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A lazy morning egress from a Moosup Valley inlaw idyll saw us on the road by mid-morning and arriving at the Little Tupper launch by mid-afternoon. Although it has been the norm on past non-weekend visits we were again surprised to find a whopping total of three cars in the parking lot.
30+ sites, 15 of them solid “A’s or “B’s and a near empty lake – I like our chances.
Hauling boats – MR Indy, MR Malecite Solo, MR Explorer Solo and Horizon ‘yak (need to find Cooper an MR solo) – and gear down the short, graded path to the put in we chatted up a couple and young son offloading rec kayaks, who direly forewarned us of the difficulties of making headway against the wind on open water.
Exiting the sheltered bay and rounding the point into a light chop and mild bow breeze I tried to envision making headway in a gear-loaded Pumpkinseed. I think I’ll pass.
An easy afternoon’s no-rush paddle following the NW shore, stopping occasionally to check out past-visited campsites and evaluate the durability of our campsite rating system stretched the four mile crow-fly route to Site #6 (Rocky Point) into a six mile meander.
Rocky Point scores a solid 90% on our rating scale, losing points only for Bugginess and Landing Ease, and we may have to upgrade those values. At low-to-normal pool levels a fine sandy beach with trail to camp appears just east of the point for easy loading, landing and launching, and few Adirondack sites are bug-free in July. Call it a 95+%; probably now our favorite of any site on the lake.
Good views, great swimming and terrific trail wanderability for exploring afoot in the woods, with the added allure of the wind protected island cove and Otter Pond Feeder stream adjacent for easy daypaddling in any conditions.
Add to that more than enough room for our sprawling basecamp; one 4-man tent, one 2-man tent, Hennessy hammock, NRS Riverwing tarp, two Travel Hammocks for dayuse lounging, roll-a-table, 4 folding chairs, 60L food barrel. . . I’d call it everything but the kitchen sink, except that we had two nestling 5-gallon buckets for wash and rinse cookwear cleaning. Kitchen sinks.
Our site predecessors had left a clean and tidy site, including the traditional pile of firewood for the next comer, although that pile included the seemingly inevitable selection of too-green or too punky or half-burned greenpunky drek.
Some hatchet and saw work and goodly fires over the next few days saw the sodden & green junkwood slowly consumed, and on departure we left in place an evening’s worth of neatly stacked kindling starter and dry hardwood.
I take a certain enjoyment from leaving a campsite better then I found it, and the slow fire-consumed destruction of a drekwood pile, invigorated by a good bed of coals and a bit of sawyering and chopping, is my site cleanup of choice.
The long summer evening devolved into occasional swims, woods wandering and quiet reading time. That quiet reading time is a hallmark of family trips, each of us settled in our own space and place (chair or hammock, in the sun or in the shade), nose buried in a book. LeavemealoneI’mreading.
I was pleased to see that one of Cooper’s selections was Solzhenitsyn’s “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”, if only because it meant a pleasant re-read if I ran short of the printed page.
I didn’t, but it was a close thing, as I greedily devoured Sari Nusseibeh’s “Once Upon A Country – A Palestinian Life” (great read, and eye opening to encounter something as thoughtful and humanistic in a sea of propaganda from both sides) and Wheelan’s “Invading Mexico, America’s Continental Dream and the Mexican War 1846-1848” (interesting largely for insights into the Polk presidency and the actions of soon-to-be familiar names – Lee, Grant, Jackson, Sherman, Beauregard, Jefferson Davis. Lee’s exploits in that conflict point to his future tactical brilliance).
A no-rush Tuesday morning put us afloat with a daytrip gearload of chairs, picnic lunch and inflatable raft (too much - way too much - fun to leave at home on lake trips), skirting the next cove downlake (site #8 – Boulder Landing/65% and site #9 – Proboscis Cove/70%) enroute to a stop-and-swim-and-read daydawdle.
We paid a visit to another favored and familiar site, #10 (Bocce Greens/95%). Bocce Greens offers a quarter mile of wrap-around sandy beach (shallow and perfect for young children wading lake play) fronting an immense, open though slightly buggy conifer site, before backtracking to ensconce for the day on “Picnic Point”.
Picnic Point isn’t a designated site but simply a fine wrap-around sandy beach between sites 9 & 10 that is ideal for dayuse (BTW – all site names are our own, and do not appear on any “official” map or guide. Site number 5 or 6 just isn’t as recollectable or memorably descriptive as “Mal Logement” or “Rocky Point”).
As Diane and the boys hove to on Picnic Point I continued downlake, stopping to investigate site #12 (Big Haven/90%). Another choice site that loses points only due to size and wanderability (small), and that it is sited on a completely open bluff exposed and unprotected from southwest winds. If the bugs were bad, the party small and the wind forecast moderate it might be a site of choice.
Departing site 12 on my solo explore those SW winds were picking up, kicking small whitecaps, aimed conveniently straight uplake at Picnic Point.
Irrefreakingsistible. I pushed the Malecite into the wind, made the lee-shore calm at the far end of the lake at Camp Bliss and turned downwind, setting the full sized Spirit Sail and readied the canoe for an e-ticket free ride.
Woo-Hoo! Sail fully windfilled (and bent over at a 45 in gusts), cruising fast downwind, sipping a beverage and smoking a cigar – solo canoeing doesn’t get any better. Well, OK, a foot control rudder would be nice, but at least I finally found a use for a single blade on open water - stroke, sip, rudder, puff and watch the shoreline stream past.
