We just returned from a big camping trip which was impacted by Hurricane Irene, but Vinson still had a wonderful time and experienced more incredible exposure moments - who would've thought we could top jackhammers and an earthquake?!
We traveled to Saranac Lake Islands Campground only to be told, while packing our boats for the journey to the island, that all NY DEC campgrounds were closing the following day at noon due to the approach of Irene.
Determined to make the best of the situation, we quickly pared down our extensively planned gear and meals for a one night stay and hit the water.
Vinson had an incredible time, and loved riding on the boat in his new life jacket. He sat calmly and sniffed the beautiful mountain air, full of pine scents. He heard the wild call of loons and nothing else - no roads, no people - nothing. He especially enjoyed the sound of the lapping waves.
Under blue skies, we wound our way through 6.5 miles of lake and channels, including a hand-operated lock from the late 1800's, located our island on Middle Saranac Lake and made camp.
Vinson took to camping immediately and was in absolute awe with all of the new sounds and smells - ground covered with soft pine needles, loons calling to one another in echoing wails, the crackle and glow of the campfire, headlamps and flashlights and the fresh air as we slept in the tent.
The following morning, under orders from park police, all campsites were vacated in anticipation of damage from Hurricane Irene. We made our way back to the boat launch, loaded the cars and returned to a great dog-friendly hotel, one mile from the base of Whiteface Mountain (with kayaks on our roof and our friends towing a 17 foot boat trailer, we couldn't risk driving into the storm that was already upon New Jersey).
At the hotel, we caught up on the news until Irene indeed struck with fury. The horizontal rains soon erased all views of the stunning mountains just outside our window. The sky darkened and the winds roared. Lawn chairs, tables and debris blew through the partially-flooded parking lot while we used our camp stoves to prepare our frozen camping meals on the hotel door stoop.
Eventually, leaves and branches began to fly. The roar of the once-calm Ausable River that Sarah and Vinson explored while I fly fished just the day before was a clear sign of eminent flooding. An electrical transformer just outside our room blew out, blowing sparks and loud pops into the black sky. We hunkered down for a windy, stormy night; and through it all, Vinson was quite calm!
The next morning we discovered that we could no longer get to the NY Thruway, as the Ausable River had washed out nearly every bridge on the normally breathtaking ride from Lake Placid back to the thruway.
With the guidance of a helpful local and a free map, we found one circuitous route out of town and stuck to back roads all day, finally stopping, exhausted, in Cooperstown, NY. All hotel rooms were booked by the thousands of other vacationers who couldn't leave town and the electric companies from out of state, so we proceeded to Oneanta, where we booked (literally) the last available hotel room in town.
The next day, we carefully wove our way through the Catskills, witnessing extensive damage - streets of homes in feet of water, massive trees balancing over the road, held only by bending power lines. But in the end, we made it home. Vinson had a great time with it all and added one more notch to his exposure belt - a hurricane!
The following few photos show some of the parts of the trip. I'll post a video tomorrow, showing the rising river as well as the perfect weather we had on the boat, before Irene's arrival.
|Vinson sleeping on the ride up to the Adirondacks|
|Vinson looking out for our island campsite on the boat|
|Vinson gets his first look at a great smallmouth bass, courtesy of his new pal, Rob|
|A view of the island we camped on|
|The river roaring the morning after Irene|