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Old 08-07-2020, 04:22 PM   #1
PA Kayaker
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PSA -- Use of privy toilets and Leaving No Trace

My wife and I took our first trip to the ADK last week and we stayed at campsite #31 on Cranberry Lake (in Black Duck Hole) our first night. I was surprised at a few things I found at the site and wanted to bring awareness to it.

First, there was a big black plastic Hefty trash bag left inside the toilet. It was clear it had been recently left there because it was right there with no feces or toilet paper on top. I don't understand logic of whomever did this. Would this person have flushed this down the toilet at his or her own home? If not, then it doesn't belong in a remote campsite toilet. This bag will likely remain there for a long time.

I was very tempted to pull it out, but it was clearly full, and this being our first night of a week-long trip, I didn't have the means to contain and carry around a big bag of someone else's trash for a week that had been in contact with human feces. Nor could I bring myself to poop on top of it, so we didn't use that toilet.

Second thing: In the middle of the night we heard constant scurrying around the edge of our tent. I figured it must be some small animal like a mouse just curious about our tent. This went on all night. We had no food or other scented items inside our tent, so I wasn't exactly sure what was going on. I kept hitting and shaking the edge of our tent to try to scare it away. The next morning I took a better look, and scattered around and under our tent were hundreds of sunflower seeds. Obviously didn't notice (or expect to find) this when we set up our tent. I didn't see any sunflowers growing in the area, so came to the conclusion that some previous camper carelessly scattered these seeds that the mouse was understandably attracted to.

I found a lot of other trash at this site: wrappers, plastic caps, fishing line and bobbers hanging in the trees, a bar of (non-degradable) soap, small American flags stuck in the trees, trash in the fire pit, etc. We always pick up all trash we see along the way on our trips, and usually come home with more trash than we produce. I can understand the occasional accidentally-dropped piece of a wrapper or bottle cap, but this was excessive, and in the case of the plastic bag, completely intentional.

I believe that most of us who frequent these forums understand and follow Leave No Trace principles and minimizing our impact on wilderness areas. I also know that parks and campgrounds are seeing a LOT of heavy traffic this season. I only ask that we all help spread the word that toilets/privies are for poop and paper ONLY, and we should all strive to leave campsites in better condition than we found them.
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Old 08-09-2020, 01:09 PM   #2
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I have been seeing a lot more of this kind of awful behavior this year. I have also noticed that there seems to be a big influx of newbies into the back country. I myself have packed out a lot of other peoples trash and also made a large mound of trash at one campsite where I could not possibly carry it out. I have found quite a bit of toilet flowers even in places where there is an outhouse/thunder box. In the campsite where I had to make a garbage pile out in the woods I also cleaned up 20-30 toilet flowers many of which included other people's feces. Yeah, I cleaned it up and buries it in a pit. This is not the first time. The main reason was because it was all just barely outside of the tent site, but also because it was a beautiful spot and I intend to go back. Poo is a significant health hazard. I really think there should be a course and a license required before people can go out into the back country. Not just telling people, "Don't do this..." but educating them on why. There do this at the Boundary Waters before you can enter. People still make a mess and use soap in the water, but I imagine it helps...
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Old 08-09-2020, 10:52 PM   #3
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I found a lot of other trash at this site: wrappers, plastic caps, fishing line and bobbers hanging in the trees, a bar of (non-degradable) soap, small American flags stuck in the trees, trash in the fire pit, etc. We always pick up all trash we see along the way on our trips, and usually come home with more trash than we produce. I can understand the occasional accidentally-dropped piece of a wrapper or bottle cap, but this was excessive, and in the case of the plastic bag, completely intentional.
So my fiance and I kayaked into #31 in Black Duck Hole and used it from July 2 - 4 of this year. Interesting to compare notes. There was some very minor trash I picked up at the time (maybe one bottle cap and some small pieces of plastic?), as well as some clothes line I took down and packed out. I decided to leave the two small American flags against my better judgement. The fire pit was in alright shape, although there were some not fully burned into ash egg shells in it. But nothing of the sort that you are describing, and the privy was in pretty good shape.

We also had some problem with mice as well. Unless it was a chipmunk, one mouse scrambled up and over over tent in the middle of the night. And we definitely didn't have any sunflower seeds around!

It's pretty clear that a lot of the problems in Cranberry Lake are caused by campers using motor boats. (We woke up at 6AM to four motor boats fishing in the hole, hooting and hollering.) I'd love to see the area go to a similar registration scheme as Middle Saranac or else disallow motor boat camping.
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Old 08-10-2020, 11:53 AM   #4
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You should have pulled the bag out and stashed it, hopefully someone would have taken it back. DEC staff do pull them out and they used to have signs on ones, especially in parking lots, that said do not put trash in the privy.
Actually now that you mention that, I should have done exactly that -- pulled it out and left it next to the toilet in hopes that the DEC would grab it.

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Originally Posted by mpn702 View Post
So my fiance and I kayaked into #31 in Black Duck Hole and used it from July 2 - 4 of this year. Interesting to compare notes. There was some very minor trash I picked up at the time (maybe one bottle cap and some small pieces of plastic?), as well as some clothes line I took down and packed out. I decided to leave the two small American flags against my better judgement. The fire pit was in alright shape, although there were some not fully burned into ash egg shells in it. But nothing of the sort that you are describing, and the privy was in pretty good shape.

