eating less. I just don’t Sandy Creek seem to be that hungry. At Piseco and Wakely I sent home lots of leftover food. One would think that the opposite would be true since I’m burning up more calories. I wonder what’s happening to my weight. Secondly, yesterday I yawned. I think this was the first and only time I’ve yawned on the whole trip. Not typical for me. I guess I’m getting more sleep time but the quality is certainly not as good. I seem to be awake a lot - typical camping sleep. Also, I’m not bored - as in shopping for clothes bored - another yawn inducing condition seemingly for me. Anyway, some food for thought - but not too much thought. I guess I’ll read the newspaper. Where ARE they??


Saturday, August 26
7:45 PM Katie and Mary finally arrived yesterday around 5 PM. We all talked while enjoying a cold beer and tortilla chips. Simple pleasures. I drove up the road to the laundry to wash a load of clothes. Exciting stuff. Mary, Katie and I went for a short stroll while Jason showered. Going for a walk - how unique for me! Gee, I haven’t done that much recently. David and Mimi dropped by the motel for a brief visit - as I mentioned before, they are in town for parent’s weekend at Arielle’s camp nearby and knew where we were staying. I did not find it difficult to get into the non-trail lifestyle. I’ll have to try a much longer multimonth trip next time to see if there is a difference. But hiking the AT or similar long trail does not hold much appeal right now. Anyway, Katie and Jason went out for dinner at the Blarney Stone, which Kim and Carrie had recommended, and Mary and I walked to the Adirondack Hotel for our restaurant meal. It was good but not great - but very nice to have an anniversary date with Mary, have some fresh veggies and dig my still dirty fingernails into some nice warm fresh rolls. We walked back to the (luxurious, of course) Corner Motel in the cool darkness. Leantos, mud, the roar of my Svea camp stove seemed far, far away. Kind of weird. I didn’t miss any of it, I didn’t feel guilty. While I’m sure I would have been fine without having this break, I’m convinced it was a good idea, especially since Mary is not hiking with me. The bed was comfy but the pillows big and hard. I don’t know if I got any better sleep than on my Thermarest. The companionship however, I can state unequivocally, was the best. This morning David and Mimi picked us up and we went out for breakfast at a nice lodge south on route 30 along Long Lake. It was fun being with them as always but especially so considering the circumstances. I read them part of this journal - the funny part from the miserable wet hiking day. David, not surprisingly, enjoyed the humor. (Interesting how the most negative day led me to write the most humorous journal entry - so far at least.) Back at the motel, Dave Loux arrived punctually, as always. We piled everything into my car that Dave had driven up (Katie and Jason drove Mary’s car home last night) and headed the 1 ½ miles up the road to the trail. Mary and Dave drove to the point where the trail enters the woods again and I hiked the 0.7 road miles to keep it official. All 3 of us were hiking by around 9:30. It was mostly sunny and cool - great hiking weather. Mary went about 3 miles with us and then went back. It was nice to do at least a little bit of the trail with her and she did fine - walking doesn’t seem to be a problem. Carrying a pack would be another story. I’ll see her again at the end. Dave and I arrived at Plumbley’s Landing around 2:30. This is the point where the trail leaves the lake and heads toward the Cold River after having more or less followed the lake shore from Long Lake village. Both leantos were occupied and there were tents around. However, the group at the first leanto was 6 boys and 2 leaders and, although they were at the leanto site, they weren’t actually using the leanto and we were welcome to it. Turns out the boys are from a school in Pennsylvania where they were sent by court order. They were polite, not very outgoing but a couple warmed up a bit overtime. For the most part Dave and I and their group were doing our own things. It was fine. We talked quite a bit with one of the leaders. He majored in “adventure counseling” in college - that‘s a new one. This was their first Adirondack trip so there was a lot I could tell him and he, in turn, was very interested. They are canoeing and heading all the way to St Regis Canoe Outfitters on Floodwood Pond having started at Blue Mountain Lake - a long trip. Three weeks I think he said.

Long Lake

I went for a swim, washed out my shirt, and read the newspaper on the sandy/stony beach. It was very relaxing and everything dried quickly in the sun and breeze. Except for my long, wet, miserable day with Nancy and Steve the routine is that we finish hiking fairly early and have a good bit of time to do housekeeping, swim, relax, etc. It’s not a very difficult pace. I’m sure I could have done this in less time but this is more enjoyable. Long Lake, with its motor boats, camps, and seaplanes is definitely busier that what I’ve experienced so far. But

it’s not overly obnoxious.

