M Traversing the Adirondacks by Foot and Packraft
by Ari “Ike” Jutkowitz
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I had pored over the squiggly blue lines for hours, trying to make them connect. Packrafting changes the way you look at a map for sure. Now my eyes were always first drawn to the waterways, those wilderness superhighways. What would they look like? Could they be paddled? And how could I link them to make a route?
Even before I had started packrafting, this trip had been on my mind. With over 30,000 miles of waterways and an ample trail system, the Adirondacks were a packrafter's dream. Having grown up not far from Northville in the southern portion of the region, I was well acquainted with its potential. I had originally planned on a trip during the spring snowmelt, but work had gotten in the way. Still, it seemed like something great could be salvaged, and I decided to make it happen this fall. For this trip, I would traverse the Adirondack region from south to north, spending the first two days on foot until I hit the West Canada Lakes Wilderness. The next 5 days would then be predominantly packrafting, with hiking segments as needed to connect the various rivers along the route. The route length would total approximately 150 miles.
- Day 1.
- Route: Hike from Upper Benson to Buckhorn Lake Outlet along the Northville Placid Trail (NPT).
- Day 2
- Route: Hike from Buckhorn Lake to First Cedar Lake.
- Day 3
- Route: Paddle the Cedar River through the Cedar Flow, past Wakely Dam, and down to Sprague Brook.
- Day 4
- Route: Paddle the Eckford Chain of Lakes (Blue Mountain Lake, Eagle Lake, and Utowana Lake) down the Marion River and through Raquette Lake to its outflow
- Day 5
- Route: Paddle the Raquette River from its outflow on Raquette Lake, through Forked Lake, past Buttermilk Falls, and into Long Lake. Paddle/hike most of Long Lake.
- Day 6
- Route: Paddle Long Lake from Plumley Point to the Raquette River. Paddle the Raquette to Stony Creek. Intersect the Ward Brook Trail and hike to the Cold River.
- Day 7
- Route: Hike from the Cold River, past Duck Hole, along the NPT to Lake Placid.
# WORDS: 4250
# PHOTOS: 48
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