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ADK 8 Day Trip, a Two Part Report



There was some question about whether this trip was going to happen; the dates changed, the participants changed and the weather forecast (at one point rain, rain, rain, 27f and snow one night) didn’t look promising. Guys had car trouble and the usual aches and pains. I was going tripping somewhere, Adirondacks, eastern shore or Blue Ridge mountains, and had packed four different sleeping bags before a final decision was made.

In the end the forecast began to look more promising, a quorum of gentleman opted in and I packed for an Adirondack trip. On summer Adirondack trips I typically leave home at 4am and arrive at a launch around 1pm. That seemed unwise for several reasons; I needed to find a site that would accommodate a group of six, I didn’t want to be chasing October dusk ISO such a site and the weather forecast was for rain Tuesday night into Wednesday noon. I had no need to drive up and paddle in the rain.

Instead I opted to leave well after rush hour on Tuesday, drive half way and overnight in the back of the tripping truck. Chenango Valley State Park outside Binghamton was perfect, four + hours from home, four hours from my ADK destination. And it had electric sites, which I needed; it was 87f when I arrived at Chenango and didn’t cool off much overnight. Rained like a mother, got more humid, never really cooled off.

I had the truck tarp up and a big 110v fan plugged before the rain hit Tuesday evening. The 10x13 (reflective) tripping truck tarp works perfectly with the canoe on the roof, windows protected open and covered “back porch” for getting in and out.

PA010020 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Luckily a microfiber sheet lives in the tripping truck, it stayed warm and sticky humid all night, and I never unpacked the truck sleeping bag.

Part 1: In order of appearance: Steve, Mike, Conk, Ed, John, Doug (and Conk again)

I arrived at Little Tupper Lake around 10:30 as planned, even with getting lost trying to find the exit from the State Park in the pre-dawn dark and dense fog. “Is that the same bathhouse I passed 5 minutes ago?”. There was a single car in the Little Tupper parking lot when I arrived; we should have no trouble finding a site that will accommodate 6 tents and a big group tarp.

I was sitting in the truck picking my nose waiting for the drizzle to stop when a knock on the window startled me. The lone car is Steve’s; his canoe was already packed and ready to go and he knew the site number we were aiming for. No sense in waiting for me, I have a mountain of glamping gear (beer, firewood, games and more) to somehow fit in the canoe, and will be a while.

I foolishly put on only the bow portion of the spray covers. The breeze was blowing across the lake on a beam reach, and even though the stern gear load was below the sheerline the wind noticeably caught that uncovered end, wanting to point my bow into the wind. It was but a sideways breeze, and proof that covers help in any wind.

Even using a recently improved portage cart to help tote down half of the load down to the launch in two trip I was an hour behind Steve, and was surprised to see him slowly creeping up the east shoreline. No worries, the sites are clearly numbered, and I didn’t hurry to catch up as he kept disappearing around peninsulas in the distance.

Until he went past site #10 (Bocce Greens), our preferred destination. Well, he can’t miss #11 out on the point. When he went around #11 I put on some speed to catch up.

Steve had already paddled in and set up and was paddling the shoreline with empty canoe, gathering firewood. What the hell, I’m almost to site #12 (Big Haven), might as well have a look and then paddle back to #10. Big Haven is not as big as it once was; there are disks delineating the camping area at each site, and the footprint at Big Haven is no longer big. Still a wonderful site with great views and end of lake privacy, still a haven, just not a big haven,

We were not back at Bocce Greens long before Conk paddled in. I had expected to have Wednesday to myself, but that was fine company for a calm and pleasant evening, and an early to bed with a good book. Love the two Luci-lights angle clipped stadium-lighting style to the head of the tent, aimed at the book, for bedtime reading.

After a dawdling breakfast we paddled back to the launch to meet the rest of the crew, and see if we could help tote some beer and firewood. Ed was already paddling in well loaded before we reached the launch (the canoe was loaded, not Ed, at least not for another couple hours).

John was packing up on the launch beach, with a couple of large bundles of split hardwood which ballasted out my empty canoe nicely, and Doug arrived soon after, with some extra beer to help trim my boat. I grabbed an extra 12 pack of Black & Tan from the truck while I was at it.

Lesson #1: I should have grabbed the other extra 12 pack. “Extra” is a nebulous term on a gentleman’s trip, and it would have been tasty a week later. Never leave a beer behind.

To my immense pleasure we had a tailwind heading back. For once Doug’s presence did not ensure adversarial winds. Just enough breeze to sail, and Conk, Doug and I put up the Spirit sails

Conk cruising along lighting his pipe
PA020023 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Doug kicking back wishing he had brought his two-holer beverage console. It was not meant as a shop pencil holder Doug,
PA020024 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

T’was a chilly night in camp, but we had gobs of packed in split (local) firewood, and our resource extraction boys carried in more afar from camp and had a camp saw comparison. I had a saw, never touched it and didn’t feel all that guilty; I hauled in three bundles of spilt stuff and some fatwood starter and paraffin bricks from home.

PA030025 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Yes, that is a Jack O’ lantern in the background. Ed brought in a pumpkin and carved it up in short order to resemble friend Hap and his toothless smile. Ed was quite pleased with his efforts. And for a change no one punted it tumbling down the hill, taking out an unsuspecting gentleman quietly pissing in the woods. Who would do such a thing? (Hint: A running start helps)

PA030027 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I had an unused saw, what I didn’t bring from the truck was the Boy’s axe that lives in the lock box. I was sure that forester Ed would have an axe, is not a splitting maul. I’m disappointed Ed, but it was amusing to watch you and Steve batton sawed logs using John’s winky six inch hatchet. BTW John, thanks, it was the only splitting tool we had, and it worked.

