Squam Lake Paddling Overnight Trip

By Mike Boisvert.

Trip Participants were Jerry P., Phil P., Dan N., Joey C., Brian W., Dan B., Jon Normand and Mike Boisvert.

Four participants cancelled at the last minute, making it impossible for others to fill their places.

The group met at Squam Lake Association (SLA) headquarters in Holderness at 10:00 am on Saturday, September 2nd with cloudy, overcast skies and light winds. After about an hour loading and preparing the boats for the trip the group started out of Piper Cove and proceeded to Chamberlain-Reynolds Memorial Forest for their campsite. We had three canoes and two kayaks.

The group made good time on the lake and began unloading boats and assembling camp at Wister #4 for the weekend. Dan B. capsized his kayak while trying to get out and he got completely soaked. It didn’t help matters when he was wearing denim jeans and a cotton shirt.

Our campsite has access to a dock for tying off the boats, but due to rain/showers in the forecast we pulled our boats on land and flipped them over to keep water out of them when we were not paddling.

The Chamberlain-Reynolds Memorial Forest in Center Harbor was given to the New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) in 1953 by John Wister, Director of the arboretum at Swarthmore College, and named for two of his friends, Allen Chamberlain and Harris Reynolds, both officers of NEFF. It managed for public use by the SLA. It offers 157-acres of northern needle-leaf forest and meadow, with over a mile of shoreline, several sandy beaches, and a wildlife observation boardwalk through a wetland.

SLA also offers camping on two adjacent islands, Moon and Bowman. SLA offers unprecedented public recreational opportunities for wilderness camping, walking along trails and swimming at secluded beaches.

Tent platforms are at some campsites. Campers are asked to place their tents either on the tent platforms or within designated boundaries. Their outdoor ethics are very valuable, as the campsite showed very little signs of neglect or erosion.

Saturday afternoon, we paddled north through the Great Island Narrows, passing by the cabin where the movie "On Golden Pond," was filmed. We then followed along Great Island and took a break to explore Bowman Island. Dan and Joey were only out here for the day so after this break, they paddled back to the Squam Lakes Association headquarters. In the meantime, we waited for Dan B. to catch up.

Dan B. got really frustrated with his kayak, trying to steer despite the wind, and lagging behind the group in the process. Dan gave up when he tried to dock next to some rocks when nature called, capsizing his kayak for the 2nd time. Dan then turned around, trying to make it back to the campsite, only to get lost. Dan started looking for a boater who might be able to help him, and immediately came across the marine patrol boatman who was real cute! His name was Chris, in his 20’s and the sexiest smile you’ve ever seen. Chris helped Dan load his kayak onto his boat and took him back to the campsite. Chris waited for Dan to load his gear, and took him back to the Squam Lakes Association headquarters. Dan returned the kayak and paddle, and drove back home to New Jersey.

For the rest of the afternoon, we just peacefully paddled around Merrill Island to Church Island. This island is a religious sanctuary and offers Sunday services. As you enter this outdoor chapel, you observe pews with a huge white birch cross in the front, framed by Squam Lake and Mt. Chocorua. This was indeed a special place.

We then paddled back to our campsite and marveled at the quiet beauty of the lake. We spotted loons, cormorants and an otter. Eventually we reached Wister #4 to begin preparing supper. That was the time everyone appreciated canoes over kayaks as we could pack in more food and gear. Jon cooked up a main course of stir-fry chicken with vegetables. As usual with our trips, we pack in plenty of food and never go hungry. After dinner the dishes were cleaned and the fire was lit.

Light rain began early Sunday morning. Thankfully, the tarps we setup allowed us to cook breakfast and hang out together. Jon cooked up some bacon and eggs for breakfast.

The rain seemed to let up so we took a stroll exploring Chamberlain-Reynolds Forest. We visited "First Beach," a beautiful sandy beach with gentle sloping sandy bottoms. We continued on to explore the forest and observed two small deer running away from us. The other notable landmark was a boardwalk across the swamp. I’m sure this is a popular place on warm weekends.

We then returned back to our campsite for lunch. Intermittent showers continued and some of us began to get sleepy. Brian decided that he had enough and decided to head back. This trip was turning out to be like the TV series "Survivor." First Dan N. and Joey left, then Dan B., and now Brian. It was down to the Final Four! Could we survive?

The Uno card game was brought out and we ended up having a series of ruthless and vindictive games. I thought these guys were my friends! The beers were being consumed, the bourbon depleted and stories were shared. After dinner, we lit up a huge fire that helped kill the dampness in the air. Around 8 p.m. most of the showers stopped.

Monday morning we packed up our gear and headed back to SLA headquarters where we started our weekend.

Want to know more about our adventures? Just ask any of the participants and they will tell you the wonderful time we all had. Feel a bit left out? Well, come and join us on another of our adventures. You’re all welcome!

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