Monday, June 21, 2010

Garnet Lake Is A Southern Adirondack Gem

After 10 years of paddling in the Adirondack's we still haven't come close to paddling every reasonably accessible body of water, and that is a nice thing. This weekend we knocked another paddle off my list, Garnet Lake. A nice little lake I'd had on my list for a few years, Garnet is about 50% state owned shoreline and 50% private.

Although this is a nice short drive from home (about 1 hour, including 25 miles of winding secondary and dirt roads) it just isn't a big enough lake to really bother for a weekend trip. Aim and I easily knock out 15-20 miles a day in the Old Town Scout, which is pretty decent considering our high volume, gently rockered all purpose boat isn't the fastest on the water. Of course, we have been known to beat sleek sea kayaks on 14 mile flatwater paddles while paddling the Scout! Bearing that in mind, a 2 mile by 1/2 mile lake really isn't going to keep us busy for too long. However, every year we try to do our first paddle someplace cozy while we get our sea legs (and arms) back in shape.

Aside from our first paddle of the year, this was also Colvin's first paddle of his entire life! It wasn't without some fear that we undertook this first paddle, but Colvin did great in the boat, and he is just a weekend away from being able to swim. The first day we paddled with him without his PFD (or rather CFD) because I'm pretty confident if we rolled he'd have figured out how to swim really quickly. On day two we decided to put it on him because I've had some people tell me that they were able to get their dog swimming faster by putting a PFD (that's a life jacket to all you land lubbers) on them for the first few swims. I think as soon as he learns to swim we are going to have a hard time keeping him out of the water!

Other than peeing in the boat (our fault, he did try to tell us he had to go), Colvin actually did much better than Caney at listening to us, and of course he stayed in the boat and didn't swim the entire time we paddled. We didn't have a single group ask us if we were tormenting the poor dog by making him swim along side the boat like we did the first few years with Caney!

Garnet Lake, despite it's relatively small size, does have quite a bit of shoreline due to it's irregular shape and many coves. Almost 6 miles to be exact, and 2/3 of that is ringed by mountains making it quite scenic. The near 3000ft mountains thrust up 1500ft from the lakes 1400ft base elevation directly from the shoreline. The lake had quite a bit of wildlife, although we didn't see much. Some paddlers told us they spotted bald eagles on the southern terminus, we saw beaver lodges and other signs of beavers, and there were a pair of loons on the lake that we spotted several times. We also saw the less interesting ducks and geese.

Although the paddling is limited, the lake does have 2 short hikes that originate from it's shores. The first to Round Pond (one of many in the Adirondacks) and the second to Lizard Pond. The Lizard Pond hike is only accessible to those with a boat since the trail head is isolated and across the lake. Both hikes are less than 2.5 miles in each direction. I've definitely got Lizard Pond on my list as a paddle/backpack combo at some point in the future.

Saturday we set up camp at a pull-in site. We day paddled the state owned 2/3s of the shoreline and looked at the various campsites and trail heads. Most of the limited campsites were filled assuring us we made the right decision to car camp rather than canoe camp. After paddling and playing with Colvin in the water for most of the afternoon it started lightly raining when we got back to camp, I didn't feel like cooking, so we headed to North Creek for some pizza. Aim and I sat outside on the deck at Pete's Ah in North Creek while Colvin sulked in the car. The plan was to have him sit outside with us, but when I went to get him I noticed a DD's iced coffee cup thrown on my drivers seat. Unfortunately the cup had remnants of the ice water and some unfinished coffee/cream in it, actually a lot more coffee and cream than I'd have hoped for since it was a bad iced coffee. He got a bit of a earful and stayed in the car while we ate. When he hasn't been exercised I understand this behavior but when he spent all day playing and he was clearly tired (aka. happy in Border Collie terms), what he did was purely about spite because he was left in the car. This isn't the first time this has happened. I no longer have satellite radio as a result of 3 different chewing incidents in the car in which he systematically dismantled my well put together satellite system.

Saturday overnight it stormed so hard that we spent a good amount of time Sunday trying to remember when it stormed harder while we were camping. It definitely came in as a top 5 storm for rainfall severity and lightening, however, we've been in much worse when wind is factored in. I'm fine with the rain in the Marmot Swallow 2P, although the fly can get a little saggy if you don't restake it after it gets wet, the tent hasn't let me down yet on many a rainy weekend (or week)! For two people (and a dog) in summer conditions it's very livable and vents extremely well, even in the rain. But when I started seeing defined streaks of lightening hitting the shoreline of the lake outside my tent window, I got a little nervous!

Sunday, after spending most of the morning piddling around camp and drying out our gear, we packed up and eventually dragged the 70+lb Scout 500ft down to the water. Once on the water we paddled the private shoreline of Garnet Lake and then headed back towards the public half for a bit more exploring. In contrast to Saturday's hazy, hot and humid, Sunday was picture perfect. Lower humidity, better visibility and a mix of sun, blue skies and puffy white clouds. On a scale of 1-10 it was a 9.5 at least. Even the bugs were at a minimum.

All things considered, our fears were a bit over done, it was a perfect 1st weekend on the water, and a fun new place to explore. Colvin did great and I think we can head to some more difficult paddles from this point forward.

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