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Adirondack Dinosaurs

Author’s Note: This story appeared in the November 12, 2021 online edition of The Adirondack Almanack.

The entrance sign to Weller Pond
Taken from my Zen Boat canoe
August 2021`
As my wife and I tracked migrating Adirondack Dinosaurs

“Adirondack Dinosaurs are far from extinct. In fact, certain species are quietly expanding their territory, migrating. Ancient carnivores slowly reclaiming what was once their domain. Patiently biding their time while they plot their next move. Watching us. Waiting to reclaim their Adirondack apex predator throne.”


     Ever since I was a young boy, there have always been three things I’ve dreamed of being when I grow up: major league baseball player, writer, archeologist.

     My major league baseball aspirations were probably best summed up by the year book inscription left to me by our SLHS varsity 1st baseman:

“It was really fun playing baseball with you and you’re not too bad even though you can’t hit worth a damn.”

    As to my career as a writer-well- I guess the jury’s still out.

     As an archeologist though, I may yet have potential.

     I’ve always been fascinated by fossils, cavemen, and all things dinosaur. During my 3rd grade stint in Northville, I joined the local “Rock & Mineral Club”. I remember going on field trips with my rock hammer hoping to unearth a trilobite. Then in Lake Placid, during my painfully itchy 4th grade winter convalesce, I wrote a seven page term paper on the coelacanth while I recovered simultaneously from the chicken pox and a broken collar bone, the latter of which occurred as a result of an ill-advised ice hill sledding incident involving me, a runner sled, and a big maple tree.

      To this day I remain fascinated by fossils & rocks, and can still be found wandering hither & yon digging, diving, searching for and finding some pretty cool old stuff, which I have written stories about previously, including some that have appeared both in The Adirondack Almanack (“High Peaks Treasure at Livingston Pond” & “Message in a Bottle”), and on my blog (“When the Ghost Whispers “Dig”, “Outlawed”).

     While we lived in Lake Placid, my dad bought two aluminum Grumman canoes. We took canoe trips everywhere in the Adirondack Tri-Lakes region surrounding us. Shortly after our family moved to Saranac Lake, one of those trips was along a route that remains my most frequented favorite to this day, the canoe route into Middle Saranac Lake via South Creek.  Dad and my brother Raymond (my younger brother was always called “Raymond” then, never “Ray”) would man one canoe, while my Mom and I would paddle the other.  

     Early in our pre-Bull Rush Bay family canoe camping career, we would cross the lake, past Umbrella Point, Halfway Island, and Windy Point up into Hungry Bay. There we either laid camper’s claim to the lean-to at Martha Reben, or made our way further up through the boggy, buggy, frog filled lily pad creek to pitch camp on Tick Island, Weller Pond.

     Other than “Middle Saranac”, “Weller Pond” and “Martha Reben”, I did not know any of the names of the other points, islands, and bays back then. I was more focused on important kid stuff, like fishing, swimming, devouring the contents of Mom’s camp food cooler, and the ever-exciting discoveries of exploring.

     Of all those many dad guided, canoe mounted, exploring expeditions, one that remains amongst the most fascinating to me, to this day, were and are forays into the primeval confines of Little Weller Pond.

Little Weller Pond
From the far shore
Below Boot Bay Mountain

“My wife Robin, sitting in the Zen Boat, on one of our day trips into Little Weller Pond.”

     Little Weller Pond sits nestled against the foothills of Boot Bay Mountain, about halfway between Hungry Bay and Weller Pond, up a shallow not always easily boat navigable narrow boggy creek flow. Little Weller is a quiet little pond. Its water is tannin-stained mucky tea dark. It’s rimmed with beaver huts, tamarack trees, stunted red maples. cedars, and water lilies. About eight foot deep in the middle, Little Weller Pond is not more than about two hundred yards across.

