Smoke Drifting Through Trees

7-24-2018

I started a small campfire up at my tent today. I walked all around collecting from the amply supple of burnable sticks on the ground. Most of it is damp from yesterdays wetness, but if I get a small hot fire going with kindling then it can dry out the bigger stuff and it will burn too. That is exactly what I did. Over the course of the afternoon, I managed to burn most of what I collected. This fire ring I built is small, about two feet in diameter, mostly for camping ambiance more than anything. Although I did cook some hot-dogs on a stick over it for lunch. I have found that a small fire needs more continuous maintenance that a larger fire. The smaller fuel sticks burn down faster and need to be replaced more often. It was kind of fun to keep the fire going; placing the wet wood around the small blaze to dry before pitching it in to burn. I sat in my camp chair warming my feet on the hot rocks, reading, and daydreaming. Then moved over to the hammock to swing and daydream some more while I watch the ethereal blue smoke drift lazily around the trees in the calm air. The tangy smell of burning embers made me feel tranquil and in complete harmony with the world around me. Watching the smoke waft around slowly meandering through the tree trunks, I felt as if I truly belong in this place, these woods, here and now; my being expanding and contracting with the smoke on the breeze, lingering and then swirling away into the heavens.

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Rainy Day

7-23-2018

So the sky dawned overcast, drizzly, and grey. I stayed snuggled under the blankets in the tent listening to water drip onto the tarp and watching it drip from the trees for an hour or so before actually getting up and out of bed. Then I only got up because I had to pee. That was a cold and wet endeavor. And then I climbed right back under the cozy blankets. I read for a while and daydreamed, but finally hunger drove me out of my snugly cocoon and down the hill to find food. It may be a rainy day, but the water is just dripping not really raining. It isn’t the kind of rain that brings the river up, but it is the gentle kind of rain that gives everything a needed drink. After bumming around for a while, I decided to go for a rainy day paddle out on 13th lake. I had the whole lake to myself. The mountains were obscured in the swirling misty low clouds and the sky and lake reflected each other’s steely grey demeanor. The air wasn’t too cool once I was paddling and I was comfortable wearing just a bathing suit, but of course I have paddle clothes with me in a dry bag as well as munchy food which I munched on while I explored the shoreline. I took a couple of hours to slowly paddle around the whole lake, looking a flowers, insects, and birds. All in all is was an excellent way to spend a rainy day.

Ahead Of The Release

7-22-2018

The river level has gotten down to its summer time low. It is still a ton of run to run; it’s just a lot more physical work for the guide and is a longer day out on the water. We run four days a week, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday on a dam release from Lake Abanakee down the Indian River three miles to the Hudson. This time of year we have to stay on the release water as it travels downstream. We call it staying on the bubble. Now, being at the top of the bubble is optimum, however when your guest paddle through the rapids to get the good hits, your boat moves faster than the water is flowing, and we tend to paddle off the front of the bubble. Which is actually no problem because you just stop paddling, sit on a rock until the water comes up and you drift off the rock. You do not want to get behind the bubble because once the water has passed, you can’t really catch up to it.

So today we got way ahead of the release. It was fascinating to see the rapids before most of the water gets there. Of course on the camping trips, you get to watch the water drop and you see the spot your are camping in with just the natural flow, but it is very different to be in the bigger rapids an see this. The steepest rapid is Givney’s and seeing it ahead of the release was mind blowing!

Normally there is a fun little wave sometimes small hydraulic hit at the very bottom. There is a rock you can pull your raft in behind and actually jump off into the current to float down into the giant calm pool at the bottom. The rock is flattish, just s few inches above the water’s surface, with enough room for a couple of people to stand on. When you get a little bit ahead of the release, this hit becomes Bubble Beater; a wicked fun surf!

Today however, this last little fun hit was insane! The little rock was steep and standing 6 feet or more out of the water. It has a twin partner (I’ve never noticed before) across the channel where the little wave usually is. This far ahead of the release, between these two rocks is a four or five foot vertical drop into a what looks like a nasty boat munching hydraulic. I have never seen this intense side of this feature before and I am transfixed.

Another guide and I were at the front of our group, both of us having the intention of surfing Bubble Beater, until we saw it. You never saw two rafts change speed, direction, and intention so fast. We were both able to sneak around the drop and pull in behind the rocks on either side. There were a couple of other guides in play boats with us as well. They each had also pulled in behind the now giant rocks and had climbed up on top of them to offer encouragement. I sat in the eddy behind my rock and and the other guide sat in the eddy behind her rock, both of us staring at the churning behemoth hydraulic between us.

The guys standing on the rocks were laughing and yelling at us to “Go for it!”. The other guide and I were laughing and yelling back “No Freaking way!”. Our guests were also highly weary of putting themselves into the boiling frothing convulsing hydraulic.

We waited. We watched. The water rose. The character of the hydraulic shifted, morphed into something more surfable, and we both went for it! It was one of the best surf ever!

The water rose some more and with it other rafts started coming through the rapid above us. The hydraulic changed some more and spit us out into the calm pool. Our guests were completely pumped and so were we! What an amazing experience!