Friday: A bit grey and rainy in the morning, but we had Ed’s magnificent fire tarp for group shelter and a morning still hot coals warming breakfast burn.

PA040030 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Bocce Greens accommodated the group tarp, 5 tents, a hammock and personal tarp space. There was actually flat tent space for a couple more; good to see group ethics that no early arrival took the best site. It says something about the companion company that the earliest to set up took the sites furthest away, leaving the easier carry in for latter arrivals, and the most delightful lake view site remained unoccupied for the duration, just in case.

PA040029 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I rarely put a tarp over my tent and prefer to leave it more spaciously open for rainy use with a day hammock spread underneath, but the predicted wind speed, direction and rain made it was wise decision to tarp the tent. It served as an effective wind block and provided good rain drainage away from the tent.

PA060098 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

With some front porch room beside the tent for gear storage and cooking.

PA060097 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The afternoon weather cleared nicely and Steve and Ed packed up to do some fishing. Love that spacious landing beach with room for a dozen canoes.

PA040032 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Both Steve and Ed have custom DIY fishing platforms in their canoes, outfitting from past BWCA trips. Cool, simple design, cutting board plastic sandwiching the thwart with, rod holder slots for holding the pole while trolling, tool and compass and etc accessory holes.

PA040044 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

We need to make something like that for friend Joel’s square back fishing canoe. At some point Conk vanished and eventually reappeared, a familiar pattern to be repeated.

PA040041 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Friday saw a bit of all-terrain Bocce, and Friday night some rousing games of night horseshoes. Instead of the regulation shoes and stakes I have brought in the past, which can be kneecap and tent dangerous on errant bouncing throws, I brought cheap plastic shoes and stakes, and a bundle of short glow sticks. With color specific glow sticks rubber banded to the shoes and stakes we had at it.

Conk had practiced a bit in the daylight, and proceeded to whip butt. He had developed an effective Frisbee style throw, which no one else quite mastered. There was a pointed comment from one losing pair that “Maybe throwing underhanded should be required”.

Conk responded with the quote of the weekend. “Oh, you want me to throw underhanded?”. Unspoken in the wry deliver was “Oh, you want me to throw underhanded my bitches?. First ringer of the competition that circled the stake twice before sliding off, followed a leaner.

My bitches indeed. It ain’t bragging if you can back it up.

Friday night, actually pre-dawn Saturday I got up to hit the thunderbox and Conk was gone again. Hammock and tarp silently down, boat packed and paddled off for another oddball Adirondack adventure.

Saturday. A beautiful warm sunny October day in the Adirondacks. Time for a group paddle up the lake towards Rock Pond.

PA040047 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

It had been too many years since I paddled with Doug, his likeminded company is always a pleasure. At the first beaver dam we chose to break off and noodle slowly back to camp. Floating back down the stream from Rock Pond we encountered more canoes than I had ever seen on the inlet stream; two tandems with camping gear, a day tripper couple in a tandem and one solo paddler who we had met at the launch on the Thursday haul back.

Arriving at camp Doug and I discovered the hemlock and piney woods still damp and chill, but the beachfront warm and sunny. We may not be the sharpest tacks in the box, but we knew enough to move our chairs to the beach, sit in the sun and shed layers.

PA050055 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Yes, that is a bucket of beers between the chairs, sitting and waiting is thirsty work. John eventually eased his way back to camp.

PA050056 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Followed by Steve, demonstrating his patented choke up and bunt, two-handed bent shaft trolling technique.

PA050060 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Ed soon joined us on the beach, with un-provable tales of bass catch and release. No “heritage strain” trout. And lookee there, damn if Conk isn’t paddling back in to join us for another night of festivities.

PA050065 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Freaking gram-weenie Conk; someone asked why he wore a seemingly heavy watch when the rest of his kit, boat and stove and food and hammock weighed a total of 35 lbs. Conk is the town timekeeper, keeping his local town clock accurate. Being Conk he needs a watch connected to the cold caesium atomic clock in Switzerland, with an uncertainty of one second in 30 million years. Cause, ya know, Conk.

There followed another evening round the fire. Steve largely managed to stay upright in his two-legged butterfly chair, although we had become accustomed to seeing him suddenly resting on his back, legs waving wildly in the air, exclaiming “Hey, this is fun”. More hilarity and night horseshoes ensued, and we got better. Or at least someone did.

PA050076 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

It has been said that “It was sad that McCrrea sucked so bad at playing his game”, and I cannot disagree. I blame the seemingly ever present bane of my gentleman’s camp existence, the fifth of pass-around bourbon. Not Conk’s to the gram weighted collapsible plastic flask of rum, reserved for only the most decadent of trips.

The best shot I made all night was when I whispered to Ed at one throwing end “Screw the stake, I’m gonna aim this one at Doug”. It was the only accurate shoe I threw all night, it hit Doug square in the chest and he never flinched. Try that with steel horseshoes.

Going down to an 11 to 3 beating I had had enough. Ed picked up all four shoes, walked to one end and threw this.

PA050077 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

He didn’t like that most distant shoe (closer than I had come all night), called a mulligan, retrieved that one and threw it again.

