It’s hard to believe that September is coming to an end already. The leaves are changing on the trees. The nights are getting cooler. The Canada Geese are flying south for the winter. Camping season for me ends when the nigh time temperatures fall below 35 degrees. Of course I ventured off to visit my favorite camping destination (Saranac Lake) to not only get that last night outdoors, but to also see the paddlers of the Great Adirondack Canoe Classic in their final leg of their three-day, 90 mile journey from Old Forge New York to Saranac Lake New York.
The Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration was in full swing in downtown Plattsburgh. I was feeling some guilt over leaving the festivities, but The draw to be outdoors was too strong to resist. With a great chance of rain in the forecast, I knew I was in for a wet trip. Of course it didn’t rain a drop until I got to the boat launch on Second Pond. Under light rain, my camping partner and I packed the kayak hurriedly and made off to our campsite. The light rain couldn’t have been for more than ten minutes as we rounded out of Second Pond into the Lower Saranac Lake.
I don’t complain of such things like rain. I have never been a fair weather paddler, so anything goes. There’s something special and different about rainy day paddling. If the wind isn’t blowing too hard and you keep a quiet paddle, the raindrops on the water’s surface sound as if they are singing a gentle song. We were serenaded through First and Second Ponds, but greeted at the Lower Saranac lake with less of this gentle serenade and more of a grand overture. In the passage, the wind rotated, the trees bent over as if they were trying to touch the water, and the torrent began. The Orchestra rang out a magnificent tune. The percussion of the thunder in the distance, the rain on the water, the waves crashing, and the wind in the trees howling. Mother Nature’s Symphony lasted only a few minutes before giving way again to the mellow serenade of the light rain.
With the curtain of rain lifted, I could make out all of the islands in front of me, the two miles to our camping site went smoothly. We set up the site as quickly as our frozen fingers would allow, got into some dry clothes, I went to lay about in my hammock for some time for quiet peace while my camping partner chose to lay in the tent away from the breeze. The raindrops that clung to the trees fell with each slight breeze tapping on the rain fly, and the rolling water lapped at the rocks while the sun started to disappear behind the Adirondack Mountains. I watched the sky change into night and shoved off to sleep. The Paddlers in the Great Adirondack Canoe Classic would start pouring out of the switchbacks early and I didn’t want to miss a beat.
Tucked tightly in my sleeping bag with my nose chilled by the crisp air I woke to the greatest alarm clock in nature. The loons were calling out on the lake. My brain couldn’t convince my body to leave the cocoon I was in to go out to see the Loons, so I stayed, wrapped tightly in my warmth with a smile and a chuckle each time they called out. I gave myself an hour to allow my brain and body to communicate enough to creep out of my sleeping bag and into the morning chill. The storm clouds had cleared way for perfectly blue skies. I could hear sounds in the distance from the first paddlers calls. This is what I was waiting for. The Great Adirondack Canoe Classic was in the last ten miles of their 90 mile trek. My camping partner and I packed up camp and paddled out to the switchbacks to get a front row seat.
The Adirondack Canoe Classic (90 miler) is a great accomplishment for anyone who has participated. Some are there to be first in their class, while others are a part of it to get that true sense of accomplishment. I didn’t personally know anyone in the race, but as we paddled back to the boat launch, I had a great feeling of respect to each of the paddlers who had taken that journey. I could sense their self-pride and see the determination on their faces. I hope that I too will be able to feel that sense of pride while I am paddling the final leg of the Adirondack Canoe Classic myself.
A night at the Symphony, magnificent sunset, Loon calls, cool air, and the Adirondack Canoe Classic. Can this get any better? Possibly. The lake Placid Pub and Brewery was Calling my name. The best way to close out a perfect weekend is with great company, a great brew, and a great burger.