I had a simple plan for a weekend trip to the Adirondacks – spend 3 days in the woods on my bike. I decided to revisit the Moose River Plains Wild Forest and explore some of the Black River Wild Forest. The Moose River Plains (MRP) area has long fascinated me as a destination for exploring since I ventured down the road on my Pugsley in January 2011 and again on a through trip on the Fargo in August 2011. MRP is a 50,000 acre wild forest in the heart of the Adirondack park. It is accessible by motor vehicle from May through October (and snowmobiles, skis, foot and bicycle the rest of the year.) The forest contains some of the most remote land within the park – mountains, ponds, rivers, and over a hundred of just off-the-road primitive campsites. Black River Wild Forest also offers possibilities for riding and camping, and I checked out small portion of it on this trip. mbeganyi-ADK-BKPK-38 The plan was to traverse the MRP to Inlet, NY then ride a bit of pavement to a trail into the Black River Wild Forest and ride singletrack to the Remsen Falls Shelter. The weather forecast prior to leaving had potential periods of rain, snow, and sub-freezing temperatures. I packed for the weather and touched almost every piece of gear I carried. I staged my ride from the Wakely Dam parking area and gate. The parking area has several campsites, water access, and plenty of overnight parking. I left the gate at about 12:15pm Friday afternoon after driving from Burlington, VT. The weather was cool and dry, with a beautiful blue sky and the fall color just past peak. The initial miles away from Wakely are uphill (as is most everything in the ADKs) – so I warmed right up with a 3.5 mile climb to the highest point on my route. I took my time, stopping to adjust bags and gear, snap photos, and take in the beauty of a late fall day in the North Country. mbeganyi-ADK-BKPK-33a mbeganyi-ADK-BKPK-29 I arrived at Inlet ~24 miles later at about 3:45pm and made a quick stop into Pedals and Petals bike shop. After scorching down a long descent I was worried that I had a crumbling rear brake pad, so I grabbed a set of BB7 pads and took off on pavement for the town of Old Forge. The sun was still shining. The temperature moderate compared to what was coming, and I made reasonable time past summer camps, lake houses, and private lodges. There is the potential for some singletrack connecting the dirt of the MRP with the pavement near Inlet – but it needed some reconnaissance before being added to my route. South and West of Old Forge I found Bisby Rd. and the Remsen Falls Lean To Trail, which starts near Nick’s Lake. The trail is 6.9 miles to the shelter. My plan was to ride a loop past the shelter on my second day to Nelson Lake and back. I signed in and noted that the group that exited a few hours before me saw ‘grumpy bear growling at us on Humphrey Hill trail.’ Great, I thought, as I began riding the trail at dusk – maybe I’ll see a bear. Rigging for night riding I realized I left the helmet adapter for my Exposure Diablo at home. Zip ties and the case from my Leatherman rescued me. The trail to the shelter started off innocently enough but it quickly degraded from wide snomo track to wet and rock filled snomo track to rough singletrack. The singletrack was overgrown, littered with leaves covering baby head rocks, and often wet. I crossed 6-8 creeks and lifted the bike over countless logs. The going got slow, in the dark. DCIM103GOPRO I started to wonder about that bear, and as the light fell I rang my bell every couple of minutes. Getting tired from all the schwacking and feeling quite alone in the dark, nearing the darkest reaches of cold and tired Type 2 fun, I pulled my phone out and played some music through the speaker. Having just upgraded to a larger capacity phone the realization that most of my music lives in the cloud set in. Only a handful of songs now lived locally on my phone. I listened to a few Beastie Boys tracks on repeat, followed by a live U2 playlist. I generally like the sound of the outdoors when I venture out – but schwacking through the woods with ‘Sabotage’ playing from my bar bag helped me pick up the pace and keep my spirits up, even after slipping while crossing a creek and sending my pedal (with long set screws to grip my feet) into my shin. I bled most of the way to the shelter, where I cleaned up and bandaged the wound. After 3h11m and an average speed of 2.2mph covering 6.9 miles I reached the shelter in the dark of night. I called out to make sure no one was sleeping or staying as I approached, and proceeded to stage my gear for the night. Dinner was started, sleeping bag and pad deployed, wounds dressed, layers changed, dry socks put on and food bear bagged into a tree. Off in the distance I could hear the roar of the ‘falls’ (actually a set of large rapids.) I knew the river was out there somewhere beyond the reach of my light. As I settled in to sleep it started to rain, then came some freezing rain and sleet. The precipitation eventually stopped and I drifted in and out of sleep to the sound of rushing water. I awoke to a lovely view of the South Branch of the Moose River, and could make out Remsen Falls in the distance. mbeganyi-ADK-BKPK-26   mbeganyi-ADK-BKPK-25 Breakfast was Starbuck’s VIA and oatmeal, followed by a second cup of coffee and a cold Pop Tart. As I finished packing a hunter dressed head to toe in camo came around the corner and we startled each other. He had his muzzle loader strung on his back, and we chatted for a bit about connecting trails, blow down, and bear season. My original plan was to follow a trail further west and loop up to Nelson Lake before connecting back to Bisby Rd. After the night of schwacking I decided to leave that trail for another day… I didn’t need 12 miles of rough singletrack to slow me down – I wanted to find a campsite back in the MRP before dark, and have some time to explore along the way. Before leaving I pulled some of my gear off the bike and put it into my backpack to make lifting and maneuvering the bike a bit easier. This ended up working great – the bike handled better on the rough singletrack, and it was easier to maneuver over the creeks and logs with less weight on it. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the Osprey Talon carried the load and the extra weight. mbeganyi-ADK-BKPK-20 I left the shelter just as it started to snow, backtracking on my route. I crossed the same number of creeks – but it was easier in the daylight. My Wolvhammer boots were a bit wet from the night before but soaked completely through with the snow, rain and wet brush. By the time I got to the trailhead I was slogging in completely soaked socks. mbeganyi-ADK-BKPK-17   mbeganyi-ADK-BKPK-13 I made the short paved trip to Old Forge charging my headlamp from my dynohub and USBwerk on the pavement section. Reaching town I made a stop at the department store and grabbed another pair of socks, band aids to replenish my first aid kit, alcohol wipes and a copy of the local paper. After asking for two plastic shopping bags with my purchase I wandered around the corner and settled into a pub / restaurant for lunch. I brought enough food for three days – but once in town I decided that finding warm food out of the weather would be good for me – so soaking wet, with backpack and helmet on, I sat down at a high top and while waiting for food I cleaned and re-bandaged my shin, and tidied up my gear. I’m sure a few patrons were put off by the stinky, wet, bleeding man that wolfed down his food in record time, but I tipped the waitstaff well for their indifference and fine service. After lunch I moved gear from my pack to the bike, changed layers, and addressed my feet. I kept my new (dry) socks for camp, wrung out the socks on my feet, then tucked my feet into the plastic bags and then into the Wolvhammers. My feet, while damp, stayed warm the rest of the day. I rode off, and made it about 1/4 mile before deciding I wanted warmer gloves. I pulled under a deck / patio at a bar and tweaked layers, and while I was packing up two guys came to the window and asked about my bike. They pointed to their cars parked across from me with fatbikes on the roof. They didn’t really know what to do with knowledge of my trip. They had been riding singletrack that morning at the local ski hill, and were now drinking beer as the snow came down. I was headed off into the woods to camp. mbeganyi-ADK-BKPK-11c DCIM104GOPRO DCIM104GOPRO The snow / rain kept coming as I ventured back to Inlet and the western entrance to the MRP. My feet were soggy but comfortable. I was (relatively) warm and dry. The further I got into the MRP, the further the temperature dropped and I started looking for a campsite. After checking out a few sites I settled in at Helldiver Pond, which left me about 14 miles to finish the ride Sunday morning. mbeganyi-ADK-BKPK-11 As the light faded I made camp. While stringing my bear bag I noticed two relatively fresh piles of bear scat right in my site – so I picked up everything and moved a bit down the road. With dinner on the stove I setup my Tarptent Moment, unpacked my gear, and staged everything for the cold night. Dinner was quick and I retired early. I slept with my camera, cell phone, and spare battery, along with the fuel canister from my stove and my Sawyer Mini filter. I stuffed my boots with that newspaper I grabbed from town and opened them up as far as I could. Once settled into my tent and finally put on those dry socks. Cold came overnight. Everything froze. Zippers, buckles, cord ties – even my chain. Breakfast was quick. A second cup of coffee would have been welcomed as I packed up but my hydro line froze within about 10 minutes of filling my pot for boiling. I’m pretty sure my Sawyer froze within about an hour of leaving the tent, so if I needed water later in the day I would need to use the Aqua Mira drops I carry as backup. Upon return I noted the temperature overnight in the nearest town was 23dF overnight – it was likely 20dF or less in camp. After packing up and adjusting layers I rode the short trail to Helldiver Pond for a view and a few photographs. The woods were incredible with a dusting a frozen snow. mbeganyi-ADK-BKPK-7 I slowly made my way back towards the Wakely Dam gate. Stops were taken for photos, to pull water from a creek, and for plenty of snacks. The last 10 miles were bittersweet – bitter cold but also as a beautiful contrast to my first day on the trip. mbeganyi-ADK-BKPK-4 I reached the Wakely Dam gate at about 11:15am, for a sub 48 hour trip. ~95 miles total ~14 single track with over half schwacking ~28 miles pavement the balance on the dirt road in the MRP ~8,400′ in climbing I rode my Surly Krampus with Knards on Rabbit Hole rims. The drivetrain is based around a Rohloff Speedhub. I powered the Exposure Revo light and USBwerk charger with a Shimano Alfine dynohub. The bike was clad in Revelate frame, seat and handlebar bags. The fork carried Porcelain Rocket Anything bags in Salsa Anything Cages HD. My gear performed as expected. mbeganyi-ADK-BKPK-1  

