Fish Creek Paddle and Camp
by Phil Brown
Wednesday Aug 25th thru Sunday Aug 29th, 2010
Trip Coordinator: Phil Brown
Trip Food Coordinator: Robyn Lowenthal
I think this trip was quite a success. 33 people and 1 dog came, taking 12 campsites at Fish Creek Pond Campground in upstate New York and 2 staying in a bed and breakfast on Lake Clear. On Wednesday afternoon most arrived and set up camp and then we had a pot luck dinner that night. With marinated flank steak as the main course, pasta salads, pierogies, baked beans, roasted corn, green salad, soup, macaroni salad, potato salad, stromboli, hummus and many other additional dishes and desserts to enjoy, we had a real HRCKC feast under a big tarp with a slight drizzle and 60 degree temps.
For Thursday, we had a change in plans because the weather was not cooperating, although somewhat typical for the Adirondacks. Black windy clouds mixed with blue sky and some rain made us decide to postpone our first paddle for Friday. So off we went in all different directions. Some went to The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, some went to the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain lake, some to the Olympic Ski Jump in Lake Placid with fantastic views, and some went shopping in Lake Placid or Saranac Lake. One member went for a long paddle anyway and came back with a big smile, even with the not so good weather. Seeing loons up close does that to you.
Friday we woke up and it was still cloudy but less windy and a little warmer. The first 2 nights were probably down into the 40s, but this day looked like it was going to be much nicer. So 14 boats and 15 paddlers started out at about 10am going up Fish Creek towards the first portage. Some people stayed and did alternate paddles. Our first portage was a challenge. It started with stepping onto a bog and some slippery logs, but we managed the quarter mile into the beautiful Follensby Clear Pond. Rick and Wendy had sleek sea kayaks, so they just took the long way by water around the portages and we met them on the other side. Portages went much quicker and easier than I expected since we had everybody helping get the boats down the trail and since it was a day trip the boats were not relatively heavy.
It was almost a perfect day. No rain, little wind, not too hot. There were only supposed to be 4 portages, but somebody (trip leader?) made a mistake and we found a fifth one snuck in at the end. Everybody made it and got to see some nice pristine wilderness lakes that you don’t get to see everyday. We probably paddled a little quicker than we would have liked as we were going out to eat that night and many people wanted to visit the 60 shower complex on the far side of the campground before dinner.
That Friday night we drove 26 miles to Saranac Lake and got seated outside on covered picnic tables at “Tail o the Pup” for some BBQ and drinks. Someone even had lobster. After we ate, Dave entertained us with his fork and stories of sacred ground there and then we saw the space station fly by in the sky from the parking lot.
Saturday it was time for another paddle. Gail showed up in the morning from her B&B and most of us got in our boats again and headed up Fish Creek. This day there were no portages (also called carries) so we could relax a little more. Fish Creek is very pristine and I did not see one speck of garbage. We probably paddled up about 3 and half miles up to Floodwood Pond and then found a nice island campsite to have lunch on, which conveniently had a privy back in the woods. Again, Dave M. entertained us with his defense moves and double can crushing skills, and Jeff K. with his crowd herding for pictures skills.
Saturday night , many of us made our own dinner or went and ate Mexican, and then a few of us went for a night paddle to see the International Space Station again at around 10pm. The sky was not perfectly black, but still clearer than a typical NJ one. The ISS appeared on time and went through the northern sky for about 3 minutes. Rick and Wendy then went for a nice paddle all the way around Square Pond as the water was as smooth as glass. Meanwhile there was a band playing Led Zeppelin at the amphitheater across the lake, but it was not overwhelming.
Other things people enjoyed on this trip were hammocks, swimming with the loons on Follensby, riding the bike, fishing from the kayak right off the campsite, going out to breakfast at 5am in Tupper Lake or just sitting by the fire and relaxing. The campsites were ideal for paddlers because they were all lakefront or right on the creek and you could just slide your boat into the water at anytime.
We heard loons and ducks almost all the time, especially at night. We heard and saw blue herons, turtles, fish, seagulls, Timmy the chipmunk and all of his cousins, pitcher plants and much more.
I would like to thank Ralph, Tom, Dave and Mo for helping with the community tarp, Robyn and guests with the pot luck goodies, and Mo, Jeff, Dave, Ken, Rich, Ralph and more for their help on the portages. This trip would not have been so easy without everyone’s help. This was a great trip thanks to everybody on it, the great campground we stayed at and the unbelievable scenery.