Friday, July 18, 2014

Vermont Wilderness camping and paddling with family and friends

"Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

In early July I did two days of paddling and one night of tenting in the Green River Reservoir of northern Vermont.  My companions were my adult son Tim; my two teenage grandchildren; my friend Dundee and his adult son Paul; and Paul’s two teenage boys and his ten year old daughter.  Our transportation was three kayaks and three canoes.

The below 5 minute video is better than words, but here is a summary:
  • I used the Green River Reservoir web site to identify our preferred camp site and place to make reservations.
  • The nine of us in three cars had a two plus hour trip from Sunapee, NH
  • Access to the Green River Reservoir is only through the Park Ranger Station
  • All camp sites are only accessed via the water
  • We had a half hour paddle to our chosen camp site #25
  • We had intermittent rain throughout the first day, BUT rain in no way hindered our wonderful family and friends trip.
  • Paul was our top notch menu planner and Chef as he did on a prior trip (Paddling the Waters of Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada).  Paul made a marvelous macaroni, cheese, and hot dog supper – and a great McNestler egg-cheese-bacon-English muffin breakfast.
  • We had three tents and a large camp tarp on site #25.
  • We  decided to see if we could start a fire with flint and steel – and each of us took a turn at this task.  You will see this teaching moment in the videos.
  • This is a magnificent lake to swim in clear and deep water.  The surrounding cliffs leave no shore lines – so a person really must be a swimmer to swim here.  All nine of us are experienced swimmers.
  • NEVER jump into water without first checking for rocks, depths and dangerous obstacles.  See the video for our cliff jumping fun.
  • In the evening we went for a paddle around Big Island (we had stayed on site #33 in 2012 Peak Foliage Paddling and Camping in the Green River Reservoir of Northern Vermont)
  • Wildlife is prominent in this area.  We saw nesting loons, herons, beaver signs, and even moose scat.  We were told eagles were there, but we saw none.   

    No grandfather, father, or friend could have enjoyed a better time.  Life is great!

For those interested in more details of our trip click here for our 25 minute video titled Wilderness camping and paddling with family and friends: Green River Reservoir

About Green River Reservoir
Green River Reservoir became a state park in March 1999 when 5110 acres were purchased from the Morrisville Water and Light Department. This is not your typical Vermont State Park – Green River Reservoir provides camping and paddling experiences in a remote setting. All campsites can only be reached by paddling to them - some are a 1 to 2-mile paddle from the launch site.

The park will remain in its wild and undeveloped condition, with low-impact, compatible recreational use allowed on and around the Reservoir. Management activities will be only those necessary to maintain the property’s character, protect the environment and critical resources, demonstrate sustainable forest and wildlife management, control excessive recreational use, and ensure high-quality outdoor experiences for visitors.

The 653-acre Reservoir includes about 19 miles of shoreline, one of the longest stretches of undeveloped shorelines in Vermont. Access to the park is in the southern part of the Reservoir off of Green River Dam Road. The Reservoir is designated as a “quiet” lake under Vermont “Use of Public Waters Rules.” Boats powered by electric motors up to 5 mph and human-powered watercraft (canoes, kayaks, etc.) are allowed.

There are 28 remote campsites at various locations around the Reservoir. Camping is allowed only at designated campsites and can only be reached by boat. Each remote site has a maximum site occupancy based on the characteristics of the site. There is one designated group campsite that can accommodate up to 12 people. Some campsites are closed each season and rehabilitated due to overuse through the years.
"Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

Steve’s latest book, Outdoor Play "Fun 4 4 Seasons" is available as an e-Book at Kindle ($3.99) and hard copy at ($11.95)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

"Looking into the eye of a Rainbow"

At 7 pm on Wednesday July 9, 2014 I witnessed a magnificent double rainbow and its complete reflection on the water.  In essence, “I looked into the Eye of a Rainbow”.

Look closely at the above picture.  In the very middle of this "Rainbow Eye" you will see Nestler's Island in Perkins Pond.  This picture is indeed a "one in a trillion" shot. (Photo by Dundee).

Perkins Pond is a 157 acre pond located in the Dartmouth-Sunapee Region of New Hampshire.

"Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

Steve’s latest book, Outdoor Play "Fun 4 4 Seasons" is available as an e-Book at Kindle ($3.99) and hard copy at ($11.95)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Paddling the Northern Forest Canoe Trail Section 2: Long Lake to Village of Saranac Lake

Welcome to the Northern Forest Canoe TrailThe NFCT is a living reminder of when rivers were both highways and routes of communications.  The Trail is 740 miles of historic waterway traveled by Native Americans. Its west to east direction begins in Old Forge, New York, and travels through Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire and ends in Fort Kent Maine.  The non-profit that established the Trail divides the trail into 13 sections and offers detailed maps for each of these sections.

Our journey was Section 2 in the Adirondack and Saranac region of northern New York.  We began at the Long Lake bridge paddling in a north-east direction and ended 42 miles and 3 ½ days later at the Village of Saranac.

We hired Adirondack Lakes & Trails Outfitters to drive us to the put-in so we could leave both our vehicles at the Flower Lake take-out – thus saving ourselves 2 plus hours being homeward bound.

Our trip included transfers through two hand-operated locks to convey paddlers between waterways, and three very demanding portages totaling 11.5 plus miles.

Our 3 ½ day itinerary:
  • Day 1: A 15 plus mile paddle on Long Lake, then a 1.6 mile portage around Raquette falls – which took three trips for 4.8 miles - with our day ending at the Palmer Brook lean-to on the Raquette River.
  • Day 2:  Raquette River to Stony Creek Ponds, a 1.1 mile Indian Carry portage - which took  five trips for 5.5 miles - and the .4 mile Bartlett Carry into Middle Saranac Lake to our campsite on Norway Island. Twelve miles paddling day.
  • Day 3: We paddled through the Upper Locks into Lower Saranac Lake to our campsite on Partridge Island. About an 8 mile paddling day.
  • Day 4: Lower Saranac Lake to  First Pond into Second Pond and through the Lower Locks of the Saranac River into Oseetah Lake, and then into Lake Flower for our final take-out at the Village of Saranac Lake. An 8 mile paddling day

This Section 2 water highway has no fresh drinking water sources. Dehydration can be a major issue.  We restocked our drinking water at night boiling lake water with our Jet Boil.  In addition, it rained our second night, and we directed rainwater from our camp tarp to our cooking pans hence to our water bottles – thus saving Jet Boil fuel.  

More specifics of our Section 2 paddle, portages, and locks can be found in a day-by-day 50 minute web link video at Bedford Community TV.

If you want to read more details of our four days paddling the Northern Forest Canoe Trail Section 2 read on.

Day 2 – Palmer Brook Lean-to to Norway Island, Middle Saranac Lake
We arose in our Palmer Brook lean-to campsite with the smell of fresh coffee.  Dundee was up early.  John followed asking “How do you want your eggs and  bacon?”

Gary, a Park Ranger, visited our camp and emphasized issues of dehydration, particularly on the two upcoming portages at Indian Carry (1.1 miles) and Bartlett carry (.4 miles). He advised us on maps of Section 2, and reminded us to be sure our campfire was completely out before we left camp.

Given our first day was a  very demanding 1.6 mile portage that we had to do three times  for 4.8 miles (carry canoe, return to take-out, carry backpacks),we decided at Indian Carry the four us would carry one canoe.  This proved to be really exhausting, as we did five trips over the 1.1 Indian Carry trail (carry the 65 lb old town, walk back, carry the 72 lb Grumman canoe, walk back, and carry the backpacks).  These five trips totaled 5.5 miles.

We were exhausted by the time all canoes and gear with on the Upper Saranac Lake put-in.  And we continually reminded ourselves to drink our water before we became dehydrated.

Indian Carry revealed a very moving token of New York hospitality.  As we were lugging the  65 lb Old Town, and we were really exhausted with at least another half mile to reach the Upper Saranac put-in, a fellow waved as he went by us in his truck.  Lo and behold he backed up, rolled down his window, and asked, “Do you want to put those canoes in my truck?”

Brian, you are an angel!!  He saved us at least an hour of portaging – and certainly provided the physical relief we needed.  I gave Brian my OutdoorSteve business card, and told him to send me an email so I could mail him a signed copy of Outdoor Play: Fun 4 4 Seasons.

We paddled on the Upper Saranac for an hour and came to Bartlett’s Carry.We were now sharing our two bottles of remaining fresh water – like in rationing.  And we had the Bartlett .4 mile carry left for at least 1.2 miles, AND if we had four people for each  canoe, we had nearly two miles left!    After our grueling human transport of 5.5 miles at Indian Carry (due to four of us per canoe), our exhaustion told us to return to two people per canoe to eliminate an extra one mile portage.

