Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Long Anticipated Canoe Trip

After months of contemplating, planning, and worrying about the canoe/backpacking trip to the Adirondacks, we did it.  This was different from the other camping trips we have done in that we were miles from the car and had to use a canoe and our legs as the mode of transportation. Our biggest worries: bears.......and..........Niko jumping out of the canoe and flipping us and all our stuff into the lake or river. The second worry was more plausible and risky (in our minds). We started getting Niko acclimated with his life jacket months ago.
Snapshot of what we brought
We had to be very selective in what we packed to limit space and weight. Kibble, leash, life jacket, and a tennis ball was Niko's allowance. For ourselves, we packed dried food, tablets to treat water for drink-ability, warm clothes, sleeping bags, fishing poles, and a canoe carrier.

We launched at Long Lake and had an 8 mile paddle to our first night's humble abode: a lean-to. Lean-to's are wooden shelters provided by the park and is on a first come first serve basis. It was an alternative to bringing a tent. 

Niko was in the middle of the canoe on his own. I was anxious during the first 30 minutes, fearing he would jump out. With some coaxing and readjustment of his front paws, we avoided mayhem. He quickly got the routine down. He was alert and looking from side to side a lot. There were lots for Niko to see: biplanes that took off and landed in the lake, ducks, loons, turtles, and even fighter jets that were doing some test flights.
Niko did make noises at times when we were near land. We took breaks and got out to stretch and check out different areas. To our amazement, there were times when he knew we were getting ready to go back into the canoe. He would come to us and willingly let us place him back inside it. The second morning, I picked up his life jacket and he automatically sat down to let me put it on him. It was as if he was ready to check out the next place on the route.
We had a waterfront site to ourselves the first night. Niko was off leash and discovered every corner. Ed caught fish and cooked it up with a fuel burner and mess kit. It complemented our instant noodles very well. Of course we shared the fish with Niko. He likes fish very much. Before I can stop him, he gobbled up a raw minnow that was laying on the ground (gross, Niko!)

After the first night, we packed up and went back into the lake to head toward Racquette River. Here, the scenery changed from the vast openness of a lake to a woodsy, enclosed, and curvy river. The current helped us move along easier which was nice because we were tired from the first day. We approached a waterfall area where we had to get out and go on foot to our next lean-to.
We took the sign and broken canoe hanging on the sign very seriously!
The portage (canoe carry between take out from river and relaunch) proved to be challenging. Although we had a carrier to wheel the canoe with gear inside it, there were steep inclines and rocky areas. We met others in the path and commiserated on how tiring it was. At this point, Niko uncharacteristically barked at people. It was probably due to being in a new surrounding and the need to protect us. During the portage, Ed and I were slowed down by the weight of the canoe. Niko ran ahead to "scout" the path and would circle back. At this point, I think he knew the canoe was part of the "pack." He stopped whenever he heard the canoe on wheels stop. We ran into trouble about 3/4 into the portage. We had a flat! We had to stop for Ed to patch the tire. Niko was very good, considering we had other things to worry about. He never ventured out of eyesight and sat near us most of the time. After the mishap, we continued on and found a lean-to for our final night's stay. 

The rest of the trip went smoothly. Some random final remarks:
1) We saw some amazing scenery.
2) Niko may not be a water dog, but he is a canoe friendly dog.
3) No bear encounters. Boy scout Ed craft-fully sealed our food in a bag and tied it high up to a tree far from our campsite.
4) Niko enjoyed being off leash in the wilderness, but the poor toads that he chased did not
5) Niko learned how to find drinking water by going to the shore. 
6) Niko is very dexterous when hopping across big rocks in the river.
7) We all did some soul searching on this trip and bonded.
8) Niko went into a coma for 2 days after he arrived home.


  1. Glad to hear that your trip with Niko went well!
    And pics are so gorgeous, especially the very first one.

    BTW, I wonder why the drinking water for dogs does not have to be treated like human's???
    Do they have a natural immunity for vacterias in water?

  2. It is so wonderful you made sure your four-legged pack member was part of this trip. Some folks would have not bothered with the training and effort, so kudos.

    And I totally your last point.

  3. @Blue: Yea, i think dogs have different immune systems than humans. They can withstand bacteria that we can't. For example, they can eat raw meat but we can't. We have enzymes that can process chocolate in large amounts, but they don't.

    @Zuko's mom: the thought of not bringing Niko never crossed our minds =) he is his happiest when he is in the wilderness doing his thang.