5 Ponds Trip – September 18th – 20th, 2015

I headed out for a three day trip to try out my new gear – most importantly my tent, sleeping bag, stove, DeLorme InReach, and water filter. I had hoped to test my new rain jacket too, but it didn’t rain during the day.


I arrived in Wanakena at about 10:30 am and set out on a clockwise circuit of the High Falls Loop. It was an unseasonably warm and beautiful day. At Janack’s landing I used the open-air (i.e. no walls, no boundaries) privy. Next up was the first of many beaver flows. My friend had told me where to cross on the beaver dam, so my feet stayed dry – for a while, anyway. I then took a side trip up Cat Mountain, where I met up with a few day hikers who had paddled up the Oswegatchie. On the way down I filtered my first water, and tried out the backwash syringe, which promptly split. I finally got to use my trusty duct tape! I’d been carrying that duct tape around for years without ever using it.

Eventually Boomer and I arrived at High Falls, which we had to ourselves. He decided that tents were not for him, and so on a warm dry night Boomer curled up in some tall grass to sleep.


After breaking camp, I continued on the loop. At one point the trail seemed to peter out. I turned back and saw that I had missed a sharp right hand turn. The trail led over a log with a thin cable for a hand rail. I’m pretty sure that 40 years ago, last time I was here, my then boyfriend (now husband) and I had to walk through thigh-deep water. So the log bridge was nice improvement. As I was preparing to cross, two young men came along and solicitously made sure that I was able to cross safely. Boomer eschewed the log and swam across easily, loaded pack and all.

When I reached the Oswegatchie, some guys who had canoed in were finishing their breakfast. Boomer happily helped lick their plates clean. They were obviously out camping for the beer (at least a case of empty cans at their campsite) and the food. The campsite was at the interaction of a side trail which we turned onto to visit Big Shallow pond and lean-to.

On the way to Big Shallow I slipped off a small log, ensuring wet feet for the remainder of the trip. I heated up a nice bowl of soup for lunch at the Big Shallow lean-to before we turned around to head back to the main loop.

When we passed the canoe campers for the second time, they were eating a big lunch and drinking more beer! On our way to High Rock, we met a man carrying a high powered rifle with scope, who informed me that it was opening day of bear season. I never heard any gunshots, so I presume he never saw a bear either.

At High Rock it began to get windy and drizzly, but I was able to set up my tent despite the wind. The drizzle stopped, and I relaxed by the Oswegatchie, ate dinner, hung my bear bag, and crawled into my tent with a flashlight and book. Then the real heavy rain and wind began. I stayed dry and warm, but couldn’t sleep because I kept waking up to check on Boomer, who insisted on sleeping outdoors!


Boomer survived the 45 degree windy and rainy night outdoors. He didn’t seem cold, and wasn’t even particularly wet when he woofed me awake at 6 am – I think the rain stopped at about 4 am. The final 5 mile hike out was overcast, but warmed into the 50s by the time I reached the trailhead. So I never got to test my new rain jacket. At the trailhead we met a birder who turned out to be a friend of my husband. We chatted a while, I hopped into the car, and drove home.

As we entered Watertown, we had the only large mammal sighting of our adventure. An escaped Holstein calf held up traffic in both directions for about 5 minutes.

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