A Brief Mid-Winter Video….

We have been soooo busy, enjoying the amazing deep snow that has accumulated since early January. Quite a change from last winter! Anyway, to tide you over until our next post,which will have some new winter adventure news as well as some exciting paddling related developments, here are a few pictures of our recent snowshoeing outings.

 

Raising a Raquette on New Year’s Eve!

Well, actually we were pretty mellow, enjoying the peace and quiet of the woods of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, as the new snow fell gently upon the existing foot of fresh powder. So why have I suggested in the title of this article that we “raised a raquette” ?  We did raise a raquette, but not in the usual sense. We took our raquettes into the wooded trails of the local mountains and ponds, to welcome in 2017 with an outdoor adventure.

Living as close to the Canadian ( Quebec) border as we do, we frequently  participate in outdoor activities north of the border, and follow many outdoor sites based in Quebec. From these sites we learned that in the French language of Quebec, snowshoes are known as raquettes….hence, our appropriation of the term!

Rather than spend the holiday weekend surrounded by noisy,  robust, and loud partiers, my husband and I decided to head to the mountains for the weekend. We were fortunate enough to be able to rent an off-grid Wheeler Pond cabin owned by the Green Mountain Club, located on the pond at the base of mountains with an endless variety of hiking and snowshoeing terrain. We are members of the GMC, Northeast Kingdom Section, and have stayed here many times before. Unfortunately, last winter, our attempts at snowshoeing weekends were major “fails”…the snow-less winter of 2015-16 had us do lots of ice-spiking and hiking around the cabin, but our snowshoe never left our vehicle. This year was different! December 2016 has been marked by nearly normal snowfall, and in the Kingdom, about 90 minutes northeast of us, there is always more snow. We also relish the chance to get out to some more remote ,less frequented, hiking destinations than are found in other areas of Vermont.

 

In addition to all our camping  gear, we each packed up two pair of Tubbs snowshoes, not exactly sure of what conditions we may find. We knew there would be snow, but we wanted to be prepared for any trail conditions, from packed and icy, to deep and fluffy. Our Tubbs framed snowshoes ( Wilderness 36’s  and Mountaineer 25’s) would provide us with a bit more flotation if needed, while still giving us a solid traction base.  Our Flex Alps are excellent for the often varied, and difficult, Vermont conditions we encounter on some of the area trails, so they came along, too. It was a pleasant addition to have my sister-in-law join us, with her more vintage Tubbs snowshoes. And of course, our two lab mutts, our regular adventure partners, were also with us. We arrived at the cabin’s location, in Barton, VT, early morning, ready to hit the trails before worsening conditions predicted by a winter weather advisory kicked in. We had a nice chat with the folks who were staying in the cabin before us, and they assured us they would vacate the cabin by noon, and that it would be left clean and spiffy for us. Nice folks!

Parking ¼ mile from the cabin, we geared up and headed up one of the many trails that are literally right out the door of the cabin. We headed up the newly rerouted Wheeler Mt. trail and found deep untracked powder, the perfect chance for my husband to initiate his Tubbs Wilderness 36’s. I used my Mountaineer 25’s, and they worked out great in these conditions.  The narrow wooded trail wound through the trees, and around snow covered boulders that looked like giant marshmallows. The dogs picked up on lots of wildlife sign, but the only living animal we saw was a partridge, flushed from a low pine bush by Gryphon…it flew away in quite a huff! The predicted overcast and snowy weather did not materialize, and we enjoyed blue skies, bright sun, and fabulous views.

 

My husband had no trouble negotiating the winding narrow trail with his large edition snowshoes…he even found some open areas to stomp through, much to the delight of his snow dog Edgar. Each of us found that our Tubbs provided nice flotation on the powder, yet provided great traction on the steep sections we had to climb.

We traveled for a few hours, and then took a break for hot lunch on the trail. We decided to skip the planned big lunch, and have just hot beverages and snacks instead, perfect energy boosts for the return trip.