     Notwithstanding my nephew Forrest’s mythical monster pike legend, and Dad’s wishful thinking that dinosaur sized pike lurk in those waters, the primary residents of Little Weller Pond, by my observations, are black ducks, mosquitos, painted turtles, and frogs.

Inscription on the Old Bull Rush Bay Lean-to
Site 63, Middle Saranac Lake
Are there really monster dinosaur pike lurking in Little Weller Pond’s tannin-stained waters?

     However, despite the distinct lack of dinosaur pike direct evidence, there is one prehistoric carnivore that still lurks in those Little Weller Pond bogs.  It doesn’t have fins, flesh, feathers or teeth, but it’s a survivor, and it eats meat.

     What is the dinosaur survivor to which I refer? Of course- it’s the Pitcher Plant!

Pitcher plant cluster
Little Weller Pond canoe access route
Summer 2021

      They thrive in that bog in small clumps and clusters, luring in insect prey with their sweet-smelling nectar and pretty red flowers, before ravenously drowning, dissolving, and devouring them, bones and all, dinosaur style.

     In all of my Adirondack adventures and travels, I had never seen or encountered pitcher plants anywhere else but in that one Little Weller Pond bog. To me, they have always been prehistorically special.

Pitcher Plant Colony
Little Weller Pond Bog
Between Middle Saranac Lake & Weller Pond

     Then, about three years ago, I was once again rowing my Zen boat canoe in along my familiar South Creek route on a summer day trip with my wife Robin. We were taking our time, enjoying the day, taking snapshots of sunning turtles, water lilies and frogs, when suddenly, I spotted something I am quite certain that I had not ever seen there in South Creek before. I recognized it immediately.  The dinosaur pitcher plant’s distinctive red flower. We immediately stopped and snapped photos.

Pitcher plant Cluster with Distinctive red flower
South Creek access
Middle Saranac Lake
Pitcher Plant flower closeup
South Creek Canoe Access
Middle Saranac Lake

     As we continued towards the lake, I saw several more colonies lining South Creek’s shore. I looked out across Middle Saranac Lake. Pitcher plants had migrated from remote Little Weller Pond to firmly establish themselves on the near side of the lake.

     All of my pre-historic childhood dinosaur memories came flooding back. I was excited. A dinosaur migration! Occurring right there in front of us!

     As is generally the case, my mind wandered. My imagination took over: “I wonder how big “Jurassic Park” pitcher plants got?” “What did they eat way back then?” “Were they big enough to devour dragon flies?” “What if they were big enough to consume frogs, snakes or turtles?” “Did they ever grow big enough to eat cavemen and dinosaurs?”

Author’s Note: It took my wife and I many tries before we were able to successfully snap a decent photo of a turtle in South Creek. Every time we spotted one sunning on a log or lily pad, it would slip into the water before we could get the camera focused.

Painted Turtle
South Creek Canoe Access
Middle Saranac Lake

“Were Dinosaur Pitcher Plants ever big enough to eat turtles?”

    I studied the migrating colonies with increasing caution as we paddled the rest of our route for a day on the lake.

What were they up to, these pitcher plant carnivores, quietly migrating?”

Pitcher plant colony
Little Weller Pond outlet/canoe access

     “Were they simply biding their time? Slowly building their numbers as they plot their next rise, beyond humans, to re-claim dinosaur carnivore pitcher plant pre-eminence?”

“Am I to them but a potential future food source?”

     “To Pitcher plants are humans nothing but fat, juicy, North Face clad dragonflies?”

     Now, as I row my Zen boat along that familiar South Creek route, I remain far more vigilant.

     “Are Adirondack dinosaurs watching me, salivating?”

Pitcher plant colony with past bloom flowers
South Creek Canoe Access
Middle Saranac Lake

   Sometimes I wonder.  


Until Our Trails Cross Again:

South Creek Canoe Access
Stony Creek Mountain in the background
Paddling my Zen Boat
Enroute to Middle Saranac Lake