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Adirondacks - Little Tupper Lake to Inlet 9/7 - 9/10/14

Aug 1, 2011
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North Creek NY
I didn'’t get a chance to do a solo trip last September so this year I wanted to do something special. All summer I mulled over what I should do. Conk’s exploits drew me back towards the 5 Ponds Wilderness, but in the end I ended up crossing off an item on the existing list – Making my way from Little Tupper Lake and ending up at Inlet in Wanakena.

Sunday morning found Judi and I in our cars speeding northwestward 2 hours to drop off my car at Inlet, then coming back an hour to launch at Little Tupper. I talked to the forest ranger before setting off and he helpfully noted they had rerouted the exit from Rock Pond (thank goodness), the take out from Hardigan Pond was still messy and some other details about where there were and weren'’t trail markers. I did the trip from Little Tupper to Lake Lila in 2006, so I was familiar with that section, We also had spent a week on Lows’s Lake last year and had explored it quite a bit including paddling Big Deer Pond, but everything else on the trip was new to me.

I shove off 12:30 and head up into the steady afternoon winds that Little Tupper (and the three next lakes I will paddle) is known for.


It’s a beautiful day and I really like the way the New Trick handles with a load. Speaking of loads, my pack weighed in at 50# for a total carry with the boat and paddle of 65#. To round things out, I weigh in at around 165 and for trimming the boat I tossed my food bag and daypack in the bow. This seemed to work well and didn'’t necessitate much repacking for the carries.

I made my way up the outlet of Rock Pond and over a couple of beaver dams just big enough to make you get out of the boat, but with nothing substantial to stand on.

I can’t pass this spot without taking a moment and thinking of Willis, the originator of this forum, and meeting him in passing a few years back at this location.

Other than a couple of visiting fishermen from Little Tupper, Rock Pond was empty and I make the island campsite my home for the night.


I am glad I wasn'’t on the pond when the last residents of the site were there. As I walked up the path from the boat, I first encounter the plastic wad from a shot gun shell. As I look around the site I see a tree used for target practice and indeed find a well perforated paper target in the fireplace where there’s another shotgun wad. When I go to look at the target tree I notice another small pine behind it with a slug trench through the side of it. Standing in the site and looking at the target tree and the slug tree I can’t help but notice campsite # 30 is directly behind them across the pond. There are some things I just don'’t understand.

Before supper I took a run around the pond to reacquaint myself with it, checking the new carry, some of the campsites and gathering some firewood before heading back.


The full moon that night was amazing and I slept with just the tarp thrown over me to keep the dew off.


Even though I didn'’t sleep well, with the excitement of the trip and all, I enjoyed the entire night, listening to the water and the night sounds.

The next morning as the mists lifted from the pond I made my way across to begin the 2+ mile carry to Hardigan Pond. With the exception of the wet area around the Louie Pond outlet this carry is mostly done on old dirt logging roads and ends on an old railroad bed and it was a good shakedown run with the full load.

Before putting into Hardigan Pond, I switched to my water shoes in anticipation of the take out.


Hardigan is a beautiful little boreal pond and it’s hard to believe that a train used to chug down one side of it.


Making my way down to the outlet the carry sign is at a beaver dam. This is not how I remember it from 8 years ago, but a lot of water has passed under the canoe since and heck, there were no signs at all then. The main trail is mud but there’s a little side trail gets you past that spot, however it isn'’t long and the trail becomes a sluice of mud edged with thick alders and impenetrable fir. The mud goes from ankle deep to calf and occasionally knee deep; to where I find a thigh deep hole. It goes on like this for about 60 yards until it makes it back to the old rail bed eventually dropping you off on the inlet to Little Salmon Lake. I paddle just upstream to see the falls and as soon as the water gets deep enough wash my legs and pants.


I eat lunch at Little Salmon near the site where I stayed when I came through last time.

After Little Salmon, it’s a quick little ¾ mile hike on a road down to the put in at Lily Pad Pond. I push my way through the weeds down to the end of Mud Pond and do the quick carry and I'’m back on the water and beaver dams, soon meeting up with Single Shanty Brook. From there it’s just making your way back and forth, back and forth until the winds start picking up letting you know you are almost at Lake Lila.

I really wanted to spend a night on an island in the direction of the carry in the morning so I paddle the relatively calm Lila over and check on Buck Island, finding it available I set up camp there.


