Reservations can apparently be made for Saranac Lake Islands campsites nine months in advance, but even with that knowledge, I wasn’t able to get a good site booked for this summer ahead of time. I did sign up to be notified of cancellations for this weekend at the end of spring and was pleasantly surprised to get a good site last minute. We ended up with site #45 on the Narrows of Lower Saranac Lake and I couldn’t be happier with it. It’s my new favorite campsite there, featuring a lean-to, plentiful tent sites, good hammock trees, a rock outcropping for sunbathing and swimming off of, and a sheltered spot to get in and out of the boats. And now that I’m sharing this information with you, you are hereby promising not to keep this site so booked that I can’t use it again. Deal? Deal.
We got to the boat launch on Friday evening, checked in, and loaded up for the paddle out to the site. I had mapped it at just about 2 miles out so some friends with a child did opt to bring a motorboat instead of having their 8-year-old paddle that far, and that turned out to be a good decision because the waves were quite choppy and the wind was kicked up, maybe a little too much for a kid’s kayak. We were also able to put some of the groceries in the motorboat to keep all that delicious camper pie bread from getting squished in my kayak. I was able to still fit a luxurious amount of camping stuff in my kayak though. Maybe not quite as much as canoe camping, but still more than backpacking. Some luxury items included: a folding chair, two camper pie irons, a hammock, a larger two-person tent, not all dehydrated food, and beverages besides water. We had planned on fitting some firewood in the kayaks but were able to put that in the motorboat instead too.
It was a gorgeous paddle out to camp, despite the wind and waves, and we caught sunset on the way. After being surprised by how big and awesome our campsite was, we all unpacked and dispersed to set up tents. I was disappointed to see water had gotten into my frontmost and rearmost hatches, but I had everything important in waterproof stuff sacks also, so no harm done. It looked like maybe I hadn’t seated the lid on the front hatch correctly, and that’s where waves had been washing over. For the rear hatch, the lid did look seated, so I suspect it came in from the rudder.
Once we were all set for the night, dark had set in, so we reconvened at the lean-to for a campfire and camper pies. Last time we did this, Kelly pointed out after the fact that I’d pretty much eaten a whole loaf of bread in one evening with all my camper pie excitement, so I tried to rein it in this time.
It was a slightly breezy, but warm and dry night, and morning dawned sunny and gorgeous again. It was my first time getting to use my new Gossamer Gear The Two tent and I loved it! We kept the doors open to the breeze all night.
We spent most of the morning lazing around, eating snacks at the fire, laying out on the rock outcropping at the edge of the site in the sun, picking wild blueberries that Pete found, and dipping in and out of the water. This weekend was in the 90s at home but only in the 80s here at the lake, and that felt even better with the cool breeze over the water, and the ease of just dipping in when necessary to cool off. I could not have asked for a better place to be to ride out the heat wave.
We eventually decided to get out for a paddle, so we grabbed lunch first since we’d managed to not do much for an entire morning. Once back in the boat, we headed south down the Saranac River toward Middle Saranac Lake to go through the Upper Locks again. We checked out the class II rapid the lock avoided first, but couldn’t see much of it around the bend. There wasn’t a line at the lock this time so we went right in.
We explored more of the river through a marshy area on the other side before deciding to head back. There was a line at the lock this time so we portaged the kayaks instead. With more marshy exploring, we saw ducks and herons, and very slowly floated/occasionally paddled back to camp.
Rebecca and Eric and Pete had left so it was just Kelly and Jeremiah and I for the night. We enjoyed some more relaxing before dinner, and another campfire and camper pies after.
It was cloudier when we got up in the morning but the forecast was still good so we took our time packing up and heading out. We wanted to paddle more of the lake, picking out our favorite campsites along the way. I always do this, and never write the sites down for next time, but this time I did. I’ve already shared the best one so I won’t share my backups just in case. We paddled along the shoreline all the way up to Eagle Island before heading back to First Pond and the boat launch. We did finally see one loon on the way.
Overall a major success for the first camping trip in my kayak!