Last weekend, I spent the majority of my days on the ponds searching for brook trout, and as luck would have it, I was fortunate to catch a few fish. I also caught sight of a scene I don't care to witness again.
On one small pond in the St. Regis Canoe Area, I counted 14 canoes, and most of them were trolling two lines each. While working my way through the carries, I encountered group after group of paddlers, and most of them were fishermen.
It appeared there was a Raddison Reunion, or a Sportspal Symposium going on, until the solo boaters came through. There was wave after wave of Lost Pond boats following along like a pack of dogs in heat.
Anglers and paddlers were out in force last weekend, as the trout season finally hit its stride.
(Photo — Joe Hackett)
As the trollers hopped into their Sportspal canoes, the flotilla took on the look of a fleet of small trawlers departing a port on their way to the offshore banks.
It was an outstanding weekend to be out, as the weather was cooperative, and the bugs were as well. Hopefully, the crowds will begin to thin out a bit after the state opens up the new lands and waters of the Boreas Ponds and the Essex Chain of Lakes.
Studies indicate that nearly 90 percent of all wilderness travelers utilize only about 10 percent of the available land. I would guess the same holds true for paddlers, and by appearances anglers as well.
Before any readers take these observations as a complaint, please understand that I'm always happy to see people getting out, whether on land, water, sand or snow. After all, that is why most of us chose to settle in this seemingly forsaken land.
Most of us are willing to pay the penance via the weather and the crowded, beat up roads. We will put up with low-paying jobs and all sorts of extremes - ranging from taxes to schools to personalities - just so we can play outdoors in our spare time.
If there is a single vein that binds us all, it is the common thread of needing to spend time in natural surroundings. I'll be the first to admit it, I probably would've flipped out if I had been stuck in a mall with that crew of canoers.
Likewise, they would have resorted to means unmentionable in a family newspaper, if they were forced to hang out in a movie theater next to me for an entire afternoon.
People like us are of a different ilk. We were the kids who couldn't sit still in school, and we sat in a desk near the window for a good reason. It wasn't that we didn't like school, we just liked being outdoors a lot more.
As we grew into adults, the responsibilities of life tamed a fair share of our breed. A few straggled on, some dropped out and went corporate, but a solid majority stayed the course.
You'll know them when you see them. They'll be driving a beat up old truck, or a compact car with good gas mileage, and lots of rods and reels will be stuffed in the back. Their clothes may seem a bit ragged, and their culture somewhat lacking, but it's difficult to miss that silly, perpetual smile on their face and the kayak on the roof rack.
Saranac Lake 6ers
On Saturday, May 25, there will be a new breed of Saranac Lake citizens known as the Saranac Lake 6ers. These hardy climbers will begin a quest to achieve the status as a Saranac 6er by climbing six of the peaks surrounding the lakefront community.
The Saranac 6ers event will begin with registrations accepted at the Berkeley Green at 7 a.m. A special honor will be bestowed upon those climbers who conquer all six of the not-so-high peaks in a single day. These hardy few will earn the title of Ultra 6ers.
The launch of the Saranac 6ers will begin at 8 a.m., with all climbers leaving and returning to the Berkley Green. All climbers will be required to assemble in the Berkeley Green as the 6er bell launches them off to the trails.
The Ultra 6ers will have to climb Mount Baker, McKenzie Mountain, Haystack Mountain, Scarface Mountain, St. Regis Mountain and Ampersand Mountain in one day. It will be interesting to see who are the first male and female finishers of the Ultra 6ers.
As crowds gather in the Green for the first arrivals, there will be a Saranac 6er trivia contest. Saranac Lake has a long history of guides, guideboats and the sporting life, and the trivia questions will be centered on the local mountains, lakes and the Adirondack guides who traveled these lands and waters. Prizes will be awarded.
The event will conclude with members of the New York State Outdoor Guides Association (NYSOGA) presenting a plaque to the Clark family recognizing Herb Clark as an honorary member of the current guides organization.
Clark was a member in good standing of the original Adirondack Guides Association which was founded on June 27, 1891 and incorporated in Saranac Lake with the stated purpose of "securing to the public competent and reliable guides to assist in the enforcement of forest and game laws, and to maintain a uniform rate of guides' wages."
Although the original Adirondack Guides Association disbanded in 1952, NYSOGA was initially organized and incorporated under the charter of the original Adirondack Guides Association in May 1983.
Original 46ers in town
Coinciding with the launch of the Saranac Lake 6ers this weekend, members of the venerable Adirondack 46ers organization will also be in Saranac Lake to honor one of their own. The 46ers will be hosting a memorial service at the St. Bernard's Cemetery on Sunday, May 26 at 10 a.m.
The ceremony is intended to laud the achievements of Adirondack guide, Herbert K. Clark, who guided the Marshall brothers, Robert and George to the top of the 46 highest peaks in the Adirondacks.
Members of both the Clark family and the Marshall family will be on hand, as well as a host of local and state dignitaries.
In the case of foul weather, the ceremony will be held in the Cantwell Room at the Saranac Lake Free Library. The ceremony will include the unveiling of a memorial stone for Mr. Clark, and the presentation of replica climbing certificates to all of his grandchildren.
It is a great honor to have the Ad'k 46ers in town, and it provides a most opportune moment to recognize the importance of fully utilizing the regional natural assets for the community at large. Far too often, local kids and their families fail to utilize or appreciate the recreational opportunities available in their own backyard.
I particularly appreciate the emphasis on Family Saranac Lake 6ers, as hiking families tend to stick together through all sorts of weather. Outdoor activities such as hiking and paddling, skiing and skating have long been considered Saranac traditions. They are good, clean, active and easily accessible recreational outlets. If all it takes is a contest and a little challenge to get our youth out and active, the village may want to consider hosting a similar event every season, with awards for the first Autumn 6er, Summer 6er or Winter 6er.
It is in the grander landscape of the woods and waters that children learn about the march to adulthood. It is where they discover fair play, self-reliance, respect, self-confidence and responsibility.
A quote from a 1913 book titled Camping for Boys is as relevant today as it was a century ago:
"Camping offers a solution: A boy in the process of growing needs the outdoors. He needs room to range. He needs the tonic of the hills, the woods and streams. He needs to walk under the great sky and commune with the stars. He needs to place himself where nature can speak to him. He ought to get close to the earth ... He should fish, swim, row and sail, roam the woods and the waters, get plenty of vigorous action and have healthful things to think about." - Prof. C.W. Vote