I was pretty beat after the day’s exertions so set up the tarp and relax with a book for the rest of the afternoon.


The next morning I try and get out early, because this is to be a big day of carries. While I'’m packing I hear a bird call that I didn'’t recognize from up in the big pines behind the site. Sort of a screech, but different. It was answered from far away by another then silence.


I get packed up, cruise across the lake and locate the carry and unload the canoe at a rocky take out. I load everything in my big pack and realize I don'’t have my boat towel. With this sort of in and out and the muck factor, a boat towel is not something you want to be without. Not to mention I hate leaving crap behind. Put the boat back in the lake and paddle back the mile and a half to the site, but when I round the island to the site what is that in the top of the pine?


A bald eagle!


That'’s what I had heard earlier. I guess that helped make the extra 3 mile round trip back to the island worthwhile. Maybe….

The carry to Harrington Brook was pretty rough with much of it over slippery boulders ending in a rock garden on the brook. The brook itself was gorgeous,

but not long enough until you have to make the left onto Rainer Brook to the train tracks.

(It looks like Rainer could be a nice little day trip from Lila.)

A little more than a mile following moose and deer tracks on the train tracks,

up over the hill and you are at Clear Pond. I’m sitting at the put-in to Clear contemplating how I am going to load the boat from the steep bank when I hear something that reminds me of a plane landing. Glancing around I see nothing, then into my view 30 yards out, lands a loon. It was the wind through it’s wings as he slowed and circled over me that I had heard. Sure is quiet around here.

As I get 2/3rds the way across Clear, looking at the beach looking take out, a truck with an ATV drove over the outlet and stopped. I waved, he waved back and went on his way. Sometimes I forget there are private right of ways on these lands.

The carry from Clear to Bog Lake is the driest one of the trip. In fact it goes right up the road the truck was on to the top of the hill where it goes down another road to an old building site. Oh and there are no carry or trail signs.


It was a pleasant paddle up the Bog River from Bog Lake.



Surprisingly narrow with some current at times, it finally emptied out into Moose Bay where I began recognizing the landmarks. My goal for Low’s was Virgin Timber Landing.


I wanted to be as close to the carry to the Oswegatchie in the morning as I could and Even though Site 34 is closer, it’s not much of a site. Once again I was fortunate to find the Landing available and as nice as I had remembered.


I tried my weather radio and through thick static I think I heard that the forecast hadn'’t changed in the last 3 days and some rain would arrive early Thursday. I wasn'’t sure if I could make it all the way from Low’s to Inlet in a day, but I figured I should try and make it an option as apposed to definitely slogging out the last day in the rain.

That night I ate my supper next to the lake and contemplated how fortunate I am to live in such a reliably beautiful place and to be able to enjoy it in so many ways.
On the water by 7:30 the next morning I quickly made it to the beginning of the carry.


Sign in and mount up. Big Deer shows up right on schedule. I put in OK but have a difficult time finding the take out. I know it was here last year. Finally I locate it behind some newly fallen trees making it difficult to even get to the trail.

Thanks to the person that did the saw work and I was able to break some more branches and made it back to land.


From here the trail goes up and over a ridge and then with just a couple of ups and downs is fairly flat and is in great shape. Really, a pleasure to hike. At 10:30 I arrived at the Oswegatchie River!


The Mighty Oz!


Well I wasn'’t upset that most of the carrying was over but what of this river? I only had read trip reports, but I was excited to see a new place. Above High Falls is an area of switchbacks and beaver dams.



19 dams to be exact, that had to be dealt with in some manner and scads of others that were breached.

High Falls is impressive.

It was here I started really considering if I had a chance to make it to the car by dark. As I got further and further down stream the chance seemed more and more sure. The river got straighter, there were less dams and the miles were ticking away. I didn'’t take any more pictures but encountered a big beaver up on a high bank that lazily made it’s way and splashed into the water as I went by and a beautiful pair of wood ducks sitting on branches under a bank, that just held still until I got past, then and they merely stepped down, unperturbed, off their perches into the water. The partly cleared obstacles on this river are impressive.


The huge pines, I’m assuming from the ’95 microburst, 4 and 5 feet through, laying around like matchsticks are astounding. I also wasn'’t too sure about running the few rapids, but I managed, adding only a few new scratches to the boat.

At 6:30 I made it to the car with just over 50 miles under my belt and a big smile of satisfaction on my face. All in all it was a great trip.




