2011 Adirondack Canoe Classic
This canoe race is a big deal. Even if you've done it 29 times, 20 times, or only once; everytime, it's a big deal.
With no less than 57 sponsors and hundreds of volunteers coordinating everything from safety to environmental responsibility, this one event stands out as the gold standard of canoe/kayaking paddling events.
Kudos to Grace and Brian McDonnell of MAC's Canoe Livery.
Without their devotion this event would not be the success it is and has been for decades. Imagine the task of coordinating the efforts of the NYS DEC, law enforcement personnel, amateur radio operators ( little or no cell phone access along the race course), and search and rescue teams.
This is not the minor leagues folks; this is a big deal!
While this year marks the 7th time Leigh and I have done "the 90 miler" it is the 5th time as registered participants. Our first two times were done as bandits
; the colloquialism for those paddlers who do the race without the sanction of the 90 miler team. None of the protections, aids, water and energy snacks provided the registered racers are afforded to bandits; you're on your own.
Day one: from Old Forge NY to Blue Mountain Lake, NY. 34 miles, 4 carries = 3.5 miles.
Every year presents something different. Usually, the biggest difference is the unpredictable weather and water conditions. This year, all three days were picture perfect: bright, sunny, not too hot, and calm water for the most part. (The washing machine on Racquette Lake, while rough, was on the low setting this year.) Something you might lose sight of during the years of colder, windier, more inclement weather is the great numbers of biting insects that dwell within the Adirondack mountains. When we entered the portion of the route called Browns Tract we were assaulted be a fierce biting fly; bigger than a black fly and smaller than a deer fly and with the genetic traits of a kamikaze pilot. Our ankles and feet were under constant attack. Since it was impossible to paddle and swat flies at the same time, we would wait until a swarm accumulated and then stop and murder a few. Of course this only encouraged the rest to come in for a larger share of the booty.
If that weren't enough, a gradually worsening tendonitis began to plague my left hand and wrist making pulling a paddle with that hand next to impossible. Mental not to self: next year remember the preemptive dose of ibuprofen prior to starting. Amazingly, despite fly warfare and paddling with one arm, our finish time was only 16 minutes longer than last year, and only 2 minutes longer than 2009. Go figure.
Recovery in Blue Mountain Lake consisted of chocolate milk gifted by sponsor Byrne Dairy, and bananas.
Preparations for days two and three included, sun screen, liberal spraying of Deep Woods Off, Ibuprofen, and duct tape to fingers (a blister prevention technique.).
Saturday Day 2 was sponsored by Byrne Dairy.
Distance: 33 miles. Carries: 1 = 1.25 miles From Long Lake to Tupper Lake, NY
An early morning, picturesque, lifting mist greets us at the beginning of day two where we will start by paddling 12.5 miles down the length of Long Lake and into the Racquette river. We will follow the river to the finish at"the Crusher". The portage is a mountain climb around the Racquette Falls. This entire day was like a meditative, hypnosis paddle through a Currier and Ives Adirondack scene; peaceful and serene.
Due to Hurricanes Irene and Lee, the water levels, throughout the 90 mile course, were from 1 to 2 feet higher than usual for this time of year and made the paddle even more enjoyable. Exiting and entry for portages posed some different but not insurmountable challenges.
|Looking down Long Lake from the Bridge in Long Lake, NY|
|paddling down Long Lake. Taken from shore in front of Long Lake Motel.|
|Leigh relaxing at Long Lake Motel after Day Two.|
rel relaxing at Long Lake Motel after Day 2.
Sunday DAY three (10 anniversary of 9/11)
Distance: 22 Miles Carries; 3 = .6 miles
From Fish Creek Ponds to Lake Flower In Saranac Lake; traversing, Upper Saranac Lake, Middle Saranac Lake, Lower Saranac Lake, First and Second pond, Lake Oseetah and into Lake Flower.
It seems that we finally find our groove on day three and everything falls into place; timing, turn over, paddle depth, lines of approach and portage smoothness. It has always been our best time.
Once we arrive at Riverside park in Saranac Lake to the fanfare of the finish line there is a picnic lunch and the awards ceremony where trophies and mileage pins are distributed to those qualifying.
My long range goal as far as the "90 Miler" goes is to earn entry into the Gold Canoe Club.
To receive this honor a recipient must have participated in and completed 20 Adirondack Canoe Classics from Old Forge to Saranac Lake.
I've five behind me, so only 15 more to go. I'll be 80 years old by then , so wish me luck!!
start at Fish Creek
and they're off........................
5 years X 90 miles = 450 miles.
photos by Diane Aubrey LaRock