Pond-hopping is on the agenda for my third day of bushwhacking through the remote western portion of the Five Ponds Wilderness. Four unnamed ponds lie between me and Crooked Lake now, each separated from the others by only a steep ridge. What mysteries each pond may hold is anyone’s guess.
The beginning of my third day in the rarely visited western part of the Five Ponds Wilderness is cold and restless. Many mysterious sounds stymie my attempt for an undisturbed night of sleep, leaving me listless and drowsy to meet the new, frigid day. After a hearty breakfast, I visit the nearby unnamed pond before starting my bushwhack toward Crooked Lake.
Looking for a campsite in the Adirondack backcountry is neither science nor art, it is a struggle, especially so within the remote southwestern Five Ponds Wilderness. The chance of finding one of those flat areas so common along the trail system, devoid of vegetation and other debris due to many years of human use, is
Carpet spruce swamp. Confluence of the Middle Branch Oswegatchie River. These places are not on any maps, at least none that I ever seen. They exist only in the conversations of backcountry explorers that dare to leave the trail behind and venture into a remote corner of the Five Ponds Wilderness. Maybe on an occasional
Rain delays on an aggressive bushwhacking adventure often lead to an alteration of a finely honed trip itinerary, which is never a good thing. Unfortunately, this exact situation unfolded at the dawn of the second day of my trip through one of the least frequently visited parts of the Five Ponds Wilderness in the northwestern
Although I wake to bright sunlight in the early morning on Lower South Pond in the Five Ponds Wilderness, the dark clouds move in and a downpour ensues. With the rain continuing throughout the morning, some changes in my trip’s itinerary are inevitable, including less time within the carpet spruce swamp. Luckily, the rain stops early enough for the trip to go on.
After hiking in from Bear Pond Road via the Upper South Pond Trail, I start the off-trail portion of my five-day trip by bushwhacking south, visiting Upper, Middle and Lower South Ponds before the day is done. Setting up my campsite for the night is made more difficult by off and on rain, before turning to a full-on downpour during the early evening hours.
My bushwhacking trip through one of the remotest parts of the Five Ponds Wilderness begins on the Upper South Pond Trail. The rough and rugged trail crosses the Middle Branch of the Oswgatchie River and meanders through a wild Adirondack forest on its way to a wilderness pond. My first encounter with moose droppings on this trip occurs on the trail just before approaching Upper South Pond, near where I leave the trail behind and begin bushwhacking south toward Lower South Pond.
Not everything works out the way you plan it. This is just as true with bushwhacking trips into the backcountry of the Adirondacks as anything else. Some trips are highly spontaneous, moving from conception to implementation with the speed of a mosquito finding a bulging vein on a warm summer evening. Others take their time
This year’s Birdathon results from within the Pepperbox Wilderness of the Adirondack Park were less than stellar. With only 46 species, it was the second lowest count for the seven years in which I participated. A severe head cold, recent beaver dams, a black bear and lack of some common species contributed to the low turn-out.