An Adirondack paddle with an Everglades feel

High water on Stony Creek creates an interesting spring paddling experience. (Provided photo — Spencer Morrissey)

As many of you know, Lake Placid is a hub for hiking mountains of all sizes and trails of all abilities. But what about its close proximity to countless lakes, rivers and ponds?

On this spring trip we decided to explore the waters out of Axton Landing. Axton Landing, as many might recognize by name, is the landing on the Raquette River that is passed as you drive down Coreys Road to explore the Seward Range. Many might not realize the significance to the paddling world this landing awards visitors.

This time of year, the Raquette River and Stony Creek are well above the summer water line, and in most cases looks like the floodplain it essentially is.

In my mind, I see this place having a similar look as the Everglades in Florida, minus the crocodiles and retirees. Our everglades are populated with large snapping turtles, trout and very attractive blossoming red maples.

The access to Axton Landing is a rough, one-way road, which is not so friendly to smaller cars. But what an area to be exploring.

The water had dropped a bit over the last week or so, but it was still reaching up, almost to the user register. We had just purchased an Old Town Penobscot 17-foot canoe at the end of last season — for a steal — and this was our maiden voyage.

We opted not to break a champagne bottle on the hull — the glass would just make a mess and what a horrible waste of perfectly good buzz.

The current wasn’t too bad and a nice solid breeze at our back was nice assistance. As we paddled upstream along the Raquette River we quickly came to Stony Creek that enters on the left. Without a GPS or knowledge of the river, this confluence of water could be hard to recognize, so plan to bring some navigational aide.

The bridge upstream on Coreys Road, over Stony Creek is a sure sign of being on the right course. We passed under the bridge which had plenty of head clearance for big guys like me; even in higher water, clearance wouldn’t be too much of an issue here.

This is where the everglade-type water course comes into play. During this time of year it shows this look, so clearly. The brook, which typically meanders through the trees and small peninsulas, with red maples and alders lining the edges, was now a massive waterway. The small peninsulas were now under water, as were most of the alders and several feet up the stem of the larger red maples.

According to the map on our GPS, we were over land more than we were actually on the course of the creek. It didn’t really matter though, we knew the simple course, which was basically north. The water over the flooded landscape was deep enough in all areas where we didn’t need to worry about running aground.

South Stony Creek Pond was in front and Stony Creek Mountain was on the horizon. We could see them through the trees.

Once on the open water of the pond, it was a much more thoughtless pursuit. We now could hear the frogs chiming in the weeds along shore and the chatter of the squirrels in the tree high above. On occasion we would hear the “peeee-weeeee” of the pee wee bird and the “teacher, teacher, teacher” of the oven bird.

Up ahead, we had yet another bridge to go under, but this one was much, much lower. A private road expands the narrow, and at this bridge we had to duck quite low to go beneath — thank goodness for yoga. I thought of the airline stewardess saying, “In case of emergency place your head between your knees …”

Soon we found ourselves out on open water where I had always wanted to visit. We made a steady line toward the inlet. The inlet was as wide as the creek, with red stem dogwood and other shrubbery poking up through the deep waters.

We made it most of the way to the pond — actually to the pond, just not on it. A beaver dam stopped access. A short carry up and over the dam was an easy remedy, but we opted for lunch instead. Some cheddar cheese, an apple, crackers and a Saranac IPA was just what the doctor ordered, even though we didn’t officially have the prescription on us — you’ll just have to take our word for it.

The paddle back was a bit easier. First of all, it was downstream, and secondly, the navigation was a bit easier since we knew where we went.

Corenne asked me about a trail she saw on her GPS that she was unfamiliar with, so I decided we should go ashore to see where it started. This trail is a dead end trail that leads through the woods for about 1.5 miles to Ampersand Brook — not seen on many maps and not really even maintained.

We passed back under the bridge on Coreys Road and paddled to shore. Corenne got out and the next thing I remember, I was sitting in 3-feet of water as she dumped me in.

On purpose, you think? One may never know.

On a brighter note, the water was warming up and actually felt a bit refreshing after paddling in the sun for several hours, but I won’t tell her that. I guess its back to the car for a change of trousers and then of course Origin for a warming of the insides.


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