90 Miler

With the 90 Miler approaching, we thought we would share a view of the race expressed last year by Peter Heed, author of Canoe Racing: The Competitor’s Guide to Marathon and Downriver Canoe Racing. Here it is:

Sorry I missed your good race, Shawn, but unfortunately there is a conflict with another wonderful race – actually a paddling ” event” – The Adirondack Classic 90 Miler! Thought you’d get a kick out of hearing that this race is evidence of a growing new trend in paddle sport – team canoes, especially C – 4s!

We all know that the concept of “team canoes” aka “Voyageur/War Canoes” is not new. There actually was a good set of races which emphasized War Canoes back during the 70’s and early 80’s in New England. Those races faded away for the most part, but there is a new variation of the team canoe that is starting to have a real impact on the racing scene – the C-4. These four person canoes come in “stock form” (Wenonah and Savage River) or longer “unlimited” hulls made by Grass River or Rimer. They bring “team dynamics” to canoes that can be raced in all sorts of river and lake conditions. They are fast; they are fun; they can ride wake just like a C-2 or C-1, and they are a blast to paddle! Nowhere is this more evident than at the Adirondack Classic.

Many New Englanders have had the good fortune of racing The Adirondack Classic, but for those not familiar, The Classic is a three day stage race – a 90 mile journey through the heart of New York State’s gorgeous Adirondack Forest Preserve, from Old Forge to Saranac Lake. This annual Fall event follows the same routes traveled by the region’s early settlers and guides – a chain of lakes, rivers and carries known as the original “Highway of the Adirondacks.” It is both a race and an adventure back in time. Many of the difficult “carries” (portages) seem to have changed little in over a hundred years of use. Not only is the course breathtakingly beautiful and historical, but this race is hugely successful. They limit the field to 275 canoes – and turn teams away every year!! In a time when many races struggle with dwindling entry numbers, you know there is something very special going on here to attract so many paddlers. The organizers offer all sorts of classes for everyone (yes, SUPs too!), but the increase in the team boats, particularly the C – 4s, has been nothing short of incredible. This year there were 41 teams entered in the “racing” C – 4 division (stock and unlimited) and 32 C -4s in the “touring” division. The math is easy – that’s 292 paddlers just in C-4s!! There must be something to this – and there is!

Much of the credit for popularizing the C – 4 class goes out to Marc Gillespie and his Forge Racing organization, for encouraging racers to give C -4 a try and for helping them find canoes. Just look at some of the legends of paddling – both current and past – that tuned out to race C – 4s this year: Andy Triebold, Steve Lajoie, Nick Walton, Matt Rimer, Bruce Barton, Tim Triebold, Jeff Kolka, Sol Carriere, Paul Olney, Matt Rudnitsky, Rebecca Barton, Mike Davis, and Al Limberg – just to name a few! Even more important was the tremendous number of less serious, fun oriented paddlers, who turn out to fill the teams. With the best racers spread out onto different teams, it “levels the playing field” and emphasizes the significance of team work. The end result: great competition with a huge dose of fun and camaraderie.

Another unique aspect of the 90 Miler that cannot be ignored is the wild scene at the portages. The portages at the Classic (or “carries”, as they refer to them) are long and challenging to say the least. How long? On the first day alone you face 4 portages with a total of over 3 1/2 miles.! These make the portages at The Run of The Charles seem like a walk in the park! So how do so many levels of paddlers with so many different and sometimes heavy boats make it over these difficult portages while still having fun? Wheels! Lots of wheels! All sorts of wheels! I have to confess that until I paddled a team boat, I was one of those racers who used to secretly think ” wheels were for wimps.” How wrong I was! The first year I was in a C – 4 with Jeff Shultis and some good NY paddlers – big strong guys! Our wheels broke on the long, rough carry during Day 2 (The old Tupper Lake 40 race that many will recall). We tried to lug the big 23 ft canoe(with 4 jugs, food, equipment,etc) on our shoulders. Wow! Just about reduced us all to tears- a bunch of wimpering wimps! When Alec Davis’ team wheeled by us with Alec riding in the canoe – like he was on a parade float – we just about gave up! We finally did make it back in the river, after getting passed by countless teams breezing past us on their wheels. And we vowed never, ever again to even think of trying to portage a stock C -4 without a good set of wheels! Or any other kind of canoe for that matter. If you come to paddle the 90 Miler, bring some wheels!! You won’t regret it.

So if you get a chance to paddle on C-4 team at the Adirondack Classic – or any race – give it a try! It is thankfully one of the newer and growing aspects of paddle sport! For instance, both the Clinton and this weekend’s Josh Billings Triathlon have a C – 4 division.!! Thanks Patty!! I know my good teammates from the 90 – Gary and Gloria – will be out in their C-4 on a Josh team this year, so you can see one in action and maybe give it a go. Whatever you do, give some thought about coming to northern New York some Fall weekend in the near future and have an unforgettable paddling experience at The Adirondack Classic 90 Miler!

Happy paddling,


Tidal Rivers Paddle in Guilford

Jan and Tom took a leisurely six-mile paddle on Guilford’s tidal rivers 24 August 2104. See the Google Earth view.

Little Tupper Lake 2014

Tom and Jan camped at Little Tupper Lake August 11-14. It was their third trip to Little Tupper. Rain and stiff winds were part of the package, but so were loons, osprey and a bald eagle. They had a roller coaster paddle out downwind. They also overshot the takeout, and were able to to get some upwind paddling in as well.
You can see the photos here.

