Camping... closer than you think

Canoe camping - it's just an island (or two) away!

 Submitted by guest blogger, Alyssa Devlin.
Read on to see why Alyssa can't wait for the warmer months to roll around once again! 

This  past summer, I went for a canoe camping trip with my family. My sister is always the planner when it comes to outdoor adventures, and this trip was no different. She had a goal to relive childhood memories by paddling and camping on Little Tupper Lake, so while the whole family was in town — she and her husband in town from Montana and myself from Washington DC — we decided to make it happen. We had a small window of time to work from, what with June rains always imminent in the ADK, but we pulled off a middle of the week trip and it was completely rain free! 

In preparing for a camping trip, particularly one with gear (boats, paddles, life jackets), there are always a lot of moving pieces to consider. The biggest challenge for us ended up fitting the number of boats we needed on top of as few cars as possible (to limit our carbon footprint and increase opportunities for sing-alongs on the drive). We ended up driving two Subarus and one truck from Placid to Little Tupper – the cars with one boat each and the truck with two. Given that the truck’s boat rack wasn’t really meant to carry two boats, there was a lot of readjusting, frequent pit stops to make sure the boats didn’t end up on route 30, and no small amount of handiwork and ingenuity! 

Packing it up!

Perhaps the best part about canoe camping on a short overnighter is that you don’t have to skimp on belongings (or food!). We filled our boats to the edges with sleeping bags, feather comforters (yes, that is how my parents camp), pillows, and no shortage of beer, cookies, and snacks. 

Paige ready to rock this paddling trip.

Finally arriving (only Subaru #2 got a little lost), we loaded the boats up and ate a quick lunch on the dock before pushing off. My brother-in-law led the way in my dad’s new super-light solo canoe and due in small part to the boat’s better ergonomics and in large part to his superior fitness, he was paddling laps around the rest of us. This worked out okay for the slowpokes, however, since he paddled ahead and scoped out various campsites along the shore, looping back every so often to report back on the many options and allow us to make a decision on where to head without having to pop in to a number of sites before settling on one.

Sasha takes the lead!

When the paddlers are similar weights it makes sense to have the more experienced paddler in the stern, as that is the position from where the path is set. Since I rarely paddle with less experienced paddlers, I was loving the chance to row stern. Finally, my turn to bark commands! Luckily, my friend Sasha in the bow took my (not infrequently wrong) commands with grace and agility – did someone say new 90-miler partners in the making? It was quite windy on our way out and the wind made paddling surprisingly challenging and slow going but all boats muscled through. 

Jump on in!

One of the best things about Little Tupper is that all of the sites are beautiful – each has its own merits – and the one we chose was no different. The site we found was perfectly situated with a small beach to pull the boats aground and a large rock peninsula that made a perfect launch pad for swimming. Shortly after arriving, most of us stripped down to our swimsuits and jumped in. It took coaxing for some, but soon all of us but one were swimming out into the lake. As it was the beginning of an Adirondack summer the water and air were both a little brisk, but when the sun was out it was perfect. Plus, you can’t beat the feeling of putting on wool socks and sweaters post-swim!

Just hanging out!

My cousin Jepper was beyond prepared with a fabulous cheese, salami, and veggie platter. We sure know how to camp in style!

Camp dinner - our way!

Gorging ourselves on the spread of cheese and crackers, I can’t say many were hungry for our dinner… so much so that I don’t even remember what we made for dinner. But by the time dessert rolled around, we all had a second wind for s’mores and butterscotch cookies made by Sasha. Some of us even made s’mores with our butterscotch cookies – wild! 

Wouldn't be camp without... s'mores!

The night ended with an intense discussion on where (and how) to hang the bear bag, as good hanging trees and rope were both hard to find. We eventually fashioned a few pieces of rope together to make a chain long enough to throw over a tree and shimmied the bag up and over one of its limbs. While the end result brought the bear bag out of the reach of a human, it was still within reach for a moderately ambitious bear. Further debates ensued over whether there were many bears nearby, particularly the bold and ambitious kind.

Eventually we decided that the hanging spot was the best we could find (in the dark) and the current situation beat any prior suggestions – the last one being my mother’s, “why can’t dad and I just take the bear bag into our tent?” Even after living in the Adirondacks for thirty years, she is a walking testament that you can take the girl out of the city, but I guess you just can’t take the city out of the girl. We ended the night listening to loons and watching the light wane over the water – it was one of those perfect Adirondack nights where you could bundle up and watch for the stars to slowly come out. Pretty hard to beat.

Oh, what a night.

Rising early the next morning we all relaxed in the hammock and by the campfire while we made tea and oatmeal. We had some trouble with our camp stove so it wasn’t heating very quickly, but luckily we packed in enough water that we didn’t have to worry about bringing it to a full boil.

The morning was perfect – nice and cool with calm waters. We had checked the weather and knew a storm was planning to roll in around midday, so we started packing up so we could hit the water pretty early and make it back to the cars before lunchtime. Paddling back was a piece of cake compared to the day before, what little wind we had was to our backs, and Sasha and I made such good time that we passed right by the boat launch, thinking there was no way that could be it since the paddle took us less than half the time of the day before.

Loading the boats took no less finesse and no fewer feats of engineering than the day before – there was probably a solid thirty minutes of watching my dad and brother-in-law struggle with the canoes on the truck before we paused for one quick photoshoot and headed on our way home. 

Yeah, you could say we have fun together! It's just how we do it!

With the calendar just clicking away, now is a perfect time to daydream about our next paddle and canoe camping adventure!

Editor's note: If canoe camping is a bit out of your comfort zone - check this out...  Reservations are now being accepted for summer campsites. It's true! Many of our die-hard campers can't help but countdown the days and hit the reservation button the minute they're allowed. Nine months - that's right - 9 months in advance! That means you can now reserve your late-summer 2017 NYS camping spots right now! Of course, there are usually a selection of primitive spots and a number of walk-up campsite reservations available for those that camp on a whim.

Are you ready for a true Adirondack experience? 

This week in related How to ADK news:

How to bird

How to holiday shop 

How to glamp

How to pie

How to build a fire

How to make snow

How to navigate

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