“I’ve never been so happy to see a beaver lodge!” – Me, to Josh
Back in May, my buddy Josh Diaz and I went on our first camping trip together into the Adirondack Mountains, to Cold Creek in the Silver Lake Wilderness. You can read all about it here, but essentially we spent one rainy night in a very black fly-infested campsite. Despite the bugs and the rain, we had an amazing time, and although we didn’t encounter any Bigfoot, I did have quite an unusual encounter. I had barely gotten back home to Staten Island from that trip before Josh and I were excitedly beginning to plan our next excursion into the Adirondack Mountains.
Being the good friend that he is (and recognizing my
insane obsession passion for all things paranormal), Josh chose a spot that was very close to some recent Sasquatch sightings: Cedar River Flow, near the Moose River Plains. This time, the plan was to spend two nights in the wilderness, and he was going to bring along some kayaks, as we’d be camped right on a lake. For dates, we decided on Labor Day weekend, with the plan being to head into the campsite that Friday morning, and heading back home Sunday afternoon, having the Monday holiday off to recuperate. Now, it should be noted that our approach to Bigfoot hunting is a little more passive. We don’t trample through the woods hooting and hollering, or whacking trees with sticks. We just camp and go about our normal routines, while keeping our eyes and ears open. Most sightings and experiences happen to people when they are least expecting it, and I’ve found that to be true while ghost hunting, too. So that’s just my preferred approach. Let Sasquatch find us, not the other way around.
Our destination was a secluded campsite along the Northville-Placid Trail, which runs 138 miles from Northville, New York in the south, up to Lake Placid, New York in the north. Since this was a longer trip, we had a lot more gear with us this time – two kayaks, folding chairs, extra sleeping bags (nights get a little chilly up there, even at the end of summer), and of course, a cooler full of craft IPAs. We parked at the trail head, which is about 1.5 miles from the site we were aiming for. A park ranger we spoke to earlier at the ranger station said he didn’t believe anyone was at the site yet, so we were optimistic that we’d have it to ourselves, and wouldn’t have to resort to Plan B. Still, we decided to make two trips. One with just our packs to scout out the camp and make absolutely sure nobody was there, and if not, to set up camp. Then we’d return to the car for the kayaks and remaining gear. The trail was well-maintained and not as steep as the Cold Creek trail, but with a few more obstacles, including a babbling creek. The weather was beautiful, sunny and mild, and the hike took us just a bit over 45 minutes.
We were thrilled to find the campsite empty when we arrived, but we were truly stunned by the gorgeous view we were presented with when we stepped off the trail. A calm, glassy lake, reflecting the hills and small mountains opposite us. An impressive beaver lodge was to the left of our camp, and a marsh and peninsula jutted out to the right. The camp was near the trail, but far enough from it to grant us some privacy from any potential hikers that might pass through. Josh had researched the site beforehand, of course, but the pictures and videos did not do justice to actually being there. We took some quick snapshots and a video or two, and then started setting up our camp. So with tents, tarps, and bedrolls all situated, we started our long hike back to the car at the trail head to fetch the rest of our gear.
Now, Josh and I are nothing if not ambitious. After hiking all the way back to his car, our goal was to load the kayaks up with our remaining equipment, and then carry the kayaks back to camp, each of us between the two kayaks, me in front, Josh toward the back. Perhaps you can see where this is heading. Our idea, which sounded so plausible on the drive up, quickly proved foolhardy. Unencumbered, the kayaks weighed a fair amount, which would be made all the tougher considering 1.5 miles of rough terrain. But loaded with our extra gear, they became unwieldy. We even tried one at a time, and…it was not pretty. We are ambitious, but also know when we are beat. So after laughing at ourselves for a few minutes and catching our breath, the new plan was to drive back to the ranger station to the boat launch, load the kayaks with gear, and paddle them to our campsite. Much easier, right?
Josh took the smaller, lighter, but less stable kayak, while I took the larger, more stable one. So essentially, Josh was faster and lighter since he couldn’t carry as much of the gear, and I was slower and heavier, bogged down with more gear, but far less likely to tip over. A wise trade-off on my part. Overall, the kayaking was easier than carrying everything. But the calm lake we stumbled upon earlier was no more, and we faced some pretty strong headwinds. We also underestimated how long a trip it would be back to our site by boat. Additionally, there were many natural obstacles, from shallow, marshy areas, large rocks obstructing narrow canals, not to mention my complete lack of experience with kayaking. My (slightly) larger boat may have been the more stable one, but kayaking is no joke. Fighting against the wind, my inexperience, our thirst, and late-day exhaustion, we kept hoping that we’d see our campsite with every bend we rounded. But every time we thought we had arrived, we had not. Again, we just had to laugh. Finally though, we spotted the familiar sight of the beaver lodge, and just beyond it, our tents. We offloaded our gear and had ourselves a very well-deserved beer, while soon after, we sat watching as our beaver friends started their evening errands, and the loons emitted their eerie calls.
