Adirondacks Day 7
For our relatives a summer trip to the Adirondacks is as regular a summer fixture as our own visits to the Llyn Peninsula are for us. One tradition they’ve established is to rent a Pontoon, or Party, Boat and to spend a day on the Saranac Lakes.
This map gives some idea of the complexity of the Saranac chain of lakes. I liked this hand drawn one, because it picks out the Saranac 6. Incidentally, the body of water south of Ampersand Mountain is Ampersand Lake, which allegedly resembles an ampersand sign and hence gives its name to all of the many ‘ampersand’ features in the area.
To be honest, I’m a bit sketchy about our itinerary for the day, but I think we started at the marina on Lower Saranac Lake, travelled through First and Second Ponds and the lock on the Saranac River into Oseetah Lake, briefly into Lake Flower, retracing our route then into Middle Saranac Lake, via another lock, for lunch at Ampersand Beach. I’m not sure whether we ventured into Upper Saranac Lake or not. I do know that we stopped off at several islands for a bit of swimming and leaping into the water.
Don’t let the blue skies fool you, there was a strong wind blowing and for the first time on our trip it was really quite cool.
It was great fun steering the boat and I think we all took a turn. It was safest when I was driving, not due to any nautical prowess on my part, but because that meant I wasn’t blundering about elsewhere on the boat. A couple of times I stood too close to the front, which over-balanced the boat, plunging the front under the water and leaving us all ankle deep. The boat seemed to handle that indignity with ease, but it was a bit alarming.
I didn’t take any photos of the locks sadly, each of which we had to go through twice, partly because I was steering on some of those occasions and partly because it was ‘all-hands-on-deck’ when we went through to ensure we didn’t bang into the locks, the lock walls or any other boats.
Given that the boat was essentially a very well-appointed raft, it was surprisingly nippy, although not when I was steering.
The boys had been hearing all about Bluff Island, and potential feats of derring-do, ever since we booked our flights, but initially we took a look and promised them that we would come back later.
Mist was rising off the Saranac River in a very atmospheric way, my photos don’t really do it justice.
A Bald Eagle flew along the channel ahead of us. It is in the photo below, but it’s so tiny you can’t really see it.
All of the channels, and some parts of the lakes too, are marked out with regular buoys to show where the water is deep enough. Never-the-less, some sections were very shallow, and that, combined with submerged rocks in places, meant some real caution was required at times.
The boat had a fishing sonar and we had rods with us but I can’t recall anyone actually catching any fish at any point. Fishing was a regular activity during our trip. The boys did occasionally catch something, but not often. Their success rate was probably roughly on a par with Whitehouse and Mortimer, who seem to catch a solitary fish every episode.
There were lots of amazing lakeside properties and speculating on how much they might cost became a keen topic of our conversation.
Some of the properties were on their won private islands. In the photo above what you can see is the boathouse, the house itself is behind in the trees. The people sat outside in the sun on the patio looked very relaxed.
I remember that my brother-in-law was very taken with this rather trim looking island property.
The boat was very comfortable. In the early part of the day lying down on a bench meant you were out of the wind, a definite bonus.
After we’d had lunch we came back to this island. There were people picnicking there so we anchored next to one of the adjacent islands and me and the boys swam to have an explore. The island had a couple of campgrounds – they seem to be dotted all over the area. They each have a fire-pit and a toilet and can be rented out.
The picnickers moved on, so we then swam to the rocky little island and I think the boys found some spots for jumping in.
Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself, before we did all that, we landed at Ampersand Beach for lunch. The water is very shallow there and Captain A kicked the DBs overboard to tow the boat ashore…he may have been a pirate Captain in a previous existence.
In some ways this photo is one of several which neatly encapsulate our visit to the Adirondacks: stunning scenery, beautiful beach, nobody about.
We’d promised the boys a trip to Bluff Island and we made good on our promise, despite some misgivings. The next two photos are actually videos, if you click on them you’ll be able to watch them on flickr.
First, W and M jumping from a great height…
And then the DBs leaping from far too high…
This seems to be a very well known spot, but not a challenge many take on. The DBs gathered a bit of an audience of other boatloads when they jumped.
After doing this jump a couple of times each, the DBs declared themselves satisfied. We motored a short distance to a spot with some rather more sedate opportunities for jumping in, tame enough that even I gave it a go.
We had a deadline for returning the boat, and all the other rentals must have been working to the same timings because as we headed into the marina there was a bit of a race to get in and secure a berth.
An absolutely fantastic day which will live long in the memory.