3 day St. Regis Canoe Area trip

Joined
Oct 29, 2019
Messages
274
Location
southeast PA
Day 1: May 19, 2021

Having loaded my canoe & gear the evening before, and rising at about 4:30am, I stole out of the house like a thief and set off from southeast Pennsylvania for an 8 hour drive to the Adirondack Park. This is a very familiar drive for me since I've been going to the Adirondacks for over 55 years now, since I was 13, though until recently strictly for the hiking & climbing in the High Peaks area. This trip marks my second time paddling in the SRCA, my first trip just last November. Also, this is only my second SOLO paddling trip anywhere! It seems with age creeping up on me, all my old friends are no longer able or interested in canoe tripping, and my son who has been on lots of adventures both on water and climbing/mountaineering now has three kids of his own. Much of his time now is devoted to his family and career, though he does have an active group of outdoor partners who regularly mountain bike, bike pack, and backcountry ski/snowboard- much of that also in the High Peaks of the ADKs.

After an easy ride north in my comfortable old work truck, my lovely wood/canvas canoe and I arrived at Little Clear Pond, behind the New York State Fish Hatchery complex on Rt. 30. Little Clear Pond is roughly 12 miles west of the town of Saranac Lake, NY. Once at the launch site I signed into the register, Click image for larger version  Name:	XwKSH+J5SFOuxXh3nFx+ow.jpg Views:	50 Size:	556.8 KB ID:	125740 then dropped off my canoe and gear which I secured to the sign nearest to the actual shore launch. Click image for larger version  Name:	U3+1tM7lRke9wxofGCqd%g.jpg Views:	45 Size:	769.5 KB ID:	125741 The plan then was to drive over to Hoel Pond and the launch site which would be my take out on Friday afternoon. Having left the truck, and carefully locked up and deposited my keys in a zippered pants pocket, I proceeded to walk back to the Little Clear Pond launch site. The better idea would have been to bring along a bike for the 3.5 mile journey, but I don't own any bikes which I would leave out in the woods once I launched my canoe! So... I walked on and it was a pleasant walk through the Saranac Inn golf course- I'll need to bring my clubs for a round of golf when I take out the next time, though with my lousy golf skills, I could probably play just as well using my paddle to knock the ball around. Walking out to Floodwood Rd I waved to a friendly NY State Trooper who was going the other way, then about 2 miles along my way, the same trooper stopped me on Rt. 30 and he asked me if all was well. Once I explained my plan, he offered me a ride the rest of the way! An unexpected treat!

Launching onto Little Clear Pond I immediately encountered both black flies and a headwind. By now it was about 3:00pm, and beginning to rain a little. In the stiff wind, I headed for the lee of the shore Click image for larger version  Name:	Ongf2ZeCQs+ubhxViv2Tag.jpg Views:	46 Size:	333.1 KB ID:	125742on the west side, and aimed for the small channel between the shore and an island, seen here just left of my bow (actually the stern, as I'm paddling backwards from the bow seat). Though requiring some brisk paddling, and judicious aiming just a few points off directly into the wind so I could paddle on the lee side of the canoe, thereby needing very few corrective strokes, I made it to the carry to St. Regis Pond. Click image for larger version  Name:	CeCYuofvSWiQJlvYB8%V9w.jpg Views:	46 Size:	250.4 KB ID:	125743 Since I had been here just last November, though paddling in the opposite direction, the landing and carry trail were quite familiar to me. Of particular interest were several Pink Lady Slippers https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pl...m_acaule.shtml
Click image for larger version  Name:	crug86EsSfuJydEHUtgCsg.jpg Views:	45 Size:	815.5 KB ID:	125744 The carry to St. Regis Pond was pleasant. Oddly, the bugs were absent in the woods perhaps because there was a consistent breeze and perhaps the light rain helped as well. Along the way, I encountered another fellow my age who was carrying his Hornbeck classic 12' canoe back from a day of fishing on St. Regis Pond. We spoke for a few minutes in which I apologized for stopping him while he had his canoe on his shoulders and he said he didn't mind a bit since his canoe was so light (19 lbs), as opposed to my 15 foot 62 lb canoe! While mildly envious, I still love paddling my canoe and at least as long as I can manage it, I get so much enjoyment from my w/c canoe that I'm willing to suffer a little carrying it.

