An authentic experience backpacking the Northville-Placid Trail. What nobody tells you to expect on your first thru-hike.
And into the forest we go to loose our minds and find our souls.
Thru-Hiking the Northville-Placid Trail
About the Northville-Placid Trail
The Northville-Placid Trail (NPT), 120 – 140 miles, lightly trafficked foot-trail through the Adirondack Park in Northern New York State. The Adirondack Mountain Club created it in 1922 and 1923 and it is now maintained by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The Adirondacks are filled with pristine pockets of forest tucked away from any sense of civilization. The Northville-Placid Trail passes through the wildest and most remote parts of the Adirondack Park. The forest is constantly changing and the landscapes differ daily. Bogs, swamps, ponds, lakes, rivers, rolling hills, mountains, towns, wild blueberries, and raspberries.
The route is pretty moderate with minor climbs, following valleys, rivers, streams, and lakes surrounded by mountains and the often Loons swimming the lakes.
Since COVID-19 the trail has become even more popular this year and continues to grow with hikers, although we still saw very few people.
Who we are:
The Healthy Livin Travelers, John & Ally, and The Oneonta Bootcamp Xtreme Fitness (OBX) take on the Northville-Placid Trail!
John & I are aspiring 46ers, but this was our first backpacking experience. We love to travel and immerse ourselves in different cultures around the world, but this time, we wanted to immerse ourselves in Nature and felt like it was the perfect time to unplug from this crazy world that we live in!
Christine is the owner of OBX Fitness, with partner Kayla who was formerly listed in the Army National Guard. Two kick-ass women right here who have done shorter backpacking trips, Mount Washington being one of them!
What I learned from the NPT
These many hidden gems that are within the Adirondacks will test you physically and mentally. Thru-hiking the Northville-Placid Trail will teach you a lot about yourself. For me, it taught me how spoiled we really are and how little you actually need to survive. It will also show you how strong you truly are, the challenges that you can conquer, and to appreciate the little things in life
Packing for the Northville-Placid Trail
Check out our Packing Essentials and Planning the Northville-Placid Trail Thru-Hike post!
- Light backpacks! Under 30 lbs!
- Bring a smaller lightweight bag (bear canister) and hang your food!!! (Mainly to protect from the mice and Chipmunks, but also the bears too!)
- You don’t need many clothes!
- Mail your food!!
- Don’t try to be a minimalist with food, you need food to sustain your energy!
- Pack Luekotape for Blisters!!
- Garbage bag your sleeping gear to keep dry!
- Waterproof Dry sacs for your clothes!
- Stay Hydrated!
- Even if you think you are an experienced hiker, your feet are going to hurt!
- If your body needs a rest day, give your body a rest day!
- Natural Bugspray does NOT work!! (Sadly)
- Do not always count on sleeping in lean-tos!
- Woods Lake Campsite tends to be a party spot on the weekends!
- You can go solo, but honestly, finding amazing, like-minded people to share this journey with, is so much more memorable!
- Take time to enjoy the scenery and being surrounded by nature!
Wish we knew!
- Your feet will hurt & blisters will happen!!
- The book mentions a corner store in Piseco, this has been closed for many years! There is nothing but a post-office in Piseco!
- Take the trip into Blue Mountain Lake! It is a cute town and the rustic corner store has breakfast sandwiches, ice cream, local goods, baked goods, snacks, etc.
- The Blue Mountain Post Office does not open until noon! But Bill, the owner of the country store advised that sometimes hikers leave their resupply box with him!
- There are hotels and coffee shops in Blue Mountain Lake too!
- I wouldn’t go back to Long Lake, but if the weather is bad, it’s a nice way to get out of the rain! They also have a post office, a Stewarts, carnival-like food outdoor restaurants, and HOSS (a country store).
- Lake Durant Campground is not accepting walk-in’s due to COVID-19!!