For more of Mike’s adventures head over to his website¬†

www.littlecirclesvt.com

4 Comments

  1. Wonderful. A most excellent adventure! Next time, I’d suggest bearing right as you are leaving Inlet and take the TOBIE Trails past Carey and Rondaxe Lakes to Carter Station, then follow TOBIE into Thendara on the backroads. We were going to do a similar (only reverse) ride this summer, but a family emergency kept it from happening. Planning on next year, Carter Station to Indian Lake via the MRP. I could get lost in your photos! Simply beautiful. I live in MN now, but 50 years ago, I went to summer camp for 2 years NE of Old Forge, then was a licensed wilderness guide in the Inlet area before moving out here. Love and miss the area dearly and your story and photos really took me back. Back to the place I still call…home.

  2. Mike, great TR as always. I saw your original one over on the ADK forum but really enjoyed the extra photos and info here. I’m really inspired to do some winter/late fall bikepacking. Your post a few years back on the forum about you and your friends winter trip in Vermont is what got me interested in getting a fat bike and doing some bikepacking. Thanks.

  3. JimB – Thanks. Glad you found it over here! I’m hoping for some winter trips this year. I upgraded my sleeping bag last winter and have used it a few times into the teens…. would love to get out on the fatbike this year for a VT or ADK trip.

    Hans – I looked at the Tobie trail. I took pavement from Inlet to Old Forge, but I am hoping that the supposed trail from Limekiln Lake to South Shore Rd. connects. I have a few other trails to check out there as well. So much potential in the ADKs but it takes alot of planning due to water and wilderness… a packraft is on my list – that would open up some serious adventure opportunities.

  4. Pingback: Top Bikepacker Stories of 2015 - Bikepackers Magazine

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