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Old 07-09-2010, 07:48 AM   #1
ellsaf
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Henderson to Hermitage

This trip report is a combined canoe/backpack we did, Ellen and Coldriver Bob over 4th of July weekend in the high peaks wilderness area. We started out at 2 am Thursday night to drive to our start point at Lake Henderson. As we were driving through Old Forge at about 6 AM a young deer was trotting up the middle of rte 28 through town, I was driving at that point and I slowed down to shout at it and it turned to come towards my open window. At that point I opened my door to shoo it off the road, if was cute but it wasn't going to see it's next birthday unless it got off the road. We continued on to our start point. At the trailhead we got our packs together and put the canoe in at Henderson lake to a beautiful blue sky and warm temps. The lake was beautiful, we paddled to the opposite side and then came a more difficult passage. We portaged about 2 miles, Bob had the canoe on his shoulders (a 2-seater Old Town good for about 50 lbs) and I had the "big" pack. It wasn't a bad trail, it was mostly up hill to Upper Preston, parts were muddy and parts had alot of boulders but we made it through in about 1.5 hrs. At that point we were at upper Preston lake, it is another beautiful lake, there is a somewhat crooked pier there and some DEC boats at the put-in. There is a cabin across the lake owned by National Lead that looks nice, you can see it when you start across the lake. It was a nice canoe accross upper preston than another short portage to lower preston which is another spectacular lake. From Lower Preston you can see the Seward Mountains. The lakes were quiet, pretty and each had a couple of loons swimming on them but they kept their distance. From lower Preston we had another short portage to Duckhole Pond. This is a gem of a lake with beautiful views and a small but forceful waterfall on one side. We paddles accross Duckhole to join our friends, George, Dianna, their son Keith and Tracy the wonder dog at one of the two lean-to's there. They had been there since the previous day and were well settled. We spent the afternoon resting, fishing and canoeing. We had a great dinner, venison hotdogs and venison steaks and some Chardonnay compliments of George, well really some credit should go to Tracy who carried it in. That night we all slept well, heard some loon activity, awoke to a splendid morning. Once again, we dined high on the hog with venison sausage and pancakes with real maple syrup, compliments of Bob & I. With our energy restored, Bob and I continued our trip to Noah Rondeau's old stomping grounds on the Cold River and the George & Dianna trio went in search of an old lumber camp for the morning. We would meet up with them again the next night. Cold River is much bigger than I expected it to be and I thought it was a very pretty river. We stayed at Ouluska lean-to that night. Oh yes, we were lucky enough to see a bald eagle flying back and forth over the water and suddenly take a dive into the water to catch his meal, it was awesome! We walked to Big Dam, saw one heck of a large timber under water for what was left of the dam, we walked onto the flow where the logs were collected on the river before they were let go to ride the current downriver, it was very interesting. The view on the flow of the Seward range, the slide and Ouluska pass was fantastic. The next morning back to duckhole, our friends went out ahead and were met up with them at the Lake Henderson Lean-to. The portage between Upper Preston and Lake Henderson was a bit easier because it was now mostly downhill. But we were tired when we arrived because all in all we covered about 13 miles that day. We all cooled off in the falls by the lake, and boy was it cold but very refreshing. We had an enjoyable last night, we sat around the fire and celebrated Bob's 62nd birthday (4th of July baby) and the next morning we all headed back to the trailhead. It was a super fantastic trip, it was Bob's seventh time in by canoe, he keeps saying he'll never do it again (that carry is getting a little harder each yr) but he keeps doing. I can easily see why, it's very irristable, so beautiful you don't want to leave. Our weather was absolutely perfect and we really had no problems. I have pictures but haven't downloaded into a usable format but maybe I can post some later.
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Old 07-09-2010, 07:57 AM   #2
fvrwld
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Nice TR Ellen. I'm glad you guys had a good time in there.

Happy belated birthday to Bob, you old fart.
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Old 07-09-2010, 10:25 AM   #3
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Nice TR. The Preston ponds are lovely. The second one sees almost no use, as the trail is quite a ways away from it. I've bushwhacked to it though; as serene as can be.
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Old 07-10-2010, 09:08 AM   #4
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Great TR, almost like being there!
I've only paddle/carried in there once, but your TR makes me want to go back right now.
Did you poke around at all on the Prestons? I'm wondering if there are any campsites other than on Duck Hole.
Oh, and somebody must have seen that long stashed guideboat dissolving into the forest...on the opposite side from the Upper-Lower carry, under some overhanging rocks.
I need to get a photo of that, while it's still recognizable.
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Old 07-10-2010, 09:35 AM   #5
Cold River Bob
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There is a campsite on uppper preston just off the put-in, you have to look around a bit for it but I think it's marked, there was a guy when we were going out that was going to camp there that night. Didn't see the old remains of a guide canoe. The prestons are beautiful and we talked about coming back there to camp for a few days and exploring.
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