PA050078 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I think Ed was holding back on us. And I am certain there are at least a couple guys will be shopping for cheap plastic horseshoes and glow sticks. BTW, the same Walmart 3” cyalumes were still glowing brightly on the second night, I had spares and never needed them.

Once again Conk packed up and paddled off in the pre-dawn hours. I don’t know how he does it, I got lost in the dark finding my way to the thunderbox with a bright flashlight.

Sunday. The breeze was up a little, blowing inconveniently east across the lake. John and Doug, with the longest drives home, were first packed up and paddled out.

PA050081 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

PA050082 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Followed an hour later by Steve and Ed. Gawd bless Steve for playing garbage scow and hauling out the giant bag of beer cans for recycling, no one else had one-pack and barrel empty canoe space below the gunwales. Maybe he should bring that winky two-legged camp chair next time.

PA050084 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Ed sure didn’t have room, especially with Hap Jack O’ Lantern nestled in his crotch. I really don’t want to know what alternate use Ed found for that gap toothed smile between his legs on the paddle out. I use my bailer.

PA050086 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

As the gents departed the wind kicked up again and rain clouds built. Time to batten down the hatches for an extended stay.

Thus endth Part 1. My friends paddled off and left me all to my lonesome. Boo-effing hoo, whatever will I do with myself for the next four days?
Aug 29, 2017
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Gaithersburg, MD
Looks like it was a great time! I quite nearly made an impromptu dash back to Little Tupper last weekend. Oh well!
Jul 11, 2014
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Ontario Canada
Party trip with a very agreeable party of trippers.
Horsing around with horseshoes might be a holdover from Roman times and as such are an old fashioned game for old timers, but they are still a family game being kept alive by my younger brother. This past summer he installed horseshoe pits at his daughter's new home, insisting they were a required part of the yard scape. Can't argue with that. But while we played some French Canadian family members brought out a similar game resembling Quoits. Hm. Kinda the same but vive la différence. We always pitch shoes when we visit that brother of mine, and there's always a cold beer sitting (relatively) safely some distance away on the lawn. On a cycle ride this summer I passed a seasonal trailer park and heard the distinctive ring of shoes hitting posts. Ringer! I wonder what their views are of the whole "leaner is worth 2 points" are? Glow sticks for nighttime pitching. Interesting idea that I'll have to pass along to my brother.


Very entertaining! I especially like how you had images to highlight your prose. Wish I could do the same.

Brer Michael, you do a helluva job on your trip reports with photos and text. I really want to scan in selected old 35mm prints-from-slides from old 1970 and 80’s trips. I still have my chicken scratch journaling and notes from those adventures. Maybe someday with my son’s photo scanning help.

It is easier today with a digital camera, provided I take photos (none the first day on this trip). It is easier still if I write in a journal, or at least take trip notes, and then look at the photos. There was a lot of not safe for work, young children or a family friendly board stuff that I omitted.

Ed’s confession of a physiologically unique, not a taint, not a gooch orifice and offer of a $2 peep show (thank gawd no one had cash), Doug’s reminiscence of being Clothier to the Manson Family, or Conk’s tale of being caretaker and night watchman for the church across the street just so he could flinch half burned prayer candles are all probably best left unsaid.

Hey, give me some notice the next time, you need some Canadian flavour in that bunch!

Maybe next time. We have done a seldom-seen get together for the last decade, sometimes a paddle-in glamper, more often a car camper and day paddle. Some of that crew is aging out and only up for a car camping glamper.

We also recognized that finding a paddle in-site with room for multiple tent spots is challenging, and for off season trips most established site fire rings will accommodate only 5 or 6 people in full sized chairs before necessitating a second row of folks in the back in the cold cheap seats.

We have hopes of a lakeside car camper somewhere in the Adirondacks or Maine next fall (spring?), perhaps with a more selective paddle-in component taking place before or after. Or I’ll just pack in a bottle of Canadian Whisky and write your name on it with a Sharpie, so you can feel the disruption in the force as we suck that extraneous “u” out of flavour.

Seriously, there was considerable discussion about a gathering of some sort in the NE easier for our Canadian friends to attend. People are on it and we’ll find something. I want a night ride in the motorized freighter.

Looks like it was a great time! I quite nearly made an impromptu dash back to Little Tupper last weekend. Oh well!

Couldashouldawoulda my local friend, that was some mighty fine weather while I was solo, and for days after I left. Off-season trips I look at the weather there and here and elsewhere, especially for a 3-4 day quickie getaway.

Party trip with a very agreeable party of trippers.
On a cycle ride this summer I passed a seasonal trailer park and heard the distinctive ring of shoes hitting posts. Ringer! I wonder what their views are of the whole "leaner is worth 2 points" are? Glow sticks for nighttime pitching. Interesting idea that I'll have to pass along to my brother.

Brad, my favorite trips are just such, gimme some days with dear friends and some days by myself. I recognize that I need my “alone time”, and that arrangement makes for my ideal trip.

I did miss the clang of real horseshoes on metal stakes, and for backyard play at night with glow sticks, the real thing is better, although hard on busted cyalunme durability, and on nearby tents or ankles if miss thrown in camp.

The kiddie plastic version was better for nighttime camp play, smaller and lighter to pack in, and more fun to throw at Doug.

Next time you are at your niece’s bring some glow sticks and rubber bands for the shoes and stakes and wait ‘til dark. It is a very entertaining nighttime game, and the color commentary from the throwers and peanut gallery is often hilarious.