- Northville Parking:
- Waterfront Park
Northville, NY 12134
(Across from Stewarts, they have parking specifically for NPT vehicles)
- Waterfront Park
- Lake Placid:
- Lake Placid Train Station Museum
242 Station Street
Lake Placid, NY 12946
- Ayeryville Rd
Lake Placid, NY 12946
- Lake Placid Train Station Museum
Mail Drop Offs
Piseco Post office
402 Old Piseco Road
Piseco, NY 12139
M-F 9:45 – 12:00 and 1:30 – 4:00
Sat 11:30 – 1:00
Blue Mountain Lake Post Office
3444 State Route 28, Blue Mountain Lake, NY 12812
M-F 12:00 – 5:00
Sat 8:00 – 12:00
If sending to yourself, send it as follows:
(Your full name)
c/o General Delivery
full post office address
City, State, Zip
(NPT thru-hiker, approximate arrival around (date))
- Day 1
- Northville to Woods Lake Campsite (12.4 mi)
- Day 2
- Woods Lake Campsite to Silver Lake Lean-to (12.0 mi)
- Day 3
- Rest Day at Silver Lake
- Day 4
- Silver Lake Lean-to to Hamilton Lake Stream Lean-to (11.4 mi)
- Day 5
- Hamilton Lake Stream Lean-to to Jessup River (13.5 mi)
(Resupply at Piseco)
- Hamilton Lake Stream Lean-to to Jessup River (13.5 mi)
- Day 6
- Jessup River to Spruce Lake Lean-to #2 (3 mi)
(Another Rest Day)
- Jessup River to Spruce Lake Lean-to #2 (3 mi)
- Day 7
- Spruce Lake Lean-to to Cedar Lake
Lean-to (12.3 mi)
- Spruce Lake Lean-to to Cedar Lake
- Day 8
- Cedar Lake to Wakely Dam (10.4 mi)
- (10.4 mi)
- Day 9
- Wakley Damn to Lake Durant Roadside Campsite (13.5 mi)
- Day 10
- Lake Durant to Blue Mountain Lake Town (2 mi) to Salmon River (9.5 mi)
(+Resupply in Blue Mountain Lake)
- Lake Durant to Blue Mountain Lake Town (2 mi) to Salmon River (9.5 mi)
- Day 11
- Salmon River to Kelly Point Lean-to (15.4 mi)
- Day 12
- Kelly Point Lean-to to Seward Lean-to (9.7 mi)
- Day 13
- Seward Lean-to to Moose Pond Lean-to (11.9 mi)
- Day 14
- Moose Pond Lean-to to Averyville Rd. (8.1 mi) to the Lake Placid Train Station (1.8 mi) (9.9 mi)
Lost to Found on the Northville-Placid Trail, Wild 2
Our Experience Thru-Hiking the Northville-Placid Trail
The truth about thru-hiking the Northville-Placid Trail!
Day 1: Let’s do this thang!
Northville to Woods Lake Campsite (12.4 mi)
Today is the Day!!!
We left home around 6 am on Saturday, July 25th, 2020, and headed to Lake Placid to drop off one vehicle at the Train Station Museum. Then we all hopped into the second car and drove 2 hours South to Northville and parked at the Waterfront Park which is the official starting point of the trail (& they have designated spots for NPT Vehicles). We signed in and started our hike around 1 p.m. Our packs were both around 30 lbs. Kayla and Christine’s…. 50 and 60 lb packs… Don’t be like Kayla and Christine…
We headed north on Main Street and walked the road for about 3.5 miles before entering the woods. We were excited, had great conversations, beautiful weather and the time flew by!
This is no problem, this will be easier than hiking the high peaks, we thought.
The last mile seemed really long, especially with those feeling it from the 50 & 60 lb backpacks… During the last mile a black bear ran in front of us and climbed about 6 feet up a tree and then jumped down and ran off. We made a lot of noise to help deter the Bear from following us.
At about 12.3 miles we finally made it to Benson road, where there were a bunch of underage kids literally racing us for a camp spot. We beat them to it. And had a spot to set camp and right above was a fire pit. Well, they chose to set camp in the fire pit area, right next to us. They were loud, obnoxious, and saying derogatory things. What we listened to all night, “I’ll give you wood,” or “I’ll give you a marshmallow.” I’ll give you a Marshmallow, WTF does that even mean? Oh it’s going to be a long night, isn’t it? Well, they partied until about 3 a.m, drinking, smoking, throwing up. The whole thing…
It wasn’t a great start to our adventure, and it was a very long night…
We had our dehydrated meal in a bag, hung our bear bag, and settled into our tents.
Day 2: What the hell did we get into?