We collected and chopped wood, started a nice fire, and Josh cooked up us a delicious dinner, as he always does. We reflected on the day, had another beer, and even played chess in the dark. We were exhausted but still managed to stay up until just past midnight, before finally turning in. Sleep came fast, but sometime around 2am, I awoke to Josh’s voice…and some grunting. It sounded loud, close, deep. In my sleep, I almost thought I was snoring, but Josh heard it too, knowing it couldn’t really be me, and he yelled out to it…and it stopped. No footsteps leading away, just silence. We chatted for a minute or two from one tent to another, and then fell back asleep.
I awoke at around 7:00 the following morning. Josh was already up and fishing on the lake from his kayak. There was a gorgeous misty fog over the lake, peaceful yet ethereal. I did a little hiking around camp, on the lookout for more firewood as always, and ran into an older woman hiking solo through the Northville-Placid Trail, past our site. Josh returned, but sadly the fish were’t biting. After one of Josh’s signature breakfasts, we took a quick nap, and then took a hike further south on the trail. We had heard that there was a lean-to about 2 miles south of our camp and we decided to go in search of it. We hiked a long way, probably not 2 full miles, but close to it. We encountered a family on a day hiking trip, and even found some coyote scat, but the lean-to eluded us. Deciding it wasn’t worth going much further, we turned around. Back at camp, Josh made some campfire fajitas, and they are now a tradition for us.
We watched the light dissipate as night came on, sitting on the banks of the lake, having a beer, and watching our beaver friends swim to and fro. As night came on, we started up another roaring fire, and decided to share some ghost stories and paranormal experiences, things Josh had experienced while younger, some stuff I had gone through while being a paranormal investigator, and so on. Throughout the night, I had the feeling we were being watched, from just beyond the trail that passed our camp. A few times I even shined my flashlight in the general direction, trying to see if anything was over there, but we never saw anything. No eye-shine, no sounds, nothing. It could have been a deer, a fox, a coyote, or simply my imagination. Once again we were up late, and decided to retire to our tents at around midnight. But first, we walked down to the bank of the lake, looking up at the thousands of stars that were visible, a stunning sight I doubt very few people can glimpse these days. Suddenly, to our left, there was a loud, ungodly screech. Josh and I looked at each other in shock, and then the screech morphed into a gentle, more familiar “whooooooo” and faded out softly. Just an owl. A very cool sound to hear, even if it startled us briefly.
We heard no grunts that night, but at around the same time of morning as the previous nights sounds, I was awakened by noises coming from beyond our camp, past the trail. It was coming from the very spot where I felt like something was watching us. It sounded like twigs snapping. The fire was out, and had been out for about two hours at this point, so I knew it wasn’t the burning wood crackling. It was just “snap.” Then silence. Then a few seconds later, another “snap, snap.” Something was moving, and it sounded fairly large, but again, no way for me to really tell what it was. As I got up and quietly tried fumbling for my flashlight and cell phone, the sounds stopped, and never returned. Probably a deer or coyote, but one never does know.
The next morning, we had a quick steak breakfast on the fire, packed up our tents, and prepared to bring our backpacks to the trail head before we kayaked back to the ranger station. Of course, when we woke up, the lake was calm, but by the time we hiked back to camp from the trail head, there was a strong wind blowing, and the water was pretty choppy. To say paddling back to the car was challenging would be an understatement. I almost wiped out twice, and got battered against some rocks coming around one of the bends, but Josh and I finally made it to the boat launch, and immediately cracked some cold beers and nursed our blistered hands.
Once again, we didn’t find Bigfoot, but we had an amazing adventure amongst the most awe-inspiring scenery I’ve ever seen. We decided on this trip that our next adventure would be camping in the winter, and we did just that, at John Pond, at the end of January. That adventure will be posted soon. For now, enjoy a video recap of our Cedar River trip!
Check our Diaz Wilderness Adventures for more awesome Adirondack camping videos!