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Oswegatchie

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Feb 11, 2021
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Clayton NY
With someone I met at a NFCT work weekend, we assembled at Cranberry Lake Campground Friday, for an Oswegatchie trip Saturday. Rain was predicted all weekend but held off till Sunday around 4:00 am, so lucked out. Campground showed nearly full on rec.gov but was maybe half full. Nice place.

Anyway put in at Inlet a 8:45. I had tried this once before but only got to Griffin Rapids (a misnomer in my 2 experienced). This trip we made it a half mile or so past site 22, where I think we too the wrong fork because it looked like much more water flowing. Think we were on The Plains River, and not on way to High Falls. Someone let me know if we should have gone right instead of left. Nearly 2:00, we decided to start back doen stream and true to form, about half the time. Got back to Inlet before 5:00. Tiring for 2 old men.

Were able to paddle over most beaver dams. 2 on way up bowman got out and pulled us through. One rocky area we both got out and lined canoe through rapids.

Very few others. One large boys camp group, 6 or 7 canoes, at the Buck Brook lean to. On return not far from Inlet passed 2 separate couples, apparently not camping.

All plant life was very lush. Current was steady but mostly slow.

This is a great paddle but I would not try a one day round trip Inlet to high falls. I'm sure some - more likely younger - can do it, but so many nice campsites. Another time I'd plan at least two nights, one on way up stream, and one at High Falls, and then an easy return on third day. Or enter from Lows Lake, substituting the ~3 mile portage for paddling upstream, and arrange a shuttle.

All in all, loved the trip!
 
I highly recommend putting in at the lower dam on the Bog River, paddling to Lows Lake and doing the 3 mile portage to the Oz's headwaters. We gave ourselves a full day for the portage with our Penobscot 16RX, which made it quite manageable.
 
Worth carrying portage wheels on that 3 mi portage?
I don't think so. The trail was in good shape in summer 2021, but it's essentially a hiking trail, not a cart path. It climbs and descends hills and cross some bog bridging. My brother and I had our personal drypacks, a communal bag—a Granite Gear Quetico with kitchen and food and et cetera, and the boat. We ferried it in two loads, alternating every 12-15 minutes—15' carrying canoe, walk back, carry drypack to canoe/Quetico, 15' carrying GG Quetico, walk back, carry drypack to canoe/Quetico, ad not-quite nauseum.
 
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I've done it a number of times, both with and without a cart. The first time was with a fairely heavy woodstip canoe and I suffered for it. The next time, same canoe with "Canadian Walker" bicycle wheel type cart. But that was soon after the 1995 derecho blowdown, just after the tail was reopened. The unfortunate thing was the logs across the trail were not cut wide enough and one wheel or the other had to climb up and over log ends. Not a pleasant time either. A few years later I guided a scout troop with the same wheels. It was much better for me that time, easy with the wheels and a more widened trail. The scouts carried their Grumman canoes and gear in stages, but made it ok in hop segments with canoes and gear. Then I got a 15 pound Horbeck and that made all the difference for an easy single trip carry. There is (was) a dammed beaver pond part way. Sometimes you can cross on the dam, other times it is better to paddle across.
 
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