Last week my dog Reilly and I completed a 50-mile backpacking loop in the Adirondack Mountains of New York state. The Cranberry Lake 50 circumnavigates beautiful Cranberry Lake, 7,000 acres whose shoreline is mostly undeveloped and surrounded by wilderness. We started in the hamlet of Wanakena, home to the New York State Ranger school from which I graduated in 1975. Our clockwise route on the first day took us through Peavine Swamp to the village of Cranberry Lake and then south into the woods. If the word swamp makes you think wet, you’d be correct. The loop is flat and low-lying, with plenty of mud.
Using the K9 Sleeper Pad
Our first night was spent stealth camping, a term for setting up camp at a location that is not a designated campsite. Although designated campsites are best for leave-no-trace camping, we were tired after hiking 12 miles and not near a designated site. Reilly was too happy to curl up on her K9 Sport Sleeper Pad.
This inflatable dog bed made by K9 Sport Sack has been a game-changer for our backpacking trips. She easily fits on the small size, and it weighs under 7 ounces. That low weight is important because I’m the one who carries it. She prefers the K9 Sport Sleeper to her previous closed-cell foam mat. And it keeps her from squishing onto my sleeping pad so I can sleep better.
The next day we hiked 16 miles. It was the driest day on the trail. We camped at Chair Rock flow campsite #17 on the shores of Cranberry Lake. We shared the site with two other backpackers and two canoe campers. They were the last people I saw for the remainder of our hike.
Wrapping up our Trip
Our third night was spent at High Falls. It’s not all that high, just 15 feet, but it sure is pretty. The last time I was there, in 2015, was in a thunderstorm. I was grateful for a pleasant dry night this year.
The next day we completed the remaining 9 miles back to Wanakena. This was the wettest segment of the trail, which traverses multiple beaver dams. Heavy rain the previous week meant only a narrow strip of each dam was above water. No problem for Reilly as her feet are less than 2 inches wide. But I spent some time ankle-deep in muck, at one time sinking in up to mid-thigh. We stopped for a mid-morning snack at Olmstead Pond to watch and listen to a family of loons.
Stay Tuned for More Adventures
In future blog posts, I will write about our other camping and backpacking adventures this summer. If you want a relaxing wilderness experience, I recommend the Cranberry Lake 50 and the adjacent trails in the Five Ponds Wilderness area. I am currently on a waiting list for a border collie puppy so stay tuned for puppy adventures this fall!