Day 5: Canoeing the Lower Locks on the way to Kiwassa Lake

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The next morning all of our gear was packed away and put into the canoes as fast as possible, so that we could have an early departure.  We all knew that today would be a day of extensive paddling, as we wanted to cover about 10 miles before reaching our next and last night on the trail.   Tonight we were heading for a private island in the middle of Kiwassa Lake!  Our actual destination appeared to be a short two hour paddle away, so to accumulate some more miles, we headed in the opposite direction toward Lower Saranac Lake.

For what seemed like several hours, we paddled, passing by many small islands.  The wind had picked up considerably so we needed to stay close to shore.  Our bearing was southwest, but we were paddling into a stiff breeze and we felt like we were getting nowhere fast!  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After an exhausting morning, we stopped on the far shore at campsite that had a rock peninsula for a quick lunch and a few pictures. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After lunch, we turned around and headed back to our original riverside campsite, then continued down the river into some of the most remote wilderness of all.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Trees were growing out of rocks in the middle of the water and there were many fascinating natural sights.  While we were expecting to see some 4 legged wildlife in this pristine wilderness, the only wildlife viewed were a wide variety of birds.  The peaceful serenity of our picturesque setting distracted us from noticing our aching and sore muscles from paddling.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Suddenly, we came upon an extremely rare sight: a canal.  Due to the presence of different water levels between two lakes, we were required to enter a canal and to be lowered down about 10 feet,  so that we could continue on our paddling journey.  The “lower locks” were extremely fascinating, as this was the first time that any of us had experienced this.

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After what seemed like endless paddling, through connecting channels and across small lakes, we eventually arrived at our desired location!

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Our last night on the trail was on a very small, semi-private island in the middle of Kiwassa Lake, which was actually pretty cool, as we would be able to claim it as “ours” for that night!  Since we arrived in the middle of the afternoon, it gave us plenty of time to set up camp, explore the island and relax.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On this final night, the scouts were to prepare everything on their own― without the help of any of the adults, including Kelly.  The scouts were expected to build and maintain the fire, cook dinner, clean up, and hang the bear bag.  Let’s just say that given all the practice we had had during the week, all of these tasks were handled very well.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the fire, a few “infamous” skits, commonly performed by Troop 353, were presented.  Afterwards, the traditional “Rose, Bud, Thorn” ceremony was conducted, as we all exchanged ideas of what we thought was the best and worst parts of the trip, along with what we look forward to doing.

Meaningful words were later spoken by the adult Scoutmasters and Kelly, as they explained about everything this trip should mean to the scouts and how it should be remembered for being such an amazing experience.  From this, the scouts had embraced the fact that they had all accomplished a lot and learned a whole lot of new things, perhaps more than they thought was possible originally.

As the fire died down, everyone was very satisfied (and very tired) & we made our way to the tents, where we bedded down in the chilly Adirondack air to spent the final night on this amazing trip and easily fell fast asleep listening to wind whistling through the pines.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Community Service — Graymoor: Annual Good Turn Weekend & Iron Chef Cookoff 

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It may not feel like it now with all the snow, but before the troop will be planning its annual spring time camping schedule.  For the past several years, our troop has adopted a Good Turn Weekend outing which includes camping on the beautiful grounds of the Graymoor Monastery in Garrison, NY.  The “Good Turn” element typically involves a “spring cleaning” of the prominent 9-11 prayer garden and surrounding area.  For most scouts, and especially the adults, the 6 hours of yard work is therapeutic, as there is a strong appreciation of the thousands of visitors that frequent this sacred ground throughout the year.   Our liason Brother Ted Novack is always careful in his choice of additional special projects and patient in his all-knowing horticultural guidance to the scouts.

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To get the best appreciation of the importance of the troop’s work maintaining the sacred 9-11 prayer garden, please check out these videos of the reverent & respectful services from 2011 & 2013 ==>  9-11 Services video clips.

Although the scouts claim to be “exhausted” and too tired to work any longer by 4:00pm, they miraculously “rally and play either kick ball or softball for at least an hour prior to dinner prep, which often includes a dutch oven treat prepared by one of the adult leaders using the special food ingredient for the next day.

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After a few years, a special feature was added to the outing:  the Iron Chef cookoff on Sunday morning (after Mass) with Brother Ted the tasting judge.  The winning patrol carries the coveted Golden Spatula award for the next twelve months.  The troop’s PLC chooses a special ingredient to be included in the popular cookoff event, such as apple, lime, chocolate, pineapple, etc.

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 The scout’s breakfast concoctions often are original creations–which is often a good news/ bad news development.  “Good” in that it spurs their creativity and there is planning involved, “bad” in that the end result is not always aesthetically pleasing to Brother Ted!  Rule #1 is that it must be edible and something the scouts will eat–not a bad rule to follow under any condition!

Pictures from  2012 are found here!

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Pictures from 2013 are seen here!

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Troop 353 Dominates District Event Honoring Gordon Hamilton, Former Troop 60 Scoutmaster

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On Saturday, October 7 thirteen scouts and five adult leaders from Troop 353 participated in the Gordon Hamilton Memorial Cook-off and dedication of a lean-to in Gordon’s honor at the Durland Scout Reservation.  The day started out somewhat chilly and overcast but soon brightened.  The first order of business for the day was the dedication of a lean-to in Gordon’s honor.  As many of you know, Gordon was a longtime Scoutmaster for Troop 60 in Scarsdale and very active in scouting.  If there was a district, national or even international scouting event happening, you were likely to find Gordon there swapping stories and collecting badges.

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The lean-to provides not only shelter for camping scouts during inclement weather but is also used as an administrative office during the Boy Scout Day Camp held at Durland each summer.  Troop 353 conducted the opening flag ceremony as part of the dedication which featured representatives from the Westchester-Putnam Council, BSA Area II and Troop 60.

After the dedication ceremony, it was time to head back to our campsite to prepare for the cook-off! The boys prepared an excellent meal of Alamo Chicken, grilled potatoes, cornbread, fruit salad and Pineapple Upside-Down cake (a Gordon specialty).  The tastiness of the meal was surpassed only by the presentation to the judges.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All members of Troop 353, including the adult leaders, wore white shirts and black bow ties.  Two of our scouts meet the judges in the parking area and escorted them to Chez 353 where they were greeted by a phalanx of scouts and ushered into their private dining room.  The two waiters presented the first course of fruit salad while the “sommelier” poured two flutes of the finest sparkling apple cider.  The judges then admired their meal while being serenaded by a violinist.

After asking the cooks some probing questions about the meal prep, the judges were escorted back to their car by two members of the troop.

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After the presentation, the troop lined up and marched to the strains of the violin to the tasting area where the meal was presented to a different set of judges.  After all meals and desserts had been presented to and tasted by the judges, there was a brief consult and then the winners were announced.  Troop 353 won first place!

After a brief troop celebration, it was time to head back to the campsite to prepare dinner which was followed by a nighttime hike down the trail to visit Pack 353 who was also camping at Durland that weekend.  Sunday morning was a quick breakfast and pack-up in the rain.

Despite the rain, it was a fun weekend. We learned a few cooking lessons, i.e. always line the Dutch oven before attempting to bake a cake and potatoes take a long time to cook. We intend to successfully defend our title next year and hope to have all of you join us.

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