This topic of carrying/portaging is of great interest to me now as I'm getting older. I used to have the mindset that I would just shoulder the load along with my pack and get it over with; in fact, that's just what I did last November.... single carrying my outfit on the long carry from Long Pond to Bessie Pond (about 1.5 miles). If you read my prior report, https://www.canoetripping.net/forums...morrow-morning, you may note that I made a comment about 'rushing through the trip'. I had decided that this time around I would not do that, and in particular, I decided to try to enjoy the carries more. To that end, I would carry the canoe along with a light pack as far as I could comfortably (is that possible?) manage, drop the canoe (gently, gently) and then go back for my main heavier pack. Then, I would carry the heavy pack beyond the canoe resting in the woods all the way to the next landing, and then go back to carry the canoe the rest of the way. This was a revelation for me; I thoroughly enjoyed the carries more, took more note of my surroundings, the flora and fauna, and generally didn't hurry. This has to become my new habit!

I leap-frogged the canoe and pack a couple of times, and finally arrived at the landing on the marshy inlet of St. Regis Pond. Click image for larger version  Name:	IfKKhwa8QZmD2zAgqro6aA.jpg Views:	45 Size:	768.4 KB ID:	125745 By now, it was getting near 5:00pm and I didn't have a clear idea of where I would camp on St. Regis Pond. All I knew was that I wanted a breezy spot to keep the bugs at bay! So, paddling roughly NW I headed for the first point of land on my right but nearing the site there I rounded the point and discovered a canoe pulled up onshore, and spotted a single guy already camped there, and not wanting to disturb his placid campsite I simply waved and carried on out into the larger lake. The wind was so fierce from the NW that I headed across open water for the small island due north of the point, aiming to get into the lee of the island and consult my map for the location of a suitable campsite. The island campsite is currently closed for regeneration, and I could see another party camped on the larger island to the east, so I continued NbyE to the far shore where I found site #8. It was most importantly open to the NW breeze which was good. Landing the canoe was somewhat difficult though as there is a steep bank to negotiate. Luckily, I tucked the canoe in between the shore and a floating log which at least gave me respite from the waves! I tossed my packs up onto the bank, then pulled the canoe over the grassy bank for a smooth and gentle ride to a safe spot onshore. After a long day, driving and paddling, my little campsite by the shore was a welcome spot! I quickly set up my one man tent, a tarp, and after a short nap in the bug free haven of my tent, I made a quick dinner of freeze dried Chili Mac and headed off to an early nights sleep serenaded by loons, barred owls, raindrops, and the occasional mosquito humming.

My camp, and the necessary headgear! Click image for larger version  Name:	5GHhgV8LR2ygtDG3s8w2Ww.jpg Views:	46 Size:	387.5 KB ID:	125746 Click image for larger version  Name:	i4FSc0A5QI+PhzepuaKSiA.jpg Views:	46 Size:	629.8 KB ID:	125747

End of part 1; more to follow in a day or two!
 
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Joined
Feb 14, 2020
Messages
280
Location
Goshen CT
Very nice! The photos brought back some good memories- thank you. There is some fine splake fishing near that campsite. I am looking forward to the rest of of the story.

Bob
 
Joined
Oct 29, 2019
Messages
274
Location
southeast PA
Day 2: May 20, 2021

Thursday morning dawned cool and pleasant, though with a continuing strong NW wind.... my direction of travel! I ain't much of a camp cook, so breakfast consisted of boiling hot water for oatmeal & cranberries with a cup of Alpine Start instant coffee to wash it down. I filtered a couple of liters of water for the day, but completely forgot to add the Nuun electrolyte tablets which my son has convinced me to use to augment my daily water on trips where there's some effort involved. No worries, the cool day and my leisurely pace meant I could do without it.

I paddled west to the outlet of the pond at the W. Branch of the St. Regis River. On my previous trip traveling in the opposite direction (and in a hurry) I didn't take the time to explore that part of the pond, so I didn't even realize it was navigable. It was Stripperguy's excellent trip report & photos that alerted me to it. https://goo.gl/photos/JCNSWgEb6AJVaZUx8

Click image for larger version  Name:	VKfAlwXtQzmMfVPpmwhmzg.jpg Views:	16 Size:	502.7 KB ID:	125758 Leaving my site in the morning,
Click image for larger version  Name:	iQpt9fUCQw6fICbSSvb9%Q.jpg Views:	16 Size:	614.8 KB ID:	125759 Approaching the fish barrier dam at the W. Branch St. Regis river
Click image for larger version  Name:	Ou7fexTKSr6ckxgiQUcv5g.jpg Views:	16 Size:	609.9 KB ID:	125760 The short pull-over at the dam.

