A perfect day for a perfect paddle

JOANNE KENNEDY/PHOTOKelly Moody (from left), Lori Clark and Wendy Patunoff quietly float on the tranquil water of Little Clear Pond enjoying the spectacular view of St. Regis Mountain in the distance.

Summer has arrived and the hot, steamy days of July are living proof.

I find it hard to hike in the heat but on the other hand,

Little Clear Pond used to be a regular stomping grounds of mine and it had been a while since I had visited so I pulled out my paddler’s map and decided on a loop. The trip would encompass several ponds and carries, making lightweight boats a necessity.

MAIDEN VOYAGE

With the forecast predicting sunny skies and a light wind, good friends Lori Clark, Kelly Moody and Wendy Patunoff were eager to accept my invitation to do a little pond hopping.

Arriving early in the morning, we put in at Little Clear Pond at a small sandy beach area. We were all using our Hornbeck canoes with Kelly excited for her maiden voyage in her new boat.

The pond was just like glass as our boats reflected in the water. The sun made the surface of the water glimmer like millions of sparkling stars.

I spotted a mother merganser with her babies while some common loons called in the distance. This was a sure sign of a great day ahead.

NOT SO LITTLE

Kelly commented that Little Clear sure was a big pond. The pond encompasses 385 acres and is ‘little’ only in comparison to the much larger Lake Clear.

There was a nip in the early morning air as we quietly glided along the pristine water. Occasionally, Wendy would take out her binoculars and zero in on some loons hoping to spot a newborn chick. We had seen several pairs but so far no babies.

 

LIGHT BOATS

High in the distance, we could see the fire tower on top of St. Regis Mountain, a mountain we all have visited many times.

Before we knew it, we arrived at the carry to St. Regis Pond. This is where the light boats come into play.

The carry is 1/2 mile long with a pretty boardwalk at the end. Each of us walked at our own pace, enjoying the mixed forest.

We didn’t linger at the boardwalk built over a bog, home to some very hungry mosquitoes.

SING AS YOU PADDLE

Once we were all back in our boats, Kelly led the way, meandering through a pretty stream lined with Pitcher plants and Bog Laurel. A large log blocked the entrance to the pond but that didn’t stop these ladies.

Off to the right they paddled through some thick pickerel weed. Both Wendy and Kelly had never visited this pond and were in awe of the beautiful views.

St. Regis Pond is a 400 acre pond, the largest in the St. Regis Canoe Area. Off to one side, we saw our first paddlers of the day.

A group of 4 canoes set off from the lean-to singing at the top of their voices as they paddled by. We learned they were a wilderness group of young women who had just spent 4 nights on the pond.

It is so nice to see young people out enjoying our beautiful wilderness.

IF NOT LONGER

Continuing on, we soon reached the carry to Ochre Pond. When the water is high, you can sometimes paddle from St. Regis to Ochre but there usually are beaver dams to navigate with logs and branches to watch out for.

We chose the carry.

Wendy asked how long this carry was and I replied I thought shorter than the St. Regis one. I think she is learning not to listen to me as this carry was just as long as, if not longer than the last one.

By the time I reached Ochre, Wendy and Lori were floating on the pond hydrating and grabbing a bite to eat.

The return trip back seemed to go quicker as we plopped our canoes back in the glassy water of St. Regis. Our boats made quiet ripples as we headed to the lean-to to take a break. The iconic wooden structure allowed us to spread our food and gear out to reorganize.

FORTUNE CHOCOLATE

After eating my lunch, I was happy to spy a Dove dark chocolate candy at the bottom of my pack. I’m not sure how long it had been there but it was delicious.

These tasty morsels usually have a saying written on the inside of the wrapper. As I read it out loud, we all had a chuckle: “It will be a perfect day.”

As we finished off our lunches, we heard some banging and clanging in the distance. Three canoes were making their way up the pond.

One pulled in near the lean to as they quietly inquired whether we were staying the night. We told them it was all theirs. The smiles were priceless as they hollered to their friends to come on over. Saying our goodbyes to the campers, we headed toward the carry to Green Pond.

OFF THE BEATEN TRAIL

Looking at our map, we were pretty sure we were in the right direction. Lori led the way to a small channel where you had to basically shuffle your boat through low water and enter a tiny pond. As we looked for our carry, I noticed a large amount of Sundew plants, which are my favorites. These plants are carnivorous — their plant hairs attracting and trapping insects.

Finding a clearing, Lori and I got out to investigate. This was definitely a trail but it had no sign and it was not marked.

We walked a short piece of the trail and then backtracked to the girls. Lori checked an app on her phone, Alltrails, which showed this was the direction back to Little Clear. We knew this trail would not bring us to Green Pond but our curiosity got the best of us and we decided to go for it and see where we would come out.

The carry definitely was not used often, with several large trees to climb over but it was very doable. I timed it and in 12 minutes we were happily back on Little Clear a short distance from the route we had taken earlier.

ALWAYS ABOUT FOOD

 

Back at home, I did some asking around and the tiny pond is called Whipple Pond by the locals. If we had followed the shoreline on St. Regis just a little more, we would have gotten to the opening that leads to the carry to Green. Oh well, we can save that for another time.

Back on Little Clear, we followed the shoreline gazing down at the remains of large trees on the bottom. It was amazing how ‘clear’ the water really was.

Chatting as we paddled, we slowly made our way back across the pond. As usual, the topic of food made its way into the conversation.

We laughed as Lori commented that just like hiking, our paddling trips always end with talking about food. I guess with all that paddling and those portages, we had built up an appetite.

It was close to dinner time when we arrived back at the car. With canoes back on top and gear loaded there was only one more place to go as we pulled into the popular Donnelly’s Ice Cream: We were going to “eat dessert first.”

A perfect way to end a perfect day.

Peru resident Joanne Kennedy is a photographer and writer who can be found exploring the many lakes and mountains in the Adirondacks or other wilderness areas. She enjoys sharing the unique places she visits in the natural world with her readers. Reach her at loonsrcool@gmail.com.

IF YOU GO

Directions to Little Clear parking: Located off the Fish Hatchery Road, Route 30, Lake Clear.

There is a DEC sign marking the access.