We finished Bartlett Carry still alive and entered Middle Saranac Lake.  It was about an hour’s paddle to Norway Island, our campsite for the night.  Amen!!

Our Norway Island campsite (#74) was perfect.  It was the only campsite on the island and had pine trees  growing amongst the rocks. 

The ranger at Palmer Brook told us about a coming storm that evening, so we immediately put up our tents, and then a tarp over the campsite table. Indeed that evening we had a terrible rain storm with lightning and wind.  Once the camp was set up Dundee took a cool clear water Middle Saranac Lake swim.  The rest of us were too exhausted.

I dreamed about our canoes being washed away, paddles gone, and tarp down.  I was too exhausted to get out of tent.  My fears were for naught as in the morning the site was calm and everything was in its rightful place.

Day 3 We paddle today from our Norway Island campsite on Middle Sarnanc Lake to a Partridge Island campsite in Lower Saranac Lake
We started our day with another great breakfast by Chef John.  We appreciate John’s menu planning, food acquisition, and certainly his meals are fit for royalty.

Similar to our prior two days, we have been abused by mosquitos, black flies and whatever flying bugs we meet on our trip.  I am not a DEET person and had been wearing a long sleeve jersey as well as a full body netting. One section we paddled before the locks, turned into a serious humming sound – and by that I mean bug sounds at a high and steady pitch.  It was like we were immersed in a swarm of vibrating insects.  What a surreal experience.

Today would be the self-operated Uppers Lock from Middle Sarnanc Lake to Lower Sarnanc.  Enjoy our first lock transition as we thoroughly appreciated the experience of going from a higher lake to a lower lake – bypassing a severe set of rapids.

After passing through the Upper Lock, we paddled another hour to our campsite for the night on Partridge Island.  It was my turn to go swimming in this beautiful clear Lower Saranac Lake

As you will see in the 50 minute video link on Bedford Community TV we were more relaxed on Day 3 as we had our strength back with no portages and plenty of potable water.  Our relaxation time included:
  • Starting our campfire with sparks
  • Sharing how we eat our pudding without a spoon when on our camping trips.
  • Learning to tie a quick release knots for putting up and taking down our tarp
  • Walked to high ledge on the island to view the beautiful sunset.
Day 4 – Our last day on Section 2 of the NFCT in the Adirondacks and Saranac.  We paddled from our Partridge Island campsite through a second hand-operated lock to Oseetah Lake and then a take-out at the Village of Saranac on the north end of Flower Lake.

We estimated Partridge Island to be about 8 miles or 3 hours of paddling from our take-out at the north end of Flower Lake.

Yesterday, when we passed through the Upper locks, I was in the canoe being lowered.  Today was Tim’s turn to understanding this transitory and unique Lower Lock feeling of our canoes and gear being transported via water from Lower Saranac Lake to Oseetah Lake.

No lock operator was present at the lock and Dundee operated the manual controls while John and Tim paddled within the locks – and I documented their transition with videos.  The whole passage would take about 30 minutes – mostly waiting for the lock to fill – and then empty, and gently hand us and our gear to the lower Oseetah lake.

The paddling was easy and we soaked in the wilderness and beauty of the Adirondacks.  We saw deer, huge rock formations, and shared highlights of our Saranac paddle.  We all agreed, the portaging of our 65 lb and 72 lb canoes was the toughest part of the trip.  On our next trip requiring extensive portages, we definitely would rent 40 lb canoes.

After we did our final take-out  at the Village, we went the NFCT Kiosk and signed the NFCT log book.

Never say, "I wish I had paddled the Northern Forest Canoe Trail Section 2 in the Adirondack and Saranac wilderness."
"Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

Steve’s latest book, Outdoor Play "Fun 4 4 Seasons" is available as an e-Book at Kindle ($3.99) and hard copy at ($11.95)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hiking Mt Kearsarge in Central New Hampshire

Mount Kearsarge is a 2,937 foot mountain located in the towns of Wilmot and Warner, New Hampshire.  Our ascent to the summit starts at the Winslow State Park parking lot at the northwest slope of Mt. Kearsarge.
Mount Kearsarge has multiple trails and a bare rockbound summit with an observation fire tower and a cell phone tower.
From the summit on a clear day lies a spectacular view of the White Mountains and Mt. Cardigan in the north, the Green Mountains and Mt. Sunapee in the west and the Monadnock Region and the Merrimack Valley in the south.  The summit with its towers are a distinctive landmark and is easily seen from its surrounding commuities.