By early afternoon, we were ready to get to the cabin. Now, each of us has a lot of experience in winter tent camping and backpacking, and there is a special attraction to that outdoor pursuit. However, as we get a bit older, the appeal of a cabin, however rustic it may be, increases. In fact, winter hut, yurt, and cabin camping has become quite popular with many folks. Some locations require backpacking, or hauling gear by pulk, while others have short equipment carries to the enclosures. Our delightful little cabin is only a few hundred yards from the parking area.  This makes it especially attractive for families, older folks, or those without the desire to really “rough it”.

We loaded our gear into our homemade pulk, and hauled it off to the cabin. Our five pairs of Tubbs snowshoes were placed outside the cabin, near the frozen lake, ready to go; there are 4 trails that are accessible right from the cabin.  My husband got the wood stove fired up, since that is the only source of heat. There is no electricity, running water, internet, or cell phone coverage here, and the bunks are nice flat plywood. The cabin is a bit rough, but it feels like a second home to us, and to our dogs, who settled right in. Some hut/cabin camping locations prohibit dogs…since our dogs accompany us on all our adventures, the dog friendly nature of this cabin makes it just right for us.

 

Late afternoon, as the skies began to cloud up and darken a bit, we made a nice fire in the outside fire pit. The snow then began to fall, gently upon us, as the temperatures hovered around a very acceptable 20 degrees (f).  Who needs Times Square, when you can be sitting around a fire, miles from the nearest civilization, enjoying the peace and quiet of northern Vermont?

Our evening celebratory meal was fondue, heated up on a camp stove. Of course we had the obligatory toast, from a bottle of champagne that had been kept chilled in the snow. We had brought only two camping “fancy” glasses, so my Tubbs camping mug became the third entry into the toast…how delightful it was, to raise a glass of bubbly among close family, in that setting. We did not, however, make it until midnight; early to bed were we, as we had more snowshoeing planned for the morning.

 

Outside, the snow continued to fall, and by looking upward, my headlamp illuminated a kaleidoscope of flakes…and not a sound other than my feet on the soft snow. I knew that the next day, the first of 2017, would bring us more great snowshoeing conditions.

Indeed, 2017 greeted us with a few more inches of snow, and moderate temperatures. Our dogs awoke at their usual 6 am time, well before any light was visible in the eastern sky.  The early rising time left us plenty of opportunity to make a nice breakfast to have on this holiday morning…not the usual quickie oatmeal and dried fruit we have while tent camping, but rather a nice spread of scrambled eggs, bacon, and maple donuts. Fully energized, we were ready to take advantage of the new snow, and head out on the short trail that goes around the lake. My sister in law decided to spend the morning drinking hot coffee and catching up on some reading, so it was my husband and me, and our two dogs, that went out to welcome the new year with a snowshoe trek. Having hiked this trail previously on wet leaves, rock, and ice, we knew it had a few tricky spots to negotiate…nothing steep or really challenging, but we decided our Flex Alps would be the best choice for this trip. And they were…we had deep untracked snow, often 20 inches deep, but also some narrow and windy passages around rocks and trees. We encountered a log bridge, 25 feet long, covered in snow, making determining the location of the log a bit uncertain. Our snowshoes provide a good stable base, and solid traction, as we slowly worked our way across. The rest of the trail obstacles were no match for our snowshoes, and we reached the end of the trail, with our cabin in sight.  One last challenge….this trail has a sometimes sketchy brook crossing at one end, consisting of ice covered rocks, with a foot of snow on top; neither of us wanted to start the new year with a dip in the frigid water. We opted to cross what is essentially an old beaver dam; unhooking our pack straps, we slowly stepped across the 20 foot distance, feeling secure with the base of support provided by our snowshoes. The dogs led the way, and once across, they received a nice doggie treat!

