Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Adirondack Mountains...A Wilderness Of Waterways

"New York's Adirondacks are rugged and dramatic, but what distinguishes them from the mountain ranges in Vermont and New Hampshire is their waters, the hundreds of lakes and ponds and miles and miles of rivers that the others simply do not have". - THE NEW YORK TIMES
Panorama From St Regis Mtn. (39 megapixels)

What the New York Times said has always been my thoughts when trying to explain the Adirondacks to people not familiar with the region. Sure there are mountains, beautiful rugged mountains at that, but it is the view from the summits of those mountains that is unlike most other places east or west of the Mississippi. I'm sure most people look out and see the other mountains, their next High Peak to bag on the way to a 46'er patch, but my primary interest when I look out is all that water!

Climbers look out at summits and cliffs looking for their next climbing objective, paddlers look out from summits in search of their next paddle. To me it's always been a wilderness of waterways first, with some mountains mixed in for fun during the winter months! The Adirondacks are one of the few publicly accessible places I can think of with such a mix of mountain and water, that is what makes them unique to me!

There are still dozens of bigger bodies of flat water with wilderness character, or perhaps even completely wilderness that we haven't yet paddled. My goal this year was to spend time on some of those, as well as some of the places we have only been to one or two times over the last 10 years. While we've paddled all the "old classics" time and again, it's nice to know there are many more future classics on the horizon!

The list this year includes the Grass River and Grass River Flow, Deer River and Deer River Flow, St Regis River and Santa Clara Flow, Madawaska Flow and Quebec Brook, Stillwater Reservoir, return trips to both ends of the Osgood River, perhaps a fall trip down the Fulton Chain after the summer tourist and motor boats have long gone. We might even look at pond hopping the Pigeon Lake Wilderness, but perhaps that is for next year. Of course, it's been almost 5 years since our last trip to the incredible Oswegatchie, this time though, instead of the usual 14 mile upstream paddle to High Falls, I think we'll do it as a paddle/backpack into some of the off river ponds!

With some regret, I'm putting the crown jewel of Adirondack river paddles, the Jordan River, off for one more year till we perhaps have a lighter 2 person boat or second single seater; both options would be better suited for pulling over obstacles on the beautiful -but blowdown choked- meandering wilderness river. It's been almost 3 years since we first paddled the Jordan but rest assured, we will paddle the entirety of the Jordan soon enough. The late Paul Jamieson made sure the once inaccessible river was indelibly ingrained in my imagination.

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