Solo part II soon. Lordy lordy that was a pleasant few days alone.
Aug 7, 2019
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Williston, VT
Great Trip Report! Thank You! Karen and I were on the Upper Bog River and Low's Lake at the same time. Not too far away as the crow flies. I thought I could hear horse shoes...


Part 2

Sunday. It was good that the rest of the crew headed out in the morning, the wind picked up and the lake got choppier. I hunkered down under the tarp, after re-tensioning the sagging sil-nylon wind wall.

PA050088 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Seriously happy to have that wind wall protection set up, especially when it began to rain blowing sideways off the lake. Several pounds of long pine needles accumulated on the down slope of thher tarp. It was a nice, scenic tent site up on the lakeside precipice, but down in one of the vacated hollows would have been less windy.

Dinner was on the blue barrel folding tabletop, sheltered under the tarp’s wind and rain sheltered front porch beside the tent.

PA060090 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The repast was a half-serving of Mt House Breakfast Skillet. Rehydrated the Reflectix foil pouch I timed initial boiling water pour and heat retention: 15 minutes in the Reflectix pouch it was still way too hot to eat. 30 minutes later it was still tongue burning hot and I had to blow on the spoon.

The pouch size is perfect; with the top flap cover Velcro secured the back I could press the envelope closed between bites and even the half serving of freeze dried meal was hot down to the last scrapings.

PA060093 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Lesson learned #2. The big 3 foot long tarp pendant is too big. It flapped vigorously in the wind and the movement was annoying in my peripheral vision. I took it down and left the smaller half-size version up.

Lesson learned #3. I had earlier left the tent doors open to air out the tent, but closed the vestibule doors to keep the windblown pine needles out. There were no insects.

Uh, spiders are arachnids, those I had. When I climbed in for bed there were two half-dollar sized (Wolf?) spiders clinging to the mesh inside the tent. I like spiders and don’t kill them, but not so much as sleeping companions. It was a challenge to get them on the dislodged onto my book and dumped out the door.

That night was another test of the Tundra Tarp, it rained and blew like stink all night. The Tundra Tarp may be the best and most useful piece of gear I ever purchased. The sound of rain on the taut tarp was a tymphany of constant raindrop dibs and occasional pine drip plonks through the night. Night music.

Monday. A fine morning for a second cup of coffee, with a splash of rum. I love having paddling companions around, and I love my alone time. No sound or voices this morning but the sound of birdsong and waves lapping at the shore.

Loons patrolling the lake, a pair of ravens are having a discussion, and something out on the water is making a wheezing “GROONNKKK” sound I have never heard before. Not a goose, unless it has a kazoo stuck in its throat.

The rain stopped, but the drips off the tall pines went on for hours. Now I could use some wind, a good gust would shake all the wet off the needles. I wanted a lake view out from under the tarp and moved the wind chair to a vista point with the auxiliary sunbrella.

PA070109 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That’ll do chair, that’ll do. A little nippy out yet for sitting quietly motionless and reading, so it was still layered gear and Santa hat.

PA070111 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Eventually needing to move around I checked the canoe, which had been left upright with the partial spray decks and center storage cover on. I have learned to tie it off on a sideways slant, so the puddles would drain off the cover when it sagged.

PA060100 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Sweet, all my paddling gear is inside the canoe and still dry.

I wandered the camp and tent sites checking for trash. Nothing on any tent site, I found three tiny pieces of plastic, a scrap of old duct tape and a penny at the group site firepit. The site was amazingly clean when we arrived, and a teeny bit cleaner now.

The only things left, which were here when we arrived, are two grills hung on a tree, including a nice folding basket one, and an odd rope hang. I left a tidy pile of starter wood, a small paraffin brick and few slender pieces of fatwood from home under a birch bark cover for the next folks. There were still a half dozen long lengths of dry sapling the resource extraction boys hauled back to camp. I did not saw them up, that’s up to the next visitors if they want a blaze.

Zero traffic on the lake today, although it become near mirror calm. I could go for a day padddle, but tomorrow is forecast just as calm, and much warmer.

I know I bemoan electronics on trips, and really dislike smart phone technology out in the woods, but need to offer a rare appreciation. Ed managed to pull weather forecast on his phone before he left, and magically saved a copy of it to read to me, complete with day/night highs/lows, precipitation, wind speed and direction.

Tuesday, clear, high 57, low of 30, winds W 3 – 6 MPH, 0% chance of rain
Wednesday, clear, high 62, low of 30, winds calm, 0% chance of rain

Having that forecast of warm, clear and little wind made lingering for a few extra days all the more comfortable. Thanks Ed, and thanks again for getting a permit good until Wednesday.

Early to bed with a good book. And no bunkmate spiders, although I did again have nighttime companions. Laying in the Luci-lit tent reading I a heard a familiar wing whooshwhoose. The ravens have descended to perch in my campsite. One of them may be perched on the tarp guyline, it is no more than 6 feet from my head.

The other perched nearly as close, and they proceeded to hold a long, quite loud conversation in Ravenesse, a tonally varied and distinct language. If they were looking to rob the camp of foodstuffs they were expressing their disapproval of site cleanliness

Tuesday. The ravens returned as I had breakfast, to no handout avail, and continued to express their disappointment.

As forecast Tuesday was warm, sunny and calm. As glassy as Little Tupper gets. Good morning to wander over the ridge behind camp for a gander at Bettne Pond (no doubt Conk has had a canoe on it), and hop in the canoe for a brief paddle on Little Tupper.

