‘Lake folk’ population undergoing its annual surge

Summer has finally arrived in the Adirondacks. Although it may appear the spring showers have been slow to depart, there are surely blue skies soon to be on the horizon.

Fortunately, flooding from the recent spell of foul weather did not cause the impact of some of the storms that had wreaked havoc on the region in recent years.

As always, the Adirondack population will increase significantly over the next few weeks with the expected influx of visitors for the July Fourth holiday, as well as the longtime camp owners who are fondly regarded as the “lake folks.”

In fact, the ‘lake folk’ families often have a more extensive Adirondack pedigree than many of the local citizens. In some cases, the families of seasonal employees and the summer folk they work for have grown very close over the years.

The Fourth of July often serves as a period to get reacquainted, and catch up on the goings-on of kids, grandparents and a host of other far flung neighbors that only get to visit but once a year.

In places such as the St. Regis lakes, the AuSable lakes, the Saranacs, Long Lake, Tupper and Big Wolf Lake, the descendants of the original families who first visited the Adirondacks in the 1880s continue to enjoy North Country hospitality just as readily as they continue to curse the Adirondack black flies.

Their generations may span a century or more, but the time they spend in the northwoods and on “their lakes” is perpetual. In many cases, I expect that remains the major draw, as it is with all aspects of recreation.

When we return to the places of our youth to again engage in the activities that first attracted us to the spot, we are in a sense renewed, rekindled in spirit and reinvigorated in heart.

Though some may no longer be able to climb that tall mountain in the distance or swim to the nearby island as they once could, there will always be an ember of their childhood smoldering in their hearts as they look out upon familiar territory and dream of the days and years that have gone by.

David Douglas, a Scottish botanist, once claimed, “The wilderness is a place of rest – not in the sense of being motionless, for the lure after all, is to move, to round the next bend. The rest comes in the isolation from distractions, in the slowing of the daily centrifugal forces that keep us off balance.”

The history of the Adirondacks is filled with such memories, and often the only thing that’s changed is the given name.

The peaks, the lakes and the rivers will continue to leave their impressions on the tourists and locals alike. And though the seasons continue to change, those who remain indelibly connected to the land and the lakes never will. They’ll always consider themselves to be Adirondackers, even if their time spent here is limited to just a few weeks every summer.

It was the charm of the waters and the hills that first drew them north, and it is that same indescribable draw that keeps bringing them back.

Whether their “camp” is a gracious compound isolated by thousands of acres and hidden away deep in the woods, or an old, familiar site at the Fish Creek Park, the occupants of the “campsites” are all of the same mind.

In his marvelous tome, “Adirondack Country,” the writer William Chapman White captured this unique sense of belonging, and familiarity far better than I shall ever pen.

He wrote, “As a man tramps the woods to the lake he knows he will find pines and lilies, blue heron and golden shiners, shadows on the rocks and the glint of light on the wavelets, just as they were in the summer of 1954, as they will be in 2054 and beyond; he can stand on a rock by the shore and be in a past he could not have known, in a future he will never see; he can be a part of time that was and time yet to come.”

Although times have certainly changed since Mr. White first recorded his prose, the lands and the lakes, the streams and the mountains will last forever, and only the local residents are fortunate enough – and likely stubborn enough – to stick around to enjoy them through all the seasons.

Reasons to enjoy the season

Over the course of the next few months, there will be plenty of opportunities to play, paddle, hike, ride or just hang out outside.

There will also be a host of events that will offer a chance to learn a new sport, find some old food or to give back to the land that you came here to enjoy.

If you ever needed a good paddling and didn’t know where to go, I suggest you try your hand at “freestyle” canoeing during The Adirondack Canoe Symposium 2013, which will be hosted in Ray Brook from July 7-13.

Freestyle paddling has been described as obedience lessons for your canoe, and the program is sure to increase your paddling skills.

I have described the pursuit as waterborne ballet, since the graceful maneuvers of paddlers truly mimics the finest moves of a prima ballerina.

As pond waters grow still in the late afternoon, paddlers often choreograph their amazingly athletic routines to the sound of music. It is difficult to describe the athletic majesty of their performances.

The symposium will also “go on the road,” with daily excursions to local waters. They will also host slalom races, dead fish polo and an interpretive recital with a few special topics on Wolf Pond.

If you have never witnessed the sport, there is likely no better time or place. For most, it opens up a whole new realm of paddling possibilities. For further information and registration, contact charliewilson77@gmail.com.

Adirondack Fly Fishing Festival

The Adirondack region has a long legacy as a fly fishing mecca. Many of the finest fly fisherman in the sport have traveled this way to engage native brookies and hardy brown trout, from the fabled AuSable to the wilds of the Oswegatchie.

To celebrate this rich heritage of a sport that’s been described as a “predatory ballet,” and the most beautiful of all rural sports, The Mountaineer will host the Adirondack Fly Fishing Festival on Saturday, July 13.

The event will kick off at 9 a.m. in Keene Valley, and will finish up with a fly fishing film and reception at the Keene Arts Playhouse, located on state Route 73 in Keene later in the day.

The festival will include casting lessons with local guides Ken Kalil and Stan Oliva. There will also be ECHO rod demos, and fly tying demonstrations at The Mountaineer from 9 a.m to 5 p.m.

There is no registration required for the free demos and clinics. However, registration is required for in-depth instruction and an all-day fly fishing school led by local guide and Federal of Fly Fishers Casting Instructor Stan Oliva.

The course will cover the basics of equipment, fly selection and fishing knots. The day will include classroom sessions and practicing casting techniques, including the overhead cast, false cast and roll cast. Pre-registration is required. Detailed information is available at www.mountaineer.com/fly-fishing-festival.

The Festival will cap off with a screening of “SOULFISH 2” provided by Mikey Wier, a Patagonia Fly Fishing Ambassador, at the Keene Arts Playhouse. Tickets are $10 at the door, with proceeds benefiting the AuSable and Boquet River Associations. Refreshments will be provided. There will also be a raffle of gear provided by Patagonia, The Drake, Loon Outdoors, ECHO, Cortland, Ex Officio and Chota.

For more information, contact The Mountaineer at 576-2281 or go to www.mountaineer.com.