Bog River Flow, Lows Lake 9/23-9/27/2014

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Sep 13, 2013
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Long Island, NY
This is it. My first wilderness camping trip ever. The good news is I was bringing my canoe and my Sweetheart. Our first vacation together, been dating since December 2013. I don’t have a lot of camping experience and I really didn’t want to look stupid on this trip in front of the one I love. How’s that for adding some pressure to a vacation? I’ve been reading and trying to carefully select gear for this trip. My Sweetheart also purchased a bunch of clothing and gear based on my recommendations. No pressure, right?

We drove up on Tuesday September 23rd arrived at Lows Lower Dam at around 3:30PM and launched around 4PM. It was a bit misty, not really raining, more fog like. Not too cold - somewhere around 60*F. I knew sunset was around 7PM so we didn’t have too much time to paddle in, find a campsite and make camp. We donned our rain gear and paddled off while I tracked our progress on the Lows Lake Map I bought from Raquette River Outfitters and my Garmin Oregon 600 GPS unit. I have the GPS mounted to the underside of the kneeling thwart using a RAM mount. The canoe is a Royalex Old Town Penobscot 16. In it we have two Cooke’s Custom Sewing Hybrid Packs. Mine’s a Pioneer in green and hers is an Explorer in red. We also have a 30L blue barrel in a Cooke’s Custom Sewing Quad Pocket Pack. In addition, we also have some photography equipment, a thwart bag, bow bag and padded seat pad.

LowsLake09_2014-4.jpg by Hansen.Dougie, on Flickr
We’ve never had so much stuff in the canoe. The canoe felt heavier and sat a bit lower but all in all it was the same canoe that had gained our trust over the past five months.
We started prepping for this trip a few months ago. I wanted to go with or without my Sweetheart, who we’ll call MS. I’m glad she wanted to come along. MS proved to be a big help in many ways. In an attempt to keep things simple I gave her the Explorer pack and told her “If it fits in here and you can carry it, you can bring it. No more than that.” Wow, I guess I can be a hardass. Thankfully she was up for the challenge. She researched dehydrating foods and really was a huge help with the menu. MS also worried about bears… a lot. Normally I wouldn’t give bears too much thought but with all the attention she was giving to the subject I bought a can of bear spray. I told her if a bear comes into camp it’s her job to spray it. Hehehehe

As we paddled west I knew we didn’t have too much time to find an available campsite and set up before dark. It’s been getting dark close to 7PM and I didn’t want to push too hard. We made it to Hitchens Pond and campsite #5 was free so we decided it was to be home for the night. It was a nice spot looking out over the pond to the East. We got the water filter flowing, pitched the tent, and started to make dinner. On the menu was chicken that we had dehydrated ourselves and some quinoa mixed with brown rice.

LowsLake09_2014-14.jpg by Hansen.Dougie, on Flickr
Our first meal was the worst of the trip. I didn’t use the windscreen for the MSR Dragonfly so it took a long time for the water to boil. I tried using a table top for the blue barrel that I had hastily whipped up prior to the trip using a coroplast sign, some aluminum foil, Reflectix and duct tape. It was a bit too big and I kept trying to place items too close to the far edges away from the center of the barrel and it would upset the balance of the tabletop. A little worrisome while I have the burning stove on top of it. That was the second problem.

LowsLake09_2014-16.jpg by Hansen.Dougie, on Flickr


The third problem with mealtime was the chicken never really seemed to re-hydrate and soften up. The quinoa and rice was OK but the chicken was awful. Not a good feeling to start a trip with bad, hydrated food garbage you know you will have to carry for the rest of the trip.

The good news was the Helinox Chairs I scored on Steep and Cheap were a big hit with both of us due to their comfort. Next items tested were the sleeping bags. We both were in Big Agnes sleeping bags with Insulated Q-Core SL Big Agnes Sleeping pads. I was in a Summit Park 15*F Down Bag and MS was in a Pomer Hoit SL 0*F bag. Both overkill for the weather we would be experiencing. I slept with my bag unzipped, in my underwear and was very, very comfortable as I listened to the Great Horned Owls calling to each other. MS had gotten a little cold before settling into her bag so she took a little while to warm up and sleep. The tent is a Marmot Limelight 3 and I had no complaints with it.