PA070113 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Back acamp, continually shedding layers, it was a good time to hang some dampish things to dry before packing up tomorrow. DIY custom dry bags, left empty damp under the tarp.

Left to right: giant blue canoe stem taper, small blue shoe & boot bag, yellow Therma-rest bag, red chair bag that fits the oversized wind chair and day hammock, blue stripped decked canoe taper in the ground.

PA070119 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Almost warm enough for the day hammock, but that would mean laying atop the down bag for a warm back, and I might not move for the rest of the day. Given the calm and rain-free forecast I chanced it and took the tarp down. With the center line, prussic and clip hang, and the CCS tarp bag it only take a few minutes to pack the tarp, but it is nice and sunny dry now, not morning dewy and another thing to dry out when I get home.

Stuffed in the bag clean and dry and not dragging on the ground, all I need to do is bundle and secure the ridgeline rope.

PA080127 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Yeah, the little key tag is labeled “Tundra Tarp”. Every tent, tarp or other piece of gear that lives in a stuff bag on a gear shelf is labeled for easy identification.

Helluva nice sunny spot.

PA070123 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Helluva pretty view

PA070124 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Helluva simple lunch

PA070126 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That was not the only blue barrel folding tabletop on the gents trip. I brought a baggie of bottle caps to as checkers but never got them out. I’m sure Conk would have kicked butt.

As the day wore on another pipe was lit, don’t mind if I do. Things got oddly-afro-hairy before sanity returned.

PA070122 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Soon enough it was good book and Luci-light time in the tent again. And time for yet another nighttime companion. Not the ravens; a Barred Owl, who perched in the same proximity, proceeding to treat me to a dozen choruses of “Who Cooks For You”.

More northerly bard owls have a different accent than their southern swamp brethren; they chop each “word” abruptly, while their southern kin actually drawl out each utterance, especially the end “youuuuuuu”. Or maybe it’s “Y’alllllllll”.

I wonder if the glowing Luci-light tent was an attractant, ravens looking for crumbs, owl looking for mice or chipmunks looking for crumbs. No crumbs here felllas, unless you want to preen my beard.

Wednesday. Up with the sun, which was late; the lake was socked in with fog early and I dawdled until it began to lift.

PA080129 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

And then I dawdled some more. I’ll hang the dewy tent and damp footprint ground cloth to fully dry when I get home, but there is no sense rushing to get away and pack them morning wet.

And more dawdle; too nice a day for October in the Adirondacks, and I might as well enjoy as much of it as I can before I leave. Plus I prefer to pack up at my leisure if afforded the opportunity, and it was afternoon before I was packed up and paddling back.

Maybe a bit too long a linger, Little Tupper did not want to let me go. By the time I was packed and pushed off the wind had come up, blowing from the northwest straight down the lake until the waves were starting to whitecap and I was taking a rest break behind each peninsula.

Had it blown in the other direction I would have been at the launch in 30 minutes with a sail.

I passed one paddler on his way in, a guy in a tandem ballasted with garbage bagged gear up front, and angled out into the wind to chat him up and say that site #10 had a good supply of firewood if he had a saw. I hope he stayed at #10, and used the fat wood and paraffin brick I left behind. And left the place as clean as he found it.

PA090131 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Yeah, no stern spray cover again. It didn’t matter this time, I was straight into the wind all the way.

Back at the launch the longtime Ranger chatted me up with the usual DNR-esque conversational questions, ‘til he was satisfied I was legit and legal. He was familiar with Conk, and surprised me by asking “Was Ed K there”. Freaking Ed; moved up here last winter and already everyone knows his name.

I pulled out of the Little Tupper lot at 3pm and was home at midnight. Well caffeinated, so I had time to catch up jittery on the news of the world.

I coulda shoulda stayed, and thought about it. I had segregated my unneeded gear in one dry bag to dump off in the truck, and had extra food and that forlorn 12 pack of Black and Tan in the truck. I thought about signing out the logbook and signing back in for a 3-night stay on Round Lake.

Coulda shoulda; the North Country radio forecast called for stunningly beautiful warm and sunny weather for the next few days, and a WeatherUnderground check when I got home forecast nearly a full week of the same.

Lesson learned # 4: Always pack the little AM/FM radio. And always leave some food and beer in the truck.

Conclusion. The best “combined” group and solo time trip in 5 years. It was the company on the first part, and the weather on the second.


The usual post-trip reflection on what worked/what didn’t always helps me plan for subsequent outings.

All the usual stuff that I have come to count on worked as expected, and some new stuff was pleasingly effective.

The live-aboard Tripping Truck with 10x13 tarp cover was again the ideal travelling vehicle, and breaking up a 9 hour trip into two shorter drives allowed me to dodge the rain on the way north, and arrive at the put in just as it ended.

PA010022 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

One caveat with the truck tarp; I had to put it away sopping wet in the rain on Wednesday morning, and didn’t attend to drying it out until I arrived back home 9 days later. I stored it still dripping wet in the empty truck cooler during that time and was happy to find that it wasn’t funky or mildewed. I think the cool in the cooler from overnight 30f temps helped, as well as the fact that it is polyester. It dried out quickly and unsanky once home.

I know that Conk likewise overnnighted back at the end of a dirt road the night before, and erected a “back porch” tarp off his truck, and that he has plans to fabricate something (no doubt more ingenious) as a back porch cover. Maybe a self-furling awning from a junked RV?

