Blogger Note: As the warmer weather descends upon the Adirondacks, I can't help but think of all the cool paddling adventures on the horizon. Of course, that has me thinking about all the cool paddling adventures I've had over the years. Here's one from the 2013 archives that I deem worthy of repeating. Soon.
The last time I launched a kayak in Lake Flower, I had to carry over a dam and navigate a short bit of rapids before heading down the Saranac River to Bloomingdale with a tricky takeout just before we hit the bigger rapids. THAT was cool. But on this day, I was going in the opposite direction in an opposite manner; a cool, LEISURELY paddle to Oseetah Lake.
I had heard (and seen) that Lake Flower can get choppy when it’s windy. It can also turn to skateable, ice-palace-making ice in winter. On this day, however, it was VERY calm — a real treat for a casual outing on a beautiful early summer day.
The New York State boat launch, located on Route 86, is a terrific place to launch, offering ramps and a grassy area that is ideal for canoe and kayak access to the lake.
I was paddling with my cohort Nicole, who is very familiar with the area waterways as she and her husband own the Gauthier's Saranac Lake Inn, located right near the boat launch. She confirmed that indeed, the lake can become wavy fairly quickly, and that it is a popular place for motorboats, who can also create plenty of waves themselves - as opposed to those of us in smaller, human-powered crafts. Despite the calm, welcoming water, we only spied one “jet ski”-type motor craft before we headed into the narrower waterway that connects to Oseeta Lake. And he waved and courteously kept his wake to a minimum.
Once we made the turn from the bigger lake into the narrows, we remained close, but just inside of the buoys that indicate where it is safely deep enough to operate boats. This was smart: there are some hazards - rocks - very near that buoy line that are easily viewable when you’re as low to the water as we were. We were paddling with the urgency of...something that isn’t in a hurry. I believe I’ve heard it referred to as “lily dipping,” actually.
We stayed near the outside of the lane to make way for faster-moving boats. (Given our speed, that would include ALL other boats.) I wondered how busy it got in this section, and Nicole affirmed that it gets quite a lot of motorboat traffic. The narrow passage leads to Oseeta Lake and ultimately to Second Pond and the Saranac Lakes and beyond. However, it took a few minutes before we saw any motorboats, and they all adhered to the “no wake” rule and were very chatty. In fact, it reminded me of walking on Main Street in Saranac Lake or the fitness trail in my mother’s retirement village; we were EXPECTED to wave and say something cheery.
The narrow channel takes a few turns, affording us varying views that include the High Peaks as well as nearby Saranac Lake 6er mountains.
We turned around near the beginning of Oseetah Lake, a mere 3 miles and 17 hours after we launched, and returned at a slightly faster clip. The water remained calm, though on our return to Lake Flower a light breeze had churned up small waves, but nothing that affected our tracking.
This out-and-back is a great, short paddle with outstanding views and no hills. On this calm, leisurely day, it felt like a stroll down another welcoming, Adirondack main street where everyone is friendly; only the retail and restaurants are replaced by a few lakeside homes, interesting flora, curious wildlife, and stunning views.
Here’s some more info about the route.
And here's a photo of a map!
-Kim Rielly is the director of communications for the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism.
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