Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wanika Falls

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently decided that they don't want geocaches inside Wilderness areas in the Adirondacks, so NNYGeo, our local geocaching group, has been picking up the archived caches in the High Peaks Wilderness...I went out yesterday to pick up one out near Wanika Falls...


It was a 14 mile hike in and out on a hot day...I had a fun time, but am feeling like an old man today, eating handfuls of Advil every 4 hours...I was on the trail for about 6 hours, and didn't see another soul the whole time...it was really a hike into the heart of wilderness...once I got a mile or so in, all of the footprints and scat I could see were from forest beasties...


Beavers have worked hard to manipulate the gazillions of rivers, stream, and trickles that the Northville-Placid Trail (NPT) crosses in its 133 miles...there were numerous spots where they were winning the battle with the good people who work to maintain the trails...waterproof boots are your friend on this trail...


It was a coolish early morning when I started, and there was still mist rising off of the beaver-ponds...it got up to 94 degrees by early afternoon, so I was glad of the early start...I burned through 8 liters of water during the round-trip (refilling with the incredibly frosty water at the falls), thank goodness for Camelbak hydration systems...



During the walk out, I saw roughly 8 million red efts, by 10:30, they were all gone...although I did see a couple in the water of various beaver impoundments (which surprised me, as I thought that red efts were terrestrial...go figure)...


The amount of work involved in making and maintaining the walkways and bridges defies the imagination...people must have to bring in all sorts of heavy equipment, and I was dragging by the end of my hike with my loaded pack...


During a snack-break on the way in, I saw these cool mushrooms growing on this beech tree...


If you look at the center of this picture you will see the NPT coming straight out of the beaver pond, despite a firm commitment to minimizing trail-impact by not walking around wet spots in the trail, I did detour around this one...there were a couple of similar spots between LP and Wanika Falls...again, waterproof boots and good ankle support...goooooood!



I got to the river just upstream of the falls, and followed my GPS to the geocache location...through the thickest set of downed trees ever...anywhere...climbing over and under them was not an option, so I found one suspended above the rest, and did my impression of Philippe Petit, got the cache (and an obnoxiously large travel bug ironically created by...me), headed to the falls and took off my boots to give my feet a chance to breathe (pant) a bit...



Wanika Falls is a beautiful spot, sparkling water, clear pool, nice opening in the tree-cover, but unfortunately the water is beyond freezing cold...only an insane person would go swimming in it...


The water felt great, but my skin turned an alarming shade of pink-red after immersion in the ice-water...it went away after awhile...


On the way back, I had a different perspective on some of the beaver work projects...this one shows 3 tiers of ponds, all beaver-made...there were 2 more above me, but the muckosity rating was too high given my level of exhaustion, so I decided to be satisfied with this shot...


After getting back and showering the trail off of me, I picked Ben up from Lori's and we went for a swim at Hoel Pond...no Maggie this time, I was too stiff to deal with 2 puppies...Ben loves his new water-noodle and Spiderman life-preserver, I loved being cool(ish...it was 94 degrees), and getting some hydrotherapy for my wobbly legs...

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