Canadian Canoe Routes

Lila Traverse August 4 - 6, 2010
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Author:  WillisB [ August 10th, 2010, 5:49 am ]
Post subject:  Lila Traverse August 4 - 6, 2010

Lila Traverse – August 4, 5, 6 2010 -- The Whitney Wilderness Area, Adirondacks, New York

I finally managed the Lila Traverse, a trip that has been on my mind for a year.

Day 1

I set out from the Whitney Headquarters at about 9:30. The conditions were warm and very hazy with the normal constant wind whipping down the lake. I paddled to the far side to minimize the effects of the wind and headed toward the Rock Pond Outlet. This part of the trip was nothing special, just fighting the headwind.

A young couple in a tandem entered the outlet a few yards before me. They slowly drew away until they reached a beaver dam that was submerged earlier in the year and has now reared its ugly head. The couple was from Rochester where he works at a canoe shop. They were camping on LTL and were just exploring. We had to drag our boats over the dam. I was on the right side and noticed that there was a spot where water was flowing over and they might be able to shoot the dam on their return trip. We then hit the big dam and had to get over that. Just above that dam another was showing. We were able to paddle around the dam through a break. The Burn Road Portage hadn’t changed except the water levels were much lower.

I continued on to the island campsite where I spent a sweaty night. It really was too warm. I was making some Mountain House Lasagna for supper. Instead of stirring the hot water in I just sealed the bag and shook it. While this has always worked before it didn’t this time. The bag popped open and some boiling hot contents hit my left foot through the sandal, causing a small burn.

Day 2

Thursday dawned warm, humid and very hazy. As I was taking down the tent it started to rain. It stopped as I crossed to the Hardigan Portage. It started again as I was setting our across the muck hole with my big pack. It continued on and off until I was just about finished with my second carry.

As I was crossing on the left edge of the muck hole, carefully staying on what looked like relatively solid plant bearing surface I suddenly went in up to my right knee. Yuck. I extricated myself and continued. When I returned for the second carry I saw a trail on my left as I reached the muck hole that provided a much better path. It was not apparent when coming in from Rock Pond. I recommend you look for it. It will be on your right when starting. It is only a couple yards over, but much firmer.

I want to take this time to thank Ranger Zurek for putting up the signs and markers. I would probably have missed a turn on this portage if they were not there.

My first carry with the pack took about 45 minutes, the second carry with the barrel and canoe about an hour and fifteen minutes due to more rest stops. I saw some deer tracks that were at least three times larger than any I had seen before. Either it was a huge deer or a young moose. I will contact the ranger to see what he thinks.

The sun came out and a breeze started up after the rain. It was sunny and breezy as I paddled the length of Hardigan Pond to the next portage.

Another muck hole.

Freaking Wonderful.

I was careful to stay as far over as I could and still stepped into a hole and went up to my right knee again. As I was resting after getting everything to the Salmon Lake Outlet, gazing at the beaver dam just a few yards away I would have to cross, I wondered just why the heck I was doing this. I was tired, my sugar was probably low, and I was just, did I say, tired? I ate some gorp, drank some water, loaded the canoe and set out for a ten second paddle to the dam where I unloaded the canoe moved everything below the dam and set out again. After a couple of bends in the stream I came upon another dam where I was able to drag the boat with gear through a rivulet on the right.

From that point on I had a very pleasant paddle down this stream. The current was gentle, the breezes were nice and the weeds were slowing me down. I had to look carefully where I was going, looking for the currents that showed the best path through the weeds.

I came upon a spot where several boulders were sticking out of the water in the right half of the stream. I noticed one still under water to my left, marked with flecks of green and red from past encounters with canoes.

I then came to a point which turned out to be near the Little Salmon. At this point the stream broke into several channels going around large brush covered hummocks. I made my best guess as to which way to go and got lucky. I soon came to the Little Salmon and headed straight across to the first visible campsite. It was very nice, raised up a bit with a nice view of the water. I spent a restful evening sitting around and finishing Ivanhoe. Just after dark a thunderstorm came through. Lots of noise and lightning. Not much rain.