The custom sized DIY dry bags were the absolute bomb for packing an oversized glamping load, especially the stem tapers. I had a stupid amount of gear packed, beer, firewood, massive wind chair, three pair of shoes/boots, huge sleeping pad, barrel, 115L pack, tarp poles, etc, and everything still fit below the sheerline. The webbing carry straps I made for the wind chair and tapered dry bags were a hand free boon on a longish carry to the tent site.

PA070118 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The soloized “Inspector Gadget” Penobscot 16. I love that custom outfitted big boy, big load hauler; it does a little bit of everything well, and a lot of most things.

PA050050 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

All of the Cooke Custom Sewing gear. The spray covers on the canoe worked well in the wind while paddling, and in rain with the canoe beached upright in camp. All of my paddling gear stayed dry left inside the hull. At least one more load I didn’t need to haul into camp and find a dry place to store.

The 10x14 sil-nylon Tundra Tarp was, as usual, awesome. I have set that tarp up in a half dozen different guises over the years and haven’t begun to exhaust the configuration possibilities. I’m glad I picked bright cheery colors for dark dreary days.

The CCS Ridgeline stuff sack helps make setting up a big tarp while solo amazingly easy, especially with a ridgeline, prussic knots and clips. The Kelty poles again proved impervious to extreme abuse; I wouldn’t want to portage them, but for a glamper trip they will come every time.

PA060097 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The Spirit Sail(s). It was glorious to be able to sail in with Conk and Doug, even if the breeze was a little light. Sometimes the magic works.


The wind (cold/sun/rain) ALPS Leisure chair. Doug, John and I each had one, and Doug’s and mine had some butt warming Ridgerest pads. I bet John’s will next time too. That piece of chair insulating Ridgerest went under the Threma-rest pad at bedtime; extra insulation and puncture protection.

PA050055 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Night horseshoes. Really, gotta try it to believe it.

The blue barrel augmented with a folding table top. As always convenient for food prep and cooking, and as a side table when out of food service. The new and improved Reflectix meal pouch coozies kept even half servings hot for 30+ minutes. The little mesh trash bag hanging on the table is a godsend on windy days when I don’t want to be chasing empty oatmeal packs or Via packaging scraps around the campsite. I may not eat well, but at least I eat easily.

PA060091 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The yoga block two-holer console. Even handier this trip in camp than in canoe; the thick pine duff made it hazardous to set a coffee mug or beer on the ground, and I never spilled a drop of any precious liquid. I did manage to put out a cigarette in my coffee cup late one evening, mistaking it for the rather similar looking ashtray lid. Patooie, that ain’t hot chocolate and rum!

PA070117 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The new Mountainsmith day bag. It took me a while to discover where the contents were best stored for frequency of access, but once I had it organized (and a few extraneous items removed) that stylish man purse was useful in canoe and in camp; instead of little stuff all over the canoe or where the hell did it get to on the ground everything was neatly contained between my legs or at my side. Thanks again Gumpas for that recommendation.

PA070123 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The tripping journal “field desk”. I write and journal, make map notations and sometimes even (crudely) sketch while dawdling on solo trips. My preferred “field desk” is a spiral bound Mead Five Star notebook (quality paper that doesn’t ink bleed, water resistant covers) with reinforced manila pouch pages for storage of permits, weather and tide print outs and other loose paperwork.

“Field desk” because I glue sheet of stiffening material on the front and back covers, so the notebook is uber rigid when held in any position. Pen and spare pen fit securely tucked inside the spiral binding.

PA070124 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That notebook is finally about filled up with trip notes and I need to make a new one before the next trip.

Mostly what worked was the selection of friends with whom to share the first part of the trip. They refilled my mirth meter on night 1, and by the time they departed my cup runneth over and my cheeks hurt from laughing. It has been a year since I camped with most of them, and too damn long without seeing Conk or Doug.

PA030026 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

PA040049 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

And, just as needed for my psyche, some alone time. Thanks for those last four days alone my friends.
Sep 24, 2018
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Brewster, New York
I enjoyed your trip report Mike, especially the breakdown and review of the gear. I am going to consider posting a similar report after my next trip. Hopefully I'll have some success posting up photos as you did. Thanks again.


Mike, when it comes to gear and technique, you are unparalleled. You have no match. You are peerless. I think I would be embarrassed to paddle with you, with my unsophisticated gear in full display.

I have always thought that the Great Blue Heron made sort of a “Gronk” sound.

Yeah, unparalleled, matchless, peerless gear. And unlike some folks who do long Alaskan and Canadian river trips I use that gear to lounge around a lake campsite for 8 days, or take three weeks to travel 100 miles on a river moving at 4mph. Different strokes Michael.

Great Blue herons are damn near the State bird of Maryland, you can’t swing a paddle without hitting one and I’m familiar with their sound. This odd call, which the other guys remarked on, was considerably “wheezier” than a Great Blue or other heron. Never saw it, only heard it.


I enjoyed your trip report Mike, especially the breakdown and review of the gear. I am going to consider posting a similar report after my next trip.

Trailblaser, more personally helpful in packing for the next trip is the pondering What Didn’t Work. What didn’t work this trip was mostly forgotten gear, poor choices and poor decisions. Thinking out what didn’t work and writing it down helps me remember for the next trip. Usually.

I had sworn to always bring the larger Spirit Sail. Sworn repeatedly, including some swear words when I again neglected to bring it. Folded up it is as compact as the mid-sized sail, but has twice the square footage, and is far more effective in light winds. I could have comfortably booked down lake in the 5 or 6 mph tailwind using that sail, leaving Conk and Doug small Spirit sails aloft in my wake. Once again, I swear I will always bring the both sails. Just need to remember next time. Er, every time.