Woods Lake Campsite to Silver Lake Lean-to (12.0 mi)
Day 2! We got this! We woke up around 6 am and cleaned up and packed up the tents. We did about 45 minutes of yoga, with the obnoxious bunch being, well, obnoxious. We had our breakfast, filled up our water bottles, and hit the trail around 10 am!
Day 2, this has to be better than day 1! We hiked about .2 miles and my knee started to lock up… (F$#!) I have been having IT Band issues for the past few months, so I haven’t done much in the last few months except exercises specifically for my IT Band and yoga, in hopes it would be healed by the time we decided to backpack the NPT. So, I couldn’t really train for this backpacking trip. If you have had serious IT Band issues, you know the extreme pain that comes with it and your knee locks up, it is especially challenging to go downhill, and just plain sucks.
This I thought, was the end of my Journey. John knew too.
I am not one to take medication unless I am absolutely dying, I don’t even remember the last time I took medication. I try to do everything naturally, but, this was the time I was willing to try anything. I started with CBD Oil orally and topically, then I went to Tylenol and Advil, but nothing seemed to help. It was slow-moving. But luckily John bought trekking poles specifically for this trip, which I personally thought was just a waste of more money… But I found that they helped me keep some weight off my right leg. The day seemed like it was never-ending. We took multiple breaks.
Somebody actually gave us Medical Grade Marijuana, which I have never tried or thought of for pain management. Within minutes my pace picked up, still unable to bend my knee, but it did something to alleviate the pain. After about 2 hours, I began getting that sharp pain in my knee again. And the cycle restarted. Once again it helped.
Christine and John were hauling ass, while Kayla and I took the rear. We finally arrived at a sign that said 2.2 miles until Silver Creek lean-to. At this pace, we’re basically hiking 1 mile/hour…
Can I do another 2 hours of this?
Christine and Kayla ended up taking lead, while I struggled again with my knee. The trail was uneven terrain and a lot of fallen down trees to climb over or to go around. At this point my feet were basically screaming at me F$!# You. The sun is starting to set and finally, I hear Kayla and Christine cheering, so I thought we must be close to our lean-to! But again, it felt like we just kept walking and there was no end. Finally, we caught up to them and Christine was on the ground with her shoes off, her legs were no longer “working” and Kayla was filling up the water bottles. They thought that being that they made it to Silver Lake, then the lean-to must be close! But, that was not the case.
We were all thinking it, but Christine is the one that finally looked at us and said “there is no way we can finish this. This is not worth putting our bodies in so much physical pain that could cause deeper issues down the road.” With my knee the way it is, all of our hips, legs and feet, she was right, how could we go on? We were 24.5 miles deep into the forest with about 22.5 miles to go before we reach another road. With my IT Band, I really didn’t know how the hell I was going to get out of there!
Kayla looked at the guidebook and it showed we were .3 miles from the lean-to. We made it to the lean-to (around 8 pm) and another NPT hiker was occupying it, but he was nice enough to invite us in. Clearly, we all had a bad day and were disappointed about quitting the NPT. We declined the invite and he said, “Maybe I’ll see you guys around.” John looks at him and says, “yea, probably not.”
We took off our packs, and it felt like we were floating, and still carrying that pack. A weird feeling to have! And we had this feeling for many days, every time we took our packs off.
We pitched our tents down below by Silver Lake instead. We asked John to start a fire. And we took off our shoes and our socks were basically glued to our feet. Our feet were so sore and tender that we could not physically walk. The uneven ground with the roots from the trees hurt our feet to walk on. We were in so much pain. Pain I have never felt before. Why didn’t anyone tell us our feet were going to hurt so badly?
We cooked our dehydrated and freeze-dried meals in a bag, and our first trail nuisance started intruding on our bags and getting into our tea. So John hung the “bear” bag. Shortly after John started the fire, we all left him and crawled to our tents in pain, disappointment, and anger with ourselves.
Day 3: Rest Day
We decided to quit. So being that we all took 14 days off from the corporate world, we decided to give ourselves a day of rest, but we still had 2 days of hiking to make it out to a road. We figured we would find a lake to lounge at drink margaritas, and everything would be fine.
We spent the day at Silver Lake, recovering. Giving our feet a break. We had some of the biggest blisters I have ever seen covering our feet. Nobody told me my feet were going to be covered in blisters!