Dress Up Day

7-21-2018

WOO HOO! Its here! Dress Up Day 2018! The guides are all in high spirits. The guests are all on board too. I have a big bin of “costume” clothes that I let people help themselves to. They loved it! I have my shiny gold mermaid fish scale leggings on, a bright colorful tank top, a frilly pink tutu, and of course a necklace and earrings from the mermaid jewelry I made. The rest of it went to the mermaids who will be in the mermaid boat. I cant wait to see their pictures. Sometimes I get so excited I can’t contain it and end up jumping repeatedly as if skipping rope (with no rope), silly grin and all, quietly repeating the word bounce bounce bounce with every jump. Its either that or run around like a wild woman for no reason. When I feel this way, I understand why some kids can’t ever sit still. It was a great day. Had a fun group of good paddlers, enjoyed seeing all the costumes come through the rapids, had a blast rafting down the Hudson River. I love my job!

Floating On 13th Lake

7-20-2018

Another hot hot humid day in the Adirondacks. Another trip to Thirteenth Lake with an inner-tube. Solo this time. This place is like a dream world. Blue-grey water stretching to the horizon where it meets hazy blue- grey mountains. Dusty blue sky with wispy white cloud shards and a brilliant blinding hot white sun shining down. Green mountains towering along the sides of the lake and wetlands meeting forest along the shoreline. Sandy bottom gives way to deep water, warm at the surface but cools along a gradient as you dive down into the green abyss. I lay beneath the water looking up at the shining reflective surface, a mermaid in a mermaids world. Silver sparkling air bubble swiftly rise from my lips in a darting and twisting line. Out of breath I swim to the air, break through in a rush and gasping. Shake the water from my hair and lazily swim to the tube, clambering back on in a most ungraceful manner. I doze as the sun sets, shifting light rays steaming from behind the western ridge. Chilled I swim to shore to rejoin reality. Rocks and pebbles dig into my feet as I dry off on the sand beach gazing across the lake to the misty blue mountains, breath deeply. This is what summer is all about.

Mink

7-19-2018

Our second night camping on Lake George was up at the Channel Islands located in the channel where the lake splits into two forks that fill in either side of a mountain ridge. My site is somewhat removed from the campers and I get to hike through the woods, across the island, and over a small rise to get to their sites. Its a very Nice arrangement. These kids are actually really good about keeping the noise level down, but in all honestly it is very relaxing to swing in a hammock overlooking a private cove filled with deep crystal clear water with a white sand bottom . Yes, I did take advantage of that unusual opportunity and went swimming a number of times! The group had a blast at this campground, They canoed around several of the islands, went cliff jumping, and thoroughly explored our island. So in between swimming and watching kids fling themselves from a cliff, I was fiddling around with my boat and some gear (some stuff got somewhat damp from motor boat wakes crashing over my hull out on the lake), I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. Turning my head I saw a dark furry animal that at first I though was a squirrel. But something was off. It was darting around and I couldn’t get a good look at it in the half light under the trees. Then it disappeared. Later I briefly saw it again, definitely not a squirrel, but what? Even later, while reading in the hammock, I saw it a third time. This sighting was more prolonged and substantial. It didn’t know I was there and was taking its time to investigate the campsite. Another small animal habituated to people and know that even if we don’t actually feed them, we tend to leave lots of crumbs around. It’s a mink. A small mink, whose coat is matted and has bare patches, so its not particularly healthy. But it seems to be acting normal and I watch it for a long time. Eventually it duck down into a hole between some tree roots right at the water’s edge. Pretty cool, my own private campsite, swimming cove, and wildlife viewing area. It doesn’t really get better than this!

Baby Ducks And Fireflies

7-18-2018

We camped on a large island half way up the lake; a state camp ground with boat access only. Each site has a shared dock designed for motor boats, a picnic table, a tent platform, and a fire pit. We are spread out over 4 sites; girls, boys, counselors, and me. We all take our time setting up camp. I find the perfect spot for my hammock close to the water. I am gently swinging, vaguely reading a Discover magazine, watching with amusement as the teenagers cross back and forth between the campsites, setting up tents, deciding on tent mates, and generally just be their goofy selves. This group is allowed to have electronics, but they aren’t glued to them the way one might expect. These kids are actually forming bonds and friendships with each other. Its nice to see that in action. At some point I realize they are gathered in a group around something on the ground that has their rapt attention. I get up to go see, and find a Mama Duck and six fuzzy ducklings have come ashore and are careening through the crowd waddling and quacking and peeping soaking up the attention obviously looking for food handouts. I explain why we shouldn’t feed the duck and nobody does (at least while I’m there, wink wink), but those ducks hang around being cute and quackable for a long time. Eventually I convince the kids we should shoe the duck back into the water so they can go find food instead of learning to beg for it. This endeavor was a riot. The ducks apparently did not really want to go find their own food and seemed to think it was some kind of game when we tried to shoe them back into the water. This kept everybody entertained for longer than you would think possible. Wacky teenagers and silly ducks. Much later, after the camp fire had died down and all was quiet, I was swaying in my hammock listening to loons in the distance, and the slightest breath of breeze rustle through the leaves, I noticed a small yellow flash of light. I concentrated and gazed into the woods and realized that there were fire flies everywhere throughout the campsite. I fell asleep surrounded by their magical fairy lights.