Camping in the Adirondacks 2013

Every year, Heidi and I take a camping trip up to the Adirondacks. This year is the fourth year running, although we missed last year, as I was between jobs and couldn’t afford it. This year, we returned to our usual site, Forked Lake, where we will, as usual, stay at a boat-accessible-only campsite. That means we have to rent a canoe and use that to travel across the lake to get to our campsite – it’s not accessible by car. It’s a wonderful trip, and even if you don’t go to the Adirondacks, I highly recommend taking a outside of the city. It does wonders for the soul.


We left NYC and came down to New Jersey to my parents place the night before. Since we were going to be borrowing my parents car as well as much of their camping equipment, it’s easier to spend the night there and leave in the morning than coming down the day of, packing, and leaving.[1. Obviously.] We actually managed to get out and on the road around the time we were expecting, around noon-ish, and were hoping the 5 hour drive, plus stops for food and natural duties would get us to the campsite around 5:30-6ish. That would give us plenty of time to get across the lake and set up the campsite set up and the fire started for dinner with enough for dinner with the sun still out.

Best laid plans and all that… we ended up hitting traffic pretty early on, and I-87 had a lot of construction and congestion, making the trip pretty slow going for big portions of the trip. What is normally a 5 hour journey ended up taking closer to 7.5 hours.

On the way up, it rained on and off as well, which was both a good thing, as raining now is better than raining while were setting up, and a bad thing, as a few times the intensity of the rain made travel slow going. As we crossed into the Adirondacks, it’s now the green area on the GPS, rather than any sign, that tells us we’re getting close.

We arrived at the ranger station just before 8PM. During check in, we were told there were no bear sightings this year, so that was nice to know. We rented our canoe and loaded it up as quickly as possible. Fortunately, Heidi packed most of our stuff into various garbage bags, making packing the canoe super simple. We shoved off the shore and we were about halfway across the lake as the sun was setting.

The timing ended up being pretty perfect regardless of the delays. We found our campsite with just enough light to see the site number marked on the tree, and we unloaded and pulled the boat onto the shore just as it got dark. The site itself is pretty well laid out, and I set up the tent as Heidi started the fire for dinner. We had bought some cod and seasonings before we took off and ate a very nice meal of seasoned cod and asparagus along with the wine my mom had provided for us.

We didn’t stay up too late, as the bugs arrived and started nipping at us pretty quickly, so we cleaned up, hopped into the tent, and fell asleep for the evening.

Day 1

The first full day we stayed at the campsite was relatively lazy, compared to the second. The previous day, we had the forethought to pick up a fire starter, but we only got one. When we awoke around 10AM, we unsuccessfully attempted to start a fire with the damp kindling scattered around our campsite. After finally coming to the realization that this wasn’t happening,[2. And wasting a whole book of matches in the process.] and with no coffee to make anything even a little more pleasant, we shoved the canoe in the water to head into town.

With the wind at our backs in the morning, the trip in was relatively quick. The clouds from last night had mostly dissipated, though it was a little chilly with the wind. Halfway across the lake, Heidi stopped to take some pictures with my phone.[3. Which, quite frankly, almost gave me a heart attack. I told her, half-joking, if that phone goes in the lake, she’s going in after it. Fortunately, nothing happened.] Once we hit the beach, we flipped the boat and hopped in the car to drive to Stewart’s, which has become a regular ritual for our morning coffee.

We got our coffee, some breakfast food, and some supplies – firestarters, more ice, and most importantly, beer.[4. A 12-pack of Heineken, to be specific. They had Blue Moon, which is our usual staple, but for some reason, Heidi wasn’t in the mood for that. I like Heineken, as far as cheap-ish beers go. That and Bud Heavies make for pretty good party-staples.] We drank our coffee and ate our donuts at the tables out front, where we were unfortunately accosted by a pair of bees who thought the sweet glazed donut would make a great snack.[5. Neither of us were stung.] We then drove back to the beach to shove off back to the campsite.

This time around, there was a significant headwind returning to the campsite. We hemmed close to shoreline to protect ourselves from as much of it as possible, but there is a point where it’s necessary to cut directly across the lake, and doing so was a bit of struggle.[6. The hardest part, I think, is keeping the boat pointed in the direction you’re trying to go. You get blown off course pretty constantly, although one of the plus sides of the canoe – as opposed to a kayak – is that it sits much lower in the water and is thus less affected by the wind. This does make it a slower craft, but at least during the yearly trips down the Delaware with my extended family, the river has a lot of impact on how fast the boat goes. It’s kind of funny, actually: it wasn’t until we started using the canoe to get across the lake that you realize how slow the canoe really is.] We did get there, and we promptly started to build a fire to make breakfast.

We toasted bagels and topped them with our preferred spreads.[7. Cream cheese for me, peanut butter for Heidi.] We also brought a percolator, which my mom informed me was actually for making espresso, to make coffee, though we couldn’t use it this morning for lack of a fire. However, it did produce delightfully strong coffee after we figured out how to position it in the fire to boil.

We subsequently spent much of the afternoon, quite frankly, lounging around the campsite and reading. Heidi went for a swim at one point, but we felt content to take it easy for most of the day, as we were planning on the difficult hike up Blue Mountain that we go on every year. I made a sandwich for lunch.

I never finished writing this. Sorry!

  • dinner
  • planned to stay up – meteor shower – clouds
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