Peter Macfarlane's 2013 Solo Through-Paddle of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail
in a Cedar-Strip Canoe by Otter Creek Smallcraft

NFCT's Map of Overall Route Peter & Sylva completing the NFCT

Day 4

33.0 miles

Wednesday 22nd May

Franklin Falls Pond - Cadyville Dam


Day 4 route on Google Earth imagery

Another thunderstorm rolled through last night approaching midnight, nearly every bit as intense as the earlier one, and rain continued for most of the night. Sleep was very interrupted. As expected, after rising at 5:00 am, there is no dry wood to be had, not even what I stowed beneath the tarp. When rain flies sideways, there's little defence. Once more the sky is hanging low and grey as I paddle down a calm Franklin Falls Pond.

Morning on Franklin Falls Pond

Saranac River below Franklin Falls Dam

The carry to Union Falls Pond is straightforward, and, as I paddle down Union Falls Pond, the sun comes out. Things are looking up. Rain's done for the time being. A quick dip in Union Falls Pond freshens me up.

Union Falls Pond

The sky 'beneath' Union Falls Pond

The carry past Union Falls Dam takes me into new territory. I've never paddled this section, and have been a little apprehensive about the white-water on the lower Saranac. Soon after I paddle away from the put-in, a splash behind me draws my attention: a large tree trunk has fallen into the river, very close to where I have just been. This is a little sobering, and I carry forward a slight fear of how many other trees may be about to yield to gravity, especially those which are already leaning strongly over the river.

Following my qualified success on Permanent Rapids yesterday, I decide to run the class II Trail Rapids. The water level is up as a result of the storms – those thunder clouds have a silver lining – and I'm pleased with my control. With intense concentration on choosing the line, and a few hasty manoeuvres, I have a clean run down all sections of these rapids, with no rock contact whatsoever. One part I tried to line down, being a little wary of the water strength, but came to an impasse. After tracking back up a little way, I took to the canoe once more and ran the section perfectly.

Trail Rapids

Trail Rapids

Although flushed with success, I decide not to push my luck. The rapids below Silver Lake Road bridge are considerably more powerful, definitely class III. I opt for the long carry to Clayburg, so take out without incident at the bridge. It is now the hottest it has been so far this trip. The carry is long, tedious along road, painful on the feet, but probably a wise decision.

Silver Lake Road bridge rapids

Separator rapids

Clayburg seems like a good place to have some lunch as the sun is still out. I also rinse out my clothes in the river to remove some of the sweat of the carry. Then it's off downriver again, with good flow, easy progress and class I rapids and riffles. As I'm taking the recommended carry around Separator Rapids, a rumble of thunder announces a change in the weather. It soon clouds over, and before long I'm paddling in heavy rain, almost tropical in nature. I seem to be at the epicentre of numerous thunderstorms that are passing through; each one nails me perfectly. The heavy rain continues to High Falls Dam and the carry past it. The shorter option of carry is denied me as the bridge is closed*, so I trudge farther in the rain.

There follow more thunderstorms and violent rain, which makes visibility difficult, all the way to Cadyville Dam. There's no sign of anywhere to eat in Cadyville, and nobody on the streets to ask – I can't blame them. I've already given up hope of lighting a fire this evening and tomorrow morning, so am resigned to trail-mix and water for dinner and breakfast. My optimism of earlier has now been washed out of me. As I start to carry past the dam the rain lets up, so, on investigating the hydro plant and finding a couple of trees from which to string a hammock, I become temporarily illiterate regarding the 'No Camping' sign. This is my chance to get into shelter between storms. I retreat to the hammock and have everything stowed under the tarp just as the rain starts once more. Further thunderstorms roll through as the evening progresses. It's dark before time, wet beyond belief, and I'm miserable, but this can't last.

*Clearly my brain was addled by rain: the bridge was where I had intended to put back in.

Cadyville Dam & Falls

Below Cadyville Dam


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