Last weekend my wife and I packed up the car and threw the canoe on top and headed out to one of our favorite Adirondack lakes. The thing about this place is that you can never tell just how busy it will be. Sometimes you get there and there might be 10 cars in the parking lot and other times you might be the only ones there. The other thing that can happen is that you are completely alone on a Friday morning at 9am, but by the same time the next day the lake is crawling with people. Or not. It's a mystery.
On this particular occasion, when we got there it wasn't overly crowded but there were a fair amount of cars. Worse, there was already another car parked in the launch area and they were unloading their stuff. It was a husband and wife and their dog. I noticed two things immediately -- they had an inordinate amount of shit, and they had an electric trolling motor.
We parked behind them, and started doing the same thing. We grabbed the canoe and brought it down to the water and then came back up for the rest of the stuff. We exchanged pleasantries with them, and it turned out that they were from out of state and it was their first time there. He started asking me about the campsites on the lake.
"So, are there many sites around here? Can you make any recommendations?" he asked.
I thought fast, and told him the location of all the sites, starting on the right and working my way counter-clockwise, and ending with, "The last one is around this bend, and it's not bad. It's a little loud and everyone has to pass by it to get to the other sites. That's the one we are hoping to get, because my wife's shoulder is bugging her and we can't paddle far." His wife was very nice, but she had this really loud smoker's voice and a Boston-like accent. Lucky for us, as it turned out.
The thing about this lake is that that there aren't that many sites, and it can be hard to get a good spot, or indeed, any spot. Sometimes it can seem like a race -- who can get there first and fastest. I always have that sense of panic when the place is crowded. I have no idea why, but I get very competitive.
I was hoping he'd take pity on me and shoot for one of the other sites, because I had been really talking them up. I knew he had a trolling motor and could definitely outrun us. We finished chatting, and I practically ran to the car and grabbed the paddles and the life vests, the bear canister and some of my camera gear, and loaded them in the canoe. I made another quick trip for the backpacks. We kept looking to see how far along they were with their unpacking, and we were desperate to beat them out on the water. My wife climbed in the front of the canoe, I pushed us out, jumped in the back and we were off. I was paddling my ass off, going full-tilt because I wanted..no, needed to beat those motorized bastards out onto the lake. We were almost out of earshot, paddling like a well-oiled machine, when in the distance I heard a distinctly Bostonian voice say, "I think they fuggot their cah."
My wife heard it too, and we immediately looked at each other in horror. We had forgotten our car. It was still parked in the middle of the launch area, all the doors wide open.
There was a split second where I actually thought, "Fuck it. We'll get another one," because that's how ruthless the race for campsites can get, but then good sense prevailed.
"Holy shit," I said. "I can't believe we forgot the car. I'm never, ever going to be able to call someone stupid again, as long as I live."
So we did the paddle of shame back to the launch area, and the couple were still loading up their stuff. I jumped out of the canoe, mumbled something about, "Ooops, forgot the car. Ha Ha. First time for everything," closed the hatchback and the rear doors, jumped in and drove it up to the lot and parked it. I ran back down to the canoe and we pushed off again.
The good news is that we got the spot we were after and we didn't run into the other couple for a day or so. When we finally did, it turned out that they got a late start because they had a hole in their canoe. I had nothing to do with that, I swear.
Our good luck didn't last, however. Shortly before 5 pm, we saw something moving toward us. At first we couldn't make it out, but we could certainly hear the idiots as they yelled back and forth to each other, even though they were barely a yard apart. There were many f-bombs, and a spirited conversation about knives was in progress. As it got closer to us, I couldn't believe what I saw.
Two large canoes, connected by 2x4s, with a pallet suspended between them, piled high with shit. Grills, coolers, stereo equipment, multiple 50 gallon garbage bags full of what I can only assume were clothes, full-sized lawn chairs, propane tanks, lanterns and more. You name it, and it was probably on this shitpile homemade catamaran. There was an electric trolling motor fastened to the back of the pallet, and one guy was steering the whole barge with a stick while the other three drank. I shook my head, and turned to my wife and said, "We'll be hearing from them later, guaranteed." It ended up being worse than that.
As dusk approached, I boiled water to cook dinner, and as I was fiddling with the stove, I saw another kayak heading right for us. I went down by the water to see what was up. It was a young girl, probably 18 or 19, and she said, "I think I have the wrong campsite. My friends said they'd be here."
"Yes, you have the wrong campsite." I replied. "They're not here. Did they have some sort of homemade shitpile catamaran by any chance?" I asked.
"Yes! That's them. Do you know where they went?"
"I think they're about 3 campsites down on the left," I said. "That thing was hilarious by the way."
She didn't say anything about my opinion of their boat, but thanked me and left.
A couple of hours later, another pair of kayaks show up holding two guys each. By now it's full dark, and we have a fire going. They are shining their flashlights at us and we can hear them throwing f-bombs and talking about some girl they know and describing her as a "humper." Class acts, obviously. It turns out that nobody got the memo that their spot was already taken, and since there's no cell service at this lake, everyone looking for the party headed directly for our campsite until they realized that we weren't their fuckhead college friends and veered off.
This went on until about 1am. People out on the lake with flashlights, yelling to each other and trying to find the party. It wasn't that hard to find, since it sounded like a full on frat house in the middle of the wilderness. Obnoxious rap music, lights, screaming, laughing...until 4am at least. I was a little on edge to tell you the truth because I don't like people on the lake in front of my campsite in the middle of the night. Luckily, my wife had gone into the tent before me. The last thing she said was, "I'm not sure I'm going to be able to go to sl--" and then the snoring started, so she missed the bulk of it. I stayed up and tended the fire until there were no more people on the lake, mostly because I wanted to make sure there wasn't going to be any idiots doing stupid things, but also because my wife was snoring like a drunk biker and I really didn't want to get in the tent with her. Eventually, everything quieted down and I crawled into the tent and fell asleep.
I'm thinking I might have to find another place to go, or we're going to have to just start camping exclusively during the week. It seems that word has gotten out that this place has no ranger presence and is easy to get to, so it's become a party destination on the weekends. I'm not sure if we just have bad luck, or if it's like this all the time now, but it used to be deserted after labor day. I think part of the problem is that they improved the road a few years ago and it's much smoother and easier to navigate than it used to be. Back in the day it would take you an hour to go twelve miles because the roads were so rutted that even with an F-150 you'd have to go really slow if you wanted to keep your exhaust system. Now it's so smooth you can do 25 mph in a smart car and not spill your latte.
Anyway, that's pretty much the stupidest thing I've done lately. I won't say the stupidest thing I've ever done, because I'm hoping I have a lot more time to top it, but so far it's right up there.
Here's a handful of pictures for you:
|Milky Way before the moon came up. The tree is lit by our fire.
|Sunset the first night
|30 second exposure by moonlight