Last edited:
Sep 2, 2011
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Raymond, ME
The land of the pack canoe..! Enjoyed your pictures.. brought back memories of face plants on the Harrington portage
Jun 12, 2012
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Appleton, Maine
Very nice, beautiful pictures. 50lb food and gear, that's a light outfit. It would be an interesting thread if you shared your gear list, some of us could learn a thing or two.

Thanks for sharing an interesting trip.


I'm not sure "pond hopping" fits with carries of 3.5 miles. Very nice area, thank you for the report.

It's only 2.2 :rolleyes:

There is a pond in between to break it up.

Great trip. One I definitely want to do. Hardest part for me is getting the shuttle or paying for it.

50 lbs sounds about right to me. I'm guessing about 30-35 lb of actual gear and about 15-20 lb of food.


PS this trip, and Conk's figure 8 remind me of this:

http://www.topkayaker.net/Articles/NatureIssues/Oswegatchie.html (excuse the source)

A grand idea that will probably never happen but would put the Adirondacks more on par with the provincial parks in terms of wilderness canoe tripping.

Some of the really neat things that may actually happen eventually is a route from Stillwater to Lila (contested now due to navigability through private land) and a hearty pond hop from Raquette to possibly Rock Pond. I'm hoping the state acquires that land in my lifetime.
Aug 1, 2011
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North Creek NY
Thanks for the comments folks. I feel very fortunate, on many levels, to do this trip.

Hmm, a gear list Robin? OK, I'll give it a try. As far as weights, I can tell you my cooking system with the wood stove but without the GSI cup comes in at 12 oz. but aside from that I don't know.

I thought I might be out up to 5 nights:

Hornbeck 12’ Black Jack New Trick
Werner Kalliste Paddle
Sterns inflatable belt PFD that they don’t make anymore

11’x 11’ Sportsman Guide coated nylon tarp
8’x10’ sil-nylon tarp (did not use)
Hennesy hammock (did not use)
20 degree bag
Thermarest NeoAir pad
Thermarest chair kit
Feather Fire alcohol stove
20 oz. Alcohol (used about 6 oz.)
Home made wood stove (did not use)
Snow Peak titanium solo combo (that my alcohol stove and wind shield fit inside)
Spork (please don’t hate me)
First aid kit and “if things go really bad” kit
Tiny Toiletries Kit
Tiny fix-it kit.
Android tablet (lighter than a book and a pack of cards)
Ole Time Woodsman Bug Dope (Don’t leave home without it!) (did not use)
Couple of pairs of eye glasses and a pair of sun glasses
Digital camera and way too many extra batteries
Paddler’s Map
Possibles bag – compass, tp, sun screen, etc.
½ ShamWow boat towel
Gerber ripstop fine edge knife (really like this knife)
Home Made Gravity feed water using Sawyer Mini filter system and a cheap dry bag for a reservoir
Small bag of bags (Selection of plastic bags from sandwich to garbage size)
Mesh bag of para cord (various lengths for hanging food, suspending tarps, etc.)
30 year old Camp Trails internal frame Pack (I have a lighter pack for weekends)
REI Flash 18 with a 100 oz water bladder
Pack covers for both packs

Light rain coat and pants
Rain hat and sun hat
1 pair REI Safari pants (great pants, repel water but dry quickly and mosquitoes do not penetrate)
2 pair wicking t-shirts
1 pair poly pro long underwear tops and bottoms
1 flannel shirt
1 wind blocking fleece jacket
1 fleece shirt
1 pair liner gloves and 1 pair of fleece gloves
fleece hat
2 handkerchiefs
3 pairs of socks
1 pair Keen hiking boots
1 pair Sperry water shoes
5 Hawk Viddles meals for dinners (only used 3)
Oscar’s summer sausage and smoked gouda and whole wheat wraps for lunch (Finished Half)
Packages of oatmeal and a small package of granola for breakfasts.
Nescafe instant coffee (new for me this year. Always made cowboy coffee in the past)
1 pint Black Velvet (DNF)
1 pint Yukon Jack (DNF)
12 granola bars (ate 7)

Everything goes in light dry bags of some sort.

I know I could leave a lot more home but I'm a member of a search and rescue team and there are some things I just can't not take.


I don't know why I find gear lists so fascinating? This needs to be a new thread.
Sep 13, 2013
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Long Island, NY
Thanks for sharing all the detail.

Looks like a great trip with the reward of a nice sense of accomplishment waiting for you at the end.