We were all on the same page that we weren’t going to finish our hike. I told John he could go on without me because I believed he could, but he didn’t want to finish without me. We were all disappointed in ourselves, feeling that we were letting people down, but clearly, we had more challenges than expected. And it really didn’t matter what others thought; I don’t think anyone really knows the challenges until they actually partake in the challenge!
We filled up our sawyer water bottles, ate breakfast, and had some tea and coffee, still unable to walk comfortably. Kayla and Christine brought 2 hammocks, so they set up the hammocks, John and I laid in one, and Kayla and Christine laid in the other. It was a beautiful day to just lounge, take naps, read books, journal, let our bodies recover, and enjoy the company of great people! We also spent the majority of the day popping blisters!
Surrounded by nature, friends who are like-minded and share similar energy, and unplugging from this crazy world deep into the forest. We all needed this rest day… And this was the point of the trip, to be in nature, to be ourselves, and to unplug.
The Clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.John Muir
Sitting on a rock looking at the mountains surrounding Silver Lake, taking in the scenery, and sharing my rock with a frog as it absorbs those sun rays. The lake was filled with leaches and they’d swim toward me every time I put my feet in the water. Salamanders flooded the water and water beetles zoomed back and forth like cars in a busy city!
It was a beautiful day and sprinkled for just a few minutes.
As we were lounging in the hammocks, Kayla started to read through the Guidebook, and says “hey guys, I think we could really do this.” Christine begins to explain the hike as being more difficult than Labor… But Kayla starts to lighten the mood, like maybe, just maybe, we can actually do this. John jumps up from the hammock and grabs the map, and they start looking everything over. Christine and I look at each other, “are we really going to do this?”
So, we all agreed, that we would see how we do backpacking to Piseco, and that will be our determiner.
If we weren’t 24 miles deep into the woods, we would have just walked out and quit there, but we still had about 24 miles to get back to civilization…
THIS IS LABORChristine G.
Day 4: We’re pushing through!
Silver Lake Lean-to to Hamilton Lake Stream Lean-to (11.4 mi)
Day 4, we got this! We could walk again, and felt a lot better after our rest day! We planned to hike to the Whitehouse lean-to which was 8.6 miles. We woke up around 8 am, made our breakfast, practiced yoga, and then hit the trail. The day went quickly, we were making great time, our pace was great, everyone was feeling good, and my knee was feeling perfect! We decided to press on to Hamilton Stream Lake since we were all feeling good (11.4 mi).
We set up camp, and John and I slept in the lean-to for the first time. We walked down to the stream where John guided us through a Wim Hoff Breathing exercise and then we cleaned off and relaxed in the stream! Fish surrounded us and were nibbling at our feet and legs! Kind of weird…
We cooked dinner and then off to bed we went. John and I used the Hammock Bug net around us to keep the mosquitoes from biting, but they were biting right through the net, and I was pretty cold, so didn’t sleep great.
Day 5: Officially Quit Day!
Hamilton Lake Stream Lean-to to Jessup River (Resupply in Piseco) (13.5 mi)
We woke up with excitement for finally making it to the town! John and I packed very minimally on the food and trail snacks, and john clearly needed more to keep his energy going. The guidebook states that there is a corner store in Piseco, so we were all excited about all the snacks we were going to buy! And to pick up our first food resupply at the Piseco Post Office. We started our day with some breakfast and yoga and then walked on. Thinking about all the food we were going to buy at the corner store! Moving a little slower than yesterday, we finally made it to the road, while passing a few NPT hikers backpacking from North to South. Right before we entered the road, there were wild blueberries that we foraged. So tiny, but such a burst of flavor!
We came out to the road to find out that the corner store has been closed for a few years… NOOOOOOOO. We all just shrugged it off, stayed positive, and made it to the Piseco Post Office around 12:30, which they are closed from 12 – 1:30. So, Christine and Kayla sorted through their bag and sent back unnecessary items, (30 lbs to be exact). And then mailed their food to the Blue Mountain Post Office. John and I didn’t really have much to send back, but we did shed 11 lbs of items that weren’t necessary. When the Post Office opened, we picked up our resupply box and mailed another package home.
We had a nice break waiting for the post office to open, sorting through our things, reorganizing our packs, and giving our feet some rest. Multiple people that stopped at the post office were interested in our adventures.
We continued on, and Kayla and Christine’s packs were much lighter and much more manageable, they were skipping with happiness! Bob & Matt Camp Wood stopped and asked if we would like a ride to the trail, but we thanked them and declined.
