Teen Naturalist Adirondack Canoeing Adventure

By: Joe Sebastiani, Members Program Team Leader

One of the best parts of my job with the Delaware Nature Society is the Teen Naturalist program, which I have led for the last 10 years.  Each month, we get together for outdoor adventure, and in the summer, take a week-long adventure trip.  This year, we travelled to the Adirondacks of northern New York for a 30-mile paddling adventure. 

Nine Teen Naturalists experienced the mountains, lakes, rivers, wetlands, forest, and wildlife of Adirondack Park with me and my co-leader, Dave Pro.  This area of wild land is so huge, you can fit six Delawares into it.  This three-and-a-half-day trip took us from Long Lake, down the Raquette River, and into Tupper Lake.   Gordon Fisher, a Delaware Nature Society volunteer guide and board member who summers in the Adirondacks, helped us plan the trip and joined us for the first few hours of paddling. 

Each night, we stayed at beautiful campsites, each with an "Adirondack" shelter.
Each night, we stayed at beautiful campsites, each with an "Adirondack" shelter.

Paddling was mostly easy, although we had an hour or two of windy conditions that provided a little more challenge.  By early afternoon each day, we selected a campsite, insuring that we got the ones we wanted, since some of the sites are in demand because of swimming opportunities and pristine views of islands and mountains. 

This “summer classic” adventure was characterized by lazy afternoons in the wilderness, swimming in cool lakes, and leaping into deep swimming holes.  Fishing was mostly a bust, but Dave managed to land a few pickerel, providing some hope to the rest of us.

Paddling the winding Raquette River is pretty easy, but contains a 1.25-mile portage around a waterfall.
Paddling the winding Raquette River is pretty easy, but contains a 1.25-mile portage around a waterfall.

The Raquette River is a little wider than the Brandywine in northern Delaware, but is fairly deep and slow.  On the second day, we came to a section of rapids and waterfalls where we had to portage one-and-a-quarter miles.  It took us two trips to carry our gear and the heavy canoes through the portage.  This was the most strenuous part of the trip, and there was only a single casualty…one of my water shoes was lost along the way. 

Leaping from a fifteen-foot high bank was a great way to spend our last afternoon on the Raquette River.
Leaping from a fifteen-foot high bank was a great way to spend our last afternoon on the Raquette River.

Dave and I knew in advance that we wanted a particular campsite on our last night.  We beat out other paddlers and secured this fun and scenic location by early afternoon.  This campsite has a decrepit Adirondack shelter, but its location, location, location that counts.  At the camp, a high bank over a deep hole provided hours of swimming and leaping for everyone, and was probably the highlight of the trip.  The view here is spectacular as well, where the river does a 120 degree turn and also contains a not-quite-cut-off oxbow, forming what looks like 4 rivers coming together!  Luck was on our side for this trip.  It only rained at night, no one got hurt, and amazingly, a canoeing party behind us found my missing shoe and delivered it to us a day after I lost it.  Good thing I didn’t burn the other one in the fire! 

Mist rose from the Raquette River into the cool air, on the final day of the 2009 Teen Naturalist Adirondack Canoeing Adventure.
Mist rose from the Raquette River into the cool air, on the final day of the 2009 Teen Naturalist Adirondack Canoeing Adventure.

A new year of the Teen Naturalists starts in September.  If you know someone between 13 and 17 that might be interested, more information can be found at www.delawarenaturesociety.org.

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