Adventure 1, Part 2: Indian Lake Islands Campground and the Central ADK

16 Jul

First part of the trip is recapped here.



We got up early and packed up camp.  This year, we had to book on the mainland instead of an island.  I was really worried about bears, so we were careful to pack and bring ONLY the food we needed, and camp prepared to bear bag.


As we drove the hour(ish) to Indian Lake, we went through Shroon Lake and Loon Lake.  It was a picturesque day, sunny and lovely.  Then we got about 5 miles out of Indian Lake and the sky turned DARK.  We stopped at a Stewarts in town to check phones and grab beer and the lady at the checkout said this was going to be how it was all day.  Awesome.


We got to the Indian Lake Campgrounds check-in an hour early.  The guy was super cool though, and let us check in.  He also told us we didn’t really have to worry about bears, just keep things cleaned up so we didn’t have too many problems with smaller animals.  The guy also had a weekly weather forecast posted.  Sure enough, rain today and tomorrow with chances of heavy storms and high winds.


We got to the marina and loaded down the canoe while watching storm clouds come in over Snowy Mountain.  We started paddling, trying to beat the storm, and got about 1/4 mile out before turning back.  The waves were enormous–at least 3 footers with white caps–and every wave was swamping all of our stuff.  Thankfully we’d garbage bagged it, but we both thought there was no way that it would stay dry (miracle of miracles, it did!).


We asked the marina guys to drive us out to the site in a “real” boat and the younger guy, Shane, was super cool.  We unloaded the canoe in a rainstorm, loaded up the biggest pontoon they had, and it still was hard to get to the site.  Shane had to cut the motor a few times and just ride out some waves, and he said he wouldn’t take any other boat out in a storm like this, and even this one was dicey.  Thankfully, as we got to our site it stopped raining.  Shane helped us unload, then he left and we set up camp quickly before more rain came through.  We collected firewood and then I read for a while.  We paddled over to the Baldface Mountain trail head (accessible only by boat) to see how far it was (about 3/4 mile).  We also found a great cliff jumping spot.  Sadly, we were scared the storms would blow in again, so we had to head back to camp.  We came back, had dinner (the ham I’d dehydrated rehydrated perfectly in our scalloped potatoes) and had some beers.  No campfire because it was so windy.  Lame.


on the a storm...not how we pictured our trip going

on the pontoon…in a storm…not how we pictured our trip going

dog dog doesn't care...soaked

dog dog doesn’t care…soaked

All night long, we listened to the silly mice outside of our tent.  They were scampering in the brush right by our tent, and at one point they started climbing up the side of our tent.  Yikes!!  It was not a very restful night.


We woke up the next morning to a beautiful, sunshiney morning and calm lake, but the knowledge that the weather was supposed to be worse today than yesterday.  We wanted to check phones to make sure Eric’s dad was doing ok (he was in the hospital) and to see if my brother had messaged us (he was supposed to be coming out tomorrow).  So we paddled into the mainland.

Our original plan was to hike Blue Mountain, but with the weather looking iffy, we decided to do an easy, short hike much closer to home.  We drove to Sawyer Mountain, a 2-mile round-trip easy hike.  The trail was wet and buggy and with the hazy weather (as we hiked, the clouds started rolling in), the view at the top was even less impressive than it usually is.  Also, after being in the high peaks, I guess the views from central ADK mountains just really leave something to be desired.

top of sawyer

top of sawyer

We went to the Stewarts in Indian Lake again for snacks and saw that the forecast for the rest of the day was storms and more storms–more beer it is.  We repacked some additional food and I looked at my books, but I had a book and a half on the island, so I figured I’d be all set…

there was a lot of this over the week

there was a lot of this over the week

there was a lot of this over the week

there was a lot of this over the week

We paddled back and when we got to the site, the sun actually came out!!!  We did some “laundry” and washed up in the lake a bit, then sat down to enjoy the sun (and a steadily increasing breeze) before the storms hit again.  Around 7, I decided we were going to light the fire–we could see the terrible storm clouds rolling in, and I wanted to have at least a SHORT fire.

When the storm hit around 7, it hit hard.  The wind was steady, with huge gusts.  It poured.  And the thunder and lightening was all around us.  I was terrified and thought about crying a few times.  I also thought we might not make it through, and if I was going to die young, I guess this wouldn’t be the worst way to go.  It all would have been less scary (I think), if it weren’t nighttime, but it was.  I set my watch to time the rolls of thunder, and they were lasting for over a minute and a half.  The thunder would start in one corner of the lake, then move to another and another and another with no stopping.  It was intense.

before it got bad....we have a plethora of pictures of us in the tent. lame.

before it got bad….we have a plethora of pictures of us in the tent. lame.

The rain and thunder and lightning stopped after about 2 hours, but the wind never went away.  Our entire side of the tent was caved in from it–Eric was standing there holding it out with his body.  The section of ground under the tent flooded, so we had a mini “water bed” going on, and we weren’t sure it would hold (Eric JUST patched some areas on the bottom of the tent after our last trip).  Normally, we keep all of our stuff under our cots, but with the potential for leakage, we had to put it all up on the cots.  Not much sleeping when you have your pack and gear and the dog on your cot and you’re wondering if the tent is going to hold or not…We laid in the tent and tried to read. At this point, we’d both finished a book and made it halfway through another one…running out of reading material. Dammit should’ve grabbed those books and magazines out of the car!!


We woke up to a freezing cold morning and a lot of wind.  Chris and Jackie were supposed to get to the lake today, but they were going to be there at 8, and by 9 they still weren’t.  We have no cell reception on the site, so no way to get ahold of them if something happened to Chris’ boat, or if they saw the weather forecasts and decided to skip the trip.  I was worried.