We chose to summit from Winslow State Park with the option of two trails.  The Winslow Trail, marked with red blazes, begins at the park’s parking area.  Winslow Trail climbs for 1.1 miles (1,100 vertical feet) through the forest and over bare granite ledge to the 2,937-foot summit.
The Barlow Trail, marked with yellow blazes, also leaves from the same parking area at Winslow Park and provides a longer, but more gradual ascent to the summit. Several vistas along the 1.7 mile trail afford views of the Andover area, Ragged Mountain, and Mount Cardigan.

We decided to ascend via the longer Barlow Trail and to descend using the much steeper but shorter Winslow Trail.  The wet spring run-off and mossy rocks made today's Winslow Trail very slippery.
Early June is the black fly season, and they were plentiful on the day of our trek.
Enjoy this beautiful outdoor recreation of New Hampshire – never say, “I wished I had taken my family to climb Mt Kearsarge."
For a map and more information on Mt Kearsarge go to

"Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

Steve’s latest book, Outdoor Play "Fun 4 4 Seasons" is available as an e-Book at Kindle ($3.99) and hard copy at ($11.95)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tuckerman Ravine, Southeast Face of Mt. Washington, White Mountains, New Hampshire

Tuckerman Ravine is one of New Hampshire’s unique natural resources.  My wife Catherine, friend Dundee, and I did an uphill 2.4 mile snow and ice packed hike to the base of Tuckerman.  The short video below shares highlights from our 4 hour hike via the Tuckerman Ravine Trail.  Our trek starts with the 2.5 hour hike from the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Pinkham Notch Hut up to the Hermit Hut Shelter, and includes our 1.5 hour downhill hike return to our car. 

Tuckerman Ravine is a vast open bowl perched on the southeast slope of Mount Washington, the highest mountain in the Northeast at 6,288 feet. In the spring snow depths can reach 100 feet in the Ravine.  

Needless to say, Tuckerman Ravine is a very dangerous area subject to avalanches and falling massive blocks of ice the size of automobiles. It also is very exciting and challenging for skiers and outdoor enthusiasts. The open porch of the Hermit Hut shelter is a great place to watch the skiers.

How do I get to Tuckerman Ravine?
Tuckerman Ravine can only be reached by hiking uphill - there is no ski lift, road, or method of access - other  than to hike.  You start your hike (many wear their ski equipment on the hike) at Pinkham Notch to the Hermit Hut Shelter (  Then you hike straight up the headwall of the Ravine, so you can extreme alpine, snowboard, and telemark ski.  This video shows skiers on the Hillmans Highway, Left Gully, and Bowl.

Once reaching the Hermit Hut Shelter, extreme alpine, snowboard, and telemark skiers continue to climb another hour or so up to the headwall of the Ravine’s various self-made ski lanes.  This video shows skiers on the Hillmans Highway, Left Gully, and Bowl

A Training Hike for Us

Later this summer Dundee and I with five friends plan a 10 hour hike to the peak of Mount Katahdin, Maine’s highest peak at 5,269 feet, and the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.  (  We are using this Tuckerman Ravine hike to begin building our physical endurance, and at the same time enjoy this marvelous extreme ski ritual of spring in New Hampshire.

To see a graphic of Tuckerman Ravine ski routes go to Time for Tuckerman.

Microspikes or Crampons?
My video says we put on "crampons" on the trail.  In fact we used "microspikes".  To learn the difference go to Microspikes or Crampons?  For most hikers in the Whites today microspikes have replaced crampons - and some of the older hikers still refer to crampons when they indeed wear microspikes.

Winter and Spring Travel for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines
A good reference for people for winter and spring travel is run by the Tuckerman Ski Patrol This site gives people information from November to Memorial Day on avalanche danger and snow/ski reports for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines.
"Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

Steve’s latest book, Outdoor Play "Fun 4 4 Seasons" is available as an e-Book at Kindle ($3.99) and hard copy at ($11.95)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Diana's Baths Waterfalls in Bartlett, New Hampshire

Diana’s Baths are Mother Nature's swimming holes and are a must see if you are in the North Conway area and want to experience nature at its finest. Diana’s baths lie along Lucy Brook in Bartlett which is fed from Big Attitash Mountain. During the summer the baths are a great place for children and grown-ups alike to enjoy the tranquility of nature, and explore the many rocks, ledges, cascading falls and pools in the brook. The cascading falls measure close to 75 feet in total  height.

