Hand-carving traditional canoe paddles at the ever-inspiring Adirondack Museum
"With Blue Mountain rising behind it and Blue Mountain Lake sparkling below, the Adirondack Museum's 121 acre campus features displays in 24 buildings and 40,000 square feet of exhibitions. There are lush grounds and sweeping views. The exhibitions tell the unique story of the Adirondacks and its people." - Adirondack Museum website.
We drove about 4 1/2 hours North from Frost Hollow to Blue Mountain Lake, Ny for a truly inspiring workshop on hand-carving traditional canoe paddles, given by Caleb Davis of Tremolo Paddles. Since carving his first paddle at the age of 11, Caleb has carved thousands of paddles and taught many how to paddle with grace and comfort. Rover Brian felt pretty confident in his paddle knowledge until he met Caleb, who warmly shared so much more than a simple carving lesson. Being the lesser experienced paddler, I was just in awe of how much there was to learn, from carving to the rich history behind these beautiful traditional paddles that once helped the fur trade and others move through the river highways.
Adirondack Museum Entrance
Breathtaking views of Blue Mountain Lake and its surrounding mountains
A charming example of the Adirondack style Lean-to
One of the loveliest examples of a walled platform A frame tent - pond-side, of course.
A detailed exhibit within the museum depicting canoe camping
Our instructor giving a paddling demonstration on the museum campus pond
Brian working on the initial rough shaping of his paddle with a spoke shave.
Brian's traditional voyageur paddle considered rather wide compared to the cruising paddles of old
The initial shaping of my even wider willow leaf paddle but still narrow enough to be graceful and agile in the water all while not wearing out the muscles as a cruising paddle.
We worked for 8 hours -- shaving away long curls of white ash, scrapping tiny curls as we continued to shape the difficult wood, scrapping with even finer blades creating a smoother surface with just a fluff off wood pulled away-- until finally we simply scraped the paddles with a steel blade until they were perfectly smooth to the touch. What a sense of accomplishment we felt at the end of that long, lovely day of learning by careful craftsmanship!
We leave you with this lovely sentiment by Henry David Thoreau
"Rise free from care before the dawn and seek adventures. Let the noon find thee by other lakes, and the night overtake thee everywhere at home."