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PostPosted: August 18th, 2010, 10:55 am 

Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 1825
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
Little Tupper Lake/Round Lake
Whitney Wilderness, Adirondacks
7/26 – 7/31, 2010

Mike – Monarch (’92 MRC) ... 4283HjYQTv

Diane – Pammy (soloized Pamlico 145T) ... 4283XigZPQ

Tyler – Sea Wimp (soloized ’77 OT Sockeye) ... 4283oEoAQR ... 4283VCYBOA

Cooper – Rambler (soloized ’99 Phoenix Vagabond) ... 4283wRfmjO ... 4283bjssrz

All with rudders and sail mounts.

This was the first multi-day trip with all four of us in decked, ruddered hulls; more typically we are in four solo canoes….um, two solo canoes and two solizied tandems. Gear space is a non-issue in that guise. Sixty some cumulative feet of open boat will hold a LOT of gear.

Those giant 115L drybags are not much use in decked boat packing. Acknowledging our decked hull future I had picked up a variety of used dry bags in smaller sizes to augment the ones we already had. And we used them all; a variety of 20-30L compression drybags I picked up for a song ($5 each), 55L’s, 30L’s, even a few tapered sacks I picked up here and there used.

We needed every one we had, and then one. Or maybe two.

One or two more long skinny drybags would be a help in underdeck packing. Maybe add a couple of sil-nylon stuff sacks to ease the way into the smaller dry bags. And a 30L barrel or two instead of the 60.

Time for a some research.

After a little at-home trial and error all four boats were test fitted each paddler’s day gear, tent, sleeping bag, pad, clothes and some portion of common gear. Marx got it wrong, it’s “From each according to their ability to haul gear weight, to each according to their deck height and storage capacity”.

Open boats, even with spray covers, definitely win that round.

We had planned to aim for a Tuesday put in as mid-week crowd avoidance, but the forecast for Monday is too good to pass up.

Weather Undergound says:
Monday – 76f high, NW winds 13, clear and 0% chance of precip.
Tuesday – 81f high, west winds 8, clear and 10% chance of precip.

Yeah, a Monday put in sounds better and better.

Staging and packing gear on Saturday (high of 105.4) and Sunday (high of 103.2f) provoked its own challenge – developing the mindset to pack for the anticipated one-season-cooler climate.

Packing fleece while trying not to drip never-evaporating beads of sweat into the clothes bag demonstrates great optimism. But, it’s done. All our bags are packed, we’re ready to go. A 5am Monday wake up will see us paddling in by early afternoon.


Monday 7/26

Monday’s drive up to the Adirondacks was, after many years along the same route, the usual. On the road 5:30ish, pull into the Little Tupper launch at 2:00, with stops at now-familiar places for breakfast and gas.

A check of the registry at the Little Tupper launch reveals a scant few people on Little Tupper or Round Lake; a couple of campers, a scattering of circuit trippers and a handful of day paddlers.

We opt to stick with plan A – an exploration of Round Lake. This area in the Whitney Wilderness opened to camping only a few years ago, and despite the best laid paddling plans we’ve yet to set eyes on it.

North on Little Tupper to the Round Lake stream, and once more into the wind.

The wind is NW as promised, but it seems a tad more than 13. It always does when paddling into a headwind with a loaded boat. That “13” NW is aimed almost perfectly down the full fetch of the lake. Whitecaps, confused chop and glad are we to all be paddling decked boats with rudders.

Scoping out the campsites along the east side of Round Lake #3 was the only site occupied and we continued into the wind and waves to the far north end of the lake. We’ll need to switch sites after a couple of nights (3 max per site) but after investigating the open sites on the east side of the lake we have a plan.

Camp goes up slowly as we dawdle and explore, no reason to rush, and an evening’s cookery fire stretches into moonrise (a singularly bright object in the east sky that startled Diane when it first emerged above the ridge).

