An Adirondack winter outing: Snowshoeing the Sagamore Lake Loop
A Winter Carnival Event
This outing was an event planned by the Great Camp Sagamore as part of the Long Lake/Raquette Lake Winter Carnival in February 2014. So please keep this in mind for this year's winter carnival where similar events will be planned and run throughout the weekend.
It was a damp kind of chilly in the air, the sort of damp that makes you think of rain. We had hoped for a bluebird clear day, with the brilliant white reflecting the sun and warming us from all sides, but that forecast which was predicted about a week earlier, slowly deteriorated to overcast, flurries with occasional gusts. I had been hired to run this outing with an unknown potential for participants, but free outings always seem to draw a crowd. Unsure of the turnout I would get, I arrived about an hour early to great everyone, and to my surprise there were already a few people there waiting. As the advertised start time approached more and more cars arrived with additional snowshoers. The trip was advertised as a cross-country ski or snowshoe, but to my surprise there were no skier participants. Which was too bad; this loop makes for an outstanding cross-country ski tour; so I left my skis in the car and grabbed my snowshoes instead.
Hitting the Sagamore Lake Trail
We started the day by hiking up the road just a bit further to the trailhead in order to go in a counter-clockwise direction; for no other reason than I had to make a choice. Once we arrived at the trailhead I announced: "Thank you for joining in today on our little hike, this concludes today's outing!" No one believed me, so we put on our snowshoes and pushed on. It looked as though someone had skied the loop, or at least started to, from the slightly filled in tracks before us, but we still would need to break trail a little bit.
Laughter, jokes, and stories mixed together filling the woods with the voices of excited snowshoers meeting their newly found hiking partners for the day. We soon came to the small open field, which in winter can be a bit confusing as to where to go, especially when the so-called skier from the past headed off in a different direction. Having been here before I knew the route, but for the others they were a bit confused at first.
The terrain moved ever so softly before us, until we came to a good spot to take a break and a few pictures of the group. A bit further on we paused again and took a few moments to explore the Shore of Sagamore Lake for a few outstanding picture opportunities. Again they didn't believe me, even when I expressed that this was Lake Champlain.
Moseying on we continued to chat it up as different people would move up in line to take the ear of someone new for a while; the stories and experiences just continued to flow. Soon the trail would leave the side of the lake and would only be a memory. Moving gently through the hardwood forest, we eventually came to the bridge over East Inlet; at least what was left of it. Like many bridges over the winter thawing and refreezing patterns, this bridge did not toll well at all. I honestly could not remember the depth of the water where the bridge was, nor could I truly make out the entire length of what bridge was remaining. I volunteered as group leader to take the front in crossing this section. We did so one at a time. I did manage to stay atop the bridge, and the ice did appear to be solidly frozen around us. Everyone easily made the trip over the inlet. This called for a drink! Water was what I was talking about of course, I mean, I am sure I might have been a popular trip leader with a jug a whiskey in my pack, but it just doesn't seem appropriate.
Crossing East Inlet
The trail at this point is as flat as any trail you can imagine, until it isn't that is. Truly, the trail never really climbs all that seriously. There was one long, slow climb that quickly brought us to the height-of-land which was the highest point along the trail; all of about 40 feet higher than the start of the trip. At this point a breather for some was requested, which was great time to regroup and get a snack. This was when one of the participants mentioned that there was a memorial for John Hoy coming up along the trail. I had seen it before, but totally forgotten about it. I remember it being very hard to see in the summer, but maybe the black color will jump out at us with the snow. We spent the next mile or so looking for it, with all our heads cocked to the right in hopes of spotting it, we never did, but we never gave up either, even when we knew in our minds that the time had long past.
Outstanding view of Sagamore Lake
Eventually the trail made a sharp turn south and we could see the lake again to our left. At first not so approachable, but soon we would be at the rock ledge overlook. While quite slippery many of us decided to not go on out, but some of us did - and the views were quite nice, even with the gray overcast.
"My snowshoe broke," I heard someone say. "It surely did," I expressed. "Want mine?" Being only about a half mile or less from the road she opted to just bare-boot the trail out. The snow was rather hard-packed, and only slightly slippery, it wasn't too difficult to travel. We stuck close together just in case she changed her mind. But before it would become an issue we were out on the road.
As visitors of the camp we crossed their bridge and made our way over to the servant's quarters where hot cider was waiting to warm us from within. The group at this point made our farewells and off we went to enjoy other aspects of the Winter Carnival.
Interested in what other programs Camp Sagamore has to offer, or want to get on board with other Winter Carnival events, check out Adirondack Experiences for details. Or go to www.greatcampsagamore.org for more details.