Floating the river was outstanding! A really pleasant diversion from the alternative of carrying from St. Regis Pond to Ochre Pond. Along the way, there were 6 small beaver dam pull-overs to negotiate, and a narrow constriction in which Mr. Beaver had incorporated a downed log to add a fresh dam.
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After a short time I arrived at the inlet to Ochre Pond and briefly investigated the outlet of the river from Ochre Pond with the idea of paddling all the way to Fish Pond. What I found appeared to be a really shallow and difficult drag for what looked to be a long way... so I nixed that plan and headed over to look at the lone campsite on Ochre. What I found was a really nice fire pit location with benches on a little point with a great view of the pond, but very few flat spots for tents... even my little one man tent! The site however, would be outstanding for hammock campers.

Shortly thereafter, I arrived at the carry to Mud Pond. Relatively short and I once again launched into pretty little Mud Pond- not a great name, but a nice but brief respite from carrying. I enjoyed a lunch of gas station type delights: A packaged Slim Jim meat stick, some sharp Cabot's cheddar cheese, crackers, and dried fruit snacks. The wind was still brisk, and I kept getting blown onto the east shore, but observing the flowers and little critters was pleasant. The wind was keeping the bugs at bay so that was no problem.

Shortly thereafter I did the carry to Fish Pond which is a really pleasant walk along the esker with a steep descent at the very end near Fish Pond. Still fighting the wind, I paddled over to the west shore to avoid the heaviest wind, and once there decided to land and take a look at the west shore leanto.
Click image for larger version  Name:	Z35092UnRs+EoQXgD71f+Q.jpg Views:	16 Size:	763.2 KB ID:	125764 It is in great condition thanks to a dedicated bunch of leanto maintainers. Based on the few logbook entries, it looks like it's a favored destination for cross country skiers who probably access it from the Fish Pond truck trail from Little Clear Pond.

I next headed up to the upper bay leading to Little Fish Pond where I was delighted to see that I could carefully float most of the way down the outlet leading to Little Fish. Only at the very end was there a rocky spot that required a liftover.
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I explored Little Fish pond hoping to see the fish barrier on it's outlet, but after walking the canoe down a shallow stream, then walking the bank for about 200 yds, I never did spot it. On the way back to my canoe though I did spy a few fresh water mussels in the stream bed as well as a couple of piles of open shells on the banks where presumably otters have been dining. A short paddle brought me to the carry over to Little Long Pond- a very brief, but sharply uphill carry to the height of land and an equally steep descent to Little Long Pond. I took a little excursion over to the campsite on the east shore, which has a nice grassy level spot on a little point- a good spot for a breeze if needed. There I found a turtle egg cache which had been excavated and the leathery white eggshells cast about around the small pit. Some critter had devoured all the eggs I think.
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Little Long Pond and it's neighbor to the northwest Lydia Pond are charming, though each has only one campsite, so be sure to consult the register and see where other paddlers are headed before counting on an open site.

Two more carries remained for the day; the short and steep carry over the esker from Little Long Pond back to Fish Pond, and the (new to me this trip) carry to Clamshell Pond. Arriving at my final carry at 4:00pm, I knew that although not long it was a steady uphill to a pass between two small summits, then down to Clamshell. With my new carrying attitude, I took the canoe up to the summit of the pass, then headed back to the landing for my pack. A note here: I had recently made a couple of shoulder pads to ease the carrying of my canoe. https://www.canoetripping.net/forums...e-yoke-padding The pads themselves worked just fine, but the thwart dug into the bump on the top of my spine. Additionally the placement of the thwart rig made the boat stern heavy causing me to have to keep constant pressure pulling the nose down to compensate. Not so good! I had the brilliant idea to hang my full Nalgene bottle from the front carry handle to counterbalance. Bad idea, because as soon as I hoisted the canoe up, the Nalgene lid retainer which I had looped around the handle broke! So now my Nalgene has no attached lid.

