Thursday, January 22, 2015

Travel Thursday (January 22, 2015) -- Northville - Placid Trail Part 2

A trail map in six sections came with the Northville-Placid Trail guidebook shown in the first post of this series. The map fit into a pocket in the back cover of the guidebook. While the fully opened paper map measures 32.75 in. x 20 in., the folded map -- at 4 in. x 5 in. as shown in the first photograph above -- fit nicely into the guidebook pocket. The paper was treated with  waterproofing solution before we hit the trail and was our constant companion during the trek. As this post series continues, the appropriate map section will be shown marking our progress along the trail.

On Day 1 of the trek, my former law partner Kevin and his son Dan dropped us and our gear at the trailhead.  Before leaving us, however, they hiked in with us to Rock Lake where we all had our first swim in a completely unoccupied wilderness lake. Rock Lake was 4.55 miles from the trailhead.

Kevin and Dan left us and headed for home in Delmar, NY just outside Albany. We continued on the trail headed for our first planned campsite at Canary Pond another 5 miles up the trail. On our way we stopped at Silver Lake 2.9 miles from Rock Lake and just over 2 miles from where we planned to camp our first night. We arrived at Silver Lake for an afternoon swim and some snacks during a break at an Adirondack lean-to located at Silver Lake. 

Replenishing our drinking water by filtering a few liters from Silver Lake

Lean-tos are located at various sites along the NPT and on lakes and trails throughout the Adirondacks. They are open in the front and closed on three sides with a slanting roof. Most of them have a stone fireplace in front of the lean-to. There are sanitary facilities at lean-to sites, but they are merely outhouses built over deep pits well away from the lean-to and any water. 

There are rules for using the lean-tos and they cannot be reserved in advance.  They are available on a first come, first served basis up to the capacity of the shelter (which is usually six people and gear). Parties of less than the shelter capacity cannot claim exclusive use of the lean-to and must allow late arrivals into the shelter if the capacity has not been reached. You cannot count on finding an available lean-to and so through-hikers need to carry backpacking tents in case a planned lean-to is full or one decides to camp at a location without a lean-to. We carried two backpacking tents with us.  One for the boys and the other for Molly and me.

The basic rules for lean-to use in 1998 were: (1) Plastic could not be used to close off the front of the shelter; (2) No nails or other permanent fasteners were allowed to affix a tarp in a lean-to -- but rope could be used to tie canvas tarps across the front of the shelter; and (3) No tents could be pitched inside a lean-to.  

The prohibition against plastic made sense for safety reasons.  Forbidding nails and other fasteners also made sense for shelter integrity and safety reasons. Running into a protruding nail miles into the wilderness would not be a good thing! Allowing canvas across the front if ropes were used was largely for protection during storms and to increase warmth in very cold weather (which could easily happen even in the middle of the summer). However, I never fully understood the no pitching tents in the lean-to restriction. In the era of self-supporting tents there would be no need to use fasteners into the shelter floor or walls. If a lean-to is nowhere near capacity by nighttime, a tent in the spring and summer black fly and mosquito seasons provides treasured protection from those pests. I admit to violating this rule on several occasions, but only when we were sure no one else was going to arrive for the night.

Trail break at the Adirondack lean-to on Silver Lake

After a short break at Silver Lake, we continued our trek until we arrived at Canary Pond having completed the first 9.5 miles of our trek. We once again set about filtering water and began setting up camp with our tents.  There was no lean-to at Canary Pond.  After camp was set we cooked supper, enjoyed the lake as the sun was setting, went in for a quick dip to wash off the trail and prepared to bed down for the night.

Before retiring and before it got dark, we had to find and prepare our "bear bags" to get all food and "smellables" up high and away from our campsite. "Smellables" include anything with an odor that could attract bears or other critters. This meant not only our food supplies, it meant items one might not normally think of as odorous -- but one has to remember that animals have vastly greater smelling ability than we do and they are very opportunistic when it comes to the possibility of finding a food source. So, toothpaste, used food utensils, water bottles that had juice in it, adhesive tape, medical kit, accumulated garbage, soap, all our untouched food supplies, etc., had to go into the bags and up in the air every night! Finding a suitable location and hanging the bear bag was a time consuming but very necessary task. This became a ritual at each campsite during the trek and was always accomplished well before dark. We were never disturbed by bears and never lost food supplies as a result of our prudent precautions.

Filtering water from Canary Pond for cooking supper and drinks. 

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Map images scanned form the original map used on the trek and belonging to the author.

All photographs by the author or family members and in the family collection.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


No comments:

Post a Comment