Cilley updates trusty Paddler’s Guide
SARANAC LAKE — Dave Cilley, co-owner of St. Regis Canoe Outfitters, knows a thing or two about paddling in the Adirondacks. And luckily, he’s compiled that knowledge into an updated fourth edition of the Adirondack Paddler’s Guide.
Cilley has a made a life and career out of plying the innumerable waters of the Adirondacks, and while there are no shortage of guidebooks for Adirondack adventurers, the Paddler’s Guide is perhaps the most comprehensive.
The guidebook is broken into geographic sections, but is also spiral bound — meaning it’s easy to flip to the page you want, slip it into a zip-top bag and have the needed section easily at hand. Designed for paddlers of all stripes, the guide offers everything from tips and tricks to terminology and basically more trips than one could hope to take.
For beginners, Cilley includes Leave No Trace ethics, a description of how the Adirondack Park works and links to a number of useful resources on things like hypothermia and how to differentiate between the different classes of river.
For people who have already spent some time on the water, the rest of the book is a like a gourmet meal, made to be pored over and enjoyed even when the ice is two feet thick.
The Paddler’s Guide covers 10 different areas of the park, including the Saranac Lake and Lake Placid areas, Lake Champlain, Newcomb, the St. Regis Canoe Area and the Northern Forest Canoe trail, which wends its way from Old Forge through the Adirondacks, Vermont, New Hampshire, Quebec and into Maine. Note that the Paddler’s Guide does not cover the entire length of the NFCT, just the parts within the Blue Line.
Within each section are a number of trips, and in total, there are more than 60 paddles described within the pages. There’s a little something for every level and every time constraint — from quick afternoon paddles to multi-day traverses.
For instance, Cilley highlights nine paddles of a half-day or less in and near Tupper Lake, including Stony Creek, sections of the Raquette River and out-and-back paddles on Tupper Lake itself. Likewise, he also describes a three to five day, 10-plus portage trip through the St. Regis Canoe Area called the St. Regis Pond Loop.
“The portages on this route are harder and longer than most,” Cilley writes of the St. Regis loop. “They may be muddy or swampy, with poor footing. Two of the portages are over a mile long so we recommend packing as if you were on a backpacking trip — with all your gear in packs.”
The guide then goes on to give a detailed description of the route which stretches on for several pages, as is to be expect for a roughly 25-mile trip. However, that is more the exception than the rule, as the bulk of the book is made up of shorter day trips.
There’s well known routes and paddles such as Moose Pond in Bloomingdale, the Chubb River, Franklin Falls and the historic Seven Carries through the St. Regis Canoe Area.
“This is a flatwater, ‘pond hopping,’ mostly wilderness trip,” Cilley writes. “It is a protected route with small lakes and ponds, and an optional hike up St. Regis Mountain. This is a very attractive route with over 75% of it in the St. Regis Canoe Area.
“We recommend starting at Paul Smith’s College and ending at Little Clear Pond, simply because this puts the wilder land in the second half of the trip.”
There are many accompanying maps within the book that will provide most paddlers with what they need, however there is also a set of three paddler’s maps covering the north, south and Newcomb areas that should be brought along on the more complicated trips.
While few, if any, people would sit down and read the Adirondack Paddler’s Guide cover to cover, many will want to take it along on trips and dog-ear their copy at home during the winter, thinking of warmer adventures to come.