With little rain, and lots of sun, the weather in the Adirondacks has been beautiful — especially for those of us lucky enough to get out and play! My friends, Gretchen and Kathy, invited me to paddle with them on a day when temperatures were expected to reach the 90s. Kathy wanted to paddle close to home, where we could have lunch in the shade and swim. There are many options near Saranac Lake, the Debar Wilderness Area, the St. Regis Canoe Area, and of course the Saranac Lake Wild Forest Area. Kathy suggested Osgood Pond and we thought it was a perfect choice.
A little history
Osgood Pond is believed to have been named after Arthur Osgood, the first to attempt farming in that area. There are some very well-known camps on Osgood including Northbrook Lodge and White Pine Camp — the 1926 summer White House for President Coolidge.
Having grown up in Paul Smiths, I am familiar with Osgood Pond, and especially with Beech Hill Camp; however I don't know a lot about the camp's history so I did a little research:
Harrison G. Otis and his wife bought the property in 1905 and constructed the original camp.
Edwin Drexel Godfrey and his wife purchased the camp in 1916 and made their own unique upgrades: half-logs were used on the interior walls of the owner's cabin, perennial gardens and shrubs were designed, and fountains and fish ponds were created. Other buildings were constructed, including chauffeur's quarters, a garage, a guide house for the fisherman, a woodshed, woodshop, boathouse and a pump house. Clay tennis courts were built as well as a rustic cabin with window seats that contained a snooker (pool) table. The cottages for the guests were connected by walkways and there was a lean-to and and tea house for socializing. The Godrey camp became known as Camp Osgood, Inc., and between 1944-50 it was run as a boys' camp by Mrs. Godrey.
In 1950 under the new ownership of Harry Reiss and his wife, the name changed to Beech Hill Camp, Inc and the buildings were turned into seasonal housekeeping units and rented out. Their caretaker Martin Lyon and his wife, Elsie, purchased the property in 1957 and eventually subdivided the property in 1969. I knew both Martin and Elsie, and I babysat for many children at the Beech Hill Camp. I recall the dark cozy cabins — there were no TVs, and, while some had radios, reception was always poor. There were power outages often and there were plenty of taxidermy animals in every cabin (if I recall correctly, they were in almost every room)! Their eyes seemed to glow, especially in candlelight — I admit I was scared a few times!
It was definitely a memorable place to grow up, and over the years I ended up spending much of my time either on the pond waterskiing or working. When I got older I cleaned a couple of the camps on the pond — one that boasted 32 windows!
There are four access points to the pond: Church Pond, Jones Pond Outlet, Jones Pond, and Osgood Pond access via the White Pine Road. White Pond Road was our access point for the day. It's approximately 11.8 miles north of Saranac Lake on the right. The launch site is on the left only .02 off of Route 86. Being that the dirt road to the water has some rather large pot holes one may opt to carry their kayak the short distance to the pond.
Kathy had paddled there many times, so she knew the pond. First on her agenda was to guide us along the southern shore to the lean-to, once there we dropped off our lunches and kept our fingers crossed that they would be there when we returned! Back in our yaks, we paddled toward the west side of the lake; we took it leisurely because it was so hot. I saw something in the water and thought it was a log or a rock, but then I noticed a little movement! Curled up in a ball, just floating on top of the water, was an otter! Normally, I have my camera on my lap ready to go, but on this outing I only had my cell phone, and it was tucked away in my dry bag! I was so excited I had a hard time getting out the words, “quiet, stop paddling!” while simultaneously trying to quietly get to my phone! Luckily they did see it prior to it smoothly slipping underwater, but unfortunately I didn't get to my phone.
We were paddling on the north side when we all agreed we desperately needed to cool off! We found a nice beach area along state land to take a dip. It got a bit mucky as we ventured out further, however the water felt refreshing! After our swim we were famished so we returned to the lean-to for lunch. At lunch I debated going back to look for the otter, but figured my chances of seeing it again were slim to none!
Next, we headed to Upper Osgood River, admiring the beautiful White Pine Camp as we paddled by. Kathy soon spotted another lean-to up on a hill. Curious, we decided to climb up the path - which was covered in pine needles, to check it out. There were no DEC signs, so we thought it might be privately owned and we did not linger. The river was so hot, and there was no air flow: We needed to swim again! Immediately after entering the pond a dragonfly landed on Kathy's hat. He seemed to love his newly-found landing pad. It would land, fly away, land again, and fly away again, repeatedly! In fact, I even walked to the shore to get my phone to take a pic and it was still doing the routine when I returned!
After the swim, Kathy and Gretchen decided to head back to their homes in Saranac Lake and Ray Brook. I was still thinking about that missed shot, so I headed out on my search for the otter; I have been called the determinator! It was evident that otters were living happily on Osgood as we had seen many clams shells. Oh, how I would love to get a shot of it curled in a ball! Then, I decided I would be happy just to see it again. Luck was on my side! It was not the shot I thought about, in fact it is not a great shot, but I did get one — and a little video too!
I spent a long time getting the shots, but I was pleased with my length of stay — the pond just got more beautiful as the day progressed. I love being on the water in the early evening hours and at sunset! Although, on this night, I was too hungry to wait for sunset.
Other ways to feel cool off
As I headed back to the launch site I could hear voices and expected to see paddlers, but I found a group from Saranac Lake just hanging out in their chairs cooling off with a drink! They were happy and relaxed!
Another great day
It was another day in paradise! There is so much to do here if you love the outdoors: paddling, swimming, hiking, biking, and camping. And, of course, there are awesome attractions to visit such as the VIC in Paul Smiths, the Saranac Lake Carousel, and the live shows at Pendragon Theatre! The list goes on and on!