2014 Winter Camping Trip

The NCMC camped at St. Regis Pond the weekend of March 15-16. Jack, Bill, Jan, John and Tom made up the party. There had been a 20-inch snowstorm in the area a few days before the trip, so there was plenty of snow. You can read the trip report under “winter trips” and find links to the photos.

Long Boat Regatta 2013

Jack and Tom competed in the Long Boat Regatta on Long Lake in late September 2013. Brian McDonnell, who works tirelessly to providing racing opportunities in the Adirondacks while running the Visitor Interpretive Center at Paul Smiths, made sure that all the competitors received “hardware” in the form of wooden plaques. Unfortunately, Jack and Tom lost to the two women who they edged out last year. It was a very windy day so the course was shortened a bit.

2013 90-Miler

Jack and Tom competed in the 2013 Adirondack Canoe Classic September 6-8. It was back into the old 18-foot Jensen for Jack and Tom as Bill and John both had issues that kept them out of the race. Jan and Mary provided exemplary pit crew support.
Race photos
Race video

2013 Winter Camping

Hearkening back to its first winter camping trips, the North Country Men’s Club camped one night on March 9, 2013 at St. Regis Pond. The first two NCMC winter trips were also one-night affairs in March. The expedition team was made up of Jack, Bill, Tom, and Matuki, who was making his first winter trip. The day before their night of camping, they had all assembled at the Kimpton Road clubhouse and taken a quick ski, during which they had practiced skijoring with Matuki. The skijoring experiment went splendidly. As Jack pointed out, Matuki will pull a skier as long as he has a lead skier to chase. After skiing they went back to the house, joining Mary and Kate for dinner.
They set out the next day in 40-degree weather for the lean-to on St. Regis Pond. A mini mutiny occurred when Jack and Bill disagreed on a route to the lean-to. Jack wanted to ski to the lean-to via the woods trail, while Bill wanted to ski to the lean-to via frozen lake surface. Tom sided with Bill and the two campers drove to the Fish Hatchery road so they could access Little Clear Pond, leaving Jack and Tuki to head through the woods.
Tom and Bill skied easily across Little Clear Pond and then skied down the portage trail from Little Clear Pond to St. Regis Pond. Not far from St. Regis Pond, a trail from the left came into the portage trail, and Bill and Tom spied Tuki’s tracks, indicating that Jack and Tuki had passed before them. They soon were skiing on St. Regis Pond and reunited with Jack and Tuki at the lean-to.
They settled into the lean-to, which offers a nice view of the pond, and then set off on a day ski on the truck trail to Fish Pond. Bill turned back early upon discovering a blister on his heel from his ski boot. Jack, Tuki and Tom skied on and tucked on a couple of nice hills in the woods before returning to camp.
They had a pleasant time hanging out in camp and enjoyed a dinner of Bertoli frozen Italian sausage and rigatoni. It is a great winter camping meal as preparation is minimal and it tastes fine. They had brought two stoves, but only one worked, and they only needed one for their one-pot dinner. They also were limited to a single book of matches. That was because Tom thought he had forgotten all the wooden matches he had packed in various waterproof containers. In actuality, the matches were in a mesh stuff sack that he had pulled from his pack and hung on a nail at the lean-to and promptly forgotten. They were only discovered when the group was packing up to ski homeward the next day.
It wasn’t a completely clear night, but a good part of the ski was open to the stars. A snowshoe walk on the lake after dinner afforded a good view of winter constellations with minimal light pollution.
Sleeping was easy, as the low temperature overnight was only about 30 degrees. The next morning they had coffee, hot chocolate and Mountain House freeze-dried scrambled eggs, which were eaten out of their foil container after adding boiling water. The eggs were edible, but the no-cleanup aspect is their main claim to fame.
Bill had to get back to Buffalo in the early evening for work, so they packed with alacrity and headed home. The party of four all took the same route out, which was the one Jack took in, except for just at the end of trip, when Bill and Tom went down the truck trail to Route 30, while Jack retraced his steps to spot on Route 30 directly across from Kimpton Road.
Back at the house, they packed up quickly and were on their way, with the chimes on the front deck left to sound for whoever might be within earshot.
NOTES: Tom purchased waxless skis for the trip, so he ignored the discussion and execution of waxing by Jack and Bill, which involved the dreaded klister due to the warm temperatures… While driving through Lake Placid on the way to Kimpton Road on the day before camping, Tom spied Mary on the street in Lake Placid in front of High Peaks Cyclery. He pulled over and Mary informed him that Jack was in the store with his credit cards. Fortunately, there were only minor purchases of spray-on klister and other inexpensive items.
You can see a selection of photos from the 2013 winter trip here here.

Long Boat Regatta

Jack and Tom paddled Saturday in the Long Boat Regatta on Long Lake organized by Brian and Grace McDonnell’s Adirondack Watershed Alliance. The race is the North American War Canoe Championships, but there is also an “anything goes” 10-mile race, and the NCMC used the 18-foot Jensen to win first place in the C-2 standard men category. As they were the only entry in that category, victory was assured. Their time was 2:08, which was fairly good considering that their GPS showed that the race was actually almost 11.5 miles in length.
You can see photos from the race here.
You can see a map of the course that the NCMC followed here.