In the spring of 1997, the North Country Men’s Club took a canoe trip to Forked Lake, which is not far from the hamlet of Long Lake.
Jack, Bill, Jay and Tom made up the party. Forked Lake was chosen as the destination because it is a lake that was once on the route of the Adirondack Canoe Classic, or 90-Miler. Forked Lake used to mark the finish of the race’s 35-mile-long first day, and paddlers would camp at an informal campground at one end of the lake, a campground the NCMC affectionately called “Woodstock.”
Blue Mountain Lake has succeeded Forked Lake as the final lake of the race’s first day. The change in the racecourse was made to avoid the problem of high winds on Raquette Lake forcing a halt to racing on the first day after about 25 miles. Racers used to have to paddle up Raquette Lake to reach the portage to Forked Lake, and big waves produced by afternoon winds would make that impossible every few years. Nowadays, however, the racers cut across the bottom of Raquette, which is more protected, and head up the Marion River toward Blue Mountain Lake.
For the 1997 trip, the four NCMCers rendezvoused at the hotel bar in Long Lake and then headed for the portage connecting Racquette and Forked Lake. They hauled their gear and canoes down the portage and paddled to a lean-to and set up camp. To the best of the Editor’s recall, it was a two-night trip with seasonably cool spring Adirondack weather.
They explored the lake on the middle day of their trip and generally spent their time at the lean-to or “messing around in boats.”
In the evening of the second day, Bill and Jack were assigned to go get beer, and paddled back to the put-in. After a long, long, long time they returned with only the remains of a 12-pack of Budweiser sitting in the bottom of their otherwise empty canoe. There is certainly no setting in which a 12-pack can look any smaller.
Forgive Jay and Tom, but they were somewhat incredulous that such a long journey produced such a small amount of cargo. For their part, Bill and Jack had some long story about driving here and there in search of brew, and of drinking some of it on the long return trip.
Beer, fortunately, is way at the bottom of concerns on an NCMC outing, and the trip was another good one in the annals of early spring canoeing.
Gallery: Forked Lake