Squam Lake Canoe Camping 2008

By Mike Boisvert.

After about a half-hour loading and preparing the canoes for the trip, our group started out of Piper Cove and proceeded out to our Moon Island campsite. We made good time crossing the lake and began unloading boats and assembling our camp for the weekend. Our campsite had access to a dock for tying off the canoes.

Moon and Bowman Islands

At the end of 1986, Squam Lakes Association (SLA) acquired Moon Island after a lightning-caused fire destroyed a privately owned summer home there. About 500 feet south lies Bowman Island to which the SLA acquired title in 1991 through negotiations with the Trust for Public Lands and a gift from the Richard K. Mellon Foundation, acting through The Conservation Fund.

With two adjacent islands totaling 53 acres and over 11,000 linear feet of shoreline, SLA offers unprecedented public recreational opportunities for wilderness camping, walking along trails and swimming at the secluded beaches on both islands. Tent platforms are provided at the Group campsites and campers are asked to place their tents on the platforms provided to help protect the natural resources.

We camped at a regular campsite that provided gravel beds secured by a wooden perimeter. We found these to be very valuable, as the campsite showed very little signs of neglect or erosion. The gravel beds even helped keep the bottoms of tents dry during the heavy rain Saturday evening into early Sunday morning.

Saturday Afternoon

Saturday afternoon, we paddled to Church Island that is a religious sanctuary. Upon approach we were notified that a wedding was underway and that we could not land. So instead, we paddled to the point on the island where we could see the large cross made from white birch. We then continued to paddle around Mink and Sheep Islands where we spotted a blue heron landing into a cove. 

For the rest of the afternoon we just peacefully paddled to Little Loon Island to observe an Eagle's nest and stopped at the Yard Islands for a swim. During our paddling we watched cormorants, loons and marveled at the quiet beauty of the lake. The entire lake was calm and the paddling easy. 

Eventually we headed back to Moon Island to begin preparing supper. That was the time everyone appreciated the effort of putting up all the tarps since it began to rain once the cooking began. For appetizers, Tom/Mark brought huge shrimp with coctail sauce, Jon shared some pepper jack cheese with crackers, and Dave poured tequila shots.

Each couple cooked their own main course which I frankly cannot remember what everyone had however, I know that Jon and I had pork stir-fry with pad thai noodles. As usual with these trips there was plenty of food to go around with some left over to spare. After everyone had eaten all they wanted the dishes were quickly cleaned. After supper everyone hung around beneath the tarps as it rained heavily and eventually went into our sleeping bags. 

It rained buckets all night into early Sunday morning. Thankfully, the gravel beds kept the tent floors relatively dry and puddle free. Each couple cooked their own breakfast with Jon/I having a vegetable/cheese egg scramble, bacon and seasoned home fries. 

The wind was blowing and the lake was now full of white caps. The bad news is we had to paddle directly into the wind back to the take out. It was blowing a steady 25 knots with gusts to 35. We first took a walk around the island and then packed up. At certain times our canoes chopped through the waves with water splashing inside. Turns out we were back in 60 minutes and we made good time given the conditions. We had a great time.

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