I was worried our canoe would blow away in the storm.  but there was enough rain to hold it down ha.

I was worried our canoe would blow away in the storm. but there was enough rain to hold it down ha.

We sat around camp reading and finished the books pretty quickly.  We even did the book club discussion questions.  For the record, we both liked the books–Into the Beautiful North and The Tenth Circle (more info about them on my 52 books page).
Eric went to take a nap, and I sat around listening for boat motors.  The wind and waves were pretty intense again, so I knew we would probably not get to do much of anything today.  Around 10ish, we heard the boat motor.  Chris and Jackie told us they’d had to detour twice to get around downed trees and power lines and that their boat ride out had been a little nerve wrecking because of the waves.  We got them situated and then decided we could at least do Baldface Mountain to check cells.
We paddled over with the wind, which was nice.  The hike to the top is super short (.8 miles).  It’s always a little muddy, but the views are amazing, especially for such a short, easy hike.  We hung out on the top for a bit checking cells and taking pictures and relaxing, then paddled over to the picnic area and beach for lunch.  We had sandwiches and hung out for a bit, but then we hurried to paddle back because storm clouds started rolling in again.  As we got to the site, the sky started to look particularly menacing and Eric and I were like “here we go again,” but the rain only lasted about 20 minutes.  We hung out and had a campfire and I drank too many beers and started talking about how we should have had a big party for our 5 year anniversary to “renew our vowels,” which became the recurring joke of the trip.

at the trailhead for Baldface

at the trailhead for Baldface

here comes another storm...shocking...

here comes another storm…shocking…

I was pretty tired and a little drunk, so I got to sleep really quickly, but was awakened in the middle of the night by Eric, standing over me, screaming “Yeah! Got ya, you son of a bitch!!!”  Apparently the mice were crawling up the side of our tent again, so Eric waited for the perfect moment and then punched one.  We got up to go to the bathroom, and the moon was amazing.  Unfortunately, the camera was dead, so no good pictures. 😦

crappy cell phone pic that doesn't do it justice.

crappy cell phone pic that doesn’t do it justice.


I rolled over and Eric was just laying there, watching me.  “Happy anniversary.”  It’s great to wake up every day with my best friend–whether it’s in our bed, in a bed at a friend or family member’s house, next to each other in hammocks or on cots in our tent.  I love camping with Eric, but I realized on this day that I was ready to go home.  At camp, on the cots, there is no way to snuggle.  We aren’t big snugglers, but usually right before we go to bed or right when we wake up, there are a few minutes of spooning.  And after a week of no spooning, I’m ready to have some cuddling.

We got up really early this day because we wanted to get to Snowy early.  We hit the water at 6:50 and paddled to the marina, then drove to Snowy Mountain.  I had said before that I wasn’t sure I wanted to climb any more mountains, but Eric loves this shit, and there’s just something symbolic about climbing a mountain and making it to the top on your anniversary.  I’m a nerd.

The first 2.5 miles of this hike are pretty easy–a nice, mostly gentle nature walk.  Then you begin to climb more difficult stuff for a half mile, and the final half mile or so is REALLY tough–straight up a rock scramble that’s mostly wet.  I’ll write a separate post about Snowy Mountain and link back to this, but let’s just say that I was pleasantly surprised by how “easy” this hike felt.

creek crossing

creek crossing

We got to the top in just over 2 hours–I had wanted to be sub-2, but I’m ok with what we did I guess.  We hung out on the summit for a while, had some snacks, Eric had brought up some champagne, so we drank a small amount (but I was again scared to drink too much lest I fall down the side of a mountain).  We checked out the fire tower, enjoyed the great views of Indian Lake and the high peaks in the distance (our first clear day since we got to Indian Lake) and laid in the beautiful sunshine.

climbing up to the fire tower

climbing up to the fire tower

view from the top!

view from the top!

enjoying some champagne to celebrate 5 years!

enjoying some champagne to celebrate 5 years!

Jackie resting, Chris eating, Picasso mooching food

Jackie resting, Chris eating, Picasso mooching food



On the way down, I fell pretty hard and scraped up my knee and ankle.  Other than that, it was an uneventful hike down.  We did see a lot of people going up and had some fun playing “will they make it?”

After, we went to Speculator for our annual anniversary pizza.  We ended up eating 2 large pizzas, which were pretty good.  Then we stopped at Chas John’s grocery store for snacks and came back to the site.  We swam a bit (well the boys and Picasso did–Jackie napped and I watched the boys and waded a bit, but it wasn’t that warm to swim).  We enjoyed the late afternoon sunshine, had a HUGE campfire, and enjoyed a nice, calm evening (so calm and quiet that I was nervous haha).

Chris found a fence...we needed to break it apart to this happened...

Chris found a fence…we needed to break it apart to burn…so this happened…


Got up, packed up and headed home to clean up.  Sad to leave, but glad we had such a wonderful trip!

We were going to go to Baldface to run it, but we woke up to a super thick fog that didn't break until almost 8:30!

We were going to go to Baldface to run it, but we woke up to a super thick fog that didn’t break until almost 8:30!

So to recap:

9 days

3 travel/set up camp days

7 mountains

10,000+ feet of elevation gain

28+ miles of hiking

5+ miles of canoeing (which is really low for this trip)

3 very-tired-but-content Shmeagans (Picasso slept the entire way home and most of the next day) 🙂

here's to another successful camping trip!

here’s to another successful camping trip!


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