Wet & Wild Adirondacks Adventure

Leader: Russ Faller; joint outing with AMC
Sun, September 11 to Thursday, Sep 15, 2022
Lows Lake Paddling/Hiking Basecamp

We met on Horseshoe Lake in the Adirondacks for a mellow paddle up the Bog River to base camp on Lows Lake for 4 days of paddling and hiking.  The forecasters predicted a couple of rainy days, but we weren’t deterred.  Little did we know what Mother Nature had in mind.

When we arrived on Sept. 11, we found a beautiful campsite on a point on Horseshoe Lake.  Two of us went for a paddle around this undeveloped lake and came across a group of divers retrieving maple syrup bottles, dumped into the lake over 100 years ago, by A. Augustus Low’s Horseshoe Forestry Co., established in the 1890s.

A. A. Low was a highly innovative businessman.  He was only second to Thomas Edison in the number of patents he accumulated.  He created a business empire in this Adirondack wilderness – selling lumber, maple syrup, bottled spring water, berries and anything of value from the land.  He revolutionized the collection of maple sap and the evaporation process to produce the syrup.  He got his land, Horseshoe NY, on the map with a Post Office and a railroad station equal to any station in the NYC Metro area.  He built 15 miles of track to haul his lumber to the station he built.

The Horseshoe Forestry Co. was strong in 1908.  However, that dry Fall, a number of devastating forest fires, probably caused by sparks from railroad engines, ripped through Low’s land.  With much of his forestland destroyed, Low was forced to liquidate his company in 1911.

A. Augustus Low has been forgotten by many, but he left a paradise for generations of quiet-water paddlers to enjoy.

On Monday morning we launched from Lows Lower Dam and paddled up the Bog River.  It was a beautiful, peaceful paddle under towering pines and into a vast wetland that is the result of the dam that Low built in 1903 to improve log drives and generate electricity.  Completing the 0.2 mi. carry around the upper dam, built in 1907 for more electricity, we decided to paddle on to Lows Lake, rather than take in the panoramic view from Lows Ridge.  We’d save that for better weather on Thursday.  We wanted to set up camp before the expected rain that evening.  We felt lucky when we found a beautiful campsite, with a sandy isthmus, facing west across the vast expanse of Lows Lake.  The rain came, as expected, but we were ready with tents up and 2 large tarps.  It rained all night and into Tuesday morning, but we stayed dry and warm.

When the rain let up, most of us decided to paddle to Grass Pond (now a bay that had been separate before the upper dam) to bushwhack up Grass Pond Mtn. for the view.   We ended up following a herd path around Grass Pond because we could not find one up the mountain.  We did not have enough time to push though untrod forest and get back to camp before dark.  There was more rain, but it stopped before we got back to camp.

The rain came back and with a vengeance that night.  It was a major storm, with heavy rain and high winds gusting at least 20 mph that tore a tarp, blew a canoe across the isthmus and threw a log seat off its base.  A wall of fog blocked out the lake as we crawled out of our tents.  Strong wind and biting rain ripped through our campsite, which was in shambles.  Three paddlers decided to leave first thing to use the strong tail wind to quickly escape.  Two others decided to wait it out.

Eventually, the storm began to die.  The clouds thinned and the fog lifted.  The sun finally broke through.   The 2 hangers-on had a leisurely paddle, exploring the lake, on their way out.  They climbed Lows Ridge for a spectacular 180-degree view.  Wednesday evening, they camped along the Bog between the dams, put up with more rain for dinner, but nothing like what they had experienced Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.  Upon reaching the lower dam, midday Thursday, they felt that they had ended the trip on a high note.  The storm was just another story to impress friends.