We left the Capital District area around 9:30am on Saturday, headed toward Brandt Lake, NY and the Pharaoh Lake trail head. Along the way we made a couple of last minute stops and also hooked up with our daughter Paige and granddaughter Keira for a brief photo shoot and general well-wishing. For those that may not recall, Keira has Cystic Fibrosis and was the reason the Primitive Trek was also a fund raiser for the CF Foundation of Northeastern NY.
The entire trekking crew with Keira before the Trek. (Back row left to right) Dan, Amy, Sarah, DJ
(Front row left to right) Keira, Samantha, Casey, Sydney
Once we were 1/2 way up the road to the trail head we discovered that it turned into a 4×4 trail. So, everyone piled into our Xterra and we proceeded on.
We donned our garb and gear and headed out. Saturday, even in the Adirondacks, was in the low 80′s which made for an exhausting 3 mile hike in to our camp area. Once we located a camping area* we started to hear the distant rolls of thunder. We immediately, set up the rain fly, relocated our gear under it, and hurriedly gathered fire wood. We were lucky (mostly), after nearly two hours of listening to thunder, the rain waited until we already had a fire going before it started.
(*Remember in the Adirondacks, a camping area is anywhere you want it to be so long as it’s more than 150 feet from a trail or water; so camping can be somewhere VERY remote if you want. And we did.)
Started with flint and steel, the first tendrils of smoke signal success!
It was a steady rain that lasted about an hour, and although it meant cooking in the rain our fire held out and we munched heartily on bread, cheese, jerky, herbed carrots and turnips, and beef roasted on a skewer. We then packed our extra food into a pack and hoisted it into a tree to make it a less easy target for passing bears and other critters and got the area under the rain fly ready for sleeping.
During the night the rain continued off and on but the rain fly was sufficient to keep us dry. Of course the rain meant that there was a Front moving through. Once the Front went through the night was chilly, but tolerable. So, when we woke up the temp was in the mid 40′s. This meant fire was the first order of business. Apparently I work flint and steel better when I’m freezing cold, because while I couldn’t get the dinner fire started (DJ did that), I had the morning fire started in 4 strikes. Breakfast consisted of bread, cheese, beef jerky, and bacon.
A chilly overcast morning was the start of the day on Sunday
As it turns out my hunting license expired 3 days before the Trek. So that was not an option and we were too sore to circumnavigate the Lake. Therefore not having anything else to do, we hung out a bit, then cleaned up, packed up, and struck camp.
The hike out was easier than the hike in. Yes, the hike out was downhill, but probably the biggest factor was that Sunday was in the comfortable mid-60′s as opposed to the low 80′s of Saturday. Two and half hours later we were back at our cars.
Most of our handmade primitive gear functioned really well. Other than a tie breaking on Syd’s pack, and shoe “explosions” from being packed with too much wool, none of the gear actually malfunctioned or broke.
That said we have discovered some period “comfort modifications” that should be made to the frame packs, and we want to look into some other ghillie designs to make walking a bit more comfortable. Also, some of our clothing fabrics were a bit light for sleeping in these temps.
We may want to consider actually creating a scenario or specific goal. At this point we’re skilled enough to build shelter, fires, cook with minimal equipment, and survive an overnight. Sarah had suggested giving the kids a goal such as building a sundial for the campsite to use. Perhaps something similar could be extrapolated out for the adults too, such as advanced survival skills, or building a drum or musical instrument to play by evening?
A long term goal may be for ACC to have a week long Primitive Trek. With some preplanning a core group could stay in the Adirondacks, and others could hike in, meet up, and replenish the “base camp”, and stay for as many days as they could. This “base” might slowly move along a trail (as if it were a Celtic migration) or it could stay put (as if preparing to “settle” the area). But a longer event could give others the opportunity to participate. Additionally, a series of goals or longer survival projects could be carried out with this scenario. A complete photo album can be found here: http://www.celticclans.org/gatherings/trek2007.html