Adirondack 90 miler

In a moment of madness, I seem to have verbally committed to doing this race with Mark W (SeaWave) this year. Anyone out there done it before? Advice? What are the portages like (specifically, do people actually run them while carrying a long boat, or is a fast hiking pace more the ticket?). Assuming the boat materializes, we are planning on using a 24’ double surfski- are we going to be able to get something this long through the trails and around obstacles? How much gear are you actually carrying each day? Finally, any training tips?- I’m currently paddling about 20 miles/ week, indoor rowing about 25-30 miles/ week at a brisk pace, and bike commuting about 8 miles/ day. Do I need to add running (ick) to this mix, or should I be ok with my current regimen, maybe adding some more paddling miles?



one with the water and bugs
Sounds like you are good to go. just put your paddle to the water, become one with the biting things, maintain the pace at the beginning that you will have at the end (don’t go faster first half than can do second half) and have at it. The lighter and faster the boat the more reserves you have for changing conditions. Surfski should be great for wind waves and chop, less windage, etc. Will you be able to have enough water and food storage? Yes, then good to go. I am not sure about the portages not having had such a big boat, but imo you are ok. Others with more perspective will hopefully chime in and correct me if I am off the mark here.

My wife and I did it in a 17 foot
C-2 last year.

We trained doing 25 and 28 milers at about a 90 percent all out pace, and it worked out good for us.

At the end of each day we were still in good shape.

I don’t think you will have too much problem with the length of your yak on the portages although you might have to be careful on a couple that were slippery and steep with a few switchbacks.

You didn’t say what the yak weighs, but the younger stronger guys just run like hell carrying their canoes and yaks.

We used a home made portage buggy, and I think this year I will try to run with the canoe and let her carry the water and paddles. We lost too much time strapping the canoe on the buggy at each portage.

We came in fourth in our class, and I know we were faster paddlers than the third place boat since we would pass them on the water, yet they would fly on the portages with the guy carrying the canoe

The longest portage is about a mile, but it is perfectly flat and goes through a campground.

There is one twisty turning narrow river that will probably slow you down a bit, but overall you should enjoy the variation of waterways.

We used power gell and it seemed to work out fine.

They do have aid stations every so often that have water and goodies, but you can’t count on them to be where you want them.

I think if the two of you are young I would suggest that one on each end and carry it. Just throw the water and paddles in the yak.

I would advise doing some portage practice some place local to you in the manner in which you are going to portage, and work the bugs out of your method.

Hope to see you there.



PS on the training
You say you are paddling twenty miles per week.

Is that at one whack, or collectively?

If you want to enjoy the event, you need a bunch of long paddles under your belt.

This will not only condition your shoulders, and upper bod, but it will acclimate your butt so it won’t be bitching at you at mile 29.

Probably most serious paddlers on this forum can do it, but to do it and enjoy the experience to its fullest you need to be in pretty decent shape



Andrew/Mark, What a combination!!

For what it’s worth, I haven’t done anything this length, but in terms of portaging, I can share my wish list from races like the Run of the Charles. The erg and the bike will definitely be of benefit for the portage sections. Having two of you is a bonus; the trickiest part of the portage is balancing the boat, while hanging on to your paddle in one hand. It was frustrating to watch the OC-2 teams trotting along, while I humped the QCC through crosswinds; a human pivot point. Since it’s a ski, you’ll have limited storage, and what you do store under bungees (if it has them) will probably get jostled out. To this end, I’m assuming you’re required to wear a pfd. I have my Camelbak velcroed/ziptied onto mine, and stuff my GU packs, bars, Tylenol (don’t laugh-need it for my shoulders, but your top triathletes mix ibuprofen into their drinking mixtures to buffer the effects of longer races) etc., in the front pockets of the pfd for easy access. I don’t even notice the added weight during rotation, but then again, I’ve been a mountain biker for years, and am used to the ‘monkey on my back.’ This year I rigged a section of dense pipe insulation to the cockpit rim for the portages-made a huge difference. Taping a piece onto your carry shoulder strap of the pfd might be of benefit, particularly if there are no carry toggles on the ski. I’d suggest securing the paddle somehow to the ski, but in all likelihood, you’ll be hard pressed to have the time to experiment with what works and how you’ll coordinate it, given that you guys live a distance away. A short coiled paddle leash might be a good idea, in case you drop it, and I know that both you guys are versed in using them. Smiling here, as with twin engine power the likes of which you’ll both provide, that ski will be more like a hydroplane. You go.

longer paddles
thanks jack- that’s good advice. judging from previous paddling times and my prior experience paddling single skis with mark w, i suspect each paddling day will take us less than 5 hours, depending of course on current and wind. that i’m fairly sure i can do now, although i’m sure my shoulders will be sore after 3 days of that. i’m really more concerned about portaging (i hate, hate, hate to run!). i’m planning to start adding in a few 20-25 mile jaunts and can hopefully find the time for a 30 or 40.

how much stuff were you actually carrying in the boat? just water and enough food to make it to the next checkpoint? did you carry clothing? i think we would be shooting to do this super minimalist style.