 

We took advantage of the snowy trails around the cabin to let my sister-in-law try out our newer version Tubbs Snowshoes. She absolutely loved the Flex Alps, and will most likely own a new pair before our next joint outing!

This trip was an exceptional way to ring in the New Year! I wish that every holiday celebration could be as peaceful and relaxing…maybe next year, we can get our adult children to join us. After all, the cabin does sleep 6.

If you are interested in hiking the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, the Green Mountain Club  https://www.greenmountainclub.org/    has all the information you need, from guidebooks, maps, and information on renting the Wheeler Pond cabins. In March, we will be back here, hoping to take advantage of some spring conditions up on Moose Mountain, another trail that begins near the cabin. There is a great variety of trails in this section of Vermont, many within 30 minutes or so from Wheeler Pond. The winter of 2016-17 appears to have the potential to be one of the best snowshoeing seasons in a long time!

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Snowshoe Hike Through History

Snowshoe Hike through History—Millstone Trails

Words and pictures by Tubbs Ambassador Sheila  | Day Hiker

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Here in northern Vermont,our location gives us quick and easy access to some amazing recreational opportunities in the nearby mountains and woods. We love heading out to a favorite remote trail, miles from the nearest paved road. But, in keeping with the somewhat quirky nature of Vermont, one of our favorite places to hit the trails for snowshoeing is actually near an industrial area. Wait, isn’t that a bit of a curious destination? Yes, it may seem so…but for a unique, amazingly scenic, and historically fascinating snowshoe hike, head to the Millstone Trails, in Barre, Vermont.

Barre is a very small city, whose title “ Granite Capital of the World” is well deserved. For well over a hundred years, the granite industry in Barre has produced world renowned granite for monuments, buildings, and spectacular grave markers. The granite industry began to flourish in Barre in the late 1800’s, when it was discovered that the quality of granite in the high hills outside the city is unmatched. Immigrants, from Scotland , Italy, and other European countries flooded the Barre area, bringing their craftsmanship and stonecutting skills to the hundreds of quarries that dotted the landscape.

The Millstone Trails network, managed by the Millstone Trails Association http://www.millstonetrails.com/ maintains over 90 miles of trails on the site of 75 abandoned quarries, high in the wooded hills over the central Vermont area. The network, only about 10 years old, is primarily a mountain bike mecca….however, in the winter, it is home to snowshoers, cross country skiers, fatbikers, and disc-golfers. Yes, there is a free year-round public disc golf course set amongst the quarry piles, right near the primary parking area, in the Barre Town Forest.

There are trails of varying difficulty, from narrow winding trails through the woods, to wide, groomed, trails that cross brooks and streams. There are some impressive lookouts, many situated over the 50 abandoned quarry holes, or on the top of waste granite piles. These lookouts are marked on the map, available from the association, or downloadable from the website. We love the Grand Lookout, where vistas can extend for nearly 100 miles. This is a great location for families !

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Along the trails you can observe relics of the granite industry, when the quarries were flourishing…derricks, cranes, sheds, and rock piles, “relics” being reclaimed by nature. Some of the old granite walls and deposit areas have incredibly detailed carvings in them. Each June, MTA sponsors a “Rockfire” festival, and the year’s new carvings are revealed during the festival, illuminated at night by torches.

There are interpretive signs in the network…not so many as to be obtrusive, but placed in such a way as to provide insights into the history of the area. The impressive array of trails means that each trip here can be different. We can stop by for a quick hour hike, or we may spend a few hours exploring new sections of the area. Snow conditions can vary, from crusty and firm, to deeper powder. Only the main, wider trails are groomed, so for snowshoeing, the wooded trails often provide access to some nice untracked snow. We have used Tubbs Flex Alps snowshoes here, as well as Tubbs Wilderness snowshoes…it all depends on what the snow conditions may be . There is often more snow here than in lower elevations nearby.