The mosquitoes are out in minor force after dusk, and we are all tired from a long day, so it’s early to bed, all of us looking forward to reclining on a Thermarest with a good book and a flashlight.


Tuesday dawns misty but promising a fine day. Warm, clear and breezy as predicted. As much as we appreciate the comparative cool of the Adirondacks we also relish temps warm enough for frequent swimming. Tuesday proves perfect.

We each practice, together and separately, our family camping specialty. Dawdling.

Each of us arises separately, over the course of the morn; so awakening salutations and breakfastings constitute a 2 hour event in which we independently worship the efficiency of the Jet-Boil.

A morning campfire card game of Oh Hell (aka Tee Pee) ensues with Diane, Tyler and Cooper, the first of many. ... 4283awJtaM

I attended to some campsite architecture. A tensioned center line positioned for the tarp here, day hammocks strung here and here, tidy up around camp and organize the boats for a day paddle. ... 4283WHyVte

It’s both breezy and warmish. We have our choice of warm and sunny wind sheltered area, or cool and shady lake vista exposed to the west winds. After a solid month of 90f+ and mid-Atlantic humidity we opted most often for cool and breezy with a view.

Looking at the topo map it appears that sites 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 along the eastern shore all once had camps/cabins/structures of some sort, and all have trails or old road access. Great wanderability and hiking.

The same once-upon-a-time camps or cabins holds true for many of the better sites on Little Tupper as well. It stands to reason that those structures would have been sited on prime spots. Some of those old cabin sites on Little Tupper are long enough gone to not appear on the topo, but the outlines, foundations or chimneys remain as testament to another time.

Site 7 on Little Tupper fascinates me. Those old chimney stacks, especially the one on steep lake’s edge facing the water. What was the structure that anchored that fireplace? A boat house with a massive lake facing fireplace?

Did the guys hang out there at the turn of the century? I bet they did, leaning against their boats, shooting the bull, talking boats, boots, rods & guns and Roosevelt (Teddy).

I have always wondered what the atmosphere of camp and cabin life was like 100 years ago or during the 20’s. Or the Prohibition era; umm, close enough to the border to take advantage of smuggled Canadian whiskey. I’ll bet those were interesting times on the Adirondack lakes.

Tuesday’s amazing weather produces a constant parade of daytrippng paddlers on the lake; canoes, kayaks and even a couple of small sailing craft. The opportunity for wind protection and easy circumnavigability makes Round Lake ideal for day paddling.

The beach at the northeast end of the lake is a focal point for daypaddlers landing to hike to the falls on Round Lake Stream, and we have opportunity to meet a variety of fellow paddlers young and old as they come ashore on the beach.

We tidy up camp and set out for a day paddle to explore the campsites on the west side of the lake. Sites #7 and 8 on the west side of the lake fell quickly to our critical site scoring criteria: Tent Capacity, Landing Ease, Views & Proximity, Bugginess, Swimming Potential, Site Wanderability, Sun/Shade mix.

Diane and the boys headed back after site 8 to resume a hard fought game of Tee Pee
(Cumulative Tee Pee score: Tyler – 1, Cooper – 1, Diane – 0)

I continued on in circumnavigation, staying within 50’ of the shore and stopping to check out every site on the west side of the lake.

On the McCrea Family Camping scale of 100 points no site on the west side of the lake rates higher than a 65. The east side of the lake is the place to be.

Back acamp the wind increases and the clouds roll in dark as a front pushes through. We down batten down some hatches on the tents and Hennesey and put up a Cookes sil-nylon Tundra Tarp over a ridgeline, guying the sides out near the ground for wind driven rain protection.

The only available tarp orientation is open end to the prevailing wind, so we lace out that open end (blessed are the many Tundra Tarp loops) around the support tree with some spare 3m cord and wrap a 10x10 Campmore nylon cheapie around the windward end tree as a rain/wind break. ... 4283MFoEEy

Just in time, as the wind increases, the sky deadens and the first drops of rain spatter down horizontally as forewarning of things to come. The answer may not be blowing in the wind, but the rain will be.