As we get to the woods, I feel my knee stiffening up again, and Kayla says, “Ally, I think you need to smoke again.” I smoked again, and within seconds I am bending my knee, my pace is faster than my actual normal pace, and I look behind me to make sure everyone is still with me, and all three of them were quite a ways behind me!
John has also experienced similar IT Band issues in the past, knows the pain, and has seen what it has done to me on the trails before and he said it was literally a miracle.
Originally we planned to hike to Fall Stream (11.1 mi), but we didn’t get a high vibe from this location, it was kind of dark and damp, so we pressed on to Jessup River, hiking 13.5 miles.
Kayla says, “Hey guys, do you realize today was our quit day, and we did more mileage than planned.” None of us even thought about today being our official quit day!
We set up camp, made a campfire, and John and Kayla went for a dip in the freezing cold river!
Our feet were a bit sore, and the back of my knees was sore, but this was the first night I had a lot more energy than the past few days.
We went to bed, and the sound of moving water made us all sleep well!
Day 6: “Rest Day”
Jessup River to Spruce Lake Lean-to (3 mi)
Today, we were supposed to go 5.9 miles from Fall Stream to Spruce Lake, but since we did more mileage yesterday, it made for a shorter day! We only had 3 miles, and then the day to relax and recover again! Our feet were a bit sore, so having a short day was what we needed. We came to the first lean-to and continued past then came to the second lean-to and had our breakfast, finally arriving at the third lean-to which was absolutely beautiful. Kayla read in the guidebook to watch your head on the one side as the overhangs are low. She smashed her head about 12 times. So watch your head!
And the chipmunks chewed holes in Kayla’s bag within minutes of being there, they wanted a taste of that trail-mix!
We lounged, swam, absorbed those sun-rays, read, journaled, and recovered for our next big day.
Day 7: Feeling Good
Spruce Lake to Cedar Lake (12.3 mi)
We realize having those shorter days or rest days makes the next day or a couple of days more enjoyable. Our pace and our attitudes are more positive and lively after having those rest days.
So many toads, so many toad jokes…
What did the one toad say to the other toad when he crossed the road? Toad ya laterChristine G.
Passing through the West Canada Lakes Region, stopping to enjoy the view, the sandy beaches, and to fill up on more water! We made it to the first lean-to where a couple was occupying it and didn’t seem too welcoming to have us in their space, so we pressed on to the second lean-to. The second lean-to was in a beautiful location but away from the water. So we decided to pitch tents in a designated camp spot closer to the water. We went swimming, and john swam all the way across the lake to an Island. Another leech-infested lake! One actually attached to my foot but was quickly removed, and it literally chased me! The black flies were absolutely awful at this location!
We made a fire, ate dinner, and had some good laughs!
Day 8: The good and the bad!
Cedar Lake to Wakely Dam (10.4 mi)
We woke up, ate breakfast, cleaned up camp, and hit the trail. Today, my knee felt 100% healed, I felt great! Everyone else, not so much. John’s knee swelled up, it was red, puffy, itchy, and unable to bend. Kayla wasn’t feeling her best, but both Christine and I were feeling good. Everyone was pretty quiet today.
This trail was nice easy walking, and eventually comes to a two-rut tote road, crossing a truck grade log bridge, we had to go through this really swampy area, so our shoes got soaked… Eventually joining a 2 lane dirt road, and eventually, we make it to the Wakley Damn Campsite which is packed. We clearly looked like backpackers, like people who have been in the woods for days.. Many people were actually very interested in our journey and offered help. At one point we had people waiting to talk to us. It was like we were famous!
This man, William, and his son Liam came to us and said we were welcome to stay at their campsite if we couldn’t find anything. They told us what their tent looked like. So we walked on and found their campsite with a nice sandy beach and a perfect view. There was an open spot right next to them, so we set up camp, and then Kayla and I went in the water to “bath.” Fish surrounded us, nibbling at our feet and legs. Still weird! Some felt a little too large for comfort… And leaches!
We hung our clothes out and placed our shoes near the fire to help dry them out. William and Liam invited us to sit by the fire with them, we chatted and they offered to drive us to the convenience store if needed, they gave us extra propane for our cook-stove as we were running low, and they gave us a bunch of Cliff Bars, as John needed more fuel! We had our meals in a bag with them and they charged our phones for us, so we had them to use as a camera! They also gave john a bag of ice to ice his knee!
