3 Days: In the ADK’s

In 2015 I started doing a lot of 3 day adventures. I did 1000 miles in April as a road trip to Virginia, Assateague Island in Marland and Delaware, I did 3 separate 3 day trips to various Pennsylvania State Parks throughout the summer and then in October I did 9 days planned as 3 segments – 3 days to Acadia National Park,  3 days in Acadia National Park and 3 days from Acadia National Park as a New England road trip.

So far in 2016 I hadn’t done or planned any 3 day trips. The fact that the weather turned this most recent trip into 3 days was a happy accident. Right now you may be wondering why 3 days? Well, it’s just long enough to have time to do a lot and still short enough to cause some urgency… you don’t want to waste a lot of time.

Entering Adirondack Park

So, I had planned to set aside 5 days as an introduction to the Adirondack region of New York. A friend of mine had been wanting to go as well, so he got the time off and we hit the road. The plan? Camping! Hammock camping actually… on an island at Lower Saranac Lake, just north of the Adirondack High Peaks. I had hoped to get the chance to explore a little bit of the High Peaks, although I was not planning or prepared for a High Peaks hike. This trip was meant more as a scouting mission for future visits.

IMG_20160607_103209Before leaving home, I kept a careful eye on the weather around the areas I wanted to visit. There were high chances of rain for a good part of the days I was going. On the morning we left though, the forecasts improved. and as we approached the Saranac Lake Islands Public Campground the weather did indeed improve…. for a while. Our Camp site was about a 3 mile paddle from the parking lot on Eagle Island. The weather held just long enough for us to get there and get our hammocks set up before the rain hit. We retreated to our hammocks, I quickly got bored and decided to brave the rain, which had let up quite a bit. I started walking around behind the campsite and found a hiking trail. I followed it and by the time I got halfway around the island it was pouring and I was soaked.

Smaller islands off of Eagle Island during my hike in the rain.
Smaller islands off of Eagle Island during my hike in the rain.

Now, I had opted to make 2 trips to bring my gear over from the car. I hadn’t yet made the 2nd trip and all my clothes were still in the Jeep… 3 miles away. I had to wait a few hours before I could head back for dry clothes. Good thing I packed my marine light set for the kayak, since it was dark by the time I got back. The skies cleared right at sunset and with it being a New Moon, the stars were out in force and Mars seemed more red than I have ever seen. We stayed out kayaking until about 10pm before heading back to camp. 5 1/2 hours of driving and 8 or so miles of paddling, on top of being up since 4am, meant no campfire… just straight into my hammock I went and passed out.

Looking out at the High Peaks from the Eagle Island Trail
Looking out at the High Peaks from the Eagle Island Trail

I woke up on day 2 to the sound of Loons off in the distance, and stayed in the hammock for a while listening to all the birds as they woke up and started to stir. Made some coffee and a little breakfast before going back to the hiking trail on the island. Since it was raining the whole time I hiked it the previous day and my buddy didn’t hike it yet, I was excited to actually be able to enjoy it. After the hike we headed into the town of Lake Saranac for lunch and walked the streets a bit to see what was around. We took a ride around the area to get a lay of the land and drove around Lack Placid before heading back to camp. The paddle back was a bit rough as the winds had picked up and were blowing about 20MPH, the islands on the lake create channels that funnel the wind and kick up white caps across the lake. The trip back to the campsite was more of a ride and steer than a paddle.

Night 2 paddle
Night 2 paddle

As sunset approached the winds died down and the water calmed to almost glass. Dinner was had and we headed out for another paddle to check out some of the nearby islands, it appeared we were the only 2 people still camping. After kayaking for a couple miles it was time for a campfire and more stargazing before crashing in the hammock.

Lake Saranac from atop Baker Mountain
Lake Saranac from atop Baker Mountain

On day 3 I was awakened by Barred Owl that had to be within 100′ of my hammock. I didn’t mind, in fact hearing owls while camping is probably one of my favorite things. While I laid there listening to owls and loons I check on the weather, and then I checked again and then I realized we have a problem. We were scheduled for another 2 nights at the campground, but I wasn’t liking the weather pattern I was seeing. The forecast was calling for rain to start at 8am or so, but here it was just 6am and the rain was already on top of us. Thunderstorms and more wind was blowing in towards the evening and the next day didn’t look any better. So, over breakfast we discussed our options. We decided, grudgingly to pack up and head out as soon as the weather cleared. We could always head back if the weather changed, after all hammocks are easy to set up.

Baker Mountain
Baker Mountain

After talking with a NYDEC employee at the boat launch we took his advice and headed to Baker Mountain for a short 2 mile round trip hike to the summit. Although it’s a short hike, it’s not a simple “walk in the park”. The summit is 2,452 feet, the ascent is 850′ and it’s a short hike… if you’ve done your math correctly you’ve determined it’s a pretty steep climb. The effort is well worth it, you are rewarded with great views of the town of Lake Saranac, the High Peaks and Lower Saranac Lake (including Eagle Island). We barely beat the rain back to the car and headed back into town for lunch. After some more weather researching we realized it was time to head home and cut the trip short by 2 days. Turned out to be the right call, on the way home we received a weather alert for the Saranac region calling for 40MPH winds, hail, frequent lightning and severe downpours.

Below are some photos from the trip, and below them is some video as well. Hope you enjoy them.

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