While this happened almost a month ago, it’s amazing enough to share. It is very rare that I am able to go away on my own–no kids, no hubs. So when my coworker/good friend invited me on her girls weekend kayaking adventure, I was game! As the date grew nearer, so did my apprehensions. We would be kayaking into a primitive campsite, then kayaking through three lakes and a river (with a 1/4 mile carry.) Disclosure: I dislike camping. We went a lot when I was a kid and it never failed to hail. I much prefer sleeping in my bed, using my bathroom, and cooking in my kitchen. So…you might be asking yourself why I agreed to this. Well, A. It got me out of the house with some ladies who I adore. B. I am trying to embrace new experiences and roll with things more than I have in the past.
The weekend rolls around and we make the 3 hour drive up into the Adirondack Mountains in New York. After stopping at some stores to stock up and loading up the kayaks, we were good to go!
So I don’t lose you on the details, here is our trek:
Don’t mind the screenshots–my technological skills are improving slowly! For the first picture, we began at the Raquette Lake General Store Marina. We kayaked following the red line to the Tioga Point Campground. The next morning, we left Tioga Point and traveled down the Marion River. After carrying the kayaks and gear through a 1/4 mile trail, we arrive at Utowana Lake. From there, we went across Eagle Lake and ended up in Blue Mountain Lake. We had parked a truck at the boat launch in Blue Mountain, which is where our journey ended. That is the VERY short version of our trip–from Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon: in the kayaks for 9 hours and kayaking 15 miles! Now onto the story…
We leave the Raquette marina all in good spirits. These girls had done this trip the year before and I was so pumped to be out on the lake. It is ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS in the Adirondacks. I had only driven through it. Raquette Lake is enormous–something like 90 miles of shore line. They had mail boats, barges bringing garbage trucks and excavators, and some of the most amazing houses!
We ended up at Tioga Point Campground after a little over an hour. Tioga Point used to be an estate which was left to the state after the owner’s death. Per state law, they had to burn the estate before they could use the land. The chimney is still there, which was our focal point during the home stretch! It was a really beautiful, small campground. Our site enabled us to kayak up to it. We also had some visitors! We all had a blast that afternoon and evening. We’re all mom’s and busy in our lives so it was nice to be completely disconnected from social media and our daily responsibilities. There’s a boys camp on the lake near the campground and they ended up playing a wake up call, so we were up at 5:30 am!
Saturday morning was so calm and beautiful. The fog was still rising off the water, as we were in our kayaks by 6 am. We decided to take advantage of the glass like surface of Raquette and head over to the Marion River. On our way there, I was told the Marion River has three stages: a wide, peaceful stage, a twisty, ever-winding stage, and the final stage is narrow and tiny. Those stages were all true. We spent about 3 hours on the Marion River. There were herons, deer, and beaver dams galore. One group of beavers had blocked up the river in two places, leaving us no room to get by. We ended up having to get out in the sloggy river mud and carry our kayaks over the dam! By this time, the novelty had started to wear off a little bit. When we got to the end of the river, and the beginning of our 1/4 mile carry, I was elated. LAND! There were no spaces to pull off and stretch along the river and my body was feeling being in a kayak for 3 hours.
Let me tell you what…that 1/4 mile carry was a beast. I think we took about 5 trips–we started out unloading the kayaks so they weren’t so heavy. Then, we tried double carrying kayaks–didn’t work out so hot! We finally ended up dragging two of the kayaks for the last small stretch. When everything was at the launch for Lake Utowana, we took a break to eat and mentally prepare. This was at about 10:30 am.
Utowana was the longest straightaway we had to paddle. We saw a ton of wildlife and some amazing boat houses. Let me tell you what…that first half hour felt like 3 hours. Not gonna lie to y’all, I cracked my first hard seltzer before noon! We finally got through Utowana and into Eagle Lake! Eagle was pretty easy, but Blue Mountain was another beast.
Blue Mountain Lake is a HUGE lake town in the Adirondacks. The lake itself is huge–lots of big, fancy houses, lots of big, fancy boats. The wind picked up and it seemed like no matter how hard we paddled, we were getting nowhere. By this time, my hands had cramped up from holding the paddle, I was adjusting my position every five minutes, and I was just DONE. Once we rounded the point and saw the landing, I was paddling like a mad woman. I did get to see a sea plane (lake plane?) land right near us–that was cool!
We were starving, having survived off of protein bars and beef jerky since Friday night. Strangely enough, there was a pizza place/tiki bar on the way to our next campsite. Once we had retrieved all the vehicles and loaded everyone up, that was the first place we hit. We had some amazing food, beverages, and got pizza to go. The campground was back on Raquette Lake. It was one of the larger campgrounds I’ve been to–the kind where people take their campers and set up shop for the week. There was even an ice cream truck!
We all sat down by the lake, albeit after enjoying a few adult beverages, and marveled in the wonder that is the sunset. Once the sun went down, we made a fire, had a few laughs, and hit the hay early.
Sunday morning we geared up to hike Castle Rock–I was told there was an INCREDIBLE view that I couldn’t miss. Honestly, hiking sounded amazing. My upper body was completely dead from kayaking and my poor legs were aching to get stretched out. Turns out, Castle Rock has multiple incredibly steep inclines! I was sweating like it was 100* in a canning kitchen, my legs were now crying from the incline, and we were all laughing hysterically at how out of shape we were! But let me tell you what, once we got up to the lookout we forgot all of it.
We got to see most of the lakes that we kayaked through! It was an incredible experience being able to see so far in all directions. The way back down was, as it usually is, much quicker! We loaded up into the cars to begin the 3 hour drive home.
For someone who was on the fence about going or canceling, I am SO glad I got to go. It was amazing to be disconnected from my cell phone for the majority of the weekend. I am so tied to it sometimes that I feel I miss out on stuff–something I am trying to make better, but in a world where everyone wants an answer immediately, it’s hard! Being able to spend time with other women who are moms and understand how precious the trip was to me, was truly amazing. While I did not get in my kayak for the remainder of the summer, I am SO excited about going next year.