16 June (45.5 Miles)
I got up and had breakfast at the Downtown Diner. After breakfast, I stopped at High Peaks Cyclery to thank Brian Delaney before hitting the road to Port Henry. I had a great time in Lake Placid. Just after leaving town I passed the ski jump and the Olympic Sports Complex. A meadow offered a nice vista of the mountains nearby. It was a sunny day in the 70s.
There was some road construction. The flag people were understanding and made sure that I was safe. However, there is a dangerous stretch of State Route 73 along the Ausable River where there isn’t enough room on the shoulder and sometimes no shoulder. When I rode that stretch I stopped a few times to let traffic pass and wait for a hole before moving forward.
There is a significant climb out of Lake Placid that approaches a 5% grade for just over a mile. The decent into Keene was a nice long coast. I stopped in Keene to rest at the Cedar Run Bakery and Market, eat some ice cream and hydrate. Outside of Keene the countryside often opens up to reveal interesting meadows with a mountain backdrop.
There was another more significant climb out of Keene Valley that approached 6% and was about two miles long. I took a short break when I heard a waterfall some distance away from the road. I was able to get a good look at it through the viewfinder of the camera. That climb was followed by a long coast downhill. Once I turned left from 73 to CR 6, I found the ride tedious. It was boring and had a long steady upward slope that seemed to go on forever. After about 6 miles of that it was mostly downhill to Port Henry. The net on the day was about 1700 feet of descent.
Port Henry is another poor looking town. On the southern edge as I rode out of town toward the campground, I found a self- laundry place where I stopped to wash and dry some of my clothes. The vending machines were all out of order, so there was no soda or candy. I drank some water and read my book while I waited for my clothes to dry.
Bulwagga Bay Campground was another mile or so down the road. The entrance road goes past a town water treatment plant that stinks when the wind is blowing toward the driveway. That was a cause for concern because it doesn’t give a good first impression of the campground. I rode to the camp entrance and the caretaker was not in sight. A sign in the window of the office said, “Closed, Back at 9.” It was about 6 PM. I began to ride into the campground to talk with a camper and determine my next step. The first camper that I encountered pointed back toward the entrance where I could see a man and a woman sitting under a trailer awning and waving at me. It was the caretakers.
Wayne Plunkett and his wife have been the caretakers at Bulwagga Bay Campground for 15 years. They are from South Carolina and come to the Adirondacks for five months each year to run the camp. The camp is owned by the town of Port Henry.
Wayne took me on a brief ride in his golf cart to view the tent sites. At first, the sites didn’t look so good. Wayne said that up until about two weeks earlier they were under water. The first site looked damp, so we drove down the road about 50 yards to another possibility. It looked similarly damp. He wanted to try another spot near the beach, but the ground had too much of a slope. Finally, I just told him the tent sites will do.
We drove back to the entrance. His wife led me into the office and I paid. I rode my bike with my gear back to the tent sites and realized that perhaps Wayne was being a perfectionist. I appreciated his concern. He was honestly trying to do the right thing. My guess is they don’t get very many tent campers. Most of the campers, if you can call them that, are tenants for the entire season. The tenants all have trailers that vary in size, but all are comfortable summer homes near the shore of Lake Champlain. The campers with trailers nearest the water pay a premium.
I drove my loaded bicycle to the tent area and I chose the first site that Wayne showed to me earlier. It was clean and close to a small lean-to where I could hang some damp clothes. It was also close to the showers and men’s room.
After pitching my tent I went for a short tour of the campground. At the shore Wayne drove up in his golf cart. We talked a while and he suggested that he take a picture of me with Lake Champlain and the bridge to Vermont in the background. It was a nice idea and he arranged me in a couple of different poses to get one that he thought was the best.
Wayne shared a fun local story about Champ, the lizard-like monster that inhabits the lake. There is a large sign just south of the campsite entrance back on the road that has the names of all of the people who claim to have seen Champ. The town has a festival celebrating Champ.
He had other interesting local knowledge. He said that there are over 250 fish species in the lake and named quite a few. Checking his numbers when I returned home I found that the actual number is about 80, which is still a large number of diverse fish species. The bridge that connects New York with Vermont across a narrow part of Lake Champlain was completed just two years earlier. The man who was the first to drive over the original span was also the first to drive over the new one.
I went back to my camp site and prepared Fettuccini Alfredo for dinner. It was a dried meal that I rehydrated with boiling water. I was happy to have the stove and the meal in camp once again. The town would be too far and it was too late to be riding back there.
At dusk I headed into my tent and slept very well.