We rarely see any other folks here…the network is so large, that even on a winter weekend, you may feel you have the entire place to yourself. At present, MTA is not charging a fee for winter use, though they do welcome donations. The trails are closed to bikers from mid-November to mid-December (our hunting season). Though technically walkers and hikers are not prohibited, commons sense indicates that the trails are best avoided during that month.

If you are heading to the many ski areas in the mountains of Vermont, cruising along Interstate 89, consider stopping to check out these trails. Throw on your snowshoes, head back into history, and enjoy the views!

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Walking ( Hiking) in a Winter Wonderland….

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Wow, we have had a normal, typical, actual wintery December this year. Last Christmas, we were hiking in 60 degree temperatures, without a drop of snow visible, and it was December 29th before I got out on my Tubbs snowshoes.

December 2016 has been a pretty hectic month; lots of winter hiking and snowshoeing, some wild weather ( normal for Vermont!), a trip to New York City for this Country Mouse, family coming in for the holidays, new stuff from LL Bean and LuminAid to test out and review, another nice contest win from trailspace.com, phewwww, ready for a little break!

We are heading out in a few days to celebrate the New Year at the off-grid GMC cabins in the Northeast Kingdom. It looks like we will have plenty of snow for snowshoeing, and the temperatures are not going to be brutally cold. So here is a toast to the New Year…one which will undoubtedly bring new challenges and adventures. 2017, here we come!

And now, a brief video of our snowshoeing in December…so excited to actually be able to get some snowy photos this year!

“I have an affection for those transitional seasons, the way they take the edge off the intense cold of winter, or heat of summer.” ― Whitney Otto

Transitional season…or stick season…or shoulder season…Whatever you may call it, the month of November is marked by daylight ending at 4pm, temperatures fluctuations from well below freezing to near 7o degrees, and the sun’s deciding to make itself scarce for a while. Bright Orange becomes the color of choice for outings in or near the woods, for both humans and dogs. We are supportive of hunters and hunting, but do not want to end up the victim of an errant shot. The trail conditions can vary from wet heavy, slippery leaves, to enough snow to require snowshoes. This is November in Vermont, and we have survived it well this year, with lots of outdoor activity, and more hints of winter than we saw all of last year’s winter season!

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We have been hiking, both on dry and wet leafy trails, and on untracked snow and ice.  My new Tubbs Mountaineer snowshoes actually got tested within a few days of their arrival! We have also been joring…bike and kicksled only, since we have yet to get good skijoring conditions. I won a great Stormy Kromer hat from a twitter contest…those twitter chats, (such as #hikerchat and #trailtime) are a great source to make connections, learn about activities, and get advice for knowledgeable folks.

Here are some pics from our outings this month….given our attire,and the dogs’ vests and scarves, I think we are pretty visible!

Hiking!

Above: Burke Mountain, Waterbury Center State Park, Catamount Trail, and Cotton Brook canoe access

Above: Mill Trail, Stark Mt., Nebraska Notch Trail, and Waterbury Reservoir

Our snowy adventures have sometimes required us to hike up on the mountain,seeking man-made snow being stockpiled for the ski season. However, recent snowfalls have enabled us to take advantage of all-natural pure Vermont snow!

Above: Mt. Mansfield and Snake Mountain

Snowshoeing! Already I have a few entries in my 2016-17 snowshoe journal…maybe this year our winter trips will be highlighted by LOTS of snow….

Joring!  Just a few photos, and a funny video to show Edgar in his training mode….

So to wrap up this month’s installment of the adventures of the Paddle Pups, we present our own Edgar the Wonder Dog! Enjoy your outings with your dogs, keep safe, and we will be back after the holidays!

A Fond Farewell to the 2016 Paddling Season!

That’s a wrap! The season has come to a cold, rainy, and snowy end….but what a year it has been! Adventures, mishaps,wildlife, travel, and great plans in store for next year.

