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Old 06-27-2019, 09:19 AM   #1
madison's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 449
Eighth Lake to Raquette Lake, Nessmuk style

This past Monday I met my distant cousin Will for the 1st time in the Taproom parking lot at Raquette Lake. We are both the great-great-great grandsons of George Washington Sears, AKA Nessmuk, who's fame is modest and mostly confined to Adirondack canoe enthusiasts, but who I am sure needs no explanation on this site.

Our families grew apart over the generations and we didn't know each other, but I learned about Will from the Mountain Home article about his re-creation of Nessmuk's most well known voyage from Old Forge to Paul Smith's and back a few years ago. I reached out, and we decided to try and find an exact spot where Sears had camped or spent time, and go there together. I found a passage in his writing that indicated he had spent some time on the little island on 8th Lake where Alvah Dunning had a cabin, and there was now a lean-to, so we decided to camp there a night and then continue on through Brown's Tract Inlet to Raquette Lake and camp there the 2nd night.

The plan hit a slight snag when we got to the island to discover that the lean-to had been removed recently and there were now "No Camping" discs all over the island. So we headed across the narrow channel and discovered an unoccupied and huge lean-to, complete with benches and a couple of impressive single log camp chairs. We camped there and spent a pleasant afternoon getting to know each other, paddling around 8th and checking out the other campsites and fishing. Will outfished me 6-0.

On Tuesday it rained hard in the morning, but it let up a little after 9 and we headed out for the carry to Brown's Tract Inlet. This was my first time on this stream, and I enjoyed it very much. Based on the map and Will's memory from his trip a few years ago, we were expecting the stream section to take at least 2 hours and to carry over a few beaver dams, but with the water level high from the all the rain this spring, we got to Raquette in about an hour and never had to lift over a single dam.

After replenishing our beer & ice supply at the General Store in Raquette Lake, we paddled out to Big Island and stayed at lean-to #2, pleasantly situated in a protective cove with a beautiful point to lounge on. I finally managed to get on the board with one little 10 inch bass caught in the grasses near shore. We agreed our mutual ancestor would not be impressed. After the wind died down we spent another pleasant evening paddling around Big Island and had some excitement when my pup, on her first canoe trip, managed to flip the canoe with an ill-timed jump to shore. Luckily there was no gear in the boat and we were in only 2 feet of water, so no harm done.

The next morning was clear and warm and we lingered on our point as long as we could before heading back to the boat launch. All in all, a very pleasant time, connecting with the past and present. We hope to make this an annual tradition, choosing a different section of Nessmuk's trip each year.
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