Don’t worry about the portages
I have bone on bone in one knee and to walk around the block about kills me, and I am probably two and a half times older than you.

Your adrenalin will be pumping so high each one will be over before you know it.

We didn’t carry anything extra and didn’t carry any extra clothing.

Your water will be your biggest weight.

We wore bathing suits and a polypro T shirt.



I guess i’ll chime in here. don’t tell Andrew, but he’s carrying the boat, while I do some bushwacking and land navigation. The boat should weigh in under 30 lbs I hope. I’m thinking camelback, like Trilobite suggested and a whole lot of GU. Eating real food will come later. I hope to strap the PFD to the deck permanently and forget about it.

I guess I will also try and put some distance miles in this summer. Andrew an I will have a couple weeks this summer to work out the bugs, so hopefully we will still be talking after that. i like to run, just don’t like carrying heavy weights while running. Maybe I can meet Andrew at the put in?

Trilobite, I expect to see you there this September. And I hope to meet Jack there also, thanks for the email.


di it twice
Plan to do it again this year. The Forge Motel in old forge is 100 yards from start and is a great place to stay or camp ground is free but what if it rains? A friend will give me a ride back to start at about 2pm on friday and again stay at forge motel. Day 2 has a monster long portage that might be 7 stories high. Sat night stay at top notch motel in tupper. LOgistics and someone to make you coffe is huge. I did it twice without pit crew. Hitched back to start line at end of day. Second year took the bus and bus was terrible because all camp sites are gone when you get to campground at night. Put up tent in dark. Took tent down in dark makes it seem like 12o miles. TYpical is to paddle 5 miles and carry 500 yards and paddle 5 miles. Might be 20 portages and they might total 3 or 4 miles but it is nice to get out and stretch. Pros run but stay right and let maniacs pass left. Race avoids big lakes and does many shallow, small creeks to avoid many tipping in event of big wind. First day is about 5 hours and about half upstream without much current. Hopefully there will be public water at haly way point because I need a qt per hour. Heed by hammer nutrition is great. Carry a bottle of hammergel hooked to pfd. Most do not wear pfd but I sort of need to hold hydration tube. Practice doing circles around the center pillar of a bridge. Spend time with olympic flatwater to learn technique. To reduce blisters I wore wells lamont neoprene work gloves for $5. with fingertips cut off. Turns need to be practiced but a glider with no rudder did it.

thanks dave
Sounds like some excellent pointers in there. I must admit the sound of sleeping in a bed after 35 miles is very appealing. Are there enough people who stay in the motels to make for great post-inter-race discussions? I can’t imagine what my muscles are going to feel like after the 2nd day. Do you put in consecutive long training runs in to prepare for this race?


Hey Baldpaddler and Plaid Paddler…
Where are you old pros?

You need to be chiming in here helping these guys out.

I think Plaid paddler knows ever inch of the course and portages.

Those two were a tremendous resource to us last year.



90 Miler
I did the race one year in a sea kayak & last year in a double ICF kayak. Three days with your partner can be grueling. Our understern rudder broke 10 miles into the first day, we finished but weren’t exactly speaking to each other that night. Camping is fun for the comradery, but be prepared for long days, bears, and constant wet clothes. Ideal would be a pit crew carrying your extra water (snacks are provided at some spots), and ready to meet you at the end of the day with dry clothes and a ride to the hotel. But, then again, maybe the race is about roughing it and still be able to perform for three days! The hotel at the start is nice, and the camping on Saturday night by the river. Friday night’s campground isn’t the greatest, but if you’re not traveling with a vehicle you get to set your tent up in a preferred spot next to the luggage truck, so you don’t need to score a separate campsite. Meals are welcome & usually pretty good. The volunteer effort is outstanding!

Report from a 1st timer
I did the 90 miler last year as a first timer. You can read my report at

We stayed in a hotel. There wasn’t a lot of "after -race’ discussion, but the shower and bed felt great. There was lots of opportunity to interact pre-race each day and at meal times.

