This week’s dream
Camping in the Adirondack wilderness
From the windows of our bush plane, my friends and I could see nothing but forest, rolling mountains, rivers, lakes, and streams, said Zach Montague in The New York Times. The landscape could have been Alaska or Canada, but it was much closer to home. New York’s Adirondack Park is a vast wilderness into which I have been disappearing since childhood. Though most visitors to the region stay in towns such as Lake Placid and Old Forge, my favorite way to see the Adirondacks is to charter a floatplane and fly to a backwoods lake or pond far from other campers. After our pilot touched down following a 15-minute flight, he ferried us to a rustic lakeside campsite. “He would be the last person we saw until we flew out again three days later.”
“That the four of us could have an entire lake to ourselves is a testament to the remarkable success of New York state’s preservation movement.” Nearly half of the Adirondacks’ 6 million acres are lands protected as “forever wild” by the state’s constitution, and most of that wilderness is open to public recreation. These days, the floatplanes that use Long Lake as their runway fly to only six lakes and ponds, and “each has its own subtle character.” Some offer easy access to hiking trails, while others are known for plentiful brook trout and smallmouth bass. Some of the ponds and lakes have sandy beaches, and Upper Sargent Pond has islets that campers can explore using canoes left on-site.
We camped on Pine Lake near the Cedar River, whose gentle rapids we could hear through the pines. Each morning, we woke to the lonesome calls of loons, and each evening we heard beavers slapping their tails against the water. We spent our days fishing from the dock, “watching clouds merge and fray and roll over the mountain terrain.” After sundown, we stargazed, except on our last night, when a thunderstorm rolled in. “Captivated by the energy of the storm, we sat silently, enjoying the rhythmic patterns of the rain, and watching the flashes beyond the treetops.”
Helms Aero Service (518-624-3931) offers round-trip flights from Long Lake for about $150 a person.
Tony Cenicola/The New York Times/Redux, Dina Mishev/The Washington Post ■