Canoe Camping Adirondacks Trip Report September 2009 – Part 2

by PennPaddler

St Regis Canoe Area Map

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This canoe trip report is continued from part 1.   

 The Third Day

Just as most of our first day was about getting to Fish Pond most of our third day was about making our way back to Saint Regis Pond where we intended to camp overnight at one of the lean-to structures. There’s a lot of competition for the lean-to structures so we woke early and ate a quick breakfast; I managed to get a few more sunrise photos of Fish Pond then wasted no time packing my gear, but I was careful in packing because I knew I had to pack my gear just right for this upcoming portage or things could get miserable in a hurry. Although this wasn’t the same grueling mountain trail portage we endured on the way into Fish Pond it was the fire road portage (solid blue line on map) and it was going to be a greater distance than the mountain trail. 
 
Sunrise on Fish Pond

Sunrise on Fish Pond

 
We paddled across Fish Pond mostly in silence and when we arrived at the fire road we had a brief discussion about whether a pile of scat was from a horse or a bear. There wasn’t much discussion after that because we knew it was time to get down to business.
 
Images from Fire Road Portage

Fire Road Portage

Some of us opted to carry our camping gear on the first round and others opted to carry their canoes first. Being about as mentally prepared as I was going to get I sat on the ground and struggled to squeeze my body inside the shoulder straps of my dry bag; I took a deep breath and tried to crawl to my feet, but I couldn’t because there was too much weight on my back. After a few seconds of squirming on the ground like a helpless child I managed to make it to my feet in an awkward bent over at the waist position to counter the weight on my back. And so began my slow journey up the grassy fire road while walking in this silly looking bent over position.  

Our group of four paddlers started out at the same time but the distances between us increased quickly as everyone hit their own pace. I occasionally rested on my feet for a few moments here and there, but I never sat down because getting up again was too difficult. After a very long walk I finally reached the rendezvous point at the side trail to Saint Regis Pond. After a few minutes of rest we finished the carry to Saint Regis Pond then returned back to the beginning for our second carry.   

I knew carrying my canoe on this fire road would be misery and I was right. The pain in my shoulders and neck after about the first half mile became unbearable and I must have dropped my canoe five or six times on this portage; unfortunately they get heavier each time you lift them. My Mad River canoe is great in certain situations but at 67 lbs and no yoke pads it’s just not meant for longer portages like this. If you intend to do this type of canoeing use a lightweight boat and fit it with yoke pads.  

The fire road portage required two trips and took most of the morning, and it’s not something I would call easy. You just walk and walk while trying to forget about that canoe on your shoulders, and when you arrive at the steeper grades you can only tackle them with smaller more precise steps. You round every turn and top each grade looking for the end but it all looks the same and you just keep pacing along. It’s not as bad as the mountain trail but you just want it to end. Knowing what I know now the next time I portage into Fish Pond I’ll take the fire road both ways and use a canoe cart.  

The total distance covered on this portage was approximately 5 miles. We arrived at the Saint Regis Pond during the afternoon and paddled our way to the lean-to shelter to camp.     

Saint Regis Pond Campsite

Saint Regis Pond Campsite

When we arrived at Saint Regis Pond we immediately set up camp. Somehow my synthetic sleeping bag got a little Filtering Water from Saint Regis Ponddamp so I decided to run a rope and hang the sleeping bag to dry. A few of us were running out of drinking water and used Steve’s water purification filter to replenish straight from the pond. The water was the color of tea but tasted fine – nobody got sick so I guess it worked. I had my remaining frozen precooked lasagna for dinner and the others had their freeze dried meals. I’d like to mention that the Jetboil Stove is performs well on this type of canoe camping trip

Throughout that afternoon we took short walks, messed around camp and took photos. I was wishing I had a fishing rod because this is the perfect campsite for fishing on Saint Regis Pond because it’s located at the waters edge with no obstruction (I think it’s one of the nicest campsites in the St. Regis Canoe Area).

