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.

Day 10: Baker’s Acres Campground near Picketts Corners to Comfort Inn, Plattsburgh (20.0 miles)

Up early and on the water just before 7, with a family of Canada geese to see me off.  The logistics of packing have fallen into a rhythm and the pot cozies are helping me be able to make coffee or a simple meal in the tent vestibule. 

Sun brightens a Saranac River morning

The first aches and pains of an extended expedition are arriving…the usual pain and numbness in my hands and a tender left foot, which I stumbled on twice during my long day of walking.   Today more complicated portages, many around dams that sprinkle this river and are largely used to generate hydroelectric power. 

At one point early on, I wheeled down a residential sidewalk, thinking of the people pulling out for a normal day of work while I was off on a grand adventure.  Don’t forget- every day is a gift! – which I have been writing in the trail registers when there is room.

But I digress. Cadyville Dam, Kent Falls, Treadwell Miils Dam and the intriguing ruins of Indian Rapids Dam (which I combined into one portage per Dan Brown’s advice), and Imperial Mills Dam to end a long day!  Much walking, navigating, and concentrating, while favoring my left foot.  I also added a couple of miles of portaging above Morrisonville, where I walked after seeing the raging river and calling Dave at St. Regis for a consultation.

Decided after that to call it a day and not attempt the wild ride into Plattsburgh with the question marks of the Bridge St. rapids and detour around river remediation work.  

Walked up from the Imperial Mills put-in into a neighborhood and straight to the blessing of two more trail angels, Tom and Nancy, who spotted me from their window!  Tea, fruit, a freeze-dried chicken gumbo for the road, boat storage, a ride to the Comfort Inn, these Long Trail hikers knew just what I needed.  The hotel, too, had all I needed with a laundry and a great restaurant, The Plattsburgh Brewery attached.  I was in heaven.