Paddling in the Adirondacks for the First Time!

A Great Place for an Evening Paddle

I made sure to take my nieces and nephew paddling the other week when they came to visit – it's an integral part of an Adirondack adventure, after all. Lake Colby is a great spot for an easy outing, so we all loaded into my large boat and set off. My niece Emily paddled in the bow, I was in the stern, and Rebecca and Tyler sat on Crazy Creek chairs in the middle of the boat – Wren cozied up with Tyler as both of them were tired from playing for a few hours at Lake Clear Beach.

As usual I took a route that hugged the shoreline to give us more opportunity to see wildlife and other things, and we set out along the DEC Environmental Education Camp where the campers seemed to be roasting marshmallows at an evening campfire. We ducked into the first arm of the lake lined with shadowed cedars. A Hermit Thrush, Winter Wren, and a Black-throated Green Warbler were all singing and we paused to look at the surrounding mountains such as McKenzie, Scarface, Whiteface, and the more distant High Peaks.Wren and Tyler

Echoes and Loons

We also paused among the pads of tuberous water lilies to look at their balled yellow flowers and a fish jumped directly next to the boat startling everyone. I was hoping we would see a Bald Eagle or Osprey flying overhead, but they weren’t out on this evening – instead we had a few calling Common Ravens. After we turned down the next arm of the lake to explore, I hooted for Barred Owl to see if I could get one to respond - I hear them on the backside of the lake somewhat regularly. But while no Barred Owl returned my calls, the echo of my own voice was tremendous and soon everyone was calling and hooting to hear their voice bounce back to them.

We began to loop back towards the put-in and I pointed out the railroad tracks where Tyler and I had walked earlier in the week. A few fishermen stood along it with their lines in the water, hoping their luck would bring some dinner. We weren’t close enough to ask if they had any success. A Common Loon was likewise sitting in the distance so I set our course towards it to get a closer look. We slowed as we passed it, keeping a respectful distance so as not to spook it as it sat calmly on the glassy surface of the lake. Everyone who visits this region should take time to quietly watch a loon.Common Loon Larry

Paddling Back at Sunset

With that we turned towards the boat launch. We were moving fairly slowly and we were growing hungry for a late dinner. The sun was already kissing the horizon to the west and cooler temperatures were arriving. Rebecca skimmed her paddle in the water as we pushed to get back - creating an arching wave over it that bubbled up from our speed. We joked it was a surfing wave for the myriad numbers of water-striders which covered the water’s surface all around us.Rebecca and Emily Sunset

The girls also spotted a few other boaters and we joked that we could become a pirate canoe and rule the high seas of Lake Colby – Tyler would be our captain by taking out one of the lenses of his sun glasses to create an eye patch. We’d have to be quite a bit faster if we wanted any success in catching any other boats, however, or just somehow convince them to slow down! We crossed back over the lake and paddled along the camp shoreline again as we headed to the launch. I loaded the boat back onto the car and we headed home as the setting sun shot brightly colored streaks across the sky. We had earned a good dinner.

Now is the time to plan your outdoor recreation adventure by checking out our outdoor, dining, and lodging pages.

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About The Author

Alan Belford has spent much of his life outdoors exploring and learning about wildlife – particularly birds. Alan is often out hiking, paddling, running, or cross country skiing – with his Labrador retriever Wren at this side. A certified teacher and former cross country, baseball, and ultimate frisbee coach, he loves teaching others and has taught multiple natural history (specializing in ornithology) courses for both college students and the general public. He is a licensed guide in New York State, he has traveled widely both domestically and internationally, and he is also a published travel writer and photographer – focusing on outdoor and nature writing.

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