Relentless rain on Saint Regis Pond

Relentless rain on Saint Regis Pond

It was getting later in the afternoon and it looked like we would be spared from any major downpours then suddenly the sky opened up with a very cold rain shower that drove us for cover, and we still had a few hours of daylight left. The rain continued heavily into the next morning ruining our plans for a night paddle on the pond. I spent most of the remaining day and the entire night in my tent. I’d occasionally poke my head out to snap a photo or exit the tent to examine for leaks and redirect the water away from my tent. It was definitely one of the heaviest downpours I’ve seen on a canoe trip. 

Saying goodbye to Saint Regis Pond

Saying goodbye to Saint Regis Pond

The Fourth Day  

This was the final day of our Adirondack wilderness canoe trip and our only goal was to reach our vehicles at the Little Clear Pond canoe launch. We skipped breakfast and wasted no time packing our wet camping gear. But eager as we were to leave this wet wilderness we took time to appreciate the incredible view of St. Regis Pond, and we took a little extra time paddling through. There is something sad about leaving this serene wilderness even when you are heading for the greater comforts of home. While paddling near the shore of one of the islands we saw two paddlers emerging from a small tent. Their campsite was disheveled in appearance and placed in an awkward growth of trees and weeds, and after speaking with them for a few moments it was clear that they were unexpectedly forced into camp by the severe rain the day before.  

Preparing for our final portage

Preparing for our final portage

We finally made the short portage into Green Pond and the strenuous final portage to Little Clear Pond; and you could see it in our faces that we were ready for this trip to end. We then started our paddle across Little Clear Pond the eagerness to return home became evident as large gaps between canoes began to form. Our Adirondack canoe trip was over but I’ll return for another soon.  

I hope this information is useful to your Adirondack canoe trip. See part 3 to this trip report about my lessons learned and easy steps I can take to improve my next wilderness canoe trip.    

Read my trip report on my 2007 St. Regis Canoe Area canoe trip.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

john July 31, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Enjoyed reading about your journey with a certain amount of jealousy. Great to have a group to travel with too. Nice stuff!

Boy Scout Dad August 9, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Hi,

I am going on a similar trip with my son and his Boy Scout Troop. Is it possible to use a portage cart between St. Regis and Little Clear Pond? Thanks

PennPaddler August 9, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Hello Boy Scout Dad,

Although I haven’t walked this section I do believe it’s possible to use a cart via the fire road, but to be certain you might want to give St. Regis Canoe Outfitters a call. http://www.canoeoutfitters.com/routes.html

Let me know how your trip goes. Maybe your scouts would consider writing a trip report for this blog.

Regards,
Darren

Boy Scout Dad August 10, 2010 at 6:53 am

Darren,

Thanks for the info. I’ll try to get something on this blog after our trip

Greg August 29, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Hi Darren,

Thanks for the write-up on the St. Regis area. I am considering a canoe trip with two friends in the next week. We were considering the Cranberry Lake area. We have one experienced canoer and two newbies. We would like to experience a little roughage but don’t want to scare ourselves away the first time out. Any suggestions for that area? Any suggestions for flat water 2-night trips? My initial desire was to do a two man 2 night three day trip that took us on some mild river or stream and then ended us somewhere where we could leave a second vehicle. Any suggestions for something like this in Upstate NY or the Finger Lakes region? Sorry for all the questions but I’m finding the research on the web to be hit and miss.

Thanks!

PennPaddler August 30, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Hello Greg,

As far as a two night flatwater trip I’d suggest going into St Regis Pond because the portages into the pond aren’t that bad and would be a good trip for breaking in new wilderness canoers. Also evenings on St. Regis Pond can be real nice. And if you really wanted to make it easy I think you could portage over the fireroad. As far as river trips maybe you could check out the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. I haven’t been there but it’s a trip high on my agenda. Also as a side note the original founder of Mad River Canoes helps run the NFCT organization.

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