Lila Traverse by Ericalynne, August 2006

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Willis

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Ericalynne, who posts on myccr gave me permission to post this trip report.


Here is my trip report from Little Tupper Lake to Lake Lila route which I did in August of 2006. This trip was inspired by a photograph of Robin Lauer's and greatly enhanced by information and MAPS! from Mike McCrea. Because of the long portages, and going solo, I tried to pare down a la Light Jay. My pack weighed 30 pounds and that included 12 pounds of food for the four full days and two half days I was out. I was able to do the portages, which total about five linear miles, in two trips. The other person who helped me with the trip was Dick Galster, who is an Adirondack boat builder. Many, many thanks to these friends.

Because I had to fly into NY state, I rented a canoe from Raquette River Outfitters in Tupper Lake, who dropped the canoe off at the input and picked it up and the take out. It was a light weight Winona and handled very nicely. The interior has a lot of long portages, to the point where it really felt like a backpacking trip, only carrying a canoe.

It was a great solo moderate wilderness trip. The weather was great, only a little rain and wind near the end. I saw and heard loons, mature bald eagles, deer, black bear, ducks, lots of songbirds, red squirrel, chipmunk, grouse and chicks; also saw tracks of a moose, bear and mink, rabbit and red squirrel. Found a snake egg in some old bear scat. Watched two female hummingbirds fight over a piece of orange survey tape, the victor kept sticking her bill at the tape all over, quite frustrated. Also, saw no one in the "interior," and it had a feeling of real wilderness even though cut-over and not all that far from civilization. The area was filled with ripe blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.

I put in around 1 pm at Little Tupper Lake and spent the first night on the island site on Rock Pond, which was beautiful. The next day I only got as far as Hardigan Pond...I came down with food poisoning (thanks to the spaghetti served by a friend the night before the trip) and was sick for about 30 hours with chills and cold sweats and stomach
pains. I spent the entire day just portaging to Hardigan pond, arriving about 2:30 pm. I set up the tent and spent the afternoon trying to nap. Felt a little better in the evening and paddled around the pond; it is really a pretty little pond. Lots of bottle gentian in bloom, which is one of my favorite flowers. Somehow lost my only utensil at this camp and had to whittle a spoon from a maple branch the next morning to eat my oatmeal to use for the rest of the trip. That night was very cold and I struggled to stay warm, even donned by life jacket.

Next day got to Little Salmon Lake. There is a new camp near the outflow, the ranger told me about; he said it was the best of the ones on LSL. I got there about 1:30 and by this time was so sick I couldn't even unload the canoe. I just lay down in the sun for an hour or so before I could get enough energy to set up a camp. I couldn't eat anything for about 24 hours - just gatorade and hard candies and one chicken noodle cup-a-soup. Then suddenly, miraculously, around 4 pm I felt better. It was almost like turning a switch. I portaged the canoe over to Lillypad Pond and also hiked the roads back there. The outlet from LSL comes down over some beautiful rocky falls just before it hits the portage road, and I spent some time meditating in that beautiful spot.

The next day I got to Lake Lila - what a beautiful lake. Almost no one was on it - possibly five parties at most and everyone was quiet. I camped at #19, which was a beautiful site, if overused. Still I was impressed at how clean the entire area was for the amount of use it gets on weekends. I had the impression, when looking out at the water
from the campsite, that this was the same location from Robin took his photo, although those reeds were all about the lake.

The last full day I spent exploring Lila by water and by foot. I did not get up the mountain because the winds came up so strong I couldn't safely get across the lake. I learned later that Dick climbed the mountain and actually saw what was most likely me (a solo paddler out at 2 pm.) I just enjoyed myself and then paddled out around noon the next day. In spite of being sick, I had a great time. The portages are as bad as described, but I really only have trouble with their length, and not the mud (ankle to mid-calf and if you are not careful, mid-thigh) or beaver dams or narrow paths, etc. And once you get through the mud, the long portages are on high dry ground. If I were to do this again, I think I would plan to spend more time exploring the "interior" section.

The "interior" campsites are pretty small and minimal, but I am quite used to paddling in areas where there are no campsites at all and you make do with what you can find, so I was quite comfortable. I have a small solo tent that fits just about anywhere. I don't think this trip is worth anyone coming down from Canada for, but it you are stuck stateside and are willing to put up with the long portages, it is a great trip to make.
 
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