What class are you planning to enter ?

Open double kayak
We’re planning to use a double surfski, assuming that materializes. Thanks a lot for all the info- this is very helpful. I guess my inclination would be just to camp out- seems like part of the total experience. Certainly I’ve had enough wet and miserable multiday paddling trips that this would be nothing new. The misery is usually part of the fun, especially in the telling.


thanks pam
Going with a double surfski may be a hazard. I have had to change a cable on my Mako once already, so I know how to do it. I think a spare cable and maybe a small rudder may be a safe thing to pack. I think the support person sounds like a key to a successful transition between starts. Can you give us more details on how paddling with a partner for three days under stressful conditions went? Of course I would understand if you can’t. It is something to think about, from the mental point of view while entering a race of this length. I usually just think about training from a physical standpoint of view.

I truly hope I’m up for it. Are you doing it this year?


90 Miler Facts
Kayaks in this race are grouped according to length and not a specific type of hull. The length of your double will put you in the unlimited class with the ICF doubles. The long double kayaks are no longer than the war canoes, so the portages will not be impossible, but you do need to watch the trees. I have seen a war canoe and several other hulls broken when one end turned too soon and bent the boat around a tree.

You are required to have a PFD on boat and accessible, not tied to the boat. If the weather is rough you can be required to wear it.

The first day is by far the longest and toughest. Contrary to what was posted above, it is mostly lakes and the carries on the first day are all longer than 1/2 mile. Two are over a mile, and there are four. The first is between 5th Lake and Sixth lake and runs along the highway thru the village of Inlet. It is mostly uphill and is about 5/8- 3/4 mile long. The second carry is thru the 8th Lake State Campground and is about a mile of flat paved campground road. The third carry is the worst of the first day. The Brown’s tract carry is about a mile and 1/4 thru the woods from one watershed to another. There are many sections of this trail with stumps, rocks, and corduroy road sections. It ends on a boardwalk and can be single file for the last 100yds. The last carry of day one is short, about 1/2 mile and is the old railroad bed for the Marion River RR.

Day two has only one carry, the infamous Raquette Falls Carry. It is 1 1/2 miles, and goes up over a ridge. The first 100 yds is straight uphill. Stone steps for the first part, then a single track trail which can also be single file depending on who is on the trail when you take out. Solo guideboats are tough to carry up stone steps and no one with any consideration attempts to pass these guys on the steep parts of the trail. You just take it easy and catch your breath till the trail widens out.

Day three has one carry of about 1/2 mile and then a very short 100 carry around the upper lock on the Saranac River. The last carry is about 300 yards around the lower lock, and it goes up and over a hill.

The toughest part of the race in a long boat is Brown’s Tract Inlet, several miles of continuous switchbacks, in low water the channel is about a canoe width. There are several beaver dams to run and lots of waterplants on each side of the channel. Did this one year in a 20’ Grumman War Canoe and Brown’s Tract was fun. the long cedarstrip war canoes lose a lot of time here in low water.

If the water is low, there are several spots where stumps and rocks lie in minefields just under the surface, they could present a surfski with a real hull busting danger.

A pitcrew is a big asset, there are several spots where they can resupply you on the first day. Only one on the second day and none on the last day. Day two requires taking along a gallon of liquid per paddler to keep hydrated between spots. There are three official pit stops, but you can’t depend on getting more than a half liter bottle at each one.

Camping is part of the entry fee, and for me part of the whole experience. I have much disdane for the motel and blowdryer set. this is an outdoor experience.

Enough for tonight, this is a great race, and a great get together.


I agree with
th eplaidpaddler in regards to the hotels, except it was really nice to share a cabin the first night with JackL and the rest of the North carolina crazies. Not having to pack up a wet tent the first day was wonderful…

"The blow dryer set"
If you don’t have a pit crew and you are doing this for the 1st time, camping adds another layer. I don’t have any distain for those that choose this option.

If we share that same cabin this year…
we are flipping a coin to see who sleeps outside in the rain and hopefully it will be you two SNORERS !

How come the snorers get to sleep and the innocent get to listen to them???

Even night one and two with our tent fifty yards away I could hear you two sawing wood!

Cheers, and pleasant dreams!


How low water are you talking about? Once every 10 years sort, or fairly normal sort of low water? I have definite concerns about whether a boat with a fixed understern rudder would be viable on something like that. Any thoughts?