LowsLake09_2014-20.jpg by Hansen.Dougie, on Flickr
 
Joined
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427
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Long Island, NY
I woke up early on Wednesday and looked outside to see the sunrise. It was beautiful so I woke up MS and both of us took some time gawking before snapping photos. MS spotted an eagle while I started breakfast. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any photos of the eagle.

LowsLake09_2014-21.jpg by Hansen.Dougie, on Flickr
We had a simple breakfast of oatmeal before breaking down camp and packing the canoe. We then paddled off towards Lows Upper Dam.
We were starting to settle into our new surrounding. The long drive up to the put was a day behind us. We had a successful night in the woods. The views were beautiful and the leaves were changing. I was starting to relax.
If I could only convince my ears to relax. I live on Long Island and nearly anywhere on the island you have background noise. Where I live there’s the constant drone of vehicular traffic. My ears are accustomed to hearing SOMETHING all of the time I am out of doors. Now, in my new surrounding my ears were striving to hear anything. My ears seemed like they were on the edge of their seats wanting to hear background noise. It was a strange phenomenon.
We arrived at the take out and made the carry up the Lows Upper Dam. I took the canoe and food pack in one trip while MS carried her pack. The next trip I took my pack and MS carried the paddles and loose items. We placed the canoe on a floating dock and left the packs alongside it. Next on our itinerary was a hike to Hitchens Ridge (aka Lowes Ridge - I have no idea what’s correct - I’ve seen it both ways). The signs said the hike was a mile long and I’ve heard the views were great. It was, and they are. Neither MS or I are hikers but we had little trouble following the trail and making the ascent. When we got to the ridge our efforts were rewarded by wonderful views of the surrounding area. We snapped some photos and munched a light snack of trail mix and granola bars. Luckily, there were a couple of guys having lunch up top and they offered to snap a photo of MS and I. We returned the favor, of course.

LowsLake09_2014-42.jpg by Hansen.Dougie, on Flickr


There was little wind even at the top of the ridge and the entrance to Lows Lake was very calm. I had read of the wind kicking up on Lows in the afternoon. I was anxious to get back to the canoe, paddle in and select a campsite before the lake would change its complexion.
We paddled west along the Bog River Flow and made it around the floating bog (hint- go to your left) and settled into following the map and GPS while spotting campsites along the North Shore. The views were great as we travelled deeper into the lake. I knew I would have to select a campsite soon. I was looking to establish a base to day trip from. I decided we would head to campsite #20.

LowsLake09_2014-48.jpg by Hansen.Dougie, on Flickr
Lows Lake has some neat land features and its fair share of islands. Those features and islands made it challenging for me to read the map. Is that the shoreline or an island? I often found myself wondering. I guess navigation will get easier and easier as I gain experience.
We rounded a corner between and island and found campsite #20 taken. We continued West to campsite #22 and landed the canoe on the sandy beach. I took the uphill walk to the campsite itself and declared it good. We decided we would cook and eat on the beach hoping to avoid food driven animals in camp. MS suggested we have our “dinner” for lunch so we would be cooking and eating in the daylight and could have the easier to make PBJ in the dark. Great idea!
 
Joined
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Long Island, NY
Got the filtered water flowing and pitched the tent. MS got the sleeping pads and bags in the tent and I went to cooking. Spaghetti with meat sauce was the dish. The sauce MS had dehydrated into a leather and the ground beef was freeze dried Mountain House brand. I boiled up some water and added the ground beef and “sauce” to it, placed the pot in a reflectix cozy (I’ve read my share of Cliff Jacobson books) and set it aside. Then I cooked up the spaghetti and spooned out the meat sauce atop it. It was wonderful - the best meal of the trip.
I was adjusting to the extra effort involved with nearly every task while camping. The filtered water, the clean up, the squatting - all the squatting. My body was getting a workout I had not expected. MS and I settled into our chairs still in awe of the beauty we were surrounded by. The wind hadn’t picked up and the lake remained calm. We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening in camp just getting organized and fine tuning things. We heard and saw our first loon of the trip. It continued to call after the sun set and even while we had settled into our sleeping bags and fell asleep.

