Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Crossing Lake Champlain

09 & 10 June 2012

Crossing Lake Champlain can be difficult, Dave Cilley and others tell me.  The waves are commonly 3-4 feet high and can be swells or white caps.  A boat much longer than 10 feet is optimal they say.  It is likely that there will be a need to stage carefully for the crossing (west to east and north to south, about 25.5 trail miles in total).  People talk about crossing at 3am, before winds pick up.

Upon arrival at the boat ramp near the mouth of the Saranac River, Carla gives me her Marine Band Radio and has me listen to the weather forecast.  She is there to advise boaters about invasives and check that their boats are properly cleaned.  The weather forecast is for unusually calm conditions on the lake.  Rather than waiting, I decide to double up on the day's planned mileage and continue onward.  Waves are about one foot high and the famed high wind from the south can hardly be felt.  Only complaint, I have dressed for potentially severe conditions and am overheating in the warm sunny weather.  Nobody around Lake Champlain complains about that!

The afternoon's paddle takes me from New York to Vermont, across to Hero Island and into "the Gut", a pond of water in the middle of the lake which is sheltered from the weather.  That's enough for one day for me.  The map mentions that thru-paddlers may be able to camp at Campmeeting Point in the Knight Point State Park in cases of emergency.  Ranger Mike is just leaving for the day and we talk for awhile.  Although it is not a emergency, being really tired from the extra distance covered results in my preference for not wanting to cross another four miles over open water to an official campsite.  The Ranger agrees and gives me permission to stay.  It is a nice spot, sometimes used for weddings.
View from Campmeeting Point into The Gut

Crossing Day Two.  Up early and on the water, this time headed north.  Breakfast stop at the North Hero General Store.  This store has a nice selection of just about everything.  The proprietors have a good sense of humor.  Notice the red and blue bench seats in front?  They are labeled "Republican" and "Democrat" (there are other seats nearby).
North Hero General Store

After a lunch stop on the northern tip of Hero Island, the final trip north almost to the Canadian border in dead calm water on a hot sunny day.  The crossing has been accomplished.  I enter the West Branch of the Missiquoi River.  Time to start paddling 200 miles upriver.

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