It’s been almost two years since I last blogged, apologies for the long lapse.  Moving forward, I am deleting my social media accounts and hope to share experiences, thoughts, and pictures on this blog.  My goal is to keep these blog posts short and simple so I don’t overwhelm you the reader, and so the task of posting something doesn’t overwhelm me the writer. Some will be about adventures in the backcountry, but I also hope to write about myriad topics like baking bread and deleting my Amazon account. Stay tuned.

I’ve also changed the name of my blog to to www.stumblingslowlyforward.com which seems a little more descriptive of my life these days. Time will tell how often I post and what the topics are – if you are game to follow along and would like an email alert – please see the ‘Get Notifications’ link on the sidebar to the right.

Two years is too much to catch up on. The adventure highlights from 2017 were participating in the Barkley Marathons in the spring and also the Harvey Manning Peak Challenge in the fall with Jason ‘Ras’ Vaughan – Trail Runner Magazine did a nice write-up of our effort.

Ras on the side of Web Mountain during the Harvey Manning Challenge

Last year was a bit slower, but it was really great to run the Orcas 100 miler with Ellen at the start of the year. Another high point was finally finishing the Langtang Lollipop after three years of trying with Sudeep and a really strong team in June.

Jason Pardue Climbing High Above The Langtang Valley

July found me running  across Tennessee, taking part in the ‘Vol State 500k Journey Run’ – another crazy race organized by Gary Cantrell who also organized the Barkley Marathons. I signed up out of nostalgia from my transcon run in 2012, but it turned out to be an incredibly hard 6 days that I have no interest in repeating.    I never wrote up a trip report because I didn’t have the energy after, but I am indebted to Chad who helped me immensely. The canoe paddle below detailed below was in many ways my recovery from running Vol State.

Over these two years I’ve had a slow drift away from organized runs to ‘adventure runs’.  But I’ve also found myself growing tired of these as well – there are only so many times you can death march through the woods at night before you realize that it is time to try something new; hopefully something that doesn’t tax the body so much and something that lets you take in the beauty that surrounds you rather than rushing through it in the quest to beat a time on your watch.

Enter paddling (preferably floating) down rivers and camping alongside the shore. Ideally in a hammock with a book.  Last fall presented a pretty awesome opportunity to try my first long paddle trip when Ellen and I visited my family in northern New York – just a stones throw from the Adirondack Park.

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Visiting my parents house ‘Camp High Skies’ on the west branch of the St. Regis river before setting out. Wish we had Rafael in this picture! We will be visiting them in Cuba in less than a month!

We had hoped to set out from Camp High Skies, but there would have been too many shallow sections and portages. After a good bit of research (thanks Ellen!) we settled on throwing the canoe in the back of a truck and driving an hour and a half to Long Lake. From there, we would take 5 days to canoe about 46 miles to Saranac Lake, a small town where I had lived for three years when I went to nursing school in the early 90’s. I’ve returned to Saranac Lake many times over the years to visit my friend Brett who still lives there; but I’ve never explored any of the lakes and rivers in the Adirondacks as one really should.  Doing that and arriving by canoe was appealing.  And something to wet our appetite in the future, it turns out that this is part of the much longer paddling route, the 740 mile ‘Northern Forest Canoe Trail‘ – sometimes described as the Appalachian Trail of canoeing. Ellen and I added a new term to our vocabulary list: a ‘thru-paddle’.  We had no idea people did this sort of thing and filed it away as a possible bucket list item. First things first though – time to set out on our first multi-day canoe trip and figure out some basics!

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Setting out from Long Lake. We had no idea what we were doing and had never been in a canoe together. Thank you Tammy for getting us and the canoe to the put-in with your gigantic pickup truck!
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Holy Shit! We are doing this! We even got some gloves so we would look like serious paddlers.
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We had some of the best campsites I’ve ever experienced
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The last time I camped on this lake I was 19 and hiked in – Long Lake (it really is long)
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This is how one should camp
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It wasn’t all easy – we had three portages. Big thanks to Trish and Larry for lending us their ‘lightweight’ canoe (and thanks to Ellen for doing most of the carrying!)
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Our last morning on the trail! It went by way too fast.
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We were able to paddle right up to Brett’s work at the ‘Lakeview Deli’ and he took us out for a hike the next day up Mt. Baker. Thanks for everything Brett! We will be back!

All in all it was a great trip, we learned so much along the way and it was a real treat to experience the Adirondack Park from the water. It was also fantastic to end up in Saranac Lake, hanging out with old friends Brett, Sarah and Chrissy.  We missed you Jennifer!  Big thanks to Brian and Karen Carl who helped us (and the canoe) get back to Camp High Skies.

6 thoughts on “Canoeing a tiny section of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail in the Adirondacks

  1. I always love reading about what you are doing! It has been a while, you got that right! I’m working on my annual letter now. So, hopefully you will get that soon enough, if you still have the same snail mail address! XXOOX

    1. Hi Debbie, it has been a long time. I still have the same snail mail address – I only check it once a month though so it might be a while before I write back – but I am also determined to pick up pen and paper and write good old fashioned cards and letters so please be patient and one will arrive back. Looking forward to reading it!

  2. I really miss Camp High Skies. Harder to get up there now with family responsibilities. Any chance we’ll see you at the reunion in Wooster in July?

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