A pluvial pause ensues, just long enough for two bouts each of pie iron cookery. Just like the card game the boys are ever competitive – “Tell me this isn’t perfect”….”Good try, but this is the perfect pie iron pizza pocket”. Round II was even more hotly debated.

Then the anticipated deluge let loose and we supped dry and protected under Mr. Cooke’s excellent handiwork while the rest of the campsite flooded with standing water.

What really saved us though was the sacrificial 10x10 Campmore cheapie wrapped around the tree as windbreak. It looks none the worse for wear having been wrapped around a stout hemlock and tied off taut to various Cooke loops. Those many exterior loops on the Tundra tarp do come in handy.

I think the CCS 12.5x16 tundra tarp and the wind break Campmore now constitutes my tarpage and wind break of choice

Lake tripping can often can be windy, coastal and bay trips are windy more often than not. Constant wind in camp can be physically draining and having a windbreak tarp adds a degree of relief from the buffeting.


Thursday dawn grey and cloudy, but soon gives way to partly sunny and breezy. Our raingear dries quickly on the line and another day of camplife begins as Diane and the boys settle in for more fiercefought card gaming, each of them providing their own style of color commentary with each card played.

It’s a noisy game of card when they play.

For me a little campsite housekeeping, organizing gear, tying out a drying line and putzing around making things look more presentable.

The clouds clear and the post-front day proves bright, breezy and cool. I’m still in long pants and longsleeve shirt by early afternoon.

(Tee Pee update: Ty 4, Di 2, Coop 1. It is noted that Tyler is somewhat self-congratulatory in the, uh, post-victory analysis of his winning strategy)

Finished with their latest bout of cards we gather at the beach for a four boat family sail down the lake.

All is going swimmingly (poor choice of adjective) until I nearly dumped the Monarch with the Pacific Action Sail cleated up and admittedly unattended.

I was busy taking photographs of Diane and the boys, sailing off afore me, with the camera bag open, both hands full and the sheets cleated off when I unexpectedly (distractedly) exited the wind shadow at the north end of the lake. The PA sail filled rather suddenly and an abrupt veering lurch took me on a surprising side surf.

La, la, la, there’s the view through the PA sail ... 4283hpxUGz

And there’s the family ... 4283FmVSQH

And suddenly, oh badword, there’s the wind. That sideways wind catch was so startling that I stomped the rudder into, um, reverse.

That being the reverse of what I needed to bring the hull back around downwind - the rudder controls on the Wimp and Rambler are reversed, push left to go right (easier to counterbalance the hull when sailing). No so (yet) on the Monarch. But I am now acclimated to reversed controls.

Another bad word was said as the Monarch veered further into an impending swim. Said softly, as I was hoping no one had noticed and didn’t want to call attention. Everyone was out ahead of me and I thought I had escaped any witness:

Lean the hull out of a precipitous turn – still holding the camera – correct the rudder, drop the camera in the bag, uncleat the sail lines and drop the now wildly flapping PA sail.

Take a deep breath, drop the heart rate and put up the Spirit Sail.

Much better. The more I use the Pacific Action Sail the more I prefer the Spirit Sail. I swore to install and try to use the PA sail on every trip for a full year, but I don’t know if I’ll use it again when tripping. I’ll put it on for wind promising day trips when I have float bags under the decks, but for tripping purposes, when I am more adverse to risk, the Spirit Sail does everything I need with far less hassle.

We sail down to the inlet stream, island hop our way over to the wind protected western shore and noodle back to camp in the western wind eddies.

