Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hiking - Big Eddy

Big Eddy is a wide calm spot on the West Branch Sacandaga River, near Wells, NY. It's a great swimming spot, and since today was going to be hot again, my birthday wish was to hike in there and go for a swim. It's about a 2-mile walk on an unmarked trail from the dead end of an 8-mile dirt road, and it's a weekday, so we expected to have the place to ourselves. Little did we know that the Town of Wells Recreation Department was sponsoring a hike for kids today to the same spot. When we saw the group of 40 signed in at the trail register, we almost turned around and went elsewhere. Luckily for us, they were on their way out as we were headed in, so we did indeed have the river to ourselves.

We first had to wade across Hamilton Lake Stream, a tributary, to get to the eddies and waterfalls further in on the Sacandaga. The water really is this color, due to the tannin in the water from the bark of all the hemlocks that line the streams.

After crossing this tributary, we reached the Sacandaga itself. There are two large pools, or eddies, in this stretch of the river, and between them lies a stretch of rapids, with many large boulders visible at low water. It's a very scenic spot.

After passing the first eddy and the rapids, we reached our destination, Big Eddy, had lunch, and went for a swim. The water was breathtakingly cool at first, but very pleasant once we got used to it. The water was mostly about 4-5 feet deep in this pool, with some deeper spots and some large boulders just under the surface that provided great places to sit and relax. Hmmmm - a birthday swim. Don't think too hard about that one.... ;-)

We didn't continue upstream from this point, but there are known to be some spectacular waterfalls and a deep gorge that the river passes through. Another time perhaps. With thunder in the distance, we packed up and headed out. The rain didn't hit until we were at the ice cream place in Wells having our customary post-hike treats.

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