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Old 09-27-2018, 10:55 AM   #1
mmccarthy7220
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Failed attempt- William Whitney Loop

So I thought I'd get some opinions from the forum on my failed solo attempt at paddling the William Whitney loop. I was told this is a "do-able loop". Its a suggested route on many outfitters web pages.

I started at the Bog river lower dam around 10am. Carried my Hemlock Peregrine canoe and my Cabela's portage pack across the dam and put in at the stream at the bottom of the dam outlet. Water was deep enough to paddle for roughly 15 minutes. All was going smoothly,the water was warm, sun was out, and the gear I brought was a touch heavy but I though I had things under control. Im in good shape, 39yrs old, comfortable outdoors, and good at navigation. As I paddled East and headed down stream, the rocks started to appear and paddling soon became impossible. I hefted my pack and put the canoe on my shoulders looking for the portage trails which were shown on the map. There were none. Trying to walk up stream with roughly 110lbs combined weight(canoe and pack) was a real struggle. Especially since most of it was like moss covered bowling balls. Really hard on the ankles and knee joints. This went on for a few hours. Finally finding sections of what looked like portage trails, I followed the river where I could and avoided large sections of boulder fields. These trails were marked XC Ski trails on the tree markers. Finally made my way to the Round Lake outlet confluence.

At this point I was thinking the rough stuff was behind me. I was wrong. Turning upstream at the intersection and going towards round lake, it became worse. Boulder fields became unending. Every turn of the river I hoped I could find flat water but there was none. My right knee felt like I pulled a tendon and I was getting a sharp pain on the outside of my knee. I looked to the woods for a trail. I saw what looked like an opening in the trees to get off the river. As I moved toward this gap in the trees, disaster struck. My pack straps ripped out of the bottom of my pack. Totally exhausted and dumbfounded at this current situation I contemplated turning around. But then I thought, how could I go back through all that. i thought I was at the half way point. Roughly 7-8 kilometers still to go. I hoped looking at the map that there was navigable water just ahead. Nope... all rocks. So I figured I'd have to push on to the lake. I bear hugged my bag and decided to make two trips upriver. Once with my pack, and then going back to get my canoe. This was very hard on the back trying to carry my pack in my arms. The canoe carrying was just as difficult. The bow of my boat was constantly getting snagged in the overgrown limbs and bushes, which made my portaging excruciatingly slow. My knee was killing me causing me to limp along. Sweating out more water than I was drinking, I started to feel really crappy. I eventually came upon a section of trail that followed the east side of the river and was able to make better time on my there and back and there again carry. I figured i did 8kms x3 (24k = 14.2 miles) of this. Finally I saw the gap in the trees that opened up to the vastness of Round Lake. It was 7:00pm and I went to the first campsite that was unoccupied. Number #3.

I strung up my tarp and hammock, and started boiling some water to make some food. I dont know if I've ever been so tired in my life. I went down to the water and laid down in the lake to cool my body. I was overheating internally from the effort of the day. I couldnt stop sweating.

After eating and cleaning up, I laid down to sleep and could not. My heart was beating so fast and I was still just so hot. I laid there all night listening to the thunder and lightning getting closer and closer. I couldn't sleep in the hammock and cursed myself for not bringing a tent. I hadn't had enough practice in the hammock to get the hang just right I guess.

The next morning I was struggling with what to do. I wanted to continue my loop but my pack was ripped and there was no way I could repair it. My knee was still shooting pain at every step.

I paddled out of round lake and under the bridge to Little Tupper through pouring rain. Rain so hard I was bailing out my canoe every couple minutes because it was filling up so fast. What else could I endure on this trip i thought?

My spirits were so low at this point I decided to "call it off" at the rangers station at Little Tupper. The rest of the loop looked easier from this point on, but with my current gear and knee issues, and I didn't want to go through another night in that damn hammock. I thought it best to call it quits. There were no other points on the loop that had an exit option. I was beyond disappointed because I felt I had gotten through the hardest part of what this loop entailed. Two nice DEC interns offered to give me a ride back to my car at the bog dam. I took them up on that offer.

