Friday, May 9, 2014

Second Chance

That's it: I'm getting a tent.

It's a new month, so it was time to go camping again.  Both the schedule and the forecast were on my side this week, and the bugs hadn't quite come out yet, so I decided to take advantage of the opportunity.  I even had a camping companion lined up!  There were two possible destinations in mind...but something kept pushing me to go back to "the scene of the crime," so to speak: to return to the St. Regis Canoe Area, where I'd had such an eventful overnight just a month ago.  There were a couple of other lean-tos on another pond I wanted to check out--and, of course, the conditions would be VERY different.  So a plan was hatched for Wednesday-Thursday....  But on Tuesday, a freak work injury pulled my buddy out of the picture.  I'd be going alone again.

I headed out late Wednesday afternoon under gloriously sunny skies.  The Fish Pond Truck Trail (Fish Pond being my intended destination) was a whole different experience without the ice and snow I endured at the beginning of April...

...although there were a few stubborn remnants.

There were even some new and rather encouraging trail markers since my last visit.

I was watching the time compared to landmarks from my last visit to these woods, and realized I was moving at about triple the speed.  Finding shelter before dark would be no problem, I thought.

I arrived at the edge of Fish Pond (4.5 miles in) at about 6:15pm, only to discover that the first lean-to was occupied.  Les and Mark (if I remember their names correctly) were there fishing for a few days with another buddy, who was out trying to catch some dinner.  They were friendly enough to offer me a seat, but not hospitable enough to offer to offer me a cold beer (see above) or a place to stay the night.  They also informed me that the lean-to across the pond was occupied, too, for the night.  Busy place!

There's only one other lean-to in the entire St. Regis Canoe Area--the one I'd visited a month before.  Having not brought any shelter of my own, I turned around and really hoped there would be some room in that inn.  Another 2+ miles brought me to the western end of St. Regis Pond.

That's where the trail ended.  Literally.  The lean-to on St. Regis Pond is intended for canoe access.  In early April, I had the winter-enhanced ability to walk (or, rather, ski) on water...but without a canoe of my own at this point, my only option was to bushwhack my way there...and keep hoping I'd find available accommodations.  At this time, I'd like to thank the deer of the region for developing and maintaining such an extensive network of herd paths in the area.  They were a big help!

I kept myself moving parallel to the shore, making my way around swamps and over knolls.  And then I saw it: the sure sign that'd I'd arrived:

You could call it a "privy"...but it's not exactly private.  You could call it an "outhouse," but it's all out and no house.  Whatever name you use, I was quite glad to see it, even though not in any urgent need of it's designated purpose.  Just down the hill from here is the St. Regis Pond lean-to...and it was empty.

After about 8 miles (2 1/2 hours) of hiking, I arrived at 7:30pm.  It was a beautiful evening.

Dinner was enhanced by the warmth and glow of a nice fire...

...and the whole night, really, was accompanied by the laughing of the loons.

The next morning began with Mass...

...which was followed by breakfast.  (When I go alone, I get to eat with my spork right out of the pot.)

I spent a relaxed morning, reading and enjoying my waterfront real estate.

After lunch, I headed back up "Privy Hill" to begin my bushwhack back to the outlet of St. Regis Pond.  Not yet content with this level of adventure, however, I continued to bushwhack to the canoe carry from St. Regis Pond... Ochre Pond.

Some believe Ochre Pond's shores are marked in spots by old growth forest (places that have never been logged--unlike much of the Adirondacks), but I didn't get to explore those woods for myself when I came up against a stream a bit too wide and too deep to be crossed.  (I wasn't at all ready to hike out with soggy boots!)  Plans changed (yet again!), and I bushwhacked (by a different, less friendly to humans route) back to the St. Regis Pond outlet.  2.5 miles on the Truck Trail rounded out about a 5 mile roundabout journey from the lean-to to the car.

I have little doubt the Lord wanted to get me alone on this adventure to finish what he started when I came out here in April.  On so many levels, although far different from what I had planned, it was a very healing revisit to these woods.

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