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Adirondack Sojourn.

The plan was simple: spend four days paddling our canoe in the Adirondacks. We decided to try a lake that we'd never visited before--Horseshoe Lake in St. Lawrence County. We arrived in early afternoon and set up camp. There were light scudding clouds from the southwest and the lake had little wavelets across its reach. We shuffled down a short, steep, earthy bank, maneuvered past some rocks and launched our canoe. The water was relatively calm and after a few paddle strokes we were caught in the freshening wind.

Our track took us at a slight angle to the wind and the wavelets slowly rocked the canoe as we paddled towards the far shore. The sky had turned gray and reflected in the lake waters. As we drew closer to the opposite shore, the collage of early-fall colors resolved into individual trees, shoreline and a large rock outcrop that dipped into the lake. We headed for the outcrop, slipped around to the leeward side and climbed out of our canoe. Looking back, our camp had disappeared into the trees on the far shore.

We returned to camp and clambered back up the bank. After securing our canoe, we settled into camp chairs to admire the lake in the dimming light of early evening and a stiffening breeze. We smelled rain in the air and talked about how the weather might keep us from going out the next day. We decided it was time to start dinner; we'd worry about it later.

The next morning we woke up a little later and stiffer than we expected. The lake was covered in a soft white mist as it gave up its heat to the chilled morning. Quickly dressing, we retraced our steps down the bank and put in. A few strokes of the paddle put us deep into the milky mist. The sun began to burn off the mist and bits of shoreline appeared. We paddled toward the light of the sun as tendrils of mist rose upwards to reveal a crystal clear, bright blue sky.

Reaching the eastern end of the lake about mid-morning, we started back towards camp and watched as a heron rose from the shallows and flew to find solitude. We started to break camp and discussed where we might like to paddle next.

"Let's go up around the Stillwater," Rich said. "There's a campsite that I used more than thirty years ago and I'd like to visit there again. It's near the mouth of Moshier Creek."

It took us two and a half hours to reach the put-in below the Stillwater Reservoir gauging station. The water was running swiftly as the Moshier River was still narrow at this point. We put in, glided out to the middle and let the current take us. It was a brilliant day and the sun shone brightly for mid-September. I took off my shirt to fully enjoy the warm rays of the sun. The Moshier River broadened into the Moshier Reservoir and we had to start paddling to make forward progress. We explored the northern shore all the way to Moshier Creek and then turned up into it. "This looks familiar," Rich said. "That's what you said about the last two bays," I replied. Rich however, called this one correctly.

Moshier Creek was barely flowing; there seemed to be more rocks than water. The creek trickled down from small, brown-red pools and rivulets into the reservoir--the color derived from decaying leaves and humus. We secured the canoe to a tree and followed a path which paralleled the creek to a sun-dappled area where there was a crude table and bench, and a makeshift log bridge across the creek.

Stretching our legs felt good. We dallied there, enjoying the quiet solitude and coolness of the woods. Finally, deciding that we had stayed long enough, we ambled back down the path, got in our canoe and made our way back up the reservoir where we'd started.

We camped in the nearby Independence River Wild Forest that night. After setting up camp, we had time to do a bit of exploring on foot. We went for a short hike and soon came upon a "flow"--a flowing waterway with margins of still water and wetland plants that is notoriously inconvenient to cross. While exploring the margins of the flow we came across an area with sand and gravel banks, in which there were several salad bowl-size depressions. Littered about the depressions were small, white, twisted leathery objects along with coyote tracks. The depressions had been made earlier in the season, but the coyote tracks were much more recent. We surmised that here a coyote had dug up turtle eggs--probably a snapping turtle--had a meal and occasionally returned to see if another was available. The coyote's meal of turtle eggs reminded us of our own dinner. "It's your turn to cook," we both said to each other, and started back to camp.

After dinner, we discussed where to go the next morning. We pulled out topographic maps and discussed the merits of each option. The Beaver River in Lewis County was our choice. Access to the Beaver River requires a short portage through the woods along a narrow path covered with roots, over a narrow walk bridge that crosses Sunday Creek, and down a short section of private road. The put-in is ideal for canoe launching.

At times, the Beaver River widens into large bays causing the first-time paddler to backtrack and choose another route to continue along its course. This isn't too cumbersome, for the distance is short, and there is always the other shoreline to explore.

Although there are private camps along the Beaver River, they add to the enjoyment rather than detract from it. No doubt, each has an interesting tale to tell. Often located amid tall pines or spruces, some camps are separated from the water by sandy beaches. Others feature large rocks, sometimes a steep hillside and often a boathouse of interesting design. You can paddle along Beaver River as close, or as far away from the shore as you like. Midway between the shores gives the feeling of privacy; closer to shore you will find yourself greeting others, waving your paddle at a young boy along the water's edge, or if you are lucky, passing an elderly person whose smile makes you feel like yours is the only canoe that had ever passed by their picturesque camp.

You could say we did the Beaver River twice that day. We let the current and wind take us down in an effortless drift and then paddled back upstream against the current, wind and choppy surface. Once back at the put-in we relaxed and ate our last snack, commented upon which muscle group hurt the most and enjoyed those quiet moments when you know you've had a great day. Then, with canoe hoisted over our heads, we retraced our steps of the morning, through the woods, over the creek and up the small, steep rise. We were done.

One never knows when memory will grasp a moment and save it for the future. Sometime during that day, memory had decided that forever afterward, the Beaver would always be under a bright, sunny blue sky, graced by a light breeze, and interesting discoveries would lay ahead.

If you go:

Beaver Lake is located approximately 20 miles northeast of Lowville off of the Number Four Road and the Stillwater Road. From this location you can reach Beaver River, Stillwater Reservoir and Moshier Creek.

In addition to excellent canoeing, the area offers miles of trails, a boat launch and excellent fishing. Be sure to bring your camera, rain gear, and warm clothing. Always be sure to wear your personal floatation device.

For more information about canoeing in the Adirondacks, contact the Department of Environmental Conservation's Ray Brook office at 518-897-1200 or the Herkimer office at 315-866-6330.

Richard Hautala first slept on the ground in the Adirondacks in 1962. He grew up wanting to be a coureur de bols, but the need to make a living led him to DEC's Albany office where he works with computers.

Eric Shyer is a Mineral Resource Specialist in DEC's Albany office. He has been restoring wood and canvas canoes since 1986 and enjoys fishing, hiking, photography and flat-water paddling.
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Title Annotation:canoe trip
Author:Hautala, Richard; Shyer, Eric
Publication:New York State Conservationist
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2001
Words:1390
Previous Article:CONSERVATION OFFICER ON PATROL.
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