The hike to Diana’s Baths is a fairly easy 6/10ths of a mile on a relatively flat, wide gravel path. Being part of the US National Forrest System, there is a large parking lot at the entrance to the hiking path and a self service pay station which requires visitors to purchase and display a daily pass on the dashboard your vehicle. ('s-baths.html)

"Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

Steve’s latest book, Outdoor Play "Fun 4 4 Seasons" is available as an e-Book at Kindle ($3.99) and hard copy at ($11.95)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Carson in Warrior Dash - Mountain City, GA

Here is a five minute video of a race Carson did Saturday in Mountain City, Georgia.  The Warrior Dash is the world’s largest obstacle race series, held on the most rugged terrain in more than 50 locations across the globe. Participants tackle a fierce 3-4 mile course and 12 extreme obstacles.

To learn more about  the Warrior Dash go to

"Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

Steve’s latest book, Outdoor Play "Fun 4 4 Seasons" is available as an e-Book at Kindle ($3.99) and hard copy at ($11.95)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hula Hoop Training in Live Oak, Florida

"Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"


Steve’s latest book, Outdoor Play "Fun 4 4 Seasons" is available as an e-Book at Kindle ($3.99) and hard copy at ($11.95)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Tim Priest Reflects on his Maine Paddling Treks Guided by Loon Parsons

This recently identified video was made by Frank Crosby as he interviewed Tim Priest heading for eight days of paddling and tenting on the 92-mile North Maine Woods Allagash Wilderness Waterway in July 2009.  We call this particular trek a Father-Son trip as the expedition of ten was made-up of four Dads and their sons and one friend.

Tim has been on many wilderness paddling trips guided by Master Maine Guide Linwood “The Loon” Parsons and his wife Betty “The Chickadee”.  Tim shares his reflections on Linwood and Betty and his Maine North Woods trips.
The video includes pictures from this Allagash Wilderness Waterway trek.

Thank you to Frank Crosby for sharing this interview.


References to Timothy's Maine paddling trips can be found at

"Everyone must believe in something. I believe I'll go outdoors with my family." – S. Priest

Steve’s latest book, Outdoor Play "Fun 4 4 Seasons" is available as an e-Book at Kindle ($3.99) and hard copy at ($11.95)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Snowshoeing in Bedford, NH at Benedictine Conservation and Van Loan Preserve

My friend Mark sent an email inviting his fellow outdoor enthusiasts to a moonlight snowshoe in the fields and woods of Benedictine Conservation Land and Van Loan Preserve in Bedford, New Hampshire.  Both areas are next to each other separated by Wallace Road.

These properties are protected by The Bedford Land Trust with conservation easements and allow public access to the trails for passive recreational use that remain in place forever.  They were perfect for our snowshoeing quest.
Snowshoeing Benedictine Conservation Land

On a clear moon lit night in December nine (9) Outdoor Enthusiasts met at the Benedictine Conservation Land parking lot.  The temperature was a mild 18 degrees F.

From the Kiosk leading to the Benedictine field we went clockwise on the Perimeter Trail climbing up the open field hill just inside the tree line.  We completed the loop passing the Kiosk in about 15 minutes.

We then crossed Wallace Road to the woods of the Van Loan Trail

Van Loan Preserve

The Van Loan Trail is initially a narrow trail through the woods before crossing Riddle Brook Bridge.  Thereafter the Van Loan Trail reaches a Junction whence we snowshoe onto the Anna and Pic Loop trail counterclockwise. 

The Anna and Pic Loop shortly returns to the Van Loan Trail from where we turn left back to the Junction of the Anna and Pic Loop.

We re-cross Riddle Brook Bridge following the Van Loan Trail to Wallace Road and the Benedictine Parking area.

The total snowshoe trek was about an hour and forty-five minutes.

The videos you are about to see are generally dark because the only light was that of our headlamps and the light of the moon.  I have left these black videos to give you a sense of hiking in the dark led by shining headlamps and the voices of fellow snowshoeing enthusiasts.

It was a magnificent night.  Wonderful friends.  Beautiful clean country air.  Enjoy this short video of snow shoeing in Bedford, New Hampshire.

"Everyone must believe in something. I believe I'll go outdoors." – S. Priest

Steve’s latest book, Outdoor Play "Fun 4 4 Seasons" is available as an e-Book at Kindle ($3.99) and hard copy at ($11.95)

NH Fish and Game Salmon Stocking