Carry went well, and before I knew it I had arrived at Clamshell Pond. Wow, what a great destination. There's only one campsite on the pond, but it's a beauty. Best of the trip. Clamshell is pretty remote, accessed either from Fish Pond which is essentially the interior of the Area, or from Turtle Pond but that's a particularly arduous carry from that direction. The result is that the pond may see few visitors other than the dedicated few.

My campsite on Clamshell Pond had an ideal soft landing for my canoe, and was littered with Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis):

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Also, I took the time to try out my new (but unfortunately for those of you who like the looks of it-now discontinued) 180 twig stove.
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This stove was awesome. I picked up dead sticks and only used sticks that were easily broken by hand. I would avoid trying to break sticks over my knee; that seems like a good way to hurt your knee! It produced great focused heat and the surface was easily big enough for my 1100 ml pot. I'm sure it would also handle a frying pan of 10", so perhaps some more elaborate breakfasts and dinners are in my future. It folds into a flat 7"x3.2"x.65" package. Aside from the great cooking surface, the open ended design makes it easy to feed additional sticks to the fire. They can be long and as they burn just push them in deeper.

Once dinner was done, I simply lifted the stove off the fire with pot grabbers and set it aside to cool. I then had a small fire to keep me company as dusk fell and the loons and owls once more serenaded me.

Ahead tomorrow would be the very short paddle to the Turtle Pond carry, and the 1.2 mile carry itself.....
 
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Joined
Feb 11, 2021
Messages
173
Location
Clayton NY
Great report and photos! Thanks for sharing.

2 questions.

The register, how binding is that? Are sites fcfs or do you have to stay out of a site someone has "registered" for?

I happened to have just picked up the Adirondack Paddlers Map for this area, and confused by your directions. For instance, looks like outlet for St Regis Pond is due west of site 8, but you say north. Is map sideway? Doesn't seem so but no compass rose on the map.

Thanks!
 
Joined
Dec 1, 2012
Messages
404
Location
Altoona, Pennsylvania
Sweet! Looks like a great time. Looking to do the Whitney Wilderness loop this fall. I am told there may be low water between Lows upper and lower dam do to dam issues so maybe cut the trip back some.

I too like to slow down on portages and stop earlier or leave later each day and SLOW DOWN. Hard to do when solo. But I like carries just find.

Also good tip about not breaking logs over your knees! Thanks for sharing the trip!

Cheers,
Barry
 
Joined
Oct 29, 2019
Messages
274
Location
southeast PA
Bill: Thanks for reading my report. As to the register, it's primarily to alert the rangers to who is in the backcountry and their intended route. There is no place to 'claim' a campsite, so yes, it is first come-first served. My reference to the register in the report is only a suggestion to look at who's in the area and their route. If I can clearly determine that someone else is headed for a pond which has only one site, then I will know to be flexible in my site choices. Really, only the sites on Clamshell and Bessie Ponds are the two where finding a site occupied might be a problem- but only in the sense that you might have to backtrack a sizable carry to find an open spot on another pond. Otherwise, the ponds are so close together that it's no great effort to hop over to an adjacent pond to find a site.

Uh... as to compass directions; I often consult Google Earth for satellite views of the area. I hadn't realized that I had rotated the view about 90 degrees and glancing at the image I just assumed up was north! A little embarrassing. Thanks for correcting me.

Barry: Thanks for the comments. Tell me more about the Whitney Loop. I'm just learning about paddling ADK waters. If you (or any other readers) have suggestions for good solo trips that aren't going to rip the bottom out of my w/c canoe, I'm all ears. Next trip I will probably stay mostly within the SRCA, though head out of St. Regis Pond into Green, Little Long, Bear, and Bog Ponds and on up into Upper St. Regis Lake & Spectacle Pond with a side trip up St. Regis Mt. I'm heading up to the Burlington, VT area at the end of June to see my son's family and the canoe is coming along. An ADK overnighter may be in the works, as well as taking the grandkids out for a spin on a local lake in VT.
 
