Two years ago Peggy and I asked Alison to take us on a wilderness camping trip, and we got hooked! Our first adventure was to Lows Lake. It was Peggy's first wilderness camping experience and my first in many years. I did a second wilderness camping trip last year; Peggy could not partake due to previous commitments. Alison invited us to Lows Lake, for this trip in mid July, which was organized by her friends, Dave and Gerry. Peggy was very excited and encouraged me to sign up! The downside was that Peggy and I would come out of the woods on Friday and needed to be packed and ready for our annual seven day trip to Nick's Lake, reserved for Sunday. There was much to do, but, I said, "Yes! Let's go."
With wilderness camping we needed to go light on equipment, food, drink, and personal items. For car camping, we basically pack what will fit in our vehicles, yes, everything but the kitchen sink! Since our wilderness trip two years ago, Peggy and I had purchased some used equipment and we borrowed some. We did not want to spend a lot of money on wilderness camping as we go only once or twice per year, but we did purchase a few new items, too.
We did learn a few things from our previous trip to Lows. Do not carry a case of water each. Instead we allowed Alison to pump our water, as she offered, using her water filtration system.
We learned to bring wheels for the portage, good thing! The put-in was moved to the other side of the river due to renovations being done on Lows Upper Dam. The portage was a bit further with a short rather steep downhill to the river's edge.
Previously we had shared a two man tent, mistake! On this trip we were each equipped with our own second hand tent and unlike before, we packed pillows which we had purchased new from Raquette River Outfitters. We carried small folding stools which I had picked up at garage sales, they certainly made sitting around the campfire much more enjoyable.
Our paddle and portage to campsite 27 was approximately 10 miles in perfect weather. At campsite 27 we pitched our tents; everyone hid their bear canisters or hung their food bag. While others prepared meals on their individual camp stoves, Peggy and I ate the other half of our submarine sandwich from Shaheen's Market, the other half had been our lunch. Easy lunch and dinner, inexpensive and yummy!
Oh no! Snoring!
Actually, the snoring did not bother me, it was a comfort, I am really a big chicken in the woods. However, I still had a restless night because no matter which way I turned I felt like I was downhill. I was sliding off my air mattress all night! The next morning I moved my tent to an area Alison had suggested the day before, that evening I felt as though I was in a five star hotel. The ground was flat and I was cushioned by a bed of leaves. The warmer night also enhanced my sleeping, the previous night it dropped to 41 degrees!
Alison cooks again
Alison once again made breakfast burritos for Peggy and me. I think the guys were totally impressed! For good reason, it looked good and it was yummy. She warmed the fully cooked bacon, after cooking the eggs she added bacon bits and cheese and served them in a warmed tortilla. She also heated our water for tea and she heated water for our dinner in a bag. Dehydrated meals in a bag, perfect for camping! Just add hot water, mix, stir, and let it sit for 8 -10 minutes.
With packed lunches Peggy, Alison, Gerry, Jim, Dave, and I headed to Bog Lake the next morning. John and Bill headed out on their own adventures. Our attempt in 2016 to visit Bog Lake after visiting Grass Pond was abandoned because of the heat so we returned to camp to swim. The weather was perfect for the trip this year. As we paddled, Alison mentioned we might be able to get to Clear Pond, too. I don't think there are any places in the Adirondacks that she has not paddled and she remembers details, which makes for a great leader.
We paddled around the bog, through tall grass at times. At one point we could barely see one another. Bill, who had not gone with us was doing his own exploring in the tall grass. He helped me out by directing me which way to go when I had lost sight of the others in the maze.
Alison pointed out Moose Bay Landing prior to us reaching campsites 37 and 38 on the Bog River. We then paddled through a culvert and passed the remnants of a bridge, which was probably used in the logging days, just before we entered Bog Lake. We separated and explored the lake before going ashore for lunch on a small beach beach area near some rocks, perfect for sitting. None of us wanted to portage over to Clear Pond at this point, so five of us hiked to the pond using the trail directly behind our lunch area while Gerry took a little siesta. Prior to returning to our picnic area, Alison took us to the actual DEC portage between Clear Pond and Bog Lake.
There were many beautiful wildflowers as well as old stumps and upturned tree roots that looked like pieces of art. We did a photo shoot like we had done in 2016 on the upturned tree roots. It was perfect as the guys were on the other side of the lake exploring, unable to witness our kiddish shenanigans!
Back at the campsite we were anxious to take a swim, the guys had already returned and were in the water. Jim was busy practicing a solo rescue. He tried a couple of times, but failed, took a little rest on shore and went for another attempt. After swamping himself and his kayak and pumping the kayak out, he was soon back in his yak, but he was backwards. Quickly he turned around in his kayak and paddled back to shore as we applauded.
After our swim I walked the shoreline to get pics, it is one of my favorite places to paddle. The lake is crystal clear, I saw minnows and a ton of itty bitty frogs. It is not just Lows Lake that it beautiful, the entire trip is beautiful.
At the Upper Dam, the former property of Abbot Augustus Low still has an abundance of plants, including Black Eyed Susans, Peonies, and Foxgloves. It also has stone foundations and the beautiful fireplace, now covered with vines.
The next morning John and Bill headed out a bit earlier while the rest of us took our time packing and loading. I suggested we hike Low's Ridge, everyone agreed, although most of them had paddled Low's none of them had done the 1.1 mile hike up to the ridge, short hike with a fantastic, beautiful view.
As we hiked I let out a little startle as I thought a tree root was a snake! Everyone got a chuckle, including myself. Within a few minutes, Alison stopped and pointed, and was saying something that I could not make out, she then pulled out her camera. It was a snake with a frog's hindquarters clenched in his jaw. Even though it was pretty gross, I took a few shots, I will spare you and not include a photo in this blog. I later thought I should have poked a stick at the snake, maybe I could have helped the frog escape.
After enjoying the view we hiked down, took a dip in Hitchins Pond and headed back to our launch site, Lows Lower Dam. Alison and the guys invited us to join them at the Long Lake for dinner at the Adirondack Hotel, but Peggy and I headed back to Tupper Lake. I called Little Italy for take-outs, picked them up along with Queen of Hearts ice cream at Skyline! It was a perfect ending to our camping trip!
While on our car tenting trip at Nick's Lake, Peggy mentioned how she missed the quiet. She stated she was just getting comfortable the second night in the woods and then we had to pack up and leave. I think we are on the same page, a three nights stay next time. As for Alison, our experienced camping friend and the guys I think they will say "Let's go!"