Hmmm, a rudder on the Indy for downwind sailing might be a fun outfitting experiment, and I just happen to have one in the shop. Yo Joby, when are you back in town?
The effortless miles sailing back to Picnic Point were too few too fast, although having run off with the beverage daycooler the family was thirstily happy to see me return. After a picnic lunch, swim, read, swim, read afternoon we sailed all four boats back to basecamp by means of Spirit Sails, golf umbrellas and jury-rigged wind catchers. I think I have the family sailing tantalized as planned.
After a too-fine night of family fireside we awoke on Wednesday to find the rarest of Little Tupper rarities, a daylasting calm. With the lake invitingly glasslike a do-as-you-please day of solo paddling, swimming and general lazing commenced.
During a playful circumnavigation of the island cove I noted what would turn out to be the only other occupied site on Little Tupper, #2 (Island Cove North/85%). Espying a lovely strip-built kayak I paddled closer and a grey-beard brother strolled out of camp to hail me.
“Brother” because I could sense a certain simpatico gregariousness. Sensed truly, as he invited me ashore and we talked boats, outfitting, paddle-camping, recent weather and the like. A Duckhead at heart.
Greybeard’s wife soon joined us, equally gracious and conversationally gifted. If only they had had a dog I could now instantly recalled at least one name; they were, hmmm, Dick maybe, and, uh, Jill or Julie. Why is it that I can remember any dog’s name on a single meeting and almost never that of a human? Relative importance I guess.
Back acamp we settled into just what the doctor order – the lazy days of base camping. Diane took the Indy for a long solo daypaddle, books were read, woodswanders were undertaken, swims and raft play occurred, hammocks were nodded off in, and firewood was gathered. Yea buddy, this is the life fantastic.
A smattering of rain, from the east and portending things to come, propelled us to secure the boats, waterproof the camp and batten down the hatches, as we settled in under the 19’ x 19’ RiverWing, emerging during pitter patter breaks to stoke the fire before retiring with good books and good flashlights (Princeton Tec Attitudes with headstraps, 150 honest hours on the batteries, 1500 promised-and-counting on the bulb) to our respective abodes for a night of reading atent.
Thursday morn dawned foggy and socked in, suggesting a day-long drear. No worries; we have a big parawing, four sets of good rain gear (finally, now that the boys are near full sized), a library of reading material and the ubiquitous 8X10 blue poly tarp foresightedly spread atop a day’s worth of fire wood.
There is something especially memorable about maintaining a 12-hour fire on a damp, rainy day. This one was started at breakfast and lasted throughout the day, the evening and into the night. Reminiscent of an all-day rainy fire with our old tripper companion Palmer Family at Merchants Millpond years ago: http://www.npmb.com/cms2/content.php?article.258
After a night of intermittent showers, under the tarp and back out to the campfire games, ranging from Botticelli (Ty’s Sherlock Holmes was inexplicably the best stumper) to a bizarre brotherly 20-questions game of guessing fractions in the millioneth to typically memorable and corrupted family charades (how can someone not get Great Wall of “Chin” “A”) we turned in, thankful of fleece and Gote-tex and wistful of better foul weather tents than our aging Eurekas.
Note – Cooper’s Hennessy hammock proved to be the dry ideal of foul weather habitat.
Friday dawned semi-sunny but iffy, as the approaching front direction had turned from the NE to a more typical and paddle-out beneficial (though dark clouded) westerly.
With gear partly dried – no sense in going to extremes, since everything get a thorough hang/dry/repack at home – we bid our adieus to Rocky Point and sailed in the now accustomed effortless manner back to the launch, covering the fortuitously four mile downwind straightaway in a scant 30 minutes of not really paddling. Oh yeah!
I’m convinced – I want the option of deploying a Spirit Sail on any boat I take onto open water. It’s about time to recoup the yang payback I have in the bank from years of yin paddling hard into the wind. Gimme a tailwind. With interest.
Back at the Point Camp launch/Whitney HQ we did the divide and conquer, hauling boats and gear back to the van in packed-first order, and as I wove the 4-boat macramé specific-order tie downs (ayuh, two belly lines and bow/stern lines for each boat) Diane and the boys hauled and packed gear.
Another joy of practiced family camping; everyone knows what to do, what goes where in the van’s cargo area, and don’t ever mess with Dad’s tie down rope sequence.
Done almost in the nick of time. Gear loaded and boats racked I walked up to the launch restroom to change from quick-dry Patagonia paddling wear to more comfortable long-drive cotton. No sooner had I changed then the skies opened up and I changed back for the driving rain deluge walk to the van.
Denouement – No Gilligan’s, No Lilydippers
We were comprehensively indecisive about our return route. Down 12/28 for the traditional stop at Gilligan’s for ice cream with MadMike, or west towards Watertown for the off chance of an impromptu with Joe Lilydipper and the lovely Sheree.
Regrettably neither of the above, as we cadged together a route down the Northway (oddly and inadvertently through Colonie NY, where long unseen relatives reside) and across to our familiar I-81/I-83 route home.
Mike, Joe and Sheree – We missed seeing Y’all (to bring a southern inflection to it.). And our alternate route home wasn’t half as much fun as a visit with friends. Next time.
More Photos of this trip: http://good-times.webshots.com/album/559974911BStzLi
Gedi Convertible Helmet
PFD's (Life Jackets)