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If you have been reading my blog articles, you know that we have ventured further, paddled more, and seen more varied wildlife this year than in past years.  As the season comes to a close, we are a bit sad…the boats have their protective coats applied, and are in their storage locations. The canoeing flag is off the deck, and the wooden paddles will soon be on display (since they are works of art) in the living room. Gear has been cleaned and put away until next May.

We will spend the next 6 months snowshoeing,hiking, skijoring, and kicksledding…more winter cabin camping is on the schedule,and we HOPE that this season we will have some actual snow!  We can’t canoe during a Vermont winter, so we have our other favorite activities to help us endure.

We have already been bikejoring, and winter hiking ( spikes required) on snow and ice….having started that makes the end of paddling season easier to bear. And on those too cold,long, dark, boring winter weekend days, we ill be planning our itinerary for or Banff trip next fall.  That will certainly be some exciting preparation work.

So here is our 2016 Paddling Summary annual video…we tried to highlight some of the wildlife we saw this year. Enjoy!

Tumultuous Winds and Quiet Sands…a report from our Canoe Trip in Canada.

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An article in Canoeroots Magazine, published earlier in the season, had suggested that paddlers should challenge themselves each year, and get outside their comfort zone a bit when canoeing and exploring.  We felt up to the challenge, so after our Adirondack adventures, we headed north of the border, to Parc Regional du Poisson Blanc, in Quebec, about 60 miles north of Ottawa. This was the longest we had traveled from home for a paddling trip, and the first where English is not the primary language. We knew that the lake was quite large ( 24 miles long, 5 miles wide, with over 80 islands), much larger than the largest lake we had paddled to date, but it certainly seemed like a nice place to adventure…and it is dog-friendly too.

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Monday

Our first challenge was crossing the border into Canada; now, we have taken the dogs across before, but it is always a bit worrisome. We have all their paperwork in hand, but if the Customs official is having a bad day, or they request a secondary search, or the dogs begin barking because they expect a treat from the “drive-thru window”..well, these can make the crossing eventful, and we seek uneventful. Well, Canada Customs Agent Hamilton was a friendly fellow, and merely asked if we had the “paperwork for the pups”. It was a quiet 2 minutes while he reviewed our documents, and off we went.

Our first stop, to walk the dogs, was about 4 hours from home, in Ontario. Though our destination was in Quebec, we had to travel through a corner of Ontario to get there. The dogs explored a nice park, with some unusual sculptures, in Hawkesbury, ON…the wind was vicious, and there were whitecaps on the river. We were reassured knowing that the campsite for our first night was land-accessible, and not the boat-access island where we were to spend the rest of the week.

We arrived and checked in at the Bastion Base Area mid-afternoon, and then headed 10 km up along Reservoir Du Sable, to our campsite for the first night. The Parc maintains two very nice sites along the shoreline of this lake that is linked with Poisson Blanc…there are also some tent sites for “late arrivals” down at the base area.

The large sandy beach was 100 yards from the campsite ( which was located on a quiet marshy area), so we hauled one boat out for an evening solo paddle…accompanied by loons and ducks. We also took a hike (trailhead right near the campsite) up to an overlook, allowing us to see the lake where we would be heading the next day.

Dinner was great ( fondue), the Parc delivered a load of firewood for us, and we had a very peaceful night under the full moon.

Tuesday

We woke up to a glorious sunrise, and calm winds….a beautiful spot, but then it was time to load up and head bake to the base area, out to embark on our island adventure.

At the base area, we saw a few cars in the canoe access parking lot; the office did not open until 9am, but we wanted to head out earlier than that. We had obtained out parking permit the day before, so we could launch for our island campsite by 8am.

Peaceful and calm as we headed out…little did we know what awaited us!

Since we had been told that we were not permitted to arrive at our island site before 2pm, we decided to check out some of the islands used as day use areas. We landed at island site #8, cooked up some oatmeal for breakfast, and then began exploring the sandy,rocky, and wooded terrain. Gryphon had a great time, as he had lots of waterfront  for chasing frogs and minnows. Edgar found some great sticks to drag and play with….and in this peaceful setting, we noted that the wind was beginning to pick up.