Dinner from the freeze dried collection we bought from Sierra Trader discount catalog was pasta alfredo with veggies and bacon mashed potatoes. Not bad. We skipped the dessert. It’s supposed to rain the next couple of days. I’m determined to stay drier than the infamous previous rainy hiking day. We’ll see. Hopefully it won’t rain as hard or long.

Plumbley's leanto


Sunday, August 27
4:30 PM We’re at the Ouluska Pass leanto. It started raining sometime last night and we awoke to the rain. Once again, I’m glad I was in a leanto. It wasn’t too cold last night slept pretty well. It was, and is, a breezy, wet, cool day. A good day to be inside by a woodstove. I’ll call a taxi right after we pack up. Breakfast of granola, granola bar and coffee was easy and good. The portion size on this packaged food we bought is generous - no complaint there. We packed up and were on the trail around 9:15. The rain had stopped but it looked like it could start again at any time. Plus all the vegetation that you brushed up against would no doubt be wet. I was determined to stay Ouluska Pass leanto relatively dry. From bottom to top I had on Goretex lined waterproof boots, green gaiters, blue rain pants (over just underpants so they would be less hot), red rain jacket (over a T shirt) and yellow rain hat. I’m sure I could pass for a walking, talking primary color chart. The trail to the Cold River bridge was in good shape despite the wetness. The rain held off but, as expected, the leaves were heavy with rainwater so I’m glad I was all Goretexed up. The Cold River is impressive. It’s big and wide and has a significant drop at the bridge where we first met it. Too bad it wasn’t sunny and warm. A nice long break and a swim would have been nice. We did stop at the empty leanto for a snack and to take some pictures. Back on the trail again it was raining on and off. This is a very picturesque section of the trail as it goes alongside the river, although not always right next to it. Still, we got frequent river views - a nice break from endless woods. Lunch was at the Seward leanto (also empty) where Mary, Steve and I stayed on our previous hike of this Cold River section. There is a really nice swimming hole here - but not today. It was chilly when I stopped hiking and cooled down. Kim and Carrie stopped here also for lunch yesterday and left a note again for me in the leanto register. After lunch it was on to the Ouluska Pass leanto just past the nice log bridge over Ouluska Pass Brook. It was empty also. There doesn’t seem to be anyone around. Kim and Carrie stayed here last night (left another note) and mentioned the same thing. We haven’t seen anyone, or any sign of anyone, since just past Plumbley’s where we met a couple of guys out on a short walk from the lake. The weather is the same it’s been all day - gray, cool, damp. It’s not raining right now. I’ve got all my raingear off and into some dry clothes. I was definitely wet on top - probably from sweat. I’m comfy and, once again, glad to have a leanto. Dave heard the weather report ( he has a small radio ) - tomorrow is supposed to be cloudy in the morning and then sunny. Not bad. The leanto here is right next to the Cold River - you can see it thought a gap in the vegetation. There are typewritten transcribed leanto registers dating back to 1996. Wow. Fun to read while passing time. Now that I’m dry and comfortable I really don’t feel like exploring anywhere. I was in the mood for some hot soup - it’s

that kind of day - and I thought I had some. Well, I did but I must have given it back to Mary at Long Lake. A day like today has me ready to be done with this hike. It’s been a very long time on the trail. Other than our trip to New Zealand, I can’t think of anything to which I will have devoted such a chunk of time since I finished school and started working. The fact that it is without Mary makes it seem longer. I’m sure my mood will improve with better weather. Hopefully it will be sunny when we reach Duck Hole tomorrow and I can go for a swim. Dave has been a fine partner. He’s easy to get along with, good conversationalist, non complainer, helpful. None of this is surprising - our cross country ski trips last winter together were the same.