I lost/misplaced my oft usedd tarp and hammock measuring line. In forested areas, especially open piney woods, there can be a confusing multiplicity of available tarp ridgeline trees. In the pole bag I (once) had a piece of line cut to minimum tarp ridgeline and prussic cord length, with a push pin epoxied on one end, so I can pin that end to a likely tree and stretch out the line to a tree far enough away for the ridgeline, in whatever seems the best wind and rain orientation.

“Had”, I couldn’t find that measuring cord, and missed the convenience. I guesstimated the minimum ridgeline distance and the tarp just barely fit between the trees I selected, another few inches and the prussics and clips would not have tightened properly.

I needed a replacement measuring cord and ran a spare piece of line along that minimum distance while the Tundra Tarp was taut on the ridgeline. 13 feet 6 inches minimum span needed with the ridgeline and prussics on the 10 foot wide tarp orientation.

Next time I make up some G/flex I’ll again knot one end, epoxy embed a long needle push pin, and keep it in the tarp rope bag, stuck in a little cork. With the push pin affixed to a tree I can walk out the measurement cord to see what trees space out best for what wind and rain direction. Full Goldilocks-ian decision making, This one is too long, and this one is too short, and this one is just right.

That same measuring cord is also works for day hammock spacing; more than a foot+ longer is too far apart for my hammock using the longest straps. On many trips I like the day hammock strung beneath the Tundra Tarp, for hammock lounging and reading on a rainy day. It is easypeezy to take put up/take down that simple day hammock when I want the full tarp expanse open, leaving the straps in place for next hammock napping. Bring a pillow.

I used at least the bow spray cover every time I was on the water. On the way in, with a beam reach breeze, using only the bow cover, the effect on the uncovered stern was noticeable, wanting to point the bow into the wind, even with the stern packed level-ish with the sheerline and a only a moderate cross breeze. I did use both bow and stern covers on a couple lightly loaded day trips, and they are even more wind beneficial with lots of empty boat freeboard and otherwise open hull to catch wind.

There is simply no reason not to put on both bow and stern CCS partial covers. Just dunk the stuff bag in the water and let the nylon covers sit-sag-sodden while you pack the canoe; the snap rivets will go on thumb-press easily and the nylon will have expanded enough to accommodate some over-sheerline gear mound. They will soon become drum tight if it is warm, sunny or dry, and if it is cool, rainy or damp that is all the the nylon can saturated sag.

Again, “I swear to always”; I should swear less, or dammit at least pay attention more; I didn’t put the stern cover on for the last trip back, which was fortunately straight into the wind. Had it been broadside I’d have stopped somewhere, called myself an freaking lazy idiot and put the stern cover on.

I brought a saw, but no axe. Seriously, no one brought an axe? On this crew, with known axe men and foresters? John had a 6” Munchkin hatchet as our best splitting option? The Boy’s axe was back in the truck box and I considered paddling back one more time to get it. Next trip with that crew I bet there will be multiple axes. Maybe even one of mine.

I should have brought another set of Kelty poles, or at least the cheap HYOUT side poles. I needed the two Kelty’s for the raised roof of Tundra Tarp, and had nothing to offer as side poles for use with Ed’s big fireside tarp. The boys found some beaver stripped straight sapling shafts and made a couple needed poles. New rule on group glampers; always bring a spare set of poles.

BTW, that big, heavy-duty fireside tarp is one of the many reasons I love camping with Ed; it left with a few more flying ember pinholes from big-boy blazes, and some black from burning smoky birch bark, but set over the edge of the fire ring it sheltered six guys, in six chairs, and a couple or three side tables, all dry and warm. I’m not trying that with a sil-nylon tarp.

Last year I had replaced the guylines on all of our tents and tarps with reflective Glowire. Except, somehow, on the Tundra tarp bag of spare guylines. Something else added to the clean up and put away list.

I was down to canister dregs of JetBoil fuel and quickly running out of packing time. Best I could find was a 220g canister of Coleman Performance Fuel at WallyWorld. There were a number of issues; for starters the 220g canisters don’t fit inside the Jetboil pot. That was a minor concern, on cold nights I bring the fuel canister into the tent and snuggle up with it in the sleeping bag come morning, so the fuel isn’t freezing cold and burns better at breakfast.

Issue #2, the big 220g canister took forever to warm up, even cuddling with it like a girlfriend in the back seat of a ’76 Chevette. The smaller 100g fuel canisters warm up much faster, and outside the sleeping bag they fit more comfortably and less chicken-winged tucked in an armpit while setting out breakfast.

Issue #3 was the big one. Coleman “”Performance Blended Fuel” is butane/propane. JetBoil canisters are Isobutane/Propane (as are Primus Power Gas canisters). The Coleman canisters didn’t burn well, sputtering and throwing a weak flame even when warm. I verified this bias when I got home; JetBoil or Primus brand Isobutane Propane fuel burns far better and heast water faster than the Coleman version, at least with JetBoil use. No more Coleman canisters for me.

I should have brought a small Fire-in-a-can. I got one out when I wasn’t sure where I was going, but didn’t need a big roaster pan sized group FIAC for solo time on a paddle in trip.

As expected I did not have any fires the last 4 days solo. “Days” being most important; solo I turn in shortly after dark to Luci-light read in a warm sleeping bag; 20F down bag as a blanket style comforter was perfect.

