This May, my friends and I embarked on the eighth installment of our annual retreat to upstate New York. This is the fifth year at our favorite campground: Putnam Pond in the Pharaoh Lakes Wilderness Area of New York’s Adirondack Park.
Putnam Pond Campground
Putnam Pond Campground is a recreational camping and day-use area within the Pharaoh Lakes Wilderness. The campground itself is open only in the warmer months and offers a variety of sites ranging from full service RV hookups to remote sites that you must paddle or hike to. Other services at the campground include a boat launch and boat rentals.
Pharaoh Lakes Wilderness Area
The greater Pharaoh Lakes Wilderness Area is a 43,883 acre wilderness preserve, located about 20 minutes outside of Ticonderoga, NY. The preserve has nearly 40 lakes and ponds and over 60 miles of hiking trails. There are 14 lean-to sites for primitive camping. The wilderness gets its name from its largest body of water, the 442 acre Pharaoh Lake, which is accessible only by foot.
Our plan this year was to arrive on Tuesday afternoon after Memorial Day to set up base camp. We would set out Wednesday morning for a one night backpacking trip through the wilderness. Thursday afternoon we would arrive back at base camp and meet up with more of our friends who could not get as much time off. Thursday through Sunday are spent fishing, day hiking, eating, and relaxing. That was the plan, and the plan went almost perfectly.
In earlier years, most of us arrived at camp the same day, and we remained at base camp for the entire trip, which was typically just a long weekend. Logistics were easy, as we could load everything, including all of our food, into the cars before driving up. If we missed anything, Wal-Mart was always nearby. In the past, our trips were akin to frat parties in the woods. We paid more attention to drinking lots of beer and burning massive piles of firewood than we did to nature.
As we have grown, our annual trip has become a bit more serious. We have started waking up earlier and dedicating more time to fishing and hiking. As a result, evenings are fun, but more relaxed, and we turn in a little earlier. We practice more camp-craft and are more in-tuned with nature. We bring less equipment, waste less food, and appreciate the time we spend in the woods a lot more.
My next few entries will highlight the different aspects our biggest yet adventure in the Pharaoh Lakes Wilderness, the trip we proudly call “The Ocho.”
Photo Credits: Evan Marchesini, David DiGregorio, Paul Gebhardt, Chris Puglis