Monday, August 28
6 PM at the Moose Pond leanto. All is well with the world again. In fact I think I’ll extend this hike another few days. It has been a beautiful day - partly sunny, warm but not hot. We just got back from a sponge bath and water pumping trip to the shallow rocky outlet. The pond itself has a marshy shoreline - not at all conducive to a swim. But the bath felt pretty good. Let me back up to where I left off. Dinner last night was freeze dried Jamaican chicken with a side of southwestern corn. It was very good and that’s not just camping food good. I wasn’t looking forward to this freeze dried stuff because Nancy and Steve had the exact same thing when they were hiking and everything seemed very salty. (The original plan was that when Mary, Nancy, Steve and I were together we would have the same freeze dried food together. N & S ordered it first, then we did the same.) It certainly is easy. Just boil water, pour it into the bag, mix it up, wait 10 -15 minutes and dig in. My old Svea stove, that Nancy gave me, is working great and we seem to be using very little fuel. I brought too much for the earlier legs. It rained on and off - mostly on according to Dave - through the night but had stopped by the time we got up. Still cloudy but the sky was definitely brighter - a good sign. On the trail around 9:15 (which seems to be a fairly consistent time of departure) with rain pants and gaiters figuring the vegetation will be wet . Boots and socks were still damp from yesterday - an uncomfortable feeling when you first put them on that lasts about a minute. The trail to Duck Hole was good - lots of ups however. Nice hiking along the Cold River for part of the way. We went past the site of Noah John Rondeau’s hermitage. He was the famous hermit of the Cold River. The sun came out more and more and the day got warm. When we got to Duck Hole it was beautiful. The sun was in and out. I quickly went for a brisk swim in the pool above the dam. Very refreshing. Dave skipped it - too cold. We spread things out to dry, ate lunch, read the leanto register, took some pictures, and relaxed. It was a very nice long break of about 2 hours. Although there are 2 leantos, and there was a tent set up by one of them, there was no one around. The leanto where we took our break near the dam was empty. Duck Hole is a very picturesque spot. It is a good size pond formed by the dam with mountains all around and the beginning of the Cold River. The dam, however, is failing and there is some question as to whether it would be rebuilt. This may be my last swim in Duck Hole. We were back on the trail to Moose Pond around 2 PM feeling refreshed and clean. Too bad we couldn’t have hopped a ride to the leanto. Within minutes I was hot and sweaty again. Oh well. The trail to Moose Pond is hard - lots of ups and downs, lots of slippery rocks, roots, etc to negotiate and a couple of beaver dams to get around or across. In short, very slow going. You had to be careful not to misstep and twist your ankle or fall. From their note in the leanto register Carrie and Kim did this part in yesterday’s rain and had a real tough time. Kim’s finger is swollen - she must have fallen. We’re fortunate to have a sunny and dry day.

Duck Hole

8:30 PM Dinner was good - beef stroganoff and Sicilian veggies. Once again not too salty . As with the last two freeze dried dinners, we skipped the dessert. Too full. We did a quick and easy

Dam at Duck Hole

dish wash (there were only 2 dirty bowls - a big advantage of the freeze dried meals) rather than walk way back to the outlet in the dimming light. During dinner we were entertained by a hummingbird busily visiting seemingly every flower by the leanto. And there were hundreds of them. Then it returned again later. Probably a total of 10 minutes or so of watching. All my other hummingbird encounters have been fleeting so this was a real treat. The mosquitoes are out here - somewhat annoying but not too bad. Hopefully they will go away with the evening coolness settling in. Unfortunately, also around dinner, clouds rolled in and it turned completely overcast. Dave heard the forecast on his little radio and we may have rain for our hike out tomorrow. If so, that seems to be a lot of rain on this trip. We’ll see what, in fact, the day brings. (As if we have a choice!) What I know tomorrow will bring is the end of this hike. I’m excited to see people, talk to people, take a shower, eat fresh food and be home in my own bed with Mary. I’m not excited about going back to work!


Tuesday, August 29
3 PM We’re making extremely good time - about 70 mph. Trail is clean and dry - no mud at all. No slippery wet logs and roots. Pack feels the best yet. Dry and comfortable even though there are on and off showers - the metal and glass raingear is working great. Yes, I’m done - finished, signed out at the final register, off the trail - and on the way home. All body parts intact and in working order. But I’ll back up to where I left off. It rained last night. I’m not sure when it started but it doesn’t seem that it was too hard a rain. There was a light drizzle when we got up and slightly cool. The weather report was correct unfortunately. Breakfast of huevos rancheros was good but, for the first time with this freeze dried food, too salty. Packed up and on the trail by around 9. We’re pretty consistent it seems. (I think I’ve said this before. I guess I’m consistent in my consistency comment.) The packing up process has, of course, become quite a routine. I won’t bore you with the details, but part of the process is deciding what to wear if it is wet out. In theory rain gear will keep you dry and it will, if you are not moving at all. But when hiking you sweat so you get wet from the inside, supposedly breathable Goretex or not. Anyway, by the time we left Moose Pond leanto the rain had more or less stopped but the vegetation along the trail was very wet. I went with gaiters, shorts and tee shirt. At least my socks would stay dry somewhat. Within 20 minutes the sides of my shorts were very wet - but it was OK. We took the 2/10 mile side trail to Wanika Falls. It’s a very impressive multiple cascade probably about 300’ high overall. A sunny day would have been nice but I suppose the recent rain made for a better show. Back on the trail again after a 45 minute break the going was fairly easy. There was the usual complement of mud, slippery log walkways, etc but also some very impressive beaver dams to walk across.

