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The Adirondacks
by [?]

It is not in the woods alone to give one this impression of utter loneliness. In the woods are sounds and voices, and a dumb kind of companionship; one is little more than a walking tree himself; but come upon one of these mountain lakes, and the wildness stands revealed and meets you face to face. Water is thus facile and adaptive, that makes the wild more wild, while it enhances culture and art.

The end of the pond which we approached was quite shoal, the stones rising above the surface as in a summer brook, and everywhere showing marks of the noble game we were in quest of,–footprints, dung, and cropped and uprooted lily pads. After resting for a half hour, and replenishing our game-pouches at the expense of the most respectable frogs of the locality, we filed on through the soft, resinous pine-woods, intending to camp near the other end of the lake, where, the guide assured us, we should find a hunter’s cabin ready built. A half-hour’s march brought us to the locality, and a most delightful one it was,–so hospitable and inviting that all the kindly and beneficent influences of the woods must have abided there. In a slight depression in the woods, about one hundred yards from the lake, though hidden from it for a hunter’s reasons, surrounded by a heavy growth of birch, hemlock, and pine, with a lining of balsam and fir, the rude cabin welcomed us. It was of the approved style, three sides inclosed, with a roof of bark and a bed of boughs, and a rock in front that afforded a permanent backlog to all fires. A faint voice of running water was head near by, and, following the sound, a delicious spring rivulet was disclosed, hidden by the moss and debris as by a new fall of snow, but here and there rising in little well-like openings, as if for our special convenience. On smooth places on the log I noticed female names inscribed in a female hand; and the guide told us of an English lady, an artist, who had traversed this region with a single guide, making sketches.

Our packs unslung and the kettle over, our first move was to ascertain in what state of preservation a certain dug-out might be, which the guide averred, he had left moored in the vicinity the summer before,–for upon this hypothetical dug-out our hopes of venison rested. After a little searching, it was found under the top of a fallen hemlock, but in a sorry condition. A large piece had been split out of one end, and a fearful chink was visible nearly to the water line. Freed from the treetop, however, and calked with a little moss, it floated with two aboard, which was quite enough for our purpose. A jack and an oar were necessary to complete the arrangement, and before the sun had set our professor of wood-craft had both in readiness. From a young yellow birch an oar took shape with marvelous rapidity,–trimmed and smoothed with a neatness almost fastidious,–no makeshift, but an instrument fitted for the delicate work it was to perform.

A jack was make with equal skill and speed. A stout staff about three feet long was placed upright in the bow of the boat, and held to its place by a horizontal bar, through a hole in which it turned easily: a half wheel eight or ten inches in diameter, cut from a large chip, was placed at the top, around which was bent a new section of birch bark, thus forming a rude semicircular reflector. Three candles placed within the circle completed the jack. With moss and boughs seats were arranged,–one in the bow for the marksman, and one in the stern for the oarsman. A meal of frogs and squirrels was a good preparation, and, when darkness came, all were keenly alive to the opportunity it brought. Though by no means an expert in the use of the gun,–adding the superlative degree of enthusiasm to only the positive degree of skill,–yet it seemed tacitly agreed that I should act as marksman and kill the deer, if such was to be our luck.