What could I have done differently to make this a success? I would like to finish this loop next year. Im going to paddle from the ranger's station at Little Tupper clockwise around the loop to Lowe's and down to the lower Dam. I suggest never trying that river section. Well thanks for reading all of this if you got through it.
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Old 09-27-2018, 12:06 PM   #2
Lucky13
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The Bog River Complex UMP (https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_fo...f/bogriver.pdf) contains the following:
"The Bog River, from below Lows Lower Dam to the confluence with Round Lake Stream, provides a canoe route with several rapids which is only usable in the spring. Ron Canter
(1984) has written a very informative account of this trip."
Canter, Ron. "The Bog River." Adirondack. December, 1984.
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Old 09-27-2018, 12:13 PM   #3
mmccarthy7220
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thanks for that Lucky13. I'll check it out.
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Old 09-27-2018, 12:35 PM   #4
Lucky13
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I can definitely feel your pain, rivers and streams like the Bog, with long stretches of shallow boulder gardens, are nasty to hike with just day pack and fishing tackle when the water is low, and the marginal woods are usually rough bushwacks as well. This is one of the reason that I mainly pond fish anymore!
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Old 09-27-2018, 01:01 PM   #5
stripperguy
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110 lbs?! That would crush me! I've been wanting to paddle the Bog downstream from the lower dam, but I know you need enough water.
We did Round Lake stream downstream from Round Lake to the falls...along the way we destroyed one of my strippers.
While I happen to really enjoy a more challenging and less traveled route, some routes are just not practical in all seasons.
You really need to carry less weight.
I was recently in a similar situation, and abandoned my planned trip for a more conservative experience.
Too bad for you, that you were midway when all those problems arose. Myself, I would have just made camp for the night and pushed on the next day after a good nights rest.
But I'm an old fart now...
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Old 09-27-2018, 02:21 PM   #6
mmccarthy7220
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Stripperguy, I can imagine how easily it would have been to destroy a wood boat. I was trying to be super careful about scratching up my kevlar canoe as well. It was so scratched by the time I got out of there, that I worked on refinishing it the whole next week since I was back home and had days off from work, that I should have been paddling.
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Old 09-27-2018, 04:45 PM   #7
rickhart
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Wow -- terrible experience. Makes a good story, though!

When I did the loop, I followed a tip in the Paddler's Guide and carried from Pa's Falls over to the Round Lake outlet stream. It's almost all smooth, clear woods road. Ends at the bridge over the outlet. From there a short paddle upstream led to the trail along the east bank of the outlet up to Round Lake.

You were right to call it off, though. There's lots of carrying between Rock Pond & Lila, and again a fair amount from Lila to Bog Lake.

Less weight in the pack!
If it's all a bit much, you might try what I do, and do a double carry each time. It adds a bit of time, not that much, and makes it much easier.
In fact, generally each time you learn more, it gets better.
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Old 10-04-2018, 10:39 AM   #8
Waterdog
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Thanks for posting your experience. I paddled the loop (starting at L. Tupper) in early spring a few years ago. I was able to run the section from the lower dam to the intersection where you follow the Bog R up to the outlet. I was paddling a wood canvas prospector and had my dog. When I got to the intersection and turned upstream, the flow was strong enough that I had to start pulling my boat and dog with painter line. I got out shortly and carried along a hiking trail about 75' above the river (river right). There were several times I could paddle along the way to the outlet.

I appreciate finding your post, I am planning on doing the loop in a Bell Rockstar and no dog at the end of October into November. I wonder if there's flow there now or I should alter my plans? Will definitely be checking in with the local outfitter.

I've had some pretty rough trips in MN/Canada when paddling in the Spring at ice out. You're typically the first person coming through and a lot of clearing ports to get through. I think these hardships season us as trippers though over time. On the Spring Whitney loop trip, I believe I followed Stripperguy's entourage by a day or so because someone was cleaning the carries ahead of me!

Cheers,
Barry
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Old 10-04-2018, 11:07 AM   #9
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I'm not a paddler, but I agree with other posters - you need to cut the weight. Honestly, I would say that is the only thing you need to do differently.

I weigh only 140; I can't imagine carrying 110. The heaviest pack I ever carried, when I was 30 years old, was 85 lbs., and it was way too much.

If you read many posts here and on the sister forum ADKHighPeaks, experienced backpackers can make a good multi night trip with about 30 lbs. And the lightest one person boats out there are about 15 lbs.

So in the perfect world, your target load should be 45 lbs. Obviously there are a lot of practical considerations like the weight of a carrying yoke, boat durability, etc. But 45 lbs. should be your starting point, and then recognize compromises that increase the weight from there. Start from that end of the range in your thinking. Completely chuck the system that weighs 110!
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Old 10-06-2018, 01:56 PM   #10
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It sounds like a really tough trip for sure. I'm glad you made it out of the woods all right in the end. I have a theory (which may be incorrect) that the weight of carried objects is relative to the weight and size of the carrier. For instance I am 7 feet tall and 200 pounds, so according to my notion it is as easy for me to carry a 40 pound canoe (mine weighs 38-1/2, but I like math that's simplified) as it would be for a theoretical 120 pound person to carry a 24 pound canoe. I don't know what the rest of my stuff weighs, but I am sure it is less than 110 pounds in total. I would find 110 a pretty daunting load to carry very far, even on a good path, let alone on a riverbed. For a short distance it would be easy, but in my experience there are no short distances in the Adirondacks.
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