Friday, October 21, Bob and I hiked into Duck Hole from Upper Works.  We left Bob's house about 0500 and got to the trailhead about 0930.  We were surprised to find the McDonald's in Old Forge closed, and stopped at Walt's Diner for some coffee and toast.  And use of the facility.

You might wonder why the photos stop here.  Well, even though it was a sunny day, the trail was very wet.  There were lots of icy bridges and crossing without bridges, where we needed to rock hop across a fairly high "stream."  A little beyond halfway, I caught a boot toe on a rock half way across a creek and went down hard.  I wasn't hurt.  It scared me more than anything else.  And it scared Bob, but I was okay.  I checked my brand new camera, which I had put in my pants pocket to keep it from falling out of my shirt pocket.  I mentioned to Bob that I didn't know why I was checking it on this rock in the middle of the creek, because even if it was broken there was nothing to be done about it.

We went on, and reached Duck Hole about 2:30 p.m., about 4.5 hours after leaving the trailhead.  It was a beautiful sunny day and no one else was around.  We hung our clothes to dry and set up a bear line for our food bags.  Bob signed us in at the camp register.  We settled in.  I got the camera out and tried to take a photo.  The shutter would not open.  The view window came on and I could look at the photos I had already taken, but the lens cover would not slide into the camera body and the lens would not open.  I guessed the fall had bent something or broken something inside the camera, and it was useless.  And, I had put my old camera back into the car right before leaving.  No sense bringing two cameras, right?

I was sick about it - the camera was brand new.  And I was thinking this might be my last trip into Duck Hole and it would have been nice to get some high quality shots of the place.  Each time I moped about it a little while, I ended thinking there was nothing to be done, and I needn't dwell on it.

We made some soup and had some crackers.  Our clothes were dry, so we gathered them in, and hung our food.  We decided a nap would be OK.  And about 6:30 we were in our sleeping bags, as it turned out, for the night.  Neither of us was hungry for dinner.  Except for the usual old man's trips to the privy during the night, that was it and we were down for the count.  My log shows that at 8 p.m. it was 31.6°F, at 00:22 Saturday it was 37.6°F and at 06:58 it was 25.0°F.

Bob had gotten up a little earlier, or at least turned on his light to see what time it was.  Then I fell back to sleep.  I saw a bear down by the woods.  The bear started away, then back towards the lean-to, and then a big bird like a heron chased it away.  Then 2 women came walking across the clearing from the woods on the left.  We yelled to them that the bear was stalking them.  It chased them out of our view to the right and up behind the lean-to.  Then the bear came running back toward the lean-to.  Then I woke up.  But it was a pretty vivid dream.

In the morning, we got up after daybreak and boiled some water for coffee and instant oatmeal.  Then we hung the food bags and took our boots down to the lower lean-to to put them on the roof, which was already in the morning sun.  We lingered down there and I walked back to our lean-to for something.  I noticed Bob's bag up on the line had a big hole eaten out of the side of it.  We hauled it down, and sure enough, in about 30 minutes, some critter had chewed through his bag and eaten part of his noodle soup.  We re-hung it using a new bag he had as a spare.  We couldn't figure out how a critter could get into our unique, patented design apparatus.  Maybe the mouse was in the bag when we hung it, or maybe it was a bird.

After noontime we went for a walk.  We wanted to check out the alpine meadow that the trail guide calls an open swamp.  Bob and I first saw this area on the trail from Corey's years back when we went for a run, circa 1999.  It was at the height of the Adirondack drought, and the  area looked to us like an alpine meadow.  But since water has returned to its more normal level, the area has been flooded.  Last year I hiked in during summer and fell in.  We hiked in last November and decided it was too deep to make it through, since we had 5" of new snow from the night before.

Anyway, we walked up the trail to that area, about 2.5 miles, and found it to be very passable.  We walked across it without getting wet and went up the trail a little further in search of a benchmark we never found.  Then we came back.  At the junction with the NLPT, a fellow was eating his lunch.  He turned out to be Sébastien, from Montreal.  He was making a big solo loop and was headed to Duck Hole for the night.  After we talked for a while, we went up the NLPT to bushwhack to Mountain Pond and he went on to Duck Hole.

We got back and had a late lunch - soup, crackers, etc.  We went to the lower lean-to to say hello to Sébastien and he gave us each a truffle - very good chocolate.  He also offered us a belt from his bottle of very fine single malt Scotch but we declined.  He agreed to bring his axe up if we started a fire.  But it got dark and we didn't start a fire.  Instead, we gathered our clothes in from the line when it started to rain, only it wasn't rain, it was snow!

Sébastien came up for a chat - we were already in our bags, but had our candles going.  He is a part time teacher with a degree in Phys. Ed. and also a part time storyteller.  He was on a tour this summer in the Bretagne province of France with other storytellers from Montreal.  We talked quite a while.  Then he went to his lean-to and we passed out.

During the night we got 2 inches of snow and in the morning it was stuck to everything and very beautiful.  But no camera to take a photo with.

We boiled water and had our cereal and coffee and then packed up for the hike out.  I was dreading it a little - it is a very tough hike.  We went down to say goodbye to Sébastien and he was packing up.  We waited while he got ready and we all hiked out together.  The hike was very wet and slippery, but we made all the crossings safely.  At the junction for Indian Pass, we said good bye and Sébastien went left and we went right.  We met two other hikers on their way to Duck Hole, and that was all the people we saw all weekend.

2005 October 21-22 Duck Hole