Kindness goes a long way and they made us feel so welcomed.
We went back over to our camp spot to settle in for the night. And I guided us through a healing meditation, for all of us. To heal our hips, knees, and feet. The bugs seemed to like Kayla and John’s blood the most, so Christine and I are peaceful and you hear John and Kayla fidgeting and slapping the mosquitoes, until they could no longer take it!
The loons at every Lake we have been at have been so active and beautiful to listen to as we drift off to bed!
We are Happy. We are Peaceful. We are Healed.
Day 9: Swamp Rats
Wakley Damn to Lake Durant Roadside Campsite (13.5 mi)
We woke in the middle of the night to rain, so quickly got up and removed our clothing from the lines and went back to bed! When we woke up in the morning, it was still raining. We had breakfast quickly, packed our things, and said our goodbyes. We were on the trail by 8:30 am. Our plan was to hike from Wakley Damn to Stephens Pond Lean-to (8.5 mi). My shoes were still very wet, and it was very wet outside. So I wore my Earth Runners, which I have been told numerous times because of my issues with my knee I need more support in shoes, and to not wear them on big hikes. But, my shoes, socks, and the ground were all very wet, and I was feeling good, so I wore them anyway!
The trail was uneven terrain and slanted, John was hauling ass taking the lead. I was in the middle and then Christine and Kayla. We eventually came to a sign that said, Stephens Pond .6 mi and Lake Durant Campground 3.1 mi. We were all happy to see this sign!
We arrived at Stephens Pond, where another friendly couple was heading out and we sat for a moment, had a snack, and decided to keep going to Lake Durant Campsite. We were excited to have hot showers! But as we arrived, we were told that due to COVID-19 they were not accepting walk-ins at this time and we had to reserve a spot 2 days beforehand. Even though there were tons of spots open. Disappointed that I wasn’t getting that much-needed hot shower after being in wet clothes all day! The office staff advised that there were camp spots about .5 + miles down the road. So we continued to walk on. Heading down NY 28/30, about .5 miles there is a side road with camping!
We all grabbed some sticks and John started a fire and hung his clothes and shoes to dry out. Kayla, Christine, and I cleaned up in the lake. Bluegill fish surrounded our feet.
I wore my earth runners the entire time, my knee felt great, my feet felt great, and today I felt like I could just continue walking. The trail seemed very meditative today.
It rained for about half the day.
John found some cattail, and cooked it over the fire, really tender and good mild flavor actually! It started to sprinkle again, so we cooked our dinner and made our way into our tents. Read a little and then went to bed rather early.
We didn’t sleep the best because the wind was so heavy that it felt like a tree was going to come crashing down on our tents. Later, we found out that tornadoes came through close by.
There was a frog outside that kept clinging to our tents. Kayla and Christine got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, they got back in their tent and laid down. Kayla screamed like a little school girl, “Something is on my pillow…” Well, it was the frog!
Day 10: Blue Mountain Lake Day!!!
Lake Durant to Blue Mountain Lake Town to Salmon River (9.5 mi)
It was looking like it was going to rain again, so we quickly packed up before our tent got wet, and Kayla evicted Christine from their tent.
John and I sent our food to Blue Mountain Lake Post office, and Kayla and Christine eventually sent theirs too, so we had to go into town to retrieve our boxes. The book noted that there is a general store (So our thoughts were a quickway, which was fine, we’d just get a few snacks).
We headed down the road, and poorly attempted to hitchhike, but no takers. 2 miles later we made it to Blue Mountain Lake! And we came to this Rustic styled country store. It was everything we could have hoped for! Baked goods, sandwiches, local ice cream, snacks, clothing, and other local goods! We ordered breakfast sandwiches, coffee, kombucha, muffins, and cookies, and loaded up on snacks! We sat in there for a while, the first time we had service on the trail, so we called our families to let them know we were alive and stronger than ever!
Next stop, Blue Mountain Post Office. We arrived at the Blue Mountain Post Office around 10 am. Well, turns out they don’t open until noon! Which meant, we had to sit around for 2 hours. So we took over the post office, took our shoes off, and rested until it opened.
Once the post office opened, we retrieved our packages, and by that time it was lunchtime, so of course, John couldn’t leave without a sandwich.