Wanika Falls

I had told Mary to be at the Averyville Road trailhead parking lot around 1 PM. It was only an estimate but I thought we would be arriving around that time. I didn’t want to wait around for Mary to arrive so I estimated a bit early. It was somewhat of a disappointment, although not at all surprising, that no one was waiting for us to emerge from the woods tired and very stinky at Piseco, Wakely Dam, and Long Lake. To be immediately embraced by family and friends flush with the excitement of having completed a trail section would have been fantastic. The zenith of finishing the entire N-P trail, the whole 121 miles and 13 days, multiplied this desire 10 fold. I was not disappointed. As Dave and I briskly walked the fairly level good trail that I remember characterized the final mile or so before Averyville Road, I heard voices. Then shouts of excitement. Charlie, our dog, ran ahead to greet us. But not only Mary and Charlie had walked down to trail to meet us, all the Sequeiras - Emily, John, Paloma and Coco - were there also. This was the best welcome that could have possibly happened. Absolutely without question! Excitement, love, appreciation, pride both in what I’d accomplished and in my family - all the positive emotions rose to the surface in a great rush. Wow! We all finished out the trail walking together, at Paloma’s relatively snail’s pace. I signed out at the final register and posed for the obligatory photos at the Northville - Placid Trail sign. So it was over - just as simply as it began. First step, last step. I certainly felt good about the accomplishment but I can’t say it was difficult overall. Certainly there were hard parts and uncomfortable weather

conditions but nothing I would characterize as extremely physically taxing. It was more a matter of dogged perseverance. Certainly running a marathon is much more demanding physically and mentally I would think. Other than the obvious charge of completing the trail there were numerous other high points. Chief among these was the camaraderie of my fellow hikers. It was great to be able to spend prolonged time with Isaac, Nancy and Steve, Jason, and Dave. There was a lot of time to talk. Meeting up with Kim and Carrie proved to be especially fortuitous. We all became friends quickly. They added a lot to the enjoyment of the trip and I certainly missed their company when our itineraries separated us. The swims were reinvigorating - a welcome way to cool down, clean up and feel refreshed. Although I didn’t do it everyday, I swam most days. I could not imagine doing this type of hike without the swims. The scenery and wildlife were good but nothing spectacular or unusual. It wasn’t like being on a mountain top. It was more the subtle beauty of the woods and water. Would I do it again? Yes. Would I do anything different? Sure, probably some minor changes but nothing significant. I don’t have any urge to do any major through hike like the Appalachian Trail. At least right now I don’t. There was a lot of work that went into planning this trip. As it turned out, since Mary could not go, I was fortunate that I had the best companions to join me. Isaac came through and agreed to go at very much the last minute - allowing me to start at Benson instead of skipping the first section and starting at Piseco with Nancy and Steve. That would have been a big disappointment to not have hiked the entire trail. Although Mary couldn’t go because of her back and leg pain she put a lot of time and effort into this trip. She had been excited to be going. She had prepared, purchased some new gear, hiked with her loaded pack, etc. - so she was very disappointed when she was forced to bow out. As it turned out organizing all the food for the resupply points, driving up and back to Wakely Dam, Long Lake and Lake Placid and making phone calls to virtually everyone kept her very busy. Although I obviously would rather have had her with me I certainly acknowledge and appreciate all the work she did that contributed to a successful trip. I enjoyed immensely writing this journal. It has taken a lot of time! Hopefully those of you who have gotten to this point have enjoyed reading it also. It will be fun some time in the future, or more likely several times in the future, to read this and relive the memories of this trip. Finally I’d like to thank the good folks at Grimm Building Supply in Green Island. They gave me this free pen which has provided a steady flow of ink to paper ultimately making this journal possible. Due to a bureaucratic snafu at the department of redundancy department, it was the only writing implement I brought.