LowsLake09_2014-57.jpg by Hansen.Dougie, on Flickr
On Thursday we woke and had a breakfast of Ovaeasy eggs with bacon crumbles. I also had some Nann bread with a bit of honey on it. Both delicious and easy to make.

After cleaning up we headed to the Grass Pond area of the lake. I had heard of it on The Adirondack Forum. We elected to paddle close to shore and hopped over the causeway near campsite numbers 25 and 26. After rounding a large island we made our way into Grass Pond and spotted a pair of loons. It was beautiful and we stopped at campsite #32 for a lunch of PBJ sandwiches.

LowsLake09_2014-71.jpg by Hansen.Dougie, on Flickr


We also saw a great heron close to the shore but I was unable to snap a photo of it before it spooked. Found and removed some garbage left at the campsite and a mylar balloon from under a bush on the shoreline.



On our way out we met Ranger Dawn and had a nice chat. We made our way back to camp and MS perched herself on a rock to sunbathe while I took the canoe out to gather some firewood. My Bob Dustrude Quick Buck Saw worked great and I was able to gather enough dead and down wood for a fire. I still hadn’t seen the winds and whitecaps that I had read about. The weather had been very good. Mostly clear skies, light wind and daytime highs around 70*F. At night I’d call it 45*F or so - I only zipped up my sleeping bag one night.
Dinner that night was shepherds pie. Idahoan Four Cheese instant mashed potatoes with Mountain House freeze dried ground beef and rehydrated Just Corn freeze dried corn. It was delicious.
After our early dinner we paddled out to get a better view of the sunset and boy am I glad we did. It was truly a great one.

LowsLake09_2014-89.jpg by Hansen.Dougie, on Flickr
 
Joined
Sep 13, 2013
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Long Island, NY
I do have to mention our Luci Lantern here. Solar powered, inflatable lantern. It proved to be a favorite source of fuel-less and silent light.
After turning in for the night I woke up around 2AM to empty my bladder and I am glad I did. The stars were amazing. I fell back to sleep listening to an endless serenade of coyotes, loons and owl. I was really enjoying myself.
Friday morning we had the Ovaeasy eggs again and I’m glad we did. Yummy!

After breakfast we paddled over to Moose Bay and then into the bog river stopping to snap photos and mark campsites on the GPS. The lake was like glass.

LowsLake09_2014-95.jpg by Hansen.Dougie, on Flickr

We did see an eagle but it was too far off to identify the species even using 10X binoculars. Stopped off at #37 and found moose tracks along with a bear cub track and some mystery scat.

LowsLake09_2014-100.jpg by Hansen.Dougie, on Flickr

Once again we picked up some garbage and stowed it. We then hopped back into the canoe and continued on to Bog Lake.

LowsLake09_2014-109.jpg by Hansen.Dougie, on Flickr

From there we left the canoe and just brought our cameras and lunch over the canoe carry trail to clear pond. After eating we took a dip in the cool and clear water of Clear Pond. It was chilly but very refreshing and I’m glad we did. MS found some frogs to photograph once back at Bog Lake.

LowsLake09_2014-118.jpg by Hansen.Dougie, on Flickr
 
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Joined
Sep 13, 2013
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We set off back for camp and encountered some wind while crossing back to the lake’s North Shore. No whitecaps but enough to require a good deal of extra effort.
After a little nap in the Enos Doublenest Hammock we started to pack what we could to prepare for a quick and early exit the following morning.
I had noticed the previous day that our MSR AutoFlow water filter was really slowing down. I tried squeezing the MSR Dromedary bag that I was using for clean water collection to back flush the filter. It didn’t seem to speed up the flow. That bothered me, I didn’t want to have to resort to boiling water because I was already keeping a nervous eye on our stove fuel level.

The sunset tinted the sky with some nice colors that evening.


LowsLake09_2014-130.jpg by Hansen.Dougie, on Flickr

For dinner we had Mountain House freeze dried Chili-Mac. It wasn’t so great. After dinner we lit the campfire MS had built and we enjoyed roasting marshmallows and making S’mores. That was great.

