Weekend on Long Lake: Part 1 of 3
Gearing up for vacation
With an extended weekend planned and the boats strapped securely to the roof rack, we loaded up our camping gear, charged the batteries to our cameras, planned out our meals, and hit the road – of course not all at the same time, or even in the same day. Long Lake seems to be very easy to reach from any side of the Park, mainly because of its central location, and traveling there this day proved no different. We had a group of four of us going on a little family outing but Corenne was going to meet us later that evening at camp. It would be me, Kole, and Emily, going out first to get to camp and set up our little fortress in the woods.
We arrived at the state boat launch site in the Hamlet of Long Lake - just a bit over an hour after we left home. Our kayaks empty for the time being, seemed already heavy as we carried them to the sandy shore. Now it was time to load them up with three days' worth of food, camping gear, hiking gear, and fishing equipment. Somehow we managed, but the tough part was keeping the boats well balanced by not overloading any certain part of the boat more than another. We had gear strapped to the top, jammed behind the seat, and all the compartments packed like a Jack-in-the-box, sure to explode when we opened them. Corenne would have it very easy at the end of a long work day; she would have virtually an empty boat, dinner ready, and a camp already set up with everything short of a red carpet for her to arrive on – thinking about it, that could have been a funny addition. As one can see from any map or even from the roads through Long Lake, the lake itself has a well-deserved name. The lake is simply a widening of the Raquette River and flows north through town with its widest swath being right around 1-mile, we would be south of town where the waters don't quite reach that width.
On the water
We pushed off from shore to find ourselves sharing the lake with several motorboats and other paddlers, their small shapes dotting the horizon to the north. We swung south away from the launch area and proceeded to make decent headway right into the wind. Not only did we have the wind against us, but the current as well; this would be a workout. While the current isn't very noticeable, it's still there.
We quickly found ourselves passing by the town beach, past the many swimming to the docks, then finally under the Route 30 Bridge. Helm's Aero Service was coming quickly up on the rear, ready for a flawless take-off, we yielded. We decided with the numerous power boats on the water that we should hang a bit closer to shore, we were in no rush and had all day, if needed, to paddle to our camping destination. It wasn't long before we attracted the attention of a flock of ducks, young and old, a family I'm sure. They swam by the bow of our boats as if we were nothing more than a log floating freely to an undesignated shore. We could hear them talking, ever so lightly as if holding a conversation amongst themselves; never once startled by our presence, they only seemed to find some interest in Emily and her boat.
Arriving at Moose Island
Deerland Road held a slight hum in our ears as passing motorists zoomed by while the shadow of Owl's Head Mountain loomed to our right. We had now been cramped in our kayaks for some time; I couldn't likely feel my right foot at this point and my "behind" would soon fall to the same fate. Looking at the map Moose Island was only about a half mile away, we would use that as our docking point. I couldn't get there fast enough, but even under my full paddle I could not beat Kole to the island as he was also feeling the discomfort of his seat.
To our pleasure, the island was a perfect place to stretch our legs and get a snack. I stepped out onto a leg that been anaesthetized from being in one position for so long and almost instantly fell to the shore with those darn "skin needles" running through my foot.
On a pleasant note, there was even a trail on this tiny island that got us around to different vantage points. Then Kole gave me a shout, "what's this?" What do you know it was a Colvin bolt! Verplank Colvin was the first surveyor of the Adirondack Park well over 100 years ago, and low and behold, he placed a survey bolt on a rock on the highest point of the island, VERY COOL! Corenne and I are huge fans of Verplank Colvin and his Crew. What they did, under the conditions in which they did them, to survey the park as well as they did, it's simply incredible. After a few pictures we decided to not tell Corenne about it but surprise her on the way out with it. Of course I had to set the tone: I told her we had a surprise for her that she would get to see on the way out, that might have been a bit cruel, but she soon stopped asking for clues.
Getting to Camp on Long Lake
Moose Island isn't too far from the lean-to we had hoped to obtain, and quickly we arrived at the shore near that camp. Pulling our kayaks to shore we unloaded them and secured them up away from the waterline. The lean-to was open, I was a bit surprised, but it was still fairly early on a Friday. It wasn't long before the second lean-to filled up and tents started popping up in the area. I think we got lucky to reach there when we did.
Setting up camp was a bit like redecorating a room; we got very comfortable, quite fast, and started to think about prepping for dinner. We collected firewood, and again to our surprise there was plenty. Someone had even left us some old newspapers to get it started. Fire rolling, and some ground beef sizzling in a pan, we were just about ready to construct some back-country burritos and the campsite smelled fantastic.
Corenne was running a bit late and I started to get a slight bit of concern in the back of my throat, but it wouldn't be long and she was walking up to camp. She had gotten off work even later than expected and decided to drive to camp, which is about 1.5 miles up the North Point Road along a quarter mile canoe carry. We were happy to see her and we now only had to portage her boat a short distance, all downhill to camp.
Once Corenne got settled in, we collected some s'more sticks, ate a not-so-healthy Mexican dinner, and practically fell asleep gazing into the hypnotizing flames of our campfire. Day one had come to a close and we had planned a nice paddle up Owl's Head Pond Outlet and a pleasant hike back to Buttermilk Falls for our Saturday pleasure.
To be continued! You will have to tune in next week for part two of this weekend adventure to see how our paddle and hike played out.
Part 2 posted: Click here to read Part 2