But I’m up early on chill early mornings, and even during the day an instantly lighted heat source is awfully convenient when returning chilled from a day paddle or walkabout. Flick of the Bic, blaze one up for 10 minutes of cheery warming flame and put it instant-out with the lid, no residual flames or coals to be stuck in camp attending to.

The last couple FIAC’s I made were small-pot kayak-hatch sized versions, and I gave them all away with supplies of feeder bricks. As soon as I find another small stainless steel pot and lid at Goodwill I need to make a Personal Sized Ivory version for solo use.


BTW, Conk, a small fire-in-a-can is a wonderful truck camping item. Back from a hike or day paddle and want to sit on the tailgate warming up while changing socks and looking at maps or perfecting the art of Omphaloskepsis? Light that puppy up. Hint: Wait long enough for the melted wax to re-solidify before moving the FIAC.

Weather radio vs AM/FM radio. I don’t do Smartphone stuff, and don’t like most electronics in camp, but I do like a weather forecast once I’m more than a few days into a trip. I one-page print the week’s forecast before I leave and bring it with me, but more than 2 or 3 days out, meh, who knows how accurate those predictions are anymore.

I love the weather radio on coastal trips for the dependable NOAA forecast, but have never gotten a weather radio signal on any channel at Little Tupper on past trips, even with the auxiliary antenna strung out. I have a little AM/FM radio for that. Woo hoo, North Country Radio!

Guess which one I brought and tried to no avail? I always (really, actually always) have the weather radio, I’m not sure where the POS melted-in-the-heat AM/FM cheapie got to. I think I need a better compact AM/FM radio, one that I will (really, actually always) bring. I can gather all the news I need on the weather report.


I came back with a lot of food, at least a couple day’s worth, though getting scanty on breakfasts. I know that on Gent’s trip everyone will be sharing treats, ranging from Berger Cookies to Benedictine Monk baked goodies to bags of cashews and pretzels and chips, cheese and meat platters (sliced up on a flat slab of hardwood – the invention of the cutting board) – to, wait for it now that the fire is going, venison tenderloin. Every gents trip, always some venison.

Another tenderloin? Well I don’t mind if I do. I rarely made much effort at dinner while the boys were around. I would never pack limited food and count on that generosity, but know I could. Pass the Berger Cookies, and the bourbon.

Lastly, why oh why, when I paddled back to the launch, did I tote in John’s bundles of firewood and a 30 pack of Doug’s beer, and leave a 12 pack of my own Black & Tan behind? Think man, think! Never leave a beer behind! You should be smarter than that on a Gentleman’s trip.

At least bring a flask of rum for evening hot toddies on cold nights.

Hope you enjoyed that long “How I effed up this time” riff. I did, and maybe I won’t make those mistakes again. I’ll find new oopsies next trip, I always do.


As a non-Facebook-ian I can’t see Conk’s photos or read his trip reports. That alone is almost worth joining the Borg Collective.


Conk was kind enough to send me some trip photos. With his permission, a selection of his trip photography. He has a good eye, and an interesting perspective. And his horizons are more level then mine. Ooops, Mike done fell over again while taking a photo.

PA060102 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

(Photo descriptions not Conk’s fault)

Conk had the truck cap “back porch” thing going on a sleepover, with some ingenious improvements in mind.

PA020002 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

His canoe is somehow not nearly as full as mine. Conk wanted John's firewood bundles as ballast on the 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] trip in, but I claimed those puppies for the high freeboard, gear empty Penobscot.

PA020006 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I first thought this was sunset, but being Conk I believe this is sunrise on one of his disappearing acts.

PA030010 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Some greybeard in the weeds.

PA030017 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Pumpkin carving man. Ed has mad knife and pumpkin skills. Accent on the “mad”.

PA030030 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Hap O lantern Hap and a big group warming blaze.

PA030037 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Some perspective on All-Terrain Bocce. I might have thrown a plastic horseshoe at Doug, I wasn’t clonking Conk’s noggin with a croquet ball.

PA040042 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

A Baltimore specialty, Berger Cookies. One is more than enough. Well, maybe just one more, that Baltimore terroir does pair nicely with Bourbon.

PA040058 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

“Oh, you want to throw underhanded my bitches? It ain’t bragging if you back it up.

PA040063 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

We are the Knights who say “Black & Tan”. We are the Knights of the bourbon roundtable.

PA050091 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The full crew. John is making a desperate lunge to keep Steve from once again tipping over in his two legged chair. Everything was not in balance that night, or most nights.

PA050094 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Moons up, time for Conk to get going again. Taken the same night I got lost on the way to the thunderbox. Next time I’m putting a spare glow-stick on the lid.

PA050100 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Just in time for Conk to paddle out with another sunrise.

PA060104 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Conk has a good eye. I’m always happy to see his photos and unique perspective, and his moon set/sunrise timing on dark-of-night departures is appreciated by those still asleep.
Last edited:
Oct 5, 2012
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Genesee Valley, Western NY
Friday night, actually pre-dawn Saturday I got up to hit the thunderbox and Conk was gone again. Hammock and tarp silently down, boat packed and paddled off for another oddball Adirondack adventure.

The hours of daylight at Adirondack latitude in October necessitates an early start. Bushwhacking through the boonies… distance, daylight and terrain have to add up with a comfortable margin of error for making it back to camp. In that I rarely know where I am going or how to get there, an early departure on oddball adventures becomes doubly important.