LowsLake09_2014-135.jpg by Hansen.Dougie, on Flickr


We then made our way back down to the beach to stargaze together. MS was able to spot constellations and show them to me. We also saw a few falling stars and a couple of satellites. We went to sleep feeling very content that night.

We woke early on Saturday using the alarm on my mobile phone set to 6:30AM. We started breaking down and packing up camp. For breakfast was instant oatmeal. It hit the spot.

LowsLake09_2014-139.jpg by Hansen.Dougie, on Flickr


It hit the spot. We then packed the canoe, made one last sweep to check to see if we had forgotten anything and took off it was 8AM.
LowsLake09_2014-141.jpg by Hansen.Dougie, on Flickr
We crossed paths with Ranger Dawn on the way out and she informed us that we “Hit the lottery” with the foliage and weather. Low wind, mostly clear skies and warm temperatures was all we experienced after our first day. We really were fortunate.

We covered just under 35 miles for our trip total

LowsLake09_2014-2.jpg by Hansen.Dougie, on Flickr
We made it to the minivan and had everything strapped down and stowed and was driving out by noon. What a trip - loved just about every minute of it and took some notes on what could be improved on.
After returning home I found and read the instructions for the MSR AutoFlow Filter. It is backflushed by reversing the filter and letting four liters of water flow through the filter. That is to be done after every eight liters of filtering. At the time of the slow down I probably had 36 liters of water filtered through it - over four times the recommended amount between backflushing. I’m pleased to announce that I have since performed a proper backflush and disinfect with and all is back to normal. I learned it is important to know how to use your gear BEFORE heading out. It wasn’t life threatening but it was certainly stupid.
We had a great time and reflected on our trip while driving back home. We drove MS’s minivan and left it in the put in. While there, rodents had gotten inside and found her trail mix, granola and chocolate stash. A 2014 Honda Odyssey is not rodent secure. Strange but it seems they just took the food and didn’t damage anything else. The rodents moved out nearly a pound of trail mix over three days. They must be very prepared for winter.
Thank to many of you for your help and answering my questions. You helped our trip to be a safe and enjoyable one that created many, many memories. Thanks again.
 
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Joined
Jun 12, 2014
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NW Iowa
Looks like a great trip so far (last two chapters aren't up yet) and perfect weather! Very glad your first experience was a positive one (provided a bear doesn't attack in one of the following updates).

Alan
 
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Jul 11, 2014
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Ontario Canada
WOW Hanz. Just wow. What a great first trip, and incredible photos. You two sound like you've got it all figured out. Can I make just one small suggestion regarding your prep, gear and attitude?
Don't change a thing.
Looking forward to the rest of your trip. And then the next one...
 
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Jul 30, 2014
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This is the last thing I needed to see while at my desk at work! Absolutely beautiful! The Wednesday morning sunrise photo is sublime. Look forward to more!!!
 
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Schenectady, NY
Hanz,

Can't wait to hear and see the next episodes...How exciting it must have been to have your first wilderness camping trip turn out so well.
I envy the sense of newness that you experienced. I have been paddling and camping in the ADK wilderness areas since before I can remember. While I have a lifetime of memories (both joyous and tragic) I have no memory of a "first" time, so I guess you're very lucky to be able to build these memories that you (and MS) can hang on to!!

Now, get posting so we all can see how the rest of your trip turned out!
 
Joined
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Aberdeen, MD
Just showed these to my wife, in prep for our trip in a couple weeks... She thinks it's funny that I have similar pics (like from Campsite 20 and Low's Ridge) that she recognizes. Then asked if I had bear spray for us.
 
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Sep 26, 2013
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Colrain MA
Like everyone else, great pictures. Looks like you had a lot of fun and that won't be your last trip.
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
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Ontario
Outstanding! What an introduction to tripping. Photos and writeup are awesome. Really appreciate all the gear details too. I'm specifically curious about that Luci lantern. Seems like it puts out quite a bit of light. I had read some reviews that condensation from inflating it with your breath can cause fogginess on the inside and substantially reduce the light. Did you experience that at all?
 
