It was a crystal clear April morning as I slid my Raddison into Whortleberry Pond three miles from where I had muscled it off the truck and slung it over my shoulders.
The year was 2002 and this was to be my maiden brookie voyage of the season.
The pond was newly shed of its winter attire, as was evidenced by the lingering juts of milk-white ice along one shady shore. The water lay in a black sheet before me, undisturbed save for a warm fog hanging just above the ponds surface.
I glanced at my watch - 6:45 a.m. Perfect, I thought.
I had barely watched my first Lake Clear slip beneath the water when a freight trainlike growl reverberated across the valley.
Almost simultaneously the water around me began to dance with miniature whitecaps and my tranquil morning was interrupted by the metallic heartbeat of my two Orvis rods slamming off the sides of the canoe.
The pond came alive as if I were sitting atop a fish tank being shaken by an NFL linebacker. Ice near the shore crashed into small pieces.
It was bizarre to say the least. I shrieked like Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights and hugged my life vest until I thought it might explode.
OK, not really.
I may have, if Id had enough time. Instead, the earthquake lasted only about 15 seconds, and was gone as quickly as it appeared.
I later found out that the quake, centered about 15 miles south of Plattsburgh near Au Sable Forks, Jay and Keeseville, measured 5.1 on the Richter scale one of the largest ever recorded in the region. It was felt as far away as southern Quebec and Ontario, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and throughout much of the upper New England coast.
Former Governor George Pataki later declared a state of emergency in Essex and Clinton Counties after chimneys and roadways collapsed, including three sections of state Route 9N which crumbled into the swamps by the Au Sable River.
The chimney of the historic United Methodist Church in Au Sable that was built of stone in 1925 was also a casualty of the quake. Part of the roof caved in as well.
Commercial items at stores throughout the region littered the aisles. Some experienced broken windows. Power was briefly disrupted to about 3,500 residents in Peru because of a damaged substation.
While we are somewhat isolated from many of the natural disasters that plague other portions of the country, earthquakes are are actually quite common here, as was evidenced by the one that occurred near Tupper Lake last week.
Each year approximately 450 earthquakes occur in the Adirondacks and southeastern Canada, according to the National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC). The major difference between those that occur here and those in the western part of the country, is not surprisingly, magnitude.
An earthquake is measured in both magnitude (M) and intensity. Magnitude is a measured value of its size and is the same no matter where you are, or how strong or weak the shaking was in different locations. Intensity is a measure of the shaking it creates, and varies with location.
A magnitude of 8 or higher defines a "great" earthquake; 7 to 7.9 is considered "major"; 6 to 6.9 is "strong"; 5 to 5.9 is "moderate"; 4 to 4.9 is "light"; 3 to 3.9 is "minor"; and less than 3 is "micro."
Of the 450 or so quakes that rumble through the region every year, perhaps 4 will exceed magnitude 4, 30 will exceed magnitude 3, and about 25 events will actually be reported as having been felt.
A decade will, on average, include three events greater than magnitude 5. A magnitude 3 eventlike the one that recently shook Tupper Lake is sufficiently strong to be felt in the immediate area, and a magnitude 5 event is generally the threshold where damages begins to occur. That means a vast majority of North Country earthquakes go completely unnoticed.
Besides the one I experienced on April 20, 2002, other prominent quakes in the last 100 years include the Timiskaming, Ontario M 6.2 in 1935; the Cornwall, Ontario M 5.6 in 1944; and the Goodnow or Blue Mountain Lake M 5.1 earthquake in 1983.