My friend, Kathy, and I both love to paddle for as long as the water is flowing - from spring to late fall. Recently we had the chance to meet up for a spontaneous fall outing. We decided to meet at the intersection of routes 186 and 30 in Lake Clear. I then followed her north on 30 for approximately 1.2 miles to our launch site, an unmarked dirt road on the left, which leads to the parking area for Lake Clear Beach.
Years ago the access road was in another location off Route 30, it was a single lane dirt road that ran close to the beach, with only a few shrubs and large pine trees separating the two. Sometimes it was difficult to find a place to park, and going in or out could be a challenge if you met another car; someone had to get out of the way! Of course, that never stopped us from visiting - being raised in Paul Smiths, Lake Clear Beach was our regular picnic and swimming location.
Oh no, no memory!
It had been years since I visited the beach. I carried my 32 lb. kayak from the parking area to the shoreline while Kathy carried her Hornbeck. We did a second trip for our paddles, PFDs, and drinking water. As we were loading our gear, a sea plane landed. I spoke briefly with the pilot and took a few photos with my cell phone. I had my camera, but unfortunately hadn't reloaded the memory card!
Kathy had paddled Lake Clear many times and explained that when it is windy it becomes very choppy because it is so shallow. She and her sister had been caught in huge waves several times, one time they actually got off the water and walked the shoreline because it was so rough. Kathy had two missions: first to take a photo of the renovated camp her family had rented years ago; second: to take photos of the congregated loons. Both of us had heard that as many as 30 loons were seen congregated - basically a gathering prior to migrating. Interestingly, they leave the juveniles behind to find their own way a few weeks later!
I spotted the first loon, or so I thought — it ended up being a log! We soon saw movement again, this time Canada Geese — too many to count! As we got closer they separated and began honking!
As we paddled we chatted about the area, Kathy noted you seldom see motor boats as there is no public access to accommodate a motor boat. The only ones on the lake are those owned by residents that have a house on the lake or rent a camp. I don’t dislike motor boats, but I think it is nice to have some lakes motor boat free. We talked about what a beautiful ride it will be for the bikers if the Rails to Trails takes place, currently it is still being sorted out in a court battle. Bikers and walkers will have a wonderful view and a fantastic crystal clear lake to cool off in, if so inclined. On the water we had views of Whiteface Mountain and St. Regis Mountain.
Kathy suggested we paddle into Lake Clear Outlet, which goes under the railroad tracks, we paddled for a bit before we decided it was time to tackle Kathy's missions. After she got a photo of the camp where she stayed as a child we began to search for the loons. We saw a few here and there, but not the group of 30. Where did they go!?
Finally, we saw more dots on the lake, two groups of four, darn! Kathy was photographing one group while I photographed the other, though neither one of us was very successful. It was a bit choppy so it was hard to get a good photo and those loons were busy diving under.
We were out approximately two hours when Kathy called it a day and we headed back to shore. Again we saw dots — and, yes, it was loons! They were near our launch site! Not 30, but there were a lot! There were juvenile loons, adult loons, and what I would call senior loons. If I had my camera, I would have gotten some wonderful shots! The loons dispersed after time, and Kathy and I returned to the launch site. The water was so clear, I couldn't resist splashing around a bit at the beach, and then in a last minute decision, I headed back out to paddle a bit longer - it was such a gorgeous day, errands could wait.
A few days later, I headed back to paddle Lake Clear with my camera charged and a snack in hand. To avoid the carry and some extra miles of both paddling and driving, I launched from Lake Clear Outlet at the bridge along Route 30.
Once I exited the Outlet, I turned to the left, and in no time at all I was near a wilderness shoreline — it was gorgeous! The water was crystal clear, I was thoroughly enjoying this paddle even though the water was a little too choppy to easily spot loons. After an hour the waves ceased and I began looking for loons. In a cove I found the Canada Geese and got a good photo of them leaving the area, probably because of my presence. Again there were too many to count!
Near the beach I spotted loons, and toward the middle of the lake more groups each consisting of seven or eight. One loon was splashing around preening and bathing, I spent a long time photographing him, trying to capture him with his wings out.
There was a lot of action at Lake Clear on this particular day! Planes and helicopters were plentiful, and so was the wildlife! I spotted a flocks of Mergansers on the water as well as some on a log. At about 6:30 p.m. I called it day, and even though I didn't see the huge flock for a second time, it was a fabulous outing on this beautiful Adirondack lake!