… on an 8+ Mile Lake
It’s a gorgeous late summer morning as we head out of the High Peaks toward the beautiful lower Adirondack tracts, specifically to Schroon Lake. One of my favorite spots to swim, I have never actually been out on Schroon by boat. I’m excited.
This is an exploration expedition I am taking with my co-workers Kelly and Shaun. We live only an hour from Schroon Lake, but know very little about the actual body of water - we are going to change that. Kelly is generously driving her boat and I am traveling with her. We are meeting Shaun in town as he headed down a bit earlier to document a few of the stores.
Munchies and Magic
Since we were heading down from the north, we took Exit 28 - which put us in a perfect spot to pick up our picnic lunch at the Mount Severance Country Store (now closed, but try out the Adirondack General Store in Schroon Lake). Located on the outskirts of town (probably a mile or so from the main retail stretch), this has always been one of my favorite stops. Somehow on long trips I always find an excuse to take a break right around this point - I am 100% sure it has everything to do with the many choices of homemade baked goods they offer; from muffins and donuts to cookies, bars, and what I like to call 'magic bread' - so nicknamed as I have no idea how they get this delicious bread to be so light and fluffy, but I will buy a loaf every single time. Every time.
Walking in we are cheerfully greeted by a few locals that are standing around chatting over their morning snack. We looked over the generous sandwich menu and ordered a couple of wraps for ourselves and a sub for Shaun. As our food was being assembled, we took a couple of minutes to peruse the fun and odd (candied crickets!?) offerings at this all-purpose camp store; it’s almost a bit overwhelming to be able to buy your fishing gear, next to your cereal, water guns, magazines, and propane. We grabbed a few cookies, a couple of bags of chips, and - yes, a loaf of magic. I then got into a bit of a debate with the gentleman behind the counter: he likes his bread crusty and a bit harder; after I took my turn extolling the virtues of the loaf in question - he finally conceded, this bread (that I love!) would be okay with spaghetti and sauce. By now, our order was ready and we had to laugh when the sub was handed over - it could’ve fed all 3 of us, well worth the price (around $7 if I remember correctly). Our picnic basket was ready, the temperature outside was climbing, the water was calling.
Boats, Beaches, Bays, Boards
Heading into town, we took note of the Marina down a long driveway on our left, and then headed down to the Town Boat Launch, conveniently located adjacent to the public beach, just a block from town. By the time we got the boat in the water and Kelly had toyed with the motor a bit, Shaun joined us, and we were ready to explore - well, explore our picnic anyway - it was after 1pm by now. We headed out past the beach and decided that was a good place to drift and eat while we formalized our plan of action. A couple of cocky seagulls thought this was a good idea as well, and hovered nearby doing lazy circles as they awaited any scraps that might not make it into our mouths - they were sadly disappointed.
Sunblock applied, stomachs filled, a sort-of plan in hand; we headed north toward the Marina. Finding it was quite a bit easier by land than by sea - or by lake - as the case may be. We followed a set of buoys into a smaller bay at the end of the lake, and then just as we were starting to wonder if we missed it, a channel opened up to our left and we came across the full-service Schroon Lake Marina. The place was hopping - obviously, summer on the lake is a big draw in Schroon. We stopped for a moment to take a few photos, then decided it was time to actually head back out and test the water.
Leaving the channel, we noted what was obviously a local’s hot spot - on the far side of the bay, next to the entrance of the river, a beach only accessible by boat. Families, dogs, guys playing football, teens exploring - this is what we came in search of! Kelly and I took the opportunity to dive in and cool off. The water was awesome, still spring-fed, but warmer than our high-peak mountain lakes. We spent a few minutes chatting with folks and found out that the Marina is actually the only one on the lake - good fact to know.
Now, I am not a water-skier or wakeboarder (I’m not even cool enough to know if those are the hip terms… yes, I said, hip) but my companions were itching to strap on their gear, so off we went to search for an open stretch of calm water.
Schroon Lake is beautiful. I mean, beautiful. Plenty of open water, surrounded by picturesque landscape, mountains peacefully looming in the distance. We are passing boats of all sizes & makes - from sailboats to party barges, and everyone is smiling - really, how could you not be? I can not wait to take a tour in later September or October - the foliage must be absolutely outstanding from this vantage point.