Joined
Feb 29, 2012
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1,832
Location
Schenectady, NY
Patrick,
Great trip report and photos...glad I could offer some guidance. My favorite spot to camp on Fish is on top of the esker between Fish and Little Fish, I have some especially cherished memories from there.
8 hour drive!! Geez, I feel guilty living here in Colonie, I've done Lila as a day trip.

Did you do Long Pond yet? There's a nice hike up Long Pond Mt and interesting side trips to Pink, Little Pink and Ledge ponds.
 
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Oct 29, 2019
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274
Location
southeast PA
Stripperguy... Colonie huh? My car once crapped out on the Northway directly adjacent to the NY State Highway Dept, at rush hour, in the passing lane, with no shoulder! I'm calling you for help next time!

That drive is no problem for me. I've done it probably hundreds of times- my wife and I went to college in central VT and made the trip back and forth to PA many times. Now my son lives there, as does my best friend from college. I've even hitchhiked the same route (back in the early '70's when hitching was easy)many times- didn't even take much longer because plenty of people would pick you up.

I dunno how long you've lived in the Capital District, but when I was in college we could only get two television stations: WPTZ in Plattsburgh, and the one from the Capital District whose call sign I forget. What I haven't forgotten all these years is the jingle they always sang during the morning news program that went.... " and they go round and round and round, on Latham Circle"... every time I drive through that area, no matter how fast I go, that silly old jingle from my youth always gets stuck in my head!

Is that campsite you mentioned the one adjacent to the outlet from Fish to Little Fish? That looks like a nice spot and it's a pretty pond view. On my previous trip I launched at Long Pond and made the carry to Bessie, then around clockwise through the ponds finishing on Little Clear. That end of the Area, with Pink, Little Pink, Ledge, and Mountain Ponds could easily be another trip this summer or fall. I'd include a side trip up to Long Pond Mt. as well.

Thanks for your comments.

Pat
 
Joined
Feb 29, 2012
Messages
1,832
Location
Schenectady, NY
Pat,

Yup, that's the site, overlooking both waterbodies. Really nice spot.

I've been here most of my life, grew up just one zip code away. In the 60's there were but 3 broadcast stations in the Capital District: Channel 6 WRGB, channel 10 WTEN and channel 13 WAST, we could sometimes pull in channel 2 from Adams, MA. I don't recall the Latham Circle jingle, but there was an A&W Root Beer joint near the circle that I was fond of...

There's also the under used Essex Chain Lakes, good fishing I hear, and an out and back trip to the Chain Drain.
I feel for you with the lack of paddling/tripping companions.
I'm in the same boat (no pun intended), most of my former companions have moved away, aged out or are underground. So I paddle solo, backcountry ski solo, bike solo, etc. I actually enjoy the extra solitude most times, but it is nice to share those moments with others that are like minded.
 
Joined
Dec 1, 2012
Messages
404
Location
Altoona, Pennsylvania
Patrick,

The Whitney Loop, like the St Regis area is rated a 10 on the wilderness scale in Dave Cilley's book Adirondack Paddlers' Guide. I find the book and his map to be great resources for planning trips up there. I figure the wilderness rating is relative to ADK trips only. I've never been to the St Regis area to compare. I do like the whitney loop and should do a trip report if I haven't already. It starts and ends at Little Tupper lake and is about 50 miles. There's a good bit of wilderness along with some private land areas, historical sites, lots of carries long and short. There's lakes, rivers, bogs, and a really muddy carry as well as beaver dams. The last bit does head up river on a white water section of the bog river so a lot of people take out at lows to avoid the long carries but I don't mind them. I think all my trips in the Whitney section have been in a wood canvas boat so no problems there.

Lake Lila
P9300309 by Barry Rains, on Flickr

Beaver dams and wood canoes
P5050183 by Barry Rains, on Flickr

Abandoned Railroad carry to Clear Pond
P9300369 by Barry Rains, on Flickr

Did you feel like there were an excessive amount of people on your trip? I would like to get to the 9 carries/7carries area but I'm concerned I'll run into "pandemic" crowding. It seems that you had more bugs to deal with then people though.

Cheers,
Barry
 
Joined
Jun 11, 2019
Messages
19
Location
Schroon Lake, Adirondacks
Excellent report - some of is quite familiar as I did this last fall. On St Regis Pond I remember the barred owls and loons quite well, as they were quite loud one night!

