Rollins Pond kayaking

“Wilderness” Week at Rollins Pond

Scene: Rollins Pond DEC campground, loops 82, 83, 88, 89, surrounded by: lots of loons, snapper & strawberry turtles, mergansers, mallards, sunfish, chipmunk, deer, several hummingbirds, and plastic flamingoes

The cast (in order of appearance): Gene, Tish, Kim, Eric, Jim, Mickey

Supporting roles: Ice lady, wood lady, ice cream delivery gang, cotton candy, popcorn, & sno-cone truck driver, and DEC park rangers.

Villains: the nutty lawyer, the hacking coughing lady, the Clampetts: 2 adults with 6 kids practicing riding bikes fast, cell phone wilderness multi-millionaire

Props: Dan’s paddle map, Charles’ battery-operated fan, the portable solar panel hooked to someone’s RV, Eric’s new lime green kayak wheels by C-Tug!

Scene I: The four hour trip to the campground was accompanied by rain, so we now know exactly what they mean by a “driving rain.” Gene and Tish arrived and set up camp in the pouring rain, ate dinner under the new awning, followed by ice cream delivery.

Scene 2: One paddle around the circumference of Rollins Pond before Kim arrived and set up camp in the mud. Made a quick dinner, followed by ice cream delivery.

Scene 3: Read newspapers and did Sudoku puzzles while eating pistachios and waiting for Eric. Upon arrival, we set up his tent and new EZ-up. Still rainy weather, so we walked to the boat rental area to check the portage and paddling conditions on Whey Pond. Decided to launch, and we discovered how beautiful and undeveloped Whey Pond was, and how fickle the weather could be as it changed from sunny to rainy every 5 minutes. We were rewarded with a rainbow peeking around the grey clouds. As we returned to our beach, Jim poked his head out of the woods. An impromptu and delicious dinner was shared and Jim provided ample wood for a cozy campfire. The only thing that could get us out of our camp chairs was the arrival of the ice cream truck. Shortly after 10, not realizing our conversation was a little loud, a ranger paid a personal visit to ask us to lower our voices. Such good attentive service here!!

Scene 4: The BIG day: armed with Jim’s GPS and Dan’s paddle map, we paddled “the loop”; 6.5 miles from our beach on Rollins through a shallow stream to Floodwood Pond, down beautiful and shady Fish Creek decorated with dozens of other paddlers and hikers, to Little Square Pond, across Copperas Pond to the dreaded ¼ mile, root-filled portage, uphill both directions. We wouldn’t really have needed the map or the GPS because it was easy to follow the wagon train of kayaks and canoes ahead of us. Eric attached his wheels and was off in a flash, wondering where the rest were. Kim blazed a new path with her kayak as it slipped off her wheels at every root and every turn of the path. One man, toiling under his large canoe, remarked that his boat got heavier every year. Tish leaned on a small birch tree for support dragging her kayak over some big roots, and the whole dang tree cracked off. Jim offered Mickey’s bunco chips to boost our energy. Just as the rest of the group neared the end of the portage, Eric returned and cheerfully asked if he could help. (We’ll be on to you next time, pal.) Paddling the now-familiar Whey Pond, we were joined by a family in a canoe with one teen in a Tupperware kayak. We were reminded of another good reason to be in a kayak when we saw the canoeing father accidentally whack the head of the young boy sitting in the middle of the canoe as he switched from paddling on the right to the left. Reluctant to end this totally perfect paddle, we started to explore the edges of Whey Pond. Eric was surprised to see what looked like rain coming down only in a small circle. Upon closer inspection, we saw that the whole school of little fish were jumping out of the water. The mystery was solved when the hungry loon resurfaced and the fish returned to the water. As we returned to our beach, we headed for the showers and another abundant shared meal and campfire, aided by Charles & Mary’s little battery fan . After our nightcap of ice cream, we retired to our own sites to sleep.

Scene 5: Kim had to pack up early to attend a wedding, so we said our good-byes and planned our next adventure. Our quest was to eat lunch at the waterfall at the end of a stream at the north end of Floodwood Pond. We handled the little stream leading out of Rollins with finesse, as it began as a sandy area, turned the corner to meet giant boulders, turned again to expose a bed of rocks, then small rounded pebbles, and returned to shallow sand. Stretching our boats north, we paddled around the large island and located the reeds that signaled the entrance of the stream with the waterfalls. We searched for a suitable opening, and finally Jim exited his boat (on purpose) and explored on foot in case there was a deeper area beyond the vegetation-choked water only 3 inches deep. He was examining the deer tracks and other unidentified footprints when Tish joked to be careful of the bears. Jim was back in his boat in a flash and we all decided to explore the path immediately west of us. The first sign that we weren’t in the wilderness was the pickup truck parked across the path. As we climbed over the little hill, there were dozens of vehicles and a small building. We had accidentally come across St. Regis Outfitters satellite store, where we discovered the C-Tug kayak wheels made in New Zealand. The clerk demonstrated the wheels to the group, who were all without cash or credit cards. We inquired about the waterfall, but were told it was only about 3 feet wide and 6 inches tall. In fact it wasn’t even ON the UPDATED map on display at the store. (Time for a new map, Dan.) We returned to the boats and paddled the circumference of Floodwood Pond. As we paddled, we noticed a tandem weighted down by “unsecured tonnage” of two generously proportioned shirtless men who complained of being too exhausted to paddle. Shortly after, Jim was thrilled when an unidentified female swimmer asked him if she could “hang on to your thingie!” We got back to our stream to pass through to Rollins, but the obstacles, shallowness, and current made paddling impossible. We didn’t mind walking upstream in the cooling waters. We paddled back to our campsite beach and pressure-washed our sweaty bodies in the warm showers. Another shared dinner and a long campfire ended our perfect week, topped off by the familiar ringing of the ice cream bell for our final cones.

Finale: Eric rose early and was packed up and gone by 8 a.m. The prize for being the early bird was the purchase of the C-Tug kayak wheels and a pair of paddle shoes in anticipation of using both at the Rideau paddle later this month.

Curtain call: Gene & Tish made it almost on time for the launch at Hinckley on Sunday (thanks for waiting), and Eric arrived late after going shopping at St. Regis Outfitters AND Mountainman, followed by a hike!!! (Over-achiever!) Kim, fully recovered from the wedding on Saturday night, joined the group too.

Credits: This entirely enjoyable adventure was made possible by the following flavors delivered by the ice cream truck:

French vanilla, Heavenly Hash, Mint chocolate chip, Cookies & cream, Fudge swirl, Chocolate, Double chocolate, Strawberry Cheesecake, Cotton candy confetti, Raspberry yogurt, Holy cow, and Cookie dough.

Epilogue: This would be a perfect place for the entire club to consider for a whole week because there are countless places to paddle, with a variety of conditions. All the lakes and ponds are connected by either water or portages. If people would like to try this next year, the campsites have to be reserved on the first day or they will be taken.

Report by Tish Evans & Images by Kim Wojnowicz & Jim Hunter

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