By late morning, the winds were gusting pretty good…we started to see lots of chop and even some whitecaps. We estimated winds were up to 20 mph,and getting more gusty. The few paddlers we saw heading out were really working hard to proceed,even with large tripping canoes. Since we were not very far ( 1/2 mile or so) from our designated site, and it is a pretty large site, we opted to head over to our island earlier than 2pm…if we had to wait while prior campers packed up, so be it. I had read blogs that mentioned paddlers being stranded on these islands due to winds, and that did not sound appealing.

Our little boats ,loaded up with all our gear, headed out, as it seemed there was a lessening of the wind…the plan was to head downwind just a bit, go around another island as a wind-break,and head upwind to our island. Plan A was a dismal failure! As we got away from the protection of the day-use island, we encountered increasing cross winds,and winds funneling between the islands….my little solo boat was bobbing around like a cork, despite my best paddling efforts.  The heavier kayak was faring better, but it seemed unsafe to contionue to try to battle the challenging winds. We decided to return to our day use island, and wait for the winds ( now in the 30 mph range, per our anemometer) to let up.  So we spent most of the afternoon on this lovely island, in beautiful sunny weather, comparing our situation to   Gilligan’s Island, Robinson Crusoe, Castaway…we wondered how upset the park would be if we camped overnight on the island!

Well, at 4pm, we saw a solo canoeist appear, working her buns off, but actually making progress in the rough waters. The wind flags on my boat indicated that there were now longer periods of lesser winds, and seeing that paddler succeed seemed to be a sign for us…if she can do it, so can we! So we made sure everything in the boats was secure, we snugged down our PFDs, and put the dogs in down position, and we headed off. We have paddled in some rough water, and rock n’ rolled it a bit before, but this was probably the most challenging paddling we’ve done. Keeping the island destination in site, we worked it, and paddled for all we were worth…my fear was not so much taking on water ( we did), but that if we dumped, Gryphon would swim to the nearest island…which might not be the right one! Then we would have to retrieve him…and the canoe as well. But we made it,  safely landing on one of the 3 sandy beaches of our island site, relieved, with a prayer of thanks to St. Brendan!

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Once on the island, we expressed gratitude..we had earned this reward…the best site in the park!

The site, #6, is the only site on the island..there is a smaller island adjacent, which due to low water levels, had land access. Three sandy beaches, lovely wooded areas, and some of the most fascinating and abundant rock formations we have ever seen.

Since the wind appeared to lessen as we neared the end of the day,we opted to set up the tent on the sand…a good distance from the waters edge, and easily moved into the wooded area should the need arise.

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We had a nice fire ( they deliver firewood to the sites by boat!), and a relaxing dinner, and a quiet evening. Gryphon did not want to come out of the water (lots of minnows!), but Edgar was happy sleeping in the sand. Overnight,a lovely breeze was blowing through the tent…then about 2am, we started to hear rain on the fly. Of course, the wind began to get quite strong again, but at least we had not thunder and lightning.  Our LL Bean tent continues to perform exceptionally well! We awoke to strong winds blowing…glad we had each brought books to read, and chew toys for the dogs; it looked like it might be a long day!

Wednesday

While light rain continued to fall, and the skies were pretty grey, we decide to move the tent into a site under the trees. We un-staked it, and carried it about 50 yards into a wooded site, right on the edge of the beach, and with water views. Though the lake appeared angry on one side of the island, the other side was less agitated, and we actually began to see breaks in the clouds, and the showers and rain became intermittent. Breaks in the  weather allowed us to escape the tent, and explore the island…we found new trails to some of the rocky shorelines, and watched birds that had settled in on the edges of our site.