Day 3

I set out in the morning sun and paddled to the next campsite where the next portage starts.

This campsite is nowhere as nice as the other. It has no view of the lake and very little breeze.

I started out with my big pack, went through the brush along the trail until I came to the road where we turn left. About one hundred yards down this road I came upon a big pile of bear dung which I photographed. It was full of berries.

This carry is fairly short and easy. I took some pictures of the stream cascading down the rocks near where the trail turns for the final yards to Lily Pad Pond. If you stand on the bridge and look at the falls and haven’t notice the turn to Lily Pad Pond you have gone too far.

It was still nice and sunny as I started to cross the pond. Clouds were moving in and it started to pour about two thirds of the way across.

The carry to Shingle Shanty brook is all about the hill. It just seems to climb and climb until you get near the top where things open up with ferns, shrubs, and scattered trees. It is really quite pretty. No picture of this as my camera was stored away due to the constant drizzle.

I saw a large hole which had been freshly dug at the edge of the trail near the top it was a foot and a half across and looked to be over two feet deep. There were some bumble bees in the hole. I wonder if a bear dug up their nest?

The put in a Shingle Shanty was easy with a nice little sand beach. Paddling down Shingle Shanty was a true joy. I put up a lot of ducks and saw one doe nibbling at some shrubs along the shore. This creek twists and turns. A Wenonah Prism is not the ideal boat for this, yet I did rather well using a straight shaft paddle along with lots of sweep and rudder strokes.

There were two beaver dams that I had to cross. All the others had been breached and I was able to shoot through them. The second dam that I had to cross was in an interesting spot not too far from the lake. There was a small dam with a sand bar to the left of it and to the right the stream went into multiple narrow channels. I got out to take a look and saw signs that someone else had crossed here with a canoe. While the current down this channel wasn’t great it looked sufficient and I took it. I lucked out again. After a couple of turns it widened out and was fine. A little farther down I could see a narrow channel with some significant current which I assume was the rest of the stream from the beaver dam. It was a very narrow channel. I am glad I took the left at the dam.

As I approached Lake Lila the wind kept getting stronger and stronger. Coming out of the stream I came into whitecaps and rollers. I made my way across this tricky stretch of water bearing slightly right to the lea of the island. I went around the island to the right and turned left to make my way to the lea shore of the lake. I then turned right and went to the take out. I unchained my bike which I had chained to a tree Wednesday and biked back to the headquarters to pick up my car.

It was a great trip.

Next year I will do the whole loop continuing down Low’s lake and the Bog river then back up to Round Pond and LTL.

Author:  ericalynne [ July 31st, 2011, 6:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lila Traverse August 4 - 6, 2010

Here is my trip report from Little Tupper Lake to Lake Lila route which I did in August of 2006. This trip was inspired by a photograph of Robin Lauer's and greatly enhanced by information and MAPS! from Mike McCrea. Because of the long portages, and going solo, I tried to pare down a la Light Jay. My pack weighed 30 pounds and that included 12 pounds of food for the four full days and two half days I was out. I was able to do the portages, which total about five linear miles, in two trips. The other person who helped me with the trip was Dick Galster, who is an Adirondack boat builder. Many, many thanks to these friends.

Because I had to fly into NY state, I rented a canoe from Raquette River Outfitters in Tupper Lake, who dropped the canoe off at the input and picked it up and the take out. It was a light weight Winona and handled very nicely. The interior has a lot of long portages, to the point where it really felt like a backpacking trip, only carrying a canoe.

