What to do on a beautiful day in the Adirondacks?
The forecast was in the 80s on this mid-June day, so when Trisa Minton asked me to paddle, bike, or hike, I said “let’s paddle.” Then, the question was, where? Neither one of us wanted to drive a great distance. She lives in Saranac Lake, so I suggested a paddle from Follensby Clear Pond to Rollins Pond. We would paddle into the waters of Fish Creek and Rollins Pond Campgrounds, which are very popular NY State owned campgrounds. The main entrance is a mere 20 minute drive from Tupper Lake so if you want to camp you have only a short distance to drive to enjoy some of the Tupper Lake area attractions, the Wild Center, Tupper Lake Observatory, Adirondack State Theater, eateries and even the Seven Wonder's of Shaheen's IGA to stock up on your groceries and household needs, or to pick up something special from their deli!
At 10:30 we launched our boats at the Follensby Clear Launch site. I was in my Swift and she was in her boyfriend’s 16’ Placid solo canoe. She had paddled on Follensby and Fish Creek, but had not been beyond Fish Creek. You start by entering the culvert into Spider Creek which is a lot of fun, it had a bit of an obstacle in the way - remnants of a beaver dam - but we were able to paddle around it and rest of Spider Creek had no obstacles that were challenging. The beaver dam will be broken down as this area is well paddled. This paddle is also a favorite in-season, just a lot busier, but that is fun too!
Fish Creek Ponds can be extremely busy, but being that Fish Creek Campsite are just gearing up for the season, the ponds were rather quiet. We paddled past the empty playground and vacant beach, which will soon be bustling with children’s laughter. Once we were beyond the campgrounds, we passed many primitive campsites and in the narrows, known as Fish Creek Creek, to our delight, I spotted an otter (the 3rd one I have seen in the waters this spring!). He was more visible than the previous ones I spotted on Simon Pond. My camera was ready and I got some better shots!
We then came upon a canoe loaded with stickers, I saw an ADK sticker so I assumed that the two fishermen were from the Adirondacks, however they were from Connecticut. Johnny and Jason have been doing primitive camping and fishing in the Adirondacks for 10-14 years. They both exclaimed in unison “we love this area!” I asked to get a shot of them for this blog and then learned that Jason will be blogging soon. He is creating a website, “Bass Ninjas.” They both wore a Bass Ninja T-shirt which he will be selling on his site. Johnny's shirt was being borrowed, but he plans to purchase it from his friend, he stated “it is a great shirt.” (I think, Jason has a good promotion technique! Loan a shirt and they buy it!)
We paddled at a leisurely pace stopping at noon on one of Floodwood’s Islands for lunch. We found the campsite facilities and walked around the Island for a bit and were delighted again as we spotted not only one Pink Lady Slippers, but many — a few still vibrant! They're one of my favorite flowers! We sat near the take-out area to enjoy the sounds of spring, our lunch, and a cold beer.
Fun time in the brook!
I informed Trisa, Rollins was close, so we packed up our bags and headed out. A brook connects Rollins to Floodwood, and we would be going against the current. Being Trisa was in the long 16’ canoe, instead of her one shorter version, I suggested we look at the brook, but not paddle it. The bottom portion of the brook is plenty wide, but as you near the top into Rollins, it is narrow with boulders on both sides. I did not want her to smash Dave’s canoe nor did I want to damage my Swift! As we neared the brook, we saw the portage sign for Rollins to the far right. We thought about doing the carry, but decided to check the brook out. It was fairly swift at the bottom, but both of us being adventurous, we decided to paddle it! Although I warned her at some point it may be too late and too narrow to turn around. I have paddled this many times, but not this early in the season with my favorite yak - which does not like rocks!
I was first going up the stream, the flow got stronger near the top, I got to the point where I knew I would be smashing my kayak if I continued. But thought now what!? I could not turn around, getting out was my only option! The water wasn’t deep; however I was afraid of losing my boat as I stepped out! I managed to get myself on an angle, bow and stern somewhat wedged in the rocks (ugh!), steadied the boat with my paddle and quickly jumped out without incident. I was then able to move my kayak into the middle of the brook. Trisa had also exited her canoe and we jointly decided to walk up the brook since we were already wet. Towards the top of the book, we were up to our waist in water, footing was slippery, and branches entangled my legs! I warned Trisa of the branches as they could make you do a header!
At the top of the stream there was a partial beaver dam and a huge rock, which we had to avoid — I don’t know how I avoided that rock in the past! Trisa was surprised when she reached the top of the stream as you enter a beautiful shallow clear pool of water, with a sandy bottom. We paddled on Rollins for about 15 minutes as Trisa had evening plans. Rollins Pond Campsites are woodsier and the campground is a bit quieter than neighboring Fish Creek Campgrounds. Motor boats have to be 25HP or less, unlike Fish Creek. Reservations are on a first-come, first-serve basis at reserveAmerica.com, for both areas. I believe some sites are available for those that drop by while traveling. There were only a few sites occupied, but that will change quickly once school is out, I am camping there later this summer with my Albany friends, we made our reservations back in November for the 10-day stay. If you are interested be sure ot check out their website - there might be openings due to cancelations and/or shorter occupancy time. Fish Creek and Rollins are not only good for camping and paddling, but hiking and biking, as well.
Rather than do the carry, we headed back down the brook, walking, after I made an unintended plunge into the little pool! No excuse, just not paying attention! Luckily, I had my camera in my dry bag, which I had purchased from Raquette River Outfitters.
On the way out we talked about putting our kayaks (plastic ones) in at Rollins and doing the stream without a worry! I mentioned bringing inner tubes to do the stream, sometimes I feel much younger!
We paddled back at a faster pace, I followed Trisa and had a hard time keeping up with her! We admired the many primitive campsites on Floodwood, spotted more loons, a few ducks, and a beautiful Pitcher Plant and opened White Water Lillies (which were closed on our way in) but, unfortunately no more sightings of the otter.
The day after our paddle, I received a text from Trisa, regarding our paddle “I loved that paddle yesterday, what a lovely treasure that you shared with me.”