0927 Duck Hole
Up Duck Hole Gear

Thursday

Bob and I left work at noon on Thursday the 27th and drove to the trailhead at Upper Works, getting there about 4:15.  By 4:45 we were on our way up the trail, heading 7 rough miles into Duck Hole for the weekend.  We set a brisk pace, expecting it to be about a 3 hour hike, and wanting to get there before dark.  After about two hours, it was dark enough (I think official sundown was 6:15) to get Bob's flashlight out of his pack and me to don my headlamp.  In other words, it was pitch dark.  Bob led, and I only had to use my headlamp after another half hour.  But by the time we got to the Roaring Brook crossing (a rock-hop or wade) it was very dark.  Bob waded, I rock-hopped, and we both made it across safely and dry.  Another 20 minutes and we were at the caretaker clearing, turned for the new lean-to, and to our delight, found it uninhabited.  We unpacked a little, got the stove going, and had soup, Beef Stroganoff with noodles (dehydrated) and coffee and cocoa.  Then we hung the food bag and got in our bags for the night.  It was 46 degrees, barometer at 28.25" Hg.  I took a few photos before drifting off.

Friday

During that first night, it rained pretty hard from about 3:00 on, stopping just before dawn.  It was nice to listen to, and the lean-to has no leaks, so everything stayed dry.  Bob was up first.  From my logbook:

"Chipmunks & mice got after Bob and his stuff all night.  They ate his Styrofoam soup cup.  43 this morning, 28.25" Hg.  They tipped over one of my cooking pots, other than that left me alone.  Rained during the night, & still dripping this a.m. at 7.  The colors on the mountain are near peak.  It will be a great day to lounge in the lean-to, read poetry, and do some writing."

The chipmunks or mice also got after our food bag.  They chewed through mine in several places, but didn't bother my food.  They also got into Bob's, but didn't eat any of his food.

And lay around I did.  It was up to 48 by noon.  Bob fished in the morning, and the closest thing I did to effort was to filter a gallon or so of drinking water.  Bruno from Montreal stopped by on his 4th through hike of the Northville Placid Trail.  His hiking companion was Yvon, but we didn't meet him.  Bruno had been on the trail for 9 days, was planning to stay at Moose Pond tonight and finish out at Averyville Road on Saturday.  He had stayed at the Seward lean-to the night before, which leaked and got his sleeping bag wet.  He talked about having a steak and wine dinner in Blue Mountain Lake on his way through.

I noted in my log that I feel 100% better than I did July 7 when I hiked in here.  My pack was lighter then, but I was lighter this time.  I'm in much better shape, and didn't feel the hike in at all.  Bob fished for an hour and got very cold doing so.  We cooked soup and macaroni & cheese for lunch.  Bob didn't catch any fish (much to my surprise) but he got a Snickers bar for his efforts.  I had a long nap after lunch, but Bob roamed the campsite for a while before he too slept.  I got up at about 4:30, and it was 50 with a light mist falling.  From my logbook:

"Yesterday at this time we were just starting our afternoon hike.  Wonder if anyone will get here today - it looks almost dark already due to the low-hanging clouds.  I wonder if we are at war, or under attack again.  Tom is looking at the clock - almost time for a cold beer at the Empire."

It got dark early and no one else showed up.  Bob cooked really good biscuits on the fire and I boiled water for soup and chicken teriyaki.  Then we built the fire up pretty good.  All of a sudden the sky blew clear with a fresh wind out of the North, the moon shined through and it got pretty cold.  It got down to 28 during the night, but my sleeping bag kept me really warm.  Although I did have to visit the privy 3 times during the night.  Friday Photos.

We modified our food hang by putting a flattened piece of aluminum on the rope, below the carbineer but above the bag.  We figured this would keep the mice from getting down the rope.

Saturday

It was 28 and 28.45"Hg in the morning, with beautiful clear blue skies.  Our food bags were unmolested.  I think it had more to do with leaving the bag down a little from the carabineer instead of the flat plate.  I think the mice were climbing across the rope, then hanging on the carabineer to chew through the bags.  By leaving it down a couple feet, they couldn't reach it.  After oatmeal, tea and eggs & bacon (dehydrated) we went down on the bridge to drink our coffee and tea, since it was in the sunshine.  Then we walked over to the rock crib dam and crossed it.  It was covered with rime ice from the frost, and we both slipped on it.  I found a spike used to connect some of the logs just laying loose.  We kept going over to the crossing of the inlet stream where we'd had such a hard time crossing it a few years ago.  The water was much lower today.  We also visited a place along the inlet much closer to the lake.

Then we walked back to the lean-to and Bob suggested we run right away.  I had done some research yesterday while he was fishing, and suggested we run along the Ward Brook Truck Trail to the Ward Brook lean-to, which is about 5 miles one way.  I put up a long clothesline before we left and we hung our damp things to dry out in the sunshine.  About 10 we left on our run.  It was a wonderful run - this trail is very runnable, crossing a swamp, or 'alpine meadow' as Bob put it, and then over some easy grades.  It was a really nice trail run.  We met some folks along the way.  A group of 7 was taking a lunch break on the trail when I went out, and hiking toward Duck Hole on my return.  Three guys in the Ward Brook Lean-To had spent yesterday in the wet weather for 11 hours on the Seward Range.

Bob beat me back by a long time, and had taken a dunk in Duck Hole.  He reported it to be brutally cold.  I went in above my waist, but that was it.  And it hurt.

After that we ate lunch - soup and macaroni & cheese again.  Then the group arrived.  They were 5 students and 2 leaders from the North Country Community College on their fall practicum, 29 days in the wilderness.  They were a very nice group and took over the lower lean-to.  Bob went fishing again, while I laid in the lean-to and slept a little.  The kids went in the water.  Then some other guys arrived, one of whom had an unleashed dog.  The dog was in the water, in the lean-to, and eating the kids' food.  Really not controlled by the owner.  They tented at the ranger clearing.  Some other guys from Floral Park came by looking for a tent site, and ended up across the bridge.  One guy had an aluminum lawn chair on the back of his pack.

Bob and I gathered firewood and cooked supper, Bob cooking corn bread this afternoon, along with soup.  I had a dehydrated Chili-Mac & Beef and corn bread, really good.  Bob cooked Jiffy-Pop, and then took some of it down to the kids.  They liked it.  Then a couple of them came up to cook some bread in our fire, which was going very good.  That took a while and we talked.  They were using some aluminum covered pans they called NOLS pans.  That cooked the bread very well.  Then we went to sleep.  It was another cold night, terrific sleeping.  Saturday Photos.

Sunday

In the morning we got up kind of late.  It was 27 and we didn't get up until about 7.  We got down the food bag, unmolested again.  Oatmeal and coffee, and packing up to go out.  The NCCC group brought us a sample of both loaves of bread - onion cheese and cinnamon raisin.  It was really good.  We took them the rest of my chocolate mints, said goodbye and headed out.  It was a great hike out, perfect weather, no bugs, and things were not too wet.  It took us about 3 hours to get out, and it was another great day.  Sunday morning photos.

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