Back for another spell of each to their own, wandering and hammock reading, slowly coalescing around the fire for another potless dinner, this one courtesy of the Purcell Trench Grill

Dinner evolves into a lingering campfire night of “20 Questions” (“Eastern Hemlock”, “Nuclear Bomb”, “Gateway Arch” “Conestoga Wagon” and other oddities. All achieved within the requisite 20 questions, despite a long semantic debate about the difference between “solid” and “a solid”.

Those casual days in camp and lingering nights round the campfire were courtesy of a minimal bug population, perhaps the least buggy trip we’ve had in the Adirondacks. Mosquitoes at dusk the first couple of nights, but otherwise buzz and bite free. Name your fly de jour annoyance, they weren’t around. Amazing.

Amazing buglessness. Amazing weather. Warm enough out in the sun for swimming during the day. Always a breeze. Cool enough in the shade to be comfortable. Trails to wander on (See the falls). Sandy beaches. Boats to be paddled. Hammocks to sway in and read. Fantastic views. Plenty of time and freedom to be alone, and plenty of time to be together.

It’s why we do this.

The Travel hammocks are in near constant use as quiet reading outposts. ... t-hammock/

Those things pack down to the size of a softball and weigh just a few ounces. ... 4283PqspqD

I discover a delightful coincidence - the minimum between-trees spread for the Tundra Tarp ridgeline is the same as that of the Travel Hammocks. ... 4283mPdEGd

The hammock goes up in less than 60 seconds and can be unhooked from either (or both) trees in even less time, opening the full extent of the space under the tarp.

Hammock hanging under the tarp, wind protected and comfy. I see this combination occurring in my future whenever afforded two conveniently spaced trees, providing the allure of a mid-day nap or a rainy day reading on solo trips. The bright panel colors are quite cheery, especially on an otherwise grey day.

Friday dawns cool, partly cloudy and breezy. It’s like déjà vu all over again. The weather promises to hold fair and we have enough “insurance day” food to sustain us for another day. It doesn’t get any better than this in the Adirondacks in late July and the immediate & unanimous breakfast consensus is to stay another day.

Woo wee, time to test paddle and sail every boat on the beach.

We’ve now seen and rated every site on Round Lake except #’s 2 and 3. Time to sail down for a look to see if they are yet unoccupied.

I’ll take the Sea Wimp first. I love that hull. I like the Monarch plenty, but the Wimp is the best sailing hull we own, and the most comfortable, and the most forgiving. ... 4283YLlzjk

I enjoy an outstanding sail down to the inlet, faster and windier the further I went, until the flexible Spirit Sail battens were arced over full force and the Wimp speeding along, but still comfortably stable and well within hand. The ease and simplicity of Spirit Sais is hard to beat for downwind cruising.

Aim the speedily cruising Wimp at a wind sheltered cove at the far end of the lake, curve in on the rudder like an eddy turn and drop the sail.

Finest kind. Sometimes the magic works, and when it does it’s sweet.

I make my way back up the exposed eastern edge of the lake, enjoying the Wimp in the wind and wave. Wander back to camp, lay in a hammock and read a bit and head back out to paddler the Rambler (nee Vagabond).

I sail the Rambler down to a cove where I had espied a driftwood pile and gather a couple nights worth of dry wood. One night for us, one for the next folks.

Damn, I do nice work, even when pressed for time. ... 4283jsNhpF

The Rambler is comfortable (still needs knee bumpers), paddles easily and sails beautifully. It is very responsive to the rudder and, surprisingly, more maneuverable than the Wimp or the Monarch. It’s a fun boat when outfitted as a solo.

We burdened it down with a heavy load of gear on the way in and it handled the wind, wave and chop well. ... 4283FwaWBi

For anything more challenging I’d want a sprayskirt or at least a bow spray shield. Or less gear weight; it hauled all of Cooper’s gear and an overly generous test paddling portion of the common equipment.

