Middle Saranac Lake to Lake Flower via Kayak/Canoe
Nate Swain, TJ Johnston, David Haenel, Lizzie Savoie
Dates of Trip:
Saturday, September 5 to Sunday, September 6
We left from Paul Smith’s at about 2:00 pm on Saturday. We had intended to leave around noon, as we had a lot of miles to cover, but one thing led to another and we left late. We dropped off our gear at the South Creek boat launch on Rt. 3, then delivered a vehicle to Saranac Lake for when we finished. We finally got into the water about 3:30 pm, with Lizzie and I in kayaks and David and TJ in a two-man canoe. They also carried the majority of our gear.
We encountered nothing but blue skies and puffy clouds throughout the first day of paddling. We made it through Middle Saranac Lake with ease, then slowed down significantly after the Upper Locks between Middle and Lower Saranac. We hit Lower Saranac around 5:00, and again took our time getting to the next set of locks. By the time we hit the Lower Locks, it was 7:45 and the attendant had called it a night. TJ operated the locks for us, and just after the sun finally set, we were on our way again. We turned on headlamps and flashlights at this point, to make ourselves more visible to motorboats.
Paddling in the dark was not our intention. It is a somewhat scary experience, one that I have never had before; if we hadn’t been in a group, I probably would have pulled off and camped in the woods ASAP. However, we pushed through the last mile-and-a-half section to Kiwassa Lake, where we had originally planned on camping. We searched the shore for a lean-to that was supposed to be there, but when we couldn’t find it, we gave up and paddled to the island in the middle of the lake. The island is mostly private land, but the tip is on state land and home to a small primitive campsite.
We pulled up on the island around 9:00, got a small fire going in the pit, and cooked some dinner. We were able to camp out under the stars that night, as temperatures remained in the high fifties and there was no hint that precipitation was anywhere nearby. The stars and the night sky were unbelievable.
We woke up around 5:00 am and packed our things quickly, as David needed to get back for class at 8:00. We were back on the water by 5:20, and about halfway through the channel, we realized David and TJ would need to paddle ahead to make it back in time. Lizzie and I continued on our way more leisurely, witnessing a breathtaking dawn over Oseetah Lake, and then over Lake Flower a little later in the morning. Lizzie and I pulled up out of the water at about 7:30 AM. TJ and David had just rolled up in TJ’s car to pick up the canoe.
Great night all around!