The Chain Drain

Joined
Feb 29, 2012
Messages
1,820
Location
Schenectady, NY
Our small gang of 4 paddled in 2 tandem strippers through the newly acquired Essex Chain Lakes. Although DEC does not allow camping on these new to public access lands and waters, there is a section that has been state land for a very long time (at least since 1982).

Here's a Google view of most of our route.

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I have drawn a line (along a county line) that shows where the old state land and new state land border is, about halfway through First Lake.

We started at the designated parking area, 10.5 miles from Rt 28N, in Newcomb. From the parking area, it should have been a short 1/4 mile carry to Deer Pond, but I was under the bow, and asked my nephew, carrying with me in the stern, to keep an eye out for the sign to the put in. Well, after about double the distance, I noticed we were pretty close to the W edge of Deer Pond, I could see it through the trees. So we did a short bushwhack, and got on track.
After the itty bitty paddle across Deer, we carried up a hill and intersected an old road, then diverged from the road to a downhill path to Third Lake. All of this carry was only 1/2 mile long.
We then paddled Third into Second and then carried around a huge (50 yards wide!) beaver dam and the rock garden below it, ending up on First Lake.
Made camp on the old state land portion of First.
Overnight temps were well below freezing, we had skim ice and ice my Kelly Kettle.
After breakfast, and some time to wait for the sun to warm things up a bit, we headed down the outlet of First Lake, or what I like to call it, The Chain Drain.
The Chain Drain was only about a mile as the crow flies to the confluence with the Rock River, but the squiggles, many beaver dams and logjams added time and effort.
Then we reached a chasm of sorts, where the Chain Drain drops about 50 or 60 feet through sheer rock walls. We spent so much time looking at the falls that we ran out of time to carry around and paddle the Rock!!
It was time well spent though. This is a spot that before now, had been extremely difficult to reach through public access water and land.

All agreed, it was a good use of a day, and we returned upstream to our campsite, dinner and a warm fire. Heavy rain started at around 9 PM, so we hit the sack, and awoke the next morning to soggy ground and sunny skies!!
Oh, and we tried to see the partial lunar eclipse on Friday night, but saw no eclipse. It was still a very pleasant full moon paddle, especially for my D-I-L, she had never paddled in moonlight before.

And half of our motivation was to do recon for next year's trip on the Rock and Cedar and Hudson rivers...
Here's a few photos to give you a glimpse.

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Joined
Feb 29, 2012
Messages
1,820
Location
Schenectady, NY
So, it's been a year and a half...our gang is heading back to the Essex Chain Lakes in early May.

Hopefully, we won't see any more of these floating heads

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Here is the route, the roads that lead to the most direct access are closed for winter and maintenance is scheduled for May 15th, well after our planned trip.

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We will put in on the Cedar, paddle downstream as far as the nearly abandoned trail to Unknown Pond, carry to the pond about 1 1/2 miles, paddle the pond and its upstream beaver flooded flows, bushwhack back to the Cedar, and then hop over to Pine Lake. From there, we'll explore more of the Cedar, as much of the Rock that we can, and make another foray up the Chain Drain and paddle the Essex Chain Lakes. Any hopes for a through trip have been eliminated by the closed roads, but that also eliminates any easy access by others.
By taking the Unknown Pond shortcut(is it?) we will skip a 2 mile section of the Cedar that has class II plus rapids between high rock walls. Here is the start of those rapids, Pasley Falls. This photo is from last fall with extremely low water levels.

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If we're feeling really ambitious, we will loop upstream on the Rock on the way out. There are many large drops with no established carries around them, a mile and some carry, and another bushwhack back to the Rock, and one last short (1/2 mile) carry from Rock Lake back to the road. Or we prove our slothiness and leave the way we come in...

I'm pretty psyched, been packing and drying food for a few days now...
I'll post a full trip report when we get back.
 
Joined
Aug 1, 2011
Messages
152
Location
North Creek NY
Looks like a great trip. I've done a couple of searches in the area. From the Unknown Pond Trail crossing to where Unknown Pond's outlet meets the Cedar, bushwhacking back over White Birch Ridge to our point of origin. And years ago, a search in the Pine Pond area. That coupled with your Chain Drain report of the past makes this very interesting!

How long are you planning on being out?
 
Joined
Feb 29, 2012
Messages
1,820
Location
Schenectady, NY
How long are you planning on being out?

Keith,
We only have 3 days for this outing. I've been struggling to do a loop from the Rock to the Cedar, and maybe continue to the Hudson. Or a trip down all of the Cedar (from Benton Rd put in) to the Hudson. But my lack of boots on the ground info keeps me from committing without knowing what some sections of the Cedar are like. So this trip will be the first of what I hope will be many loops through that area.
Many years ago, I hiked to Elm Island, and in '13 MDB and I hiked to the big bend on the Cedar. I have paddled Rock Lake and some of the outlet, but all of that in between is a mystery to me. After the Newcomb River trip, I have sworn to myself to not commit to full packs and boats unless I know what I'm getting into...
 
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