We went back to the General Store, and got sandwiches, more cookies, and ice cream! Christine told the owner, Bill, that we had to wait for the post office to open, and he advised that sometimes hikers keep their packages by his store so they don’t run into this problem! But he gave us a ride back to the trailhead since we have lost so much time!
We thanked Bill for the ride and started hiking. We made it to Tirrell Pond and went for a swim on the beautiful sandy beach. We met a couple just leaving the beach who talked about wanting to hike the Appalachian Trail. We would of loved to stay here, but decided to keep going.
We walked 2 miles further to pitch our tents at Salmon River. We started a fire, and John and I picked up some hot dogs to share and cook over the fire, and they were literally the best camp food yet!
We went to bed early since tomorrow was our 1,000 feet of elevation day! So, we wanted to rest up.
Day 11: Hurricane Isaia, Lean-to’s, and Mice
Salmon River to Kelly Point Lean-to (15.4 mi)
We woke up to pouring rain. My shoes were left outside in the pouring rain. Christine grabbed our clothes from the line when it originally started. Our plan was to hike from Salmon River to Catlin Bay, about 10 miles. Everyone was a little nervous about the big climb today. With mine and John’s knees, we were more worried about the downhill. We started around 9 am. We went up 1,000 feet elevation and then down the other side by 11:30! Okay, that went faster than expected, and both mine and John’s knees cooperated! Still pouring, and soaked. On the way out we met one NPT Hiker heading southbound, he has been hiking for 3 days in the rain… And then 2 other hikers, who looked pretty miserable.
We decided to walk 1.5 miles to Long Lake to find someplace to get out of the rain and to get warm since it was still so early. They have a Stewart’s, which the AC was so high we didn’t want to sit in there. And they also have a store named Hoss Country Corner that sold clothing and knickknacks. So we bought fresh, dry, wool socks! Long Lake also had some outdoor restaurants, kind of like carnival style. So we got burgers, fries, and coffee and sat under a pavilion for a few hours.
Wait, there’s a Hurricane and tornado that came through? That may explain the heavy winds!
Christine picked up some Nine-Pin Cider so we could end this crazy day on a good note! We decided to head back to the trail to go to Catlin Bay Lean-to. It was a Tuesday. During a hurricane. We didn’t expect many people, but we were proven wrong.
We made it to the first Lean-to, our planned lean-to to stay in. There were 2 girls in the Lean-to practicing “yoga”, we asked if they knew of other close lean-to’s and if they were full if we would be able to join them. They looked at us like we were crazy and said “mmm sorry COVID-19. Not gonna happen.” Okay, Namaste Bitches. So we head to the second lean-to. Also occupied, with a tent set up in the lean-to, people who walked 1.5 miles to get to that lean-to. No room for us… My knee and hip become sore, and we are totally soaked. Every time I bent over, water would pour off my bag and seep down my back. Next Lean-to. Full. Kayla’s bag starts to feel heavier and heavier. Next two lean-to’s, Full. Finally, we make it to Kelly’s point, and the first lean-to, has a tent set up in it and John says hello, and nobody answers. So we walk past, and finally, the last one is open, at 7:15 pm! My hips, knees, and shoulder are sore.
We hang everything up in the lean-to. And this is the first time Christine and Kayla decide to sleep in the lean-to. Kayla removes her clothes from her bag, and they are drenched, which is why her bag felt like it was getting heavier and heavier. We get settled in. Cook our dinners and drank our ciders.
Wait, did we just hike 15.4 miles in a hurricane?
Around 11:30 pm, we hear some noises ruffling through our bags. Then some squeaks. John shines his headlamp, and it was mice! They chewed a hole through again, Kayla’s bags where she had that trail mix! They’re in our bags, on our clothes, probably walking on top of us as we sleep. Kayla’s freaking out. John says we need to hang the bags away from the lean-to. The mice are coming from the ceiling, the walls, from outside, infesting the lean-to. Finally, John gets up and sets up our tent, and hangs the “bear” bag. Christine and Kayla set up their tent and hang their bag. They leave me in the lean-to with a broom to swat at the mice. The mice are coming from every direction. I am hitting them with the broom and they just keep coming back! Finally, we get the lean-to cleaned out and into our tents. Still raining, but we make it out of the lean-to!
