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Old 08-07-2017, 06:43 AM   #1
bluequill
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BML to Forked Lake

I accompanied a friend and five young people aged 10 to 14 on a five day, four night trip from Blue Mountain Lake to Forked Lake this past week.

We had a late start on Monday so we took the kids swimming and cliff jumping off one of the islands. Afterward we set up camp on site 3 and made a dinner of scrumptious Mountain House chicken and rice followed by a fire and smores.
In the morning we broke camp and paddled over to the Castle Rock trailhead and made the ascent. It was clear beautiful day and very crowded on top.

We headed to our next campsite, the lean-to on Utowana but stopped at the old seaplane hangar for a quick swim.(with permission)
I have never camped at the lean to but have used it as a lunch stop in the past. It's in good shape and has a privy up the hill. The noise from rt 28 was not too bad but I am sure on a weekend it would be a little different. We built a good fire and had good night with more smores.

We were planning on getting one of the lean-tos by Beecher Island on Raquette Lake so we broke camp early as we still had the half mile carry to the Marion River. The weather forecast was calling for possible t-storms in the afternoon and we were hoping to avoid them. We double carried all the gear, two Minn 3's and my Hornbeck. A nice easy downhill walk. The upper Marion offered plenty of blooming pickerel weed, cardinal flowers and a few pitcher plants. We encountered one beaver dam which was easily carried over. We had a quick lunch at the campsite that was closest to Raquette Lake and hurried on as the skies were darkening.

The plan was to paddle toward Tioga Point and then past Needle Island and then around Bluff Point toward Beecher Island. As we passed Tioga the skies opened up and it poured heavily with some hail mixed in. Luckily there wasn't much wind involved. We made it to the camp site just past Beecher Island in good time, thanks to a tail wind. Luckily, only one of the three lean-tos were taken and we quickly set up camp. Good thing too.....a huge storm came through knocking down a couple of trees just a few feet from our site.
It seems that the lean tos were recently moved back from the shore. New roofs and floors installed.

The next day we paddled to the Forked Lake carry, quickly unloaded and completed our second and last double carry. At the Forked Lake put in we ate lunch and took a swim before heading out for our last night. We paddled west hoping to find an open site which we found on the north west side in a grove of white pines. It was one of three sites in the area, with tables and a privy. Nice open site. We had to hurry setting up the tents as some weather was approaching. As soon as the tents and tarp were up the rain came and didn't stop for a few hours. We broke camp and were back at the Forked lake launch before 11 am.

We had two girls and three boys, one boy never paddled or camped and another had minimal experience. The girls have done other trips such as Raquette Falls. I have to say that the girls were awesome. One girl did the Marion carry carrying a Minn 3 by herself with a barrel strapped to her back. THEN, after doing that, went back and picked up two barrels...one on her back and one in front completing the carry. Never complained, never stopped paddling and never stopped smiling! The inexperienced boy had a rough start but a good finish, had a smile on his face in the end and can't wait to do it again.

Can't beat that..........
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Old 08-07-2017, 03:50 PM   #2
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Sounds like a wonderful trip. Thanks for the report. Looks like you've helped to create some wonderful memories for these kids. And that young lady sounds like a real trooper!

That's all for now. Take care and until next time....be well.

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Old 08-07-2017, 10:51 PM   #3
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That sounds like a good run!

Did you happen to notice if there was a trail to Sargent Ponds?

Also, the campsites on the Marion aren't posted on the websites such as Adktrailmap and the State Lands Mapper. Are there many sites along there?
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Old 08-08-2017, 12:00 AM   #4
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That sounds like a good run!

Did you happen to notice if there was a trail to Sargent Ponds?

Also, the campsites on the Marion aren't posted on the websites such as Adktrailmap and the State Lands Mapper. Are there many sites along there?
There is a campsite perhaps halfway down the Marion but I missed it and from what I was told it is easy to miss. I think it was at the beaver dam we encountered. It is marked on the Paddlers Map and I was told by an outfitter that it is there and he uses it during hunting season. This is where the trail to Sargeant pond starts . I am unsure about the condition of the trail.

The second campsite on the Marion where we ate lunch is also marked on the paddlers map and is easy to see from the river. This one is located where the Marion widens into the bay on Raquette Lake. It's a decent campsite with a few level areas for tents.
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Old 08-08-2017, 08:28 AM   #5
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There is a campsite perhaps halfway down the Marion but I missed it and from what I was told it is easy to miss. I think it was at the beaver dam we encountered. It is marked on the Paddlers Map and I was told by an outfitter that it is there and he uses it during hunting season. This is where the trail to Sargeant pond starts . I am unsure about the condition of the trail.

