*Editor's note: The following story is fictional, in honor of April Fool's Day.
While out walking the other day, I looked up and saw an opportunity for a great interview. I jumped on the opening and found the old fella to be talkative and interesting. First, he reminisced a bit
Upper Saranac Lake has been a resident of the Adirondacks for centuries. He currently lives with his family, among whom are his brothers, Middle and Lower Saranac, and one younger sister, Lake Flower.
Upper Saranac Lake
(Photo — Stephanie Chipperfield)
Prior to the service of the New York Central and Delaware and Hudson Railroads, and of course, the common car, the Lakes served as a prime transportation route for humans, allowing people to travel from Old Forge as far as Lake Champlain and into Canada.
There are many lodges and camps along Upper Saranac today, but one of the first was Corey's Rustic Lodge on the south end near Indian Carry, built in 1850 by former trapper James Corey, who'd built his first home on Sweeney Carry 20 years earlier.
"We really hit it off," Upper Saranac recalled, "so he decided to build his sportsmens' lodge on my south end. Can't say I didn't like the attention."
Corey continued to run the lodge until 1894, when he leased it to Charles Wardner and headed to Axton where he died only 2 years later. Upper Saranac said his death was a great loss. However, Wardner was a great businessman and ran the Lodge even more successfully for the next 17 years before he gave up the lease for the Rice Hotel on Lake Clear. The Rustic Lodge was eventually torn down.
Asked which season he enjoys the most, Upper Saranac replied, "It's hard to say, I enjoy them all, really. Whether it's people launching their boats or their snowmobiles out of Back Bay, the company is great," adding with a chuckle, "Don't get too many campers in the winter, though."
The Adirondacks is a great place to be, he said, because even with all of the development, people still take good care of him and his family and friends. "I'm always passing the water down to my bros, and they say it's some of the best they can imagine." He says that despite the typical family squabbles he and Middle and Lower have had, he loves them very much and doesn't know where he would be without them.
Little Lake Flower was born in 1827 when the Saranac River was dammed off. She was originally known as Newell's Pond, but was renamed after former New York governor Roswell Flower. Lake Flower is popular in the winter, being the site of the annual Winter Carnival. "Flower's a real social butterfly, she likes being right there where all the action is," Upper Saranac said. "She's a real showoff, too. She loves that castle, and says the townspeople are getting better with the designs every year."
One of Upper Saranac's best friends is Raquette Lake. In the 19th Century, Raquette was very popular with wealthy humans, including William Durant, who built one of the first Great Camps called Pine Knot. North Point, Echo Camp and Bluff Point soon followed. Today, he still sees many visitors, including many kids attending summer camps.
"Raquette and I met through the Adirondack Canoe Classic. We both enjoyed the race and then we started talking about campers, and before we knew it we'd been gabbing on for hours." The Canoe Classic is an annual 3-day, 90-mile boat race that begins at Raquette Lake and ends at Lake Flower.
Another good friend of his is Lake Colby, whose shores are home to the state beach and boat launch, as well as Latour Park. "If you're looking for a place to picnic or fish or swim," said Upper Saranac, "he's your guy. He's probably seen more people in a week than I have in the busiest of years. I don't know how he can do it, but he does, and he's very good at it."
When he isn't people-watching, Upper Saranac likes to look at the wildlife. He loves the loons, seeing them swim and make their nests, and watching the baby chicks grow. He listens to their calls at night and says they are like a sweet lullaby. He also enjoys hosting the bass and the pike, plus the trout and the landlocked salmon that are stocked in his waters.
"Most days, the Adirondacks just has a certain energy to it," Upper Saranac said, "And it's not just any one thing at any one time. It's the people and the animals and the sun, the grass, the air. It all just works together." He knows that it isn't magic, but sometimes it just feels like it. He said that the loneliness he used to feel is gone. "I have a peace of mind now that nothing can take away, and that's a very good thing."
For humans, he advises, "If you've never been to these mountains, if you've never seen them, or smelled them or climbed them, especially if you have a family, you should come and experience it all at least once. Give your kids the experience; they'll never forget it and they'll thank you sooner than later."
Upper Saranac Lake may not be one of the more vocal members of the Adirondack community, but he would say that he is definitely one of the happiest, and he wouldn't change it for the world.
I left the oldtimer as I found him: peaceful.