Done Vacating: Adirondack Field Report — Bog River, Lows Lake

Five days of kayaking and hiking in the beautiful Adirondack Park, the single largest and best-protected wilderness area in the continental United States. Trying to summarize this trip that my good friend from college, Savage, and I took last week for our vacations seems trite. There’s just something about extended wilderness trips like these that defies the language we traditionally use for describing vacations. I’ll tell friends and co-workers that it was a relaxing trip, that we had good weather, shared good laughs, saw some wildlife — all that. But there’s no easy way for me to explain how most of our trip is still out there, right where we left it — an experience that guided, transformed, and awakened us just as much as we guided it.After a few intense days of last-minute logistics, we both slipped quickly into long-overdue vacation mode the moment our boats were floating in the water last Sunday. It helped that we had spent the previous 24 hours with our mutual friend and mentor, Bill McKibben, along with his wife, Sue, at their cabin just west of Chestertown. In addition to being a great writer, Bill has an incredible knack for keeping things simple, and for keeping his priorities in order (ie. hiking/x-c skiing, local foods, family). Within minutes of arriving at Bill’s, we were bushwhacking behind him up a typically adirondack peak adjacent to his house, swimming in his pond, and sampling beers until the freshly grilled dinner was ready. And for the first time, our cell phones didn’t work. Bill and Sue sent us on our way Sun morning with some of best blueberry pancakes I’ve ever had.Save for the general itinerary that I’ve pasted at the end, i’ll avoid detailing every minute of our trip. We had every type of weather– from bright sun to strong winds and rain, some great swims, beautiful hikes, only minor injuries and gorp over-doses, and just the right amount of food.The highlights of the trip for me (i think for savage, too) were the two nighttime paddles we took after dinner on some truly glassy water. With just a few delicate strokes, we were able to glide through the water in our kayaks without making a sound (or at least nothing louder than the roar of the crickets and loons) — and it worked because the other creatures out there basically ignored us. On our first night’s paddle around Hitchins Pond, we trailed a beaver who would loudly thwap his tail onto the surface of the water every 100 feet as he dove ‘neath the surface to keep swimming. Our second night-paddle, on our last night, was even more incredible. As we watched this foggy mist begin to form along the shoreline just after sundown, a half-dozen Candian Geese (or so we think) flew in, full-speed, and landed only feet behind our rudders — running through the air and along the top of the water.Then there were the incredible hikes we stumbled upon — giving us some great views of the water we had been paddling and giving our aching backs and shoulders a rest.And the 12 hours of sleep each night…And watching the sun slowly set from our site overlooking grassy pond…And almost walking into an thriving bee/hornets nest…And falling to sleep to the cries of loons echoing across the water… Oh man.ROUTE and Campgrounds (Numbers refer to DEC’s Bog River Flow map):

  • Sun 21 Aug:
    Put-in at Lows Lower Dam on Bog River; Campsite #4 at Hitchins Pond
  • Mon 22 Aug:
    Hitchins Pond to Lows Upper Dam carry and up Bog River; Campsite #35 on southern bank of Lows Lake
  • Tue 23 Aug:
    Explore Western shore-line of Lows Lake to Grassy Pond; Campsite #31 on Grassy Pond; Bushwhack up Grass Mountain
  • Wed 24 Aug:
    Grassy Pond to Lower Lows Lake, down Bog River, carry over Upper Dam; Campsite #6 on Hitchins Pond just below Upper Dam
  • Thu 25 Aug: Hitchins Pond to take-out at Lows Lake Dam; feast at Noonmark Diner in Keene Valley

Campsite #31 was clearly the best, and 6 and 4 tie for second. Site #35 was heavily impacted and should be restored before too many more visits.Gear:
Sea Kayaks (and bear canister) from Raquette River Outfitters — friendly family-owned shop with quality gear at good rates in Tupper LakeWildlife we saw:– A ton of Loons (largest nesting area in the Adirondacks?)- Beavers- Flock of Canadian Geese (we think)- Fish- Hornets/Bees/Wasps- ChipmunksApparently we missed the Bald Eagles and Black Bears.Injuries: (saving this for a future post)

7 thoughts on “Done Vacating: Adirondack Field Report — Bog River, Lows Lake

  1. Fantastic… I love a good nature trip. Sounds awesome, and I love that area too — my dad worked in Chestertown for a short while.

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