Kelly Point Lean-to to Seward Lean-to (9.7 mi)
It now stopped raining, but still kind of stormy out. Sprinkling on and off. We hung out for a little while to try and dry out some of our things before we pack up. I think we were all pretty tired today, so it stayed pretty quiet. I am still amazed that I have made it this far with my knee issues. But a beautiful trail, and beautiful views! We saw a lot of Moose scat on this trail. John picked some wintergreen leaves and added them to our end-of-the-day tea.
Seward Lean-to to Moose Pond Lean-to (11.9 mi)
This was my most challenging day. My knee hurt from the 15.4 miles from the hurricane day. So it was slow-moving, and I couldn’t bend my knee, and on this part of the trail, there were a lot of down trees that you had to step over or go around. A rough trail day for all. A very long day. This day felt similar to day 2! We finally made it to Moose Pond Lean-to, to set up camp. John and I slept in the Lean-to. Kayla and Christine in the tent. They all washed up in the waterfall. And I hung back at the lean-to to give my knee some rest.
John found a baggie with $100, a license, and a credit card. So we grabbed it and figured we would try and get in touch with the person when we got back in service!
We made dinner and then I think we were all in bed by 7:45.
This seemed like the most active night for wildlife. In the middle of the night we heard splashing in the pond below, I believe it was beavers slapping the water with their tail. Then we heard this large bird take flight from the water, making weird noises like it could have been injured. It sounded prehistoric. A little hard to sleep after that. We heard other noises like possibly a moose call from the pond area, and then also heard something large walk past our tents… My knee was sore throughout the night, so it was hard to sleep as it was, plus all the noises we heard being in the middle of a dark forest miles away from civilization.
Day 14: Holy hell, we’ve made it!
Moose Pond Lean-to to Averyville Rd. to the Train Station Museum (9.9 mi)
We woke up, excited that today was the day, but also kind of sad that we have come to the end of our journey! We pack up camp, and about 1.4 miles from the lean-to is Wanaka Falls. So we decided to have our breakfast there. A beautiful series of falls cascading down. There are also amazing camp spots at this location too!!
After breakfast, we headed out! This trail was thankfully much easier and well maintained than yesterday’s trail! I don’t think I could handle another yesterday! Fairly level terrain, dry, and lots of boardwalks! Chaga was found throughout the trail, but most people had already gotten to it, but being that this was our last day, we grabbed a little chunk to bring home!
We finally made it to the trail parking on Averyville Rd, which is the end of the trail. But the true end is at the Lake Placid Train Station, where we parked, which was an additional 1.8 miles. At the trail registry, the girl who left her money, driver’s license, and credit card in Moose Pond Lean-to, left a note with her number and offered a reward. So we called her and she met us on the road to grab her items and offered us the $100, as she was just happy she doesn’t have to worry about getting a new license with COVID-19 going on. We declined the money, but she stuck $40 in Johns’s bag. We were talking to her for a bit at the end of someones driveway. And a man says, “Can you get the fuck out of my driveway.”
Back to the woods we go! It’s too peopley out here for me!
We made it to our vehicle! Changed our clothes and completed our hike by 1:30 pm! So we walked into town and went to the Great Adirondack Brewing Company and celebrated with burgers, Philly-Cheese-Steaks, Duck Wings, French Fries, Sourdough Pretzel, IPA’s, Sours, and mixed drinks! Then we headed South to pick up our other vehicle, celebrated a little more with Ice Cream in Northville, and then parted ways.
And That’s a Wrap!
14 days spent deep into the forest. We lost our minds and found our souls. We only had 2 days of rain, the weather was absolutely perfect! We made a great team, and were there to pick each other up on our bad days, and help each other laugh about it at the end of the day. If you asked me on day 2 if I would ever do this again, my answer would be $#*! No. But after pushing through those hard days, I would do it again in a heartbeat!
Leave No Trace
- Pack it in, pack it out.
- Bring a bag for food waste and garbage
- Dispose of Waste Properly
- Dig a 6-8 inch cathole, at least 200 ft from water, camp, and trails & bury.
- If you use soap for dishes or bathing, make sure you’re a good distance (at least 200 feet) from the water. (Even Biodegradable soap!) Dig a hole and wash up away from the water with a bucket or water bottle!
- Leave What You Find.
- Plants, rocks, animals.
- Respect Wildlife
- Observe from a distance
- Respect other backpackers!