A Beautiful Place
Mason Lake is a quiet body of water directly along Route 30 - just south of Lewey Lake - which many folks pass on their way through the southern Adirondacks. If they don't stop, they're missing out on a beautiful gem. Wren and I were camping in the area and took advantage of the trip to go for a paddle on Mason Lake in the evening. The lake is tucked in along Perkins Clearing Road which is dotted with a number of campsites, and we checked out the road for birds before setting off on the water.
Both put-ins for Mason Lake are along Perkins Clearing Road as well. We used the main put-in where there is a small parking area and picnic table. The other put-in is further down the road where a small, marshy slip provides access to the lake. Two women from the Albany area were at the beachy boat launch with their dogs, the one paddling around in a canoe with her pooch. Wren took a drink and a quick swim before we loaded up and set off.
A Peaceful Evening Paddle
The water was glassy smooth as we cut our path through it, and we listened to the silent woods around us, watching the clouds pass blue, pink, and gray in the haze through the slanting sun rays. It was a tranquil time to be on the water. A pair of Common Loons began to wail across the lake and we watched them dive and resurface, and dive and resurface again in the soft light. Several Blue Jays and Cedar Waxwings called from the nearby trees, and we made our way across the lake to the marshy side where I was hoping to find some more species.
It was quiet there too with a few Mallards dabbling in the shallows, and a Great Blue Heron lifting off on its enormous wings. The reeds held the murmured evening calls of Song Sparrows and a Common Yellowthroat, and we paddled to the spot where the second boat launch provides access to the marsh before we turned around, working the opposite shore of the lake to complete a loop to the car.
The shadows were deepening by this point and we finished our paddle as the world became washed in the purple of evening. Wren greeted the women and their dogs who were preparing to leave after their day away, and I loaded the boat and our gear, changing for a quick swim which we both wanted. It was evening, but it was still quite warm. We plunged in and cooled off, Wren making the gear in the car wet no matter how well I tried to dry her off.
Then it was time to head up the road to set up our tent and make dinner as a male Barred Owl hooted fairly close to us. Our campsite chores complete, we crawled into bed and looked over our plans for the following day. Spring peepers peeped loudly around us – their fall voices scratchy and more halting than their piercing spring mating calls. Soon the female Barred Owl gave her characteristic scream and began hooting nearby. Shortly thereafter the male began to answer her in the distance and I paused from my work to listen to their antiphonal exchange. As I listened more closely still I could hear the call notes of birds as they migrated through the night above our heads. Swainson's Thrushes, a Wood Thrush, and many others were moving south through the darkness as the rhythm of the change in the seasons drew them onward to their unseen destinations. I turned off my light and lay listening to them. It was going to be a great night to sleep out.