6 October 2014
FALL STREAM CAMPSITE to BEAVER POND LEAN-TO (17.8 miles)
On our third day, we woke up warm after sleeping under G’s 0 degree bag. It was cold outside though, and we were both hesitant to venture out. G decided to make a cold rush for the bear canisters on the other end of the clearing and bring them back for breakfast in bag. A few minutes later, his lovely idea ended in a full pot of (bad) instant coffee spilling on his lap and sleeping pad. Fortunately, it missed my down sleeping bag and barely hit the tent floor. We cleaned up with our bandanas, agreed that breakfast in the tent was not going to happen again, and crawled out. It was a cold morning, and I was especially grateful for my home-made mittens- one of six 100% wool items that I had with me on this trip- as I packed up the tent.
Our third day turned out to be the most beautiful on the trail. The leaves of all but the beech trees had fallen, but the yellow birch bark was still shiny in the sun. We walked through hardwood forests owned by paper companies, across numerous small streams, and by old camp clearings. Here and there was evidence of logging activities.
We reaching the first Spruce Lake lean-to after 5.1 miles of hiking. Thinking that it was along the trail, we walked by it and down to the water, following what turned out to be an unofficial path along the shoreline. This path was beautiful, passing under a red spruce and balsam fir canopy, but it soon became clear that it was not the NPT. We backtracked to the lean-to, and found our blue trail markers continuing up the hill, rather than descending to the water.
At the third Spruce Lake lean-to, G pumped us fresh water and we ate a hot lunch. All of the shelters along the lake were clearly well used by fisherman and hikers. Each had an old motor boat, and various battered cooking equipment. It would have been nice to hole up for the afternoon, watching the loons paddle in the lake.
Instead, we left soon after finishing lunch, with the plan to hike another eleven miles.
After the Spruce Lake Lean-tos, the NPT travels through low lands for a few miles and then enters the West Canada Lakes region. This region is well known to Adirondack canoers for its beautiful, connected waterways. There are several small bridges, some more stable than others.
The regular appearance of lakes and open boggy areas through the trees made the day pass quickly. We loved focusing on the landscape-wide views, and then contrasting them with the minute, but equally beautiful sphagnum moss.
Hiking in the dark again, the trail quickly became less enjoyable. Much of the way was through deep mud or standing water. Just after I began to become seriously crabby, we arrived at an the shore of another water way with a precarious looking bridge crossing. We cautiously crossed the bridge, and then sat on the far end to check the book and our map; we had not expected another body of water before the lean-to. The moon was rising over the water, and it was perfectly silent except for our breathing and the occasional sound of a breeze moving through the evergreen’s on the lakes shore.
It turned out that we had just passed the Beaver Pond Lean-to by a few hundred feet. Thank goodness! We risked the slanted bridge again, and followed the short pass to our spot for the night.
Approaching the lean-to, a man wearing a bright head lamp popped out suddenly from the structure with a “Hello?” I left out a surprised “Oh!” before realizing that we had just come upon another camper. He had been out watching the moon rise over the lake, when he heard us coming up in the dark.
G and I quickly made ourselves at home at the lean-to. I changed into my warm camp clothes (wool long johns) and snuggled up under my sleeping bag to make a dinner of cous cous with home dehydrated vegetables.