The second campsite on the Marion where we ate lunch is also marked on the paddlers map and is easy to see from the river. This one is located where the Marion widens into the bay on Raquette Lake. It's a decent campsite with a few level areas for tents.
Thanks for the intel. I'm not sure why Sargent Ponds WF does not post their campsite info in the Lands Mapper, other than lean to sites.
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Old 08-09-2017, 12:27 AM   #6
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Thanks for the intel. I'm not sure why Sargent Ponds WF does not post their campsite info in the Lands Mapper, other than lean to sites.
OSB, pick up the ADK Paddlers Map-South. St Regis Canoe Outfitters or Raquette River Outfitters will have it as well as other sources. It is fairly accurate but I did notice that the Marion River carry was shown incorrectly. If you are coming up from Raquette Lake it shouldn't matter but it can be confusing coming from BML.
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Old 08-09-2017, 01:38 AM   #7
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Thanks. The plan is to grab the map. We have one trip per year with the kids so I won't be going until next year. Our plan at this point is similar to yours.

The thought would be to get to BML on a Thursday and set up camp similar to what you did.

We'd paddle Friday and end up down the Marion. Based on my previous assumption that there is only the single lean to on the Marion, and it's a Friday, i figured we'd be best off hiking up to the Sargent Ponds to set up camp to guarantee a spot.. Either the lean to, or somewhere further at Upper Sargent. Also this would eliminate the Rt 28 noise issue.

Saturday morning, it's back to the Marion Landing point to head down to Raquette. We'd set up a camp at a Raquette Lean To. Being a Saturday, I'd consider reserving a site beforehand at Tioga Point to guarantee an open lean to, though I'd be most interested in one of the sites closer to town to be in better proximity to the town. The general store serves the best baked goods, and a beer or two at the pub can't be beat. Hard to beat the atmosphere at the town dock as well.

Sunday morning we shuttle back to BML and do a local hike. We've all done BM and Castle Rock, so i haven't narrowed down the best option yet. It would probably be Owls Head, but unfortunately that would mean a backtrack. We've done Bald Mt in the Inlet area as well.
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Old 08-13-2017, 10:14 AM   #8
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Thank you for taking young folks on such an adventure.
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Old 08-14-2017, 10:04 PM   #9
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What condition is the Marion carry like? Good trail? Wet? Was thinking of doing similar trip - just wondering condition?
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Old 08-14-2017, 10:18 PM   #10
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What condition is the Marion carry like? Good trail? Wet? Was thinking of doing similar trip - just wondering condition?
It is probably the smoothest and easiest to portage carry you will ever find in the Adirondacks. A hard pack earth normally dry trail, smooth, straight and well cleared. Easy to either carry or wheel, your choice. Less than a half mile long. A short dock on the Eagle side, an easy stony put-in on the Marion River side.
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Old 08-14-2017, 11:08 PM   #11
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Thank you for the trip report, bluequill. It sounds like a good thing to get those kids out on a trip. Does the Marion carry follow the route of the old rail bed? If so that might explain why it is so straight and smooth.
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Old 08-15-2017, 12:04 PM   #12
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Zach - In a word, yes...the carry follows part of the route of the old Marion River RR. It's been a few years since I was last there but you could still find traces of the old railroad ties across portions of the carry trail if you looked closely enough.

Also, I believe the dock Wldrns is referring to is actually on Utowanna Lake; not Eagle. As you paddle in from Blue you travel through Blue Mt. Lake into Eagle into Utowanna; the collection being known as the Eckford Chain.

That's all for now. Take care and until next time...be well.

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Old 08-15-2017, 01:32 PM   #13
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Also, I believe the dock Wldrns is referring to is actually on Utowanna Lake; not Eagle. As you paddle in from Blue you travel through Blue Mt. Lake into Eagle into Utowanna; the collection being known as the Eckford Chain.

That's all for now. Take care and until next time...be well.

snapper
True, on Utowana, my mistake.

Utowana, known as "the lake that never ends" during the 90 mile race - since the lake is roughly kidney bean shaped, it fools you with a view toward what constantly appears to be the far "end", thence on to Eagle, but as you paddle the gentle shape the curve keeps pushing the end farther and farther away. Can be frustrating nearing the end of the 35 mile first day of the race.

Similarly, Blue Mountain, end of the first day on the '90, first becoming visible on Raquette Lake at the end of Brown's Tract, is known as "the mountain that never gets any closer". It seems that you paddle forever, well into the Marion before its relative perceived size changes any at all.
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