Day 11: Comfort Inn, Plattsburgh to Knight Island in Lake Champlain (17.9 miles)

This morning I woke very early to take full advantage of the hotel amenities: a second shower, scrumptious breakfast, and quickly writing blog entries.  As some readers have noted, I have been behind but am writing from the perspective of that paddling day.

The taxi dropped me at my new friends’ house, where Nancy kindly offered to walk with me along the Saranac River Trail to the put-in for Lake Champlain.  Along the way we saw the site of the first building in Plattsburgh (corner of Green and Bridge Sts. near the put-in) and a neat old train station, still in use.


On the Saranac River Trail going through the SUNY Plattsburgh campus.
Great that Nancy was there to take this photo…finished with Map 3 and New York!

Crossing Lake Champlain, the sixth largest lake in the U.S., had me a little apprehensive and I was glad I would have company.  I would be meeting Peter Macfarlane (NFCT 2013) and Dan Brown (NFCT 2014) at Cumberland Head, which was 3 miles across a large bay.  Getting there turned out to be the scariest part.

The strong south wind would make it a real workout to reach the point.  I took the shortest route across, telling myself to just focus on the next few waves, the biggest about 3 feet.  By the end, I was reciting the 23rd Psalm, and the crashing waves hurtled me to shore, on land but still a mile up the shore against the wind to the point.  A call to Peter brought reassurance and I bravely headed out again as they paddled to meet me.

The Cumberland Head lighthouse comes into sight after you round the point – victory!
Dan was paddling his sea kayak, preparing for a wilderness trip to Alaska next week. Peter, a former kayak racer, had much to teach us both.

I tried a little surfing now that we had a tail wind, which would carry me up most of Lake Champlain.

My time with these friends was immensely helpful, both for my paddling technique and for practical stuff, like attaching my SPOT so it would stay facing upward.  Peter had also planned the camping logistics, reserving a site with two lean-tos on Knight Island

The forecast rain held off until late afternoon, then we headed for the island, blown along by the storm.  Peter seemed pleased that I was comfortable with the rougher conditions.  Truthfully, it was exhilarating and I loved it!  

And thanks, Peter, for taking all those great action shots.


Home for the night…you can see Peter’s canoe that he built and used for his 2013 NFCT trip, without taking portage wheels.

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