I may have missed it, but what can you tell us about your canoe? It's beautiful...that trek from Ochre to Fish is a tough one in spots, so wondering the weight?
 
Joined
Aug 21, 2018
Messages
1,140
Location
Preeceville, Saskatchewan Canada
Patrick,

Very scenic trip, with an entertaining report. Thanks for posting. I liked the image of bunchberry, one of my favourite plants. I would have said that it “adorned,” rather than littered the site. That’s just me, though. You’re the author! ;)

Michael
 
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Oct 29, 2019
Messages
274
Location
southeast PA
Hi WW, I wrote a bit about the canoe here: https://www.canoetripping.net/forums...-me-home-today

I am in love with this canoe. I read somewhere that Robin (from this forum) wrote that his Chestnut Chum was so pleasing to paddle and look at too, that he didn't mind the extra weight of carrying a wood/canvas canoe! Well, I agree. My canoe is a joy to paddle. Since my first post about her, I have discovered that the actual weight is 62 lbs. I had considered titling this report.... "I carried my age”, meaning that at my age of 68 my canoe and minor attachments (life jacket, lashed in paddles) probably weighs 68 lbs. Sort of like older golfers who try to shoot their age! I hope I'm not carrying a 70+ lb canoe when I'm in my 70's!!!

Here's a sketch of the dimensions: Click image for larger version  Name:	34OPGFz%RkOHpJu%RH%15Q.jpg Views:	0 Size:	176.3 KB ID:	125804


Thanks for your comments. Pat
 
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Joined
Oct 29, 2019
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274
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southeast PA
Michael, you're quite right.... adorned would have been a much better choice! I just meant that they were found everywhere. Perhaps ubiquitous would have been preferred. Thanks for your kind comments.

Pat
 
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Joined
Oct 29, 2019
Messages
274
Location
southeast PA
Barry, Thanks for the suggestion of the Whitney Loop. It's on my radar, consulting Cilley's book. Your picture of the pup in your canoe is a fine one; the deck detail is nicely finished with tapered inhales and looks very aesthetic! I've admired your canoe in the pictures you have posted. Pup is pretty nice too; I would enjoy having a furry pal in my canoe for a trip.

Both of my trips to the SRCA have been pretty much people free. The first time in November I had the same concerns as you. Every trailhead I passed along the way in Keene Valley, Keene, and the Cascades Lakes area was jammed with cars so I assumed the canoe area would be as well. That first trip I saw no one! 18,000 acres of ponds and woods.... and it was ALL mine. This trip I waved at one guy at his campsite, observed a party camped on a distant island (with shrieking little kids in the water- but that's OK), and only encountered the one older gent like me on the carry trail. I would highly recommend that you go for it.

Pat
 
Joined
Jun 11, 2019
Messages
19
Location
Schroon Lake, Adirondacks
Hi WW, I wrote a bit about the canoe here: https://www.canoetripping.net/forums...-me-home-today

I am in love with this canoe. I read somewhere that Robin (from this forum) wrote that his Chestnut Chum was so pleasing to paddle and look at too, that he didn't mind the extra weight of carrying a wood/canvas canoe! Well, I agree. My canoe is a joy to paddle. Since my first post about her, I have discovered that the actual weight is 62 lbs. I had considered titling this report.... "I carried my weight", meaning that at my age of 68 my canoe and minor attachments (life jacket, lashed in paddles) probably weighs 68 lbs. Sort of like older golfers who try to shoot their age! I hope I'm not carrying a 70+ lb canoe when I'm in my 70's!!!

Here's a sketch of the dimensions: filedata/fetch?id=125804&d=1623960917


Thanks for your comments. Pat

Gorgeous canoe...

Are you local in the ADKs? I'm up in Schroon Lake, and have a Stowe Mansfield - would be nice to get out somewhere!
 
Joined
Oct 29, 2019
Messages
274
Location
southeast PA
Not local but I think of myself as quasi-local since I’ve been visiting in the ADKs my whole life. My wife and I used to come over from VT in the early 70’s when we lived in Fair Haven via the Ticonderoga ferry, and used Rt 74 through Paradox & Severance heading to the Northway at Schroon Lake! My wife used to make up stories about hiding out from the busy world, using those towns as the basis for a future novel- which she never wrote. We still laugh about it now…
 
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