It was a great solo moderate wilderness trip. The weather was great, only a little rain and wind near the end. I saw and heard loons, mature bald eagles, deer, black bear, ducks, lots of songbirds, red squirrel, chipmunk, grouse and chicks; also saw tracks of a moose, bear and mink, rabbit and red squirrel. Found a snake egg in some old bear scat. Watched two female hummingbirds fight over a piece of orange survey tape, the victor kept sticking her bill at the tape all over, quite frustrated. Also, saw no one in the "interior," and it had a feeling of real wilderness even though cut-over and not all that far from civilization. The area was filled with ripe blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.

I put in around 1 pm at Little Tupper Lake and spent the first night on the island site on Rock Pond, which was beautiful. The next day I only got as far as Hardigan Pond...I came down with food poisoning (thanks to the spaghetti served by a friend the night before the trip) and was sick for about 30 hours with chills and cold sweats and stomach
pains. I spent the entire day just portaging to Hardigan pond, arriving about 2:30 pm. I set up the tent and spent the afternoon trying to nap. Felt a little better in the evening and paddled around the pond; it is really a pretty little pond. Lots of bottle gentian in bloom, which is one of my favorite flowers. Somehow lost my only utensil at this camp and had to whittle a spoon from a maple branch the next morning to eat my oatmeal to use for the rest of the trip. That night was very cold and I struggled to stay warm, even donned by life jacket.

Next day got to Little Salmon Lake. There is a new camp near the outflow, the ranger told me about; he said it was the best of the ones on LSL. I got there about 1:30 and by this time was so sick I couldn't even unload the canoe. I just lay down in the sun for an hour or so before I could get enough energy to set up a camp. I couldn't eat anything for about 24 hours - just gatorade and hard candies and one chicken noodle cup-a-soup. Then suddenly, miraculously, around 4 pm I felt better. It was almost like turning a switch. I portaged the canoe over to Lillypad Pond and also hiked the roads back there. The outlet from LSL comes down over some beautiful rocky falls just before it hits the portage road, and I spent some time meditating in that beautiful spot.

The next day I got to Lake Lila - what a beautiful lake. Almost no one was on it - possibly five parties at most and everyone was quiet. I camped at #19, which was a beautiful site, if overused. Still I was impressed at how clean the entire area was for the amount of use it gets on weekends. I had the impression, when looking out at the water
from the campsite, that this was the same location from Robin took his photo, although those reeds were all about the lake.

The last full day I spent exploring Lila by water and by foot. I did not get up the mountain because the winds came up so strong I couldn't safely get across the lake. I learned later that Dick climbed the mountain and actually saw what was most likely me (a solo paddler out at 2 pm.) I just enjoyed myself and then paddled out around noon the next day. In spite of being sick, I had a great time. The portages are as bad as described, but I really only have trouble with their length, and not the mud (ankle to mid-calf and if you are not careful, mid-thigh) or beaver dams or narrow paths, etc. And once you get through the mud, the long portages are on high dry ground. If I were to do this again, I think I would plan to spend more time exploring the "interior" section.

The "interior" campsites are pretty small and minimal, but I am quite used to paddling in areas where there are no campsites at all and you make do with what you can find, so I was quite comfortable. I have a small solo tent that fits just about anywhere. I don't think this trip is worth anyone coming down from Canada for, but it you are stuck stateside and are willing to put up with the long portages, it is a great trip to make.

Author:  WillisB [ August 1st, 2011, 7:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lila Traverse August 4 - 6, 2010

Ouch! Food poisoning sucks.

I preferred the Little Salmon site that is right across from where you enter the lake. It is slightly elevated and has great views of the lake.

Author:  ericalynne [ August 1st, 2011, 7:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lila Traverse August 4 - 6, 2010

The ranger told me about that site, but I was so literally sick and tired that just headed straight for one I knew was there. Good to know for the future.


Author:  WillisB [ August 1st, 2011, 8:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lila Traverse August 4 - 6, 2010

f I was with a group i would definitely take them to the site you used. It is flat and has plenty of room for multiple tents. The site I used has room for only 1 tent.

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