It fits Cooper well in both size and temperament, and he looked mighty comfortable whenever he was in the boat ... 4283bjssrz ... 4283DblyRe

It is easier to get comfortable when you have everything you want at your fingertips ... 4283jsNhpF ... 4283UOKoge

I think the Rambler will see a lot of water time as Cooper’s primary lake and coastal bay boat. The boys and I are planning a mid-winter Assateague trip. I have a bros-and-in-laws group coastal camper planned as well and I can already see one of his uncles paddling the Rambler on that trip.

And there are a couple of local decked boat aficionados I would like to put in the Rambler to elicit their opinions, just to make sure I’m not suffering from conformational bias and am simply too enamored of my own handiwork.

Back acamp, there’s only one more boat to paddle. Pammy. What can I say, Joby was right – the Pamlico 145T it is one of the best plastic rec kayaks for single paddler use.

Soloized, retrofitted with a single trim-adjustable center seat and cockpit stiffening utility sail thwart, it’s a decent little pocket tripper. It hauled in a decent gear load with surprising grace, took superbly to the sail and even performed well as a heavyweight’s daytripper. Not too shabby for a hull that is easy to soloized (it loses weight in the process) and easy to find used. ... 4283GBvPUd

Another lingering campfire night, seated closer and closer to the fire as the temperatures dropped into the see-your-breath 40’s, we retire planning an early morning take down and paddle out.

That was not to be. A 4am nature call revealed a thick fog bank descending with limited visibility. By dawn we should be well socked in. Socked in and saturated.

We had taken down the tarp and hammocks and organized the site for a quick getaway the night before, but the tents are all dewy wet, and a bit of a morning linger and dry time seems in order. We dawdle drying and packing until mid-morning and finally load the boats, hoping for a final day’s westerly on which to sail down the lake.

Calm and placid instead we noodle down the eastern edge of the lake, finally having a look at site #’s 3 and 2.

If you are paddling Round Lake in the Whitney Wilderness head east.

Another familiar load out and trek home. Through Long Lake, Blue Mountain Lake, Raquette Lake and Old Forge. Ice cream and malteds at Gilligan’s Island in Sherburne. We missed our usually hookup with Sherburnian paddler MadMike, knowing he’d be out on the water somewhere on such a Saturday.

Reentry into syphilization is always a shock to the system, and heading out through the heart of the Adirondacks and the Mohawk Valley is worth the two lane travel to start the trip home

I much prefer a slow re-entry. The longer I’ve been out, the longer I need to acclimate to the east coast megalopolis. Eventually the inter-State looms, and we are harshly reminded that the frenzy of the Boston-to-Richmond megalopolis metastasizes further into the once hinterlands every day.

The ride home was both amusing and disheartening. Disheartening because we kept coming upon highway Parcheesi blocks, and it seemed as though the passing lane blockage drivers were invariably yammering on a cell phone and exhibiting zero situational awareness.

Amusing because cars behind our big & tall behemoth of van and boats would take insane chances to squeeze in front of us.

“Congratulations, you’ve moved up one whole space! See that line of 30 cars up ahead? Good luck with that”

Or, realizing we were not the problem, take even more insane chances. I’ve thought about getting a large-font decal to span the entire rear bumper “NOTICE: This van has a 5.4L V8. It’ll do 80 mph all day long, with punch left to spare. It isn’t us. Pass with care”

To the guy driving the restored 60’s Porsche convertible who redlined past a semi on the blind breakdown lane of an inside curve – you’ll go out in a blaze of glory someday. Please try not to take the rest of us with you.


With four Sherpas hauling the van was disgorged of boat and gear load in short order. ... 4283MBrZIB ... 4283bPIQna

The everything inspected, dried, repacked and in-its-place put away took longer. A couple of tweaks to the boat outfitting, a couple of tweaks to the gear outfitting and before ya know it we were packing for the next trip.

PostPosted: August 19th, 2010, 10:16 am 

Joined: July 22nd, 2010, 4:49 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Central New York
Nice! Thanks for the report.


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