So I completely understand that rafting season is over for me for this year. Not my idea obviously, but sometimes things are what they are and moping over it doesn’t change anything. I drove up to the Adirondacks to break down my camp. I need to pack everything up, load what I can fit into the car, takes down the tent and tarp, and say goodbye to the incredibly awesome 2017 summer season.
I am actually hoping nobody will be around because I am not ready to share my breast cancer news with anybody yet. I haven’t even told my parents. I am still coming to terms with the idea of surgery, radiation therapy, and hormone treatments. It will be easier for me if I can quietly break camp and wish farewell to the Adirondacks on my own. Maybe I can manage to get myself up here sometime this winter. Who knows?
The whole process went well. It took longer than I was hoping it would, but not longer than I actually though. I have done this many times before, although this spot up in the woods is a different place than the last few years. It is a bigger hill and longer walk to the car for loading and packing purposes. I had more stuff than would fit in the car so I had to employ my Space Goddess superpowers to squish more mass into a space than it can actually hold. Kind of like a black hole…
Anyway, it was a beautiful fall day, crisp, colorful, and cool. I worked hard and left as it started getting dark. I left some gear in the barn (out of the way) and hopefully I can get back up here to get it. If not, it will probably still be there in the spring. Ahhh, the life of a raft guide… It was a good productive day. The tent platform is covers and secure for its winter sleep. My gear is packed and headed home for winter storage. Life is good.
The last night of our kayak camping trip got rained out, which wouldn’t have been so bad if I wasn’t sick on top of it. We have camped in the rain many times before. The other odd complication was the lean-to we were using was scheduled for demolition so we had to pack up and move camp anyway. My friend called a friend, and we stayed there the last night. The house was on the shore of First Lake in Old Forge, very nice. We had a huge delicious dinner and were playing a bean bag toss game outside by the lake when the sky opened up and poured freezing cold rain so hard it put out the bone-fire! After being chased inside, we decided to cut open a watermelon my friend had brought. Still crisp and bright green on the outside, dark red, and gushing juice on the inside. Sweet, sweet watermelon, you are another fruit I miss in the long dark cold winter months. But right now, right here, I slurp this tantalizing melon, cherishing its flavor for maximum enjoyment.
The day started off rough. I am coming down with a cold, all the usual symptoms. Last night, after paddling over to the island in the middle of Raquette Lake, and then setting up camp in the dark (night comes earlier now and I ran out of daylight), I had a hard time getting the fire started, everything is damp from all the rain, and it was very smokey. But I know (unfortunately) my sore throat isn’t from that. Although it wasn’t very cold last night, I kept the fire going to comfort me and maybe dry out the fire pit and surrounding area, so I am very tired as well. My friend will be here later today, so I took my time in making and eating breakfast hoping that lots of good food would make me feel better. I am drinking lots of hot tea as well which feels good in my throat. The water comes from the lake, and I bring it to a rolling boil before using it. I had just turned the flame off on the stove and picked up the still boiling pot when some of the water sloshed out and fell on the top of my foot causing a second degree burn. UGH! By the time my friend showed up all I wanted to do was curl up in a little ball and sleep for several days.
But this is the only time we have together, so with some encouragement on her part and some resisting on mine, we decided to paddle up Brown’s Tract. I haven’t been up it yet and although she had found the entrance last year, a beaver dam kept her from exploring the creek. Of course, it was enchantingly beautiful and exquisitely peaceful. The water in the creek was is brown with tannin, but clear and cold, so I was able to, several times, keep my still painful burn blisters submerged until my foot grew quite cold. The sky was low and heavy with turbulent grey rain clouds which rained off and on, the rain itself being gentle and hesitant. The weather kept most others off the lake and we had Brown’s Tract wetland to ourselves. We paddle quietly up the twist and turns, taking pictures of the last wetland flowers and the first bright red colors of the season all to ourselves. We saw several birds trying not to disturb them as we silently glide by. A few hours later, after crossing several beaver dams and having come up to another we decided to turn around and head back. Evening is coming and it looks like more rain. I definitely will come back and explore this place some more. It is worth the visit!
The open fallow fields and the road sides are covered in Queen Anne’s Lace and early blooming Goldenrod. Mother Nature is wearing her royal virginal white lacy robe with the golden trim. The lacy white doily like flowers and the bright yellow spikes sway rhythmically in the breezes as they blow across the fields. High summer in the mountains means fall is closing in. Queen Anne’s Lace and Goldenrod entice the bees into a last free for all feast before the seasons change again! Enjoy the bright golden flowers in the bright golden summer sunlight. Rejoice in the white lacy happiness of Here and Now!
We have paddled up a small winding channel through a dark water lush wetland: lily pads with white and yellow water lilies, pickerel weed with its stalks of purple flowers, pitcher plants, sundews, steeple bush, Labrador tea, sphagnum moss, and tamarack trees. I have promised the campers a treat when we get to the end the creek. Eventually, after many twists and turns, they hear rushing water. Several anxious faces turn to me and ask if we will be canoeing through rapids. I tell them to paddle around the corners and see what’s up there. I wait at the bend to see everyone’s reaction to the sound of water rushing over rocks and encourage them to go see for themselves. Soon I hear shrieks of laughter and splashing water. I paddle around the last corner and up into the pool at the bottom of a small waterfall. All the boats are beached on a rock and the teenagers are playing and screaming like children in the cold tannin brown water pouring over the rocks and ledges of the falls. I too get out and plunge in. The water is frigid! It dark brown water flows through a shaded forest emptying out of a deep spring fed lake several miles upstream. We sit under the pounding water falling over the rocks, slide down the slippery ledges into the small pools, and lay on the sun warmed rocks in the hot sun shine. This spot is one of my favorite places and it makes me happy to be able to share it with others on a glorious summer day.
Gore Mountain looms high above me, a solid green black darkness in the western sky. The sun has just disappeared behind it, leaving golden sunbeams radiating through the pale yellow and pastel blue sky still bright from the sun’s light. High above that stark contrast of mountain and sky, strung out like gnarled hemp rope, are long and thick undulating clouds, bulbous and corded, shaded with every hue of blue possible between light blue grey and darkest indigo. I catch my breath at the brash beauty of nature and stop to watch the gold and blue sunset fade into purple darkness.
I wake to the startling sound of something crashing through the jumbled dead leaves and detritus on the forest floor, I open my sleepy eyes to early morning mist with water drooping from the trees. Groggily I think “that was something big”, so I sit up to see out into the blue morning dusk. Ten feet away is a mythical moose! This is the first time I have every seen a moose, so I have been calling them, mythical for many years. He is a young male with tiny antlers just appearing, thin, muscular, and all legs. He stands taller than me, but I believe he is small for a full grown moose. He is twitchy and nervous, he knows I am there, but isn’t sure what to make of me. I watch transfixed, mesmerized, excited, all sleep immediately gone from my fascinated brain. I watch him for many long minutes, hardly daring to breath. He eventually calms when no immediate danger presents itself, and he walk a little away, turns to look at me through the tent screen, takes a few more steps. He is silhouetted in a small clearing, his dark shape outlined by a brighter area of forest. After a few more steps, he has passed out of sight in the misty blue half light of predawn. I have seen a moose! Later when I actually get up, there are moose prints next to the tent platform where he was walking under the tarp when he startled and jumped into the dead leaves that woke me up. How many times has he passed this way before?