Well, as the day progressed, the skies became bluer, and the sun began to shine..winds kept blowing, gusting up to 30 mph, until early afternoon…then, we actually realized that we might get in some paddling! By 3 pm, the lake had calmed enough for us to take the boats out to explore the lake. It was still a bit windy, but we handled it well, and  it was fun to explore different islands and arms of the lake.

A nice fire on the beach, beautiful scenery, and the day came to a peaceful close….

Thursday

Our tent site in the woods protected us from overnight winds, but we certainly heard them gusting again, until 0400 am, when suddenly, calm rang out! The full moon illuminated the skies, which were beautifully clear, and the water, which was flat and calm…

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We got up at 6am, had a quick cup of coffee, and headed out to take advantage of the excellent paddling conditions. 40 degrees f., but it was glorious paddling to start the day! The rising sun soon warmed us up, and we ventured farther from our site than we had previously been able.

We returned after 90 minutes on the water…it was still only 42 degrees , so we had a nice hot breakfast, and sat on the warm sand and rocks for a bit. Griff was in his glory, having freedom to chase minnows and frogs, while Edgar decided to sleep on the warm sand. And…the wind remained practically non-existant.  This was to be the the day that we could paddle to our heart’s content!

And, of course, we had to take a photo by a certain rock on our site…there was just something about that rock….we suspect we are not the first to pose by it!

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Late morning, we headed out for a lovely paddle, to explore another of the day use islands. We put in to let the dogs stretch a bit, and to remove our paddle jackets…it was warm enough that they were no longer needed.

What a day! Warm sands, a beautiful quiet setting, endless views, and nice paddling conditions…almost made us forget the ” paddling drama” of our first day at the lake!

More paddling that afternoon. We watched loons, rode some powerboat wakes ( we only saw a few park motorboats, and they were not an issue), and  came back to our site to discover that a huge crow was feasting on our trash bag. He flew off in a huff, and after cleaning up the mess, we had a good dinner. We did have to pick up some small trash from inconsiderate prior campers, but amazingly, this was the first site in forever, where we have not found a plastic bread tab left behind!  One item of note…we found this park generally very neat and well kept. The benches, log tables, and fire pit were among the best we have found in our canoe camping travels. Even the outhouse was well made, clean, and pretty sanitary ( for an outhouse!). Unfortunately, for a reasons we could not fathom, many people had walked up the trail to the outhouse, but had then “done their business” in the woods within 10 feet of the outhouse, leaving their trash behind. Very odd, and we did mention this to park personnel upon our departure.

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Nicest outhouse we’ve found while camping!

Our last evening at the park was marked by a beautiful sunset, and then a colorful and impressive moon rise. We certainly hoped that our “paddle out” the next day would have the same easy conditions we had on Thursday.

Friday

We awoke to the sound of loons calling, and coyotes howling….and flat water and heavy fog. We grabbed a light breakfast, and packed up the boats. We really wanted to head out while the going was good…and we found nice calm waters, though the fog was a bit thick. Our compass kept us heading the right direction,and we could follow the shorelines around the islands and channels back to the base area. The sun began to shine through the heavy fog, and we ended up only paddling past the take-out by 50 years or so…a quick back-track, cross the narrow channel,and we were there, safe and sound!

We hauled our boats and gear up the steep, but short, trail to the parking area, and loaded up the car.  We managed to pack everything in the car without the use of the Thule Soft Bag we had put on the roof at the start of the trip….the dogs immediately curled up in the back seat, and dozed off.

It had been a fascinating week…we had overcome some wind challenges, explored terrain very different from what is familiar to us, and had taken us, and the dogs, a bit out of our comfort zone. We still have more paddling ahead this season, though the cooler temperatures and changing colors are telling us the season will soon end.  Hmm, time to plan next years adventures? Already started…”Paddling to Banff 2017″ is on the calendar!

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Vermont Paddle Pups, at Parc Regional du Poisson Blanc