It would be a long drive to Old
Forge, NY, and back.To keep Jean from
having to make the long drive back alone, Laura, our daughter, agreed to take a
day off from work to make the trip with us, and ride back with Jean.Her employer only owed her about a thousand
days of accumulated time.We picked her
up at 0630 and left Carlisle by seven.
I had been watching the weather forecasts
for the beginning of the NFCT every day for a couple weeks.To minimize weight, the issue was to take
only the gear needed, as my trip plan revealed that there was a potential 189
miles of portaging.The NFCT is
sometimes referred to as a portaging trail with occasional opportunities for
paddling.That is an exaggeration,
somewhat, but still one certainly shouldn’t want more weight than absolutely
When the rain stopped, we drove out of town to capture the
beautifully carved welcome sign.
The weather was making a freak change
that would leave me unprepared for unusual cold.It quickly became obvious that both my outer
wear and sleeping bag would be underweight.We were driving north, but it wasn’t long before the sudden temperature
changes were becoming uncomfortable.After breakfast, we stopped at a Bass Pro to replace my existing
sleeping bag and add a thermal bag liner.The weather was going from uncomfortable to abysmal.The rain was torrential, and was blown
sideways by 20-25 mph winds and gusts of 35.I have no idea what the wind chill was, but it was cold.Just standing outside to pump gas felt like
we were back to mid-winter.
By mid-afternoon, the talk was all
about the cold, and Jean insisted I stop at another Bass Pro to get a fleece
jacket.The staff there was as
unprepared for the weather change as I was, as all the winter apparel had been
removed from racks for storage and replaced with light spring/summer
clothing.The sales clerk asked what I
was looking for, and I pointed at the full-zipper Columbia fleece jacket she
was wearing inside the store.She had to
go to the warehouse to find one, but came back with it.
The Old Forge covered bridge just above the historic dam.
We had lunch at a nice Italian
restaurant in New Berlin, NY.Once we
arrived at Old Forge at 5:30, we checked into the Clark’s Beach Motel.Just before dark, the wind and rain
simultaneously turned off for a couple hours.We ran outside to get a few pictures, and to walk over to the launch and
sign in at the NFCT kiosk.Tomorrow was
going to be an early start, so we hit a couple of stores before they
closed.It wasn’t easy to accomplish the
requisite tourist shopping.Their
tourist season still hadn’t started, in spite of it being the second week of
June, and most businesses were still closed.In talking to the locals, we got an entirely different picture of the
weather than what the official forecasters had been giving us.One lady said, “Oh, you missed the snow.That was yesterday. But, rain, high winds,
and snow are still forecast for the next five days.”I began to get that sinking feeling, like I
had just swallowed a bag of lead fishing weights.
We had dinner at Slickers, which due
to the weather, was more than appropriate.I got a Smutty Nose Ale from New Hampshire with dinner.That was a new one.With the cold weather giving me continually
running nose, Smutty Nose was as close to reality as possible.
Laura and I by the NFCT kiosk and launch site.
As we were driving through town on
Main Street, I noticed a couple deer to my left coming from between a couple
houses.They were obviously intent on
coming right across the road, so I stopped, as did a car coming from the other
direction, and another stopped behind me.Apparently this was normal, as everyone just sat and waited patiently.
The deer slowly sauntered across between the stopped cars.The second doe was only two feet in front of
the truck, and it stopped to look intently over the hood and into the
windshield as Laura took its picture. With the photo op done, it casually
carried on as if it had the rest of the day to get wherever it was going.It was getting dark, so it was time for us to
settle into the motel.