We also had some problem with mice as well. Unless it was a chipmunk, one mouse scrambled up and over over tent in the middle of the night. And we definitely didn't have any sunflower seeds around!

It's pretty clear that a lot of the problems in Cranberry Lake are caused by campers using motor boats. (We woke up at 6AM to four motor boats fishing in the hole, hooting and hollering.) I'd love to see the area go to a similar registration scheme as Middle Saranac or else disallow motor boat camping.
I'm guessing July is a popular month -- so most of this was recent trash.

I actually considered leaving the flags too, but eventually decided to pack them out with our other garbage. My wife's comment to me was that the proper thing to do would have been to burn them!
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Old 08-10-2020, 07:45 PM   #5
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A couple of posts above are overtly political...you can delete them on your own, or I can.

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Old 08-10-2020, 08:00 PM   #6
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A couple of posts above are overtly political...you can delete them on your own, or I can.

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Old 08-11-2020, 10:05 AM   #7
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I guess the posts were deleted that wondered if people live filthy at home like some do in the woods.
Some sure do. Go check 'some' used cars being traded in before they are cleaned and detailed. You will be shocked.
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Old 08-11-2020, 05:30 PM   #8
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It's pretty clear that a lot of the problems in Cranberry Lake are caused by campers using motor boats. (We woke up at 6AM to four motor boats fishing in the hole, hooting and hollering.) I'd love to see the area go to a similar registration scheme as Middle Saranac or else disallow motor boat camping.
Sounds like your beef is more about a few rowdy guys than the motorboats. How do you know they were campers? They might have been day trippers, residents or a bachelor party of guys staying at a camp. You'll get Holligan campers even in the more remote waters from time to time. It takes away from the solitude, but it happens. I'm guessing the next time will be better for you.

All that said, Cranberry Lake isn't going motorless. There have been times that I wished I was in a Coast Guard cutter instead of a canoe. That lake can get raunchy in a hurry
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Old 08-11-2020, 10:39 PM   #9
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Sounds like your beef is more about a few rowdy guys than the motorboats. How do you know they were campers? They might have been day trippers, residents or a bachelor party of guys staying at a camp. You'll get Holligan campers even in the more remote waters from time to time. It takes away from the solitude, but it happens. I'm guessing the next time will be better for you.

All that said, Cranberry Lake isn't going motorless. There have been times that I wished I was in a Coast Guard cutter instead of a canoe. That lake can get raunchy in a hurry
Definitely not campers. Just early morning fishermen enjoying the day. Probably the most annoying event was the pontoon boat pulling a kid tubing around Black Duck Hole.

Agreed that the lake and the flow aren't going motorless. Electric motors would be nice, however!
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Old 08-12-2020, 07:50 AM   #10
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I know what you are saying. The good thing is a lot of folks are switching from old 2 strokes to 4 stroke engines, which are much quieter and cleaner..It all comes back to courtesy. Most have it, but some don't..imo the majority of people who have it shouldn't be penalized for the few that don't
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Old 08-12-2020, 09:10 AM   #11
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PA Kayaker, it is a shame that your first trip to the wonderful Adirondacks was marred by such disregard to the the simple rules of LNT. There aren't enough rangers to patrol the whole area and keep the Daks from being abused. Hopefully this experience didn't sour your experience too much and that you have many wonderful experiences in the near future, fall is an excellent time of year up there.
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Old 08-14-2020, 04:51 PM   #12
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PA Kayaker, it is a shame that your first trip to the wonderful Adirondacks was marred by such disregard to the the simple rules of LNT. There aren't enough rangers to patrol the whole area and keep the Daks from being abused. Hopefully this experience didn't sour your experience too much and that you have many wonderful experiences in the near future, fall is an excellent time of year up there.
Thanks for the comments. There were certainly enough awesome experiences on this trip to outweigh the few negatives. We plan to return as I feel we have barely scratched the surface of all this park has to offer.
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Old 08-14-2020, 05:13 PM   #13
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I feel we have barely scratched the surface of all this park has to offer.
After visiting a few times a year for 40 years, I feel the same way.
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Old 08-14-2020, 05:41 PM   #14
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After visiting a few times a year for 40 years, I feel the same way.
Me too.

My list of 'to-dos' grows and the time I get to go seems to get smaller and smaller.
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Old 08-14-2020, 11:29 PM   #15
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Thanks for the comments. There were certainly enough awesome experiences on this trip to outweigh the few negatives. We plan to return as I feel we have barely scratched the surface of all this park has to offer.

Hi PA, I sent you a PM....are you the same PAPaddler from Algonquin Adventures? It's JoeScmoe from over there that recommended the ADKs. After reading your reports of bad news, I'm glad to hear you still had fun!

Also remember, unlike Algonquin, the ADKs are about more than just paddling! Try tacking on hiking even a small peak to one of your trips. If you give us an idea of where you're coming in from, we can suggest an easy bang for the buck hike to get a small taste... maybe on the way in it way out. Trust me, you'll love it!
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