Joined
Sep 13, 2013
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Long Island, NY
Thanks - it was a lot of fun and I like sharing the photos.

Murat, Now that I think about it, I didn't really manage the Luci Lantern. That task was taken on by MS. I think I recall seeing condensation inside it once but it was bright enough for what we needed. It has three settings - Low, High and Flashing Strobe ( about a .5 second interval). It's not as bright as a Coleman lantern for sure. I know she felt comfortable enough with the light provided for nocturnal trips to the thunder box. Hope this helps.

Oh, I don't know if the illuminated tent photo is throwing you off - I had the camera on a tripod and the shutter open for 50 seconds.
 
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There is nothing like paddling with a new sweetheart. You have skill as a photographer. Forget about the self-induced "pressure". All we need to do is look at your photographs and realize what a wonderful experience you had. You are to be congratulated. Next time out and there should be many more with a lady like that one, try to develop some more confidence. That is the only thing missing. You have good equipment, good food, good people. Next comes the right and confident outlook and you will have the whole package.
 
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For those of you not from NY, be assured that Lows is a beautiful place. The pictures are great, but reality is much nicer.

We stayed at the same site on Hitchens earlier this summer. I posted the faint full super moon picture before, but of course we don't have a great camera, so it's not that good:

1620462_712224898844640_2292229082281646789_n.jpg


That's looking at about the same angle where your Sweetheart next to the tent picture is looking.

There was a jar there with a log, I'm not sure if you found it but I know my wife wrote something in there. It would have been dated August 10th or 11th.

Last week was about the most perfect, near peak fall conditions I've seen... ohh except for last year at this time, it was almost the same.

We were just north of you on Cranberry Lake on the 27th and 28th. Not really a wilderness trip (motor boats) but a place I'd recommend.

This year:

10710534_736085633125233_870101984128277566_n.jpg


And last year:

1383973_546666802067118_537421861_n.jpg


Different parts of the lake. I've still not seen the whole thing. Next year I need to get up into Bear Mountain Flow and the swamp.

Fall is a great time to be in the Adirondacks. It is much less crowded than summer as well. Based on how many reports I see from there, I'm surprised we don't try to have a forum get together there... oh wait, there is the one in a couple weeks. A bit late for leaves, and poor timing for me... but I still would have liked to go. Weekends are a must for us folks who have to work for a living.

Anyway, great trip. Hope to see many more, and maybe our paths with cross... although it's unlikely. I've never seen anyone from the forum out and about... it's a big park!
 
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Joined
Sep 21, 2014
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Wisconsin
Hanz & MS,

You're photographs are absolutely remarkable. What a keen eye! I can't stop looking at them, they make me want to get out there and trip the area myself.

I feel so bad your dehydrated chicken didn't work out. May I offer a couple tips for next time?

At home if you cut the cooked chicken into very small pieces before dehydrating, in camp presoak in water before cooking, and then let it steep for at least 10 minutes in a cozy (we made a pot cozy with reflective ducting insulation (you can buy them too)) after cooking it, the hardness of the dehydrated meat should be totally gone.

After this beautiful trip, are you hooked on tripping too?
 
Joined
Sep 13, 2013
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Long Island, NY
Great Trip! In your pictures it looks like you are using some type of a gaiter/overshoe for wet footing. What are they?

They are NEOS trackers. I'm not 100% certain that mine don't leak as I always seemed to have had moisture inside of them but it could have been perspiration. I'm just not sure.

I wear a 10.5 shoe and I went with size large. They fit over my LLBean boots (which I think are a 9.5) and my Crocs that are a size 10. They did not fit over my Keen Newport H2 Sandals that are a size 10.5.

They have a buckle and strap that is used to hold to overshoe tight to your shoe/foot and then up top on your calves they have a bungee with an adjuster to keep them cinched around your calves. The better they fit your shoe the better they work. They can be a little fussy to get fitted correctly.

For me they were a good solution because I didn't want to wet foot like I do in the summer time and I didn't want to commit to wearing neoprene socks like I do when the water is really cold.
 
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