Okay, so, we find the perfect spot and Kelly is first up on her board. Shaun is driving the boat, I’m spotting; and, this is new, I’m given a very quick lesson on how to use one of Shaun’s cameras with the instructions to try to get a few shots. Now, I’m nervous. We are on a boat, with waves, I’m holding a camera that is infinitely more expensive than anything I own, and… I’m clumsy. I do not point this out - I just hold on for dear life and hope for the best.
Kelly takes an awesome ride, and it’s time for Shaun to strap on his ski. We head down the lake to find another calm bay, with 8 miles of water at our disposal, there are plenty of choices and we can afford to be picky. I am still on camera duty - I have still not dropped anything. The sun is shining. This is a good day.
After a couple more rides each, we are at the far end of the lake - literally, within site of the end. About as far away from our starting point as possible. It’s almost 3pm now, time for us all to jump back in for a last swim and then head back to the dock. Our plan is to be back on the road between 3:30-3:45, as I have to pick up my son at 5pm, and we have to factor in an hour drive. Ambitious, true - but totally doable.
Our Intentions Were Good… Our Boat - Not So Much
3pm… Hmm. The boat won’t start.
3:10… Hmm. The boat still won’t start.
3:15… Hmm. I am getting nervous.
3:18… Shoot (that’s the polite way of putting it)
3:20… Placing calls to people we know that may be in the area and available to save us.
3:25… Is that a dock? A Public Campground? Yes, it is… and it looks pretty nice. We should camp here sometime. Can we swim to it? Tow the boat? I have a couple of broken ribs, but I can probably do the side-stroke - it can’t be more than a quarter-mile or so. Google it. Call it.
3:30… Yup, it’s Eagle Point Campground. Sadly, they do not have a dock that’s accessible for a ski boat, and they don’t recommend pulling it into shore - lots of jagged submerged rocks.
3:35… Hmm… Still won’t start. We need to be saved. Let’s call the Marina.
* Note to all: This is amazing - we all had great reception on our phones. A strong signal in the middle of a lake in the Adirondacks. Awesome and lucky.
We can not say enough about the Schroon Lake Marina. We called, gave our location - which was greeted cheerfully with something to the effect of, 'wow, chose the absolute furthest point to break down, huh? We’ll head out soon, but it’ll take a few to get to you.' (me: cursing and shaking my fist at the sky! why, oh why, did I not set up a child-care backup? why, on this beautiful day when I normally would be ecstatic to be stranded on a lake, do I actually have a deadline? why did I leave the magic bread in the car??)
3:35-4ish… Drink all available liquid. Eat cookies, chips, and leftover sandwiches. Call and arrange for childcare. Accept the situation and the forced relaxation. Wait patiently. Apply more sunscreen. Wave at passerby. Stare at the beautiful sailboat floating peacefully under the blue sky. Relax. Enjoy the fact that we are stuck in one of the most idyllic situations possible.
4:00-4:10… Rob from Schroon Lake Marina arrives with gas, jumpers, a big smile, and a willingness to shoot the breeze and answer all our random questions about town; while he worked out the problem. We are up and running within minutes, and he graciously followed us back to the dock, mile after mile - we wanted to see this lake, and I can honestly say, mission accomplished.
4:40ish… We loaded the boat, parted ways with Shaun, and then decided to take a spin (via car) down to the Marina. What an awesome place. Definitely worth a stop if you are in the area and looking for any gear. They have recently refinished the main building, and they sell everything from boats and gear to t-shirts and mugs. Plus… as seems to be the case in most places I’ve visited in Schroon, you’ll be greeted at a family-owned business by friendly outgoing folks.
5:00ish… We decide our adventure is over, and we really should get on the road. Only an hour or so later than we planned. Could have been worse by all means.
It is almost, almost, a blessing that we broke down - it afforded us extra time to take in our surroundings, research the town, and mingle with the locals. Foliage Season is about to hit, and Schroon Lake deserves another visit: while it might be getting a bit chilly to dive in, I hear we need to take a hike up Mt. Severance, and there are a few restaurants I can’t wait to try out - I’m open to suggestions, send me your favorite spots, maybe we’ll get a chance to swing by! Next time, we’ll plan for a full day (and daycare) - that much I guarantee.