For almost half the year, the lake is frozen. When the ice finally breaks-up, paddling in the cold, clear water is akin to a skier getting fresh tracks. It takes only a warm day and a brisk wind to transform the lake from rough, wind-blown ice to the movie setting of “On Golden Pond” with colorful buds dotting the shoreline, and snow melting from the nearby mountaintops. The loons, having spent winter on the ocean, arrive almost immediately. We arrived a few days after that.
We encountered few other people on our first excursions, paddling to the middle of the lake to circle the various islands, encountering mostly calm water. One evening we spotted a lone kayaker, who arrived at a campsite on Moon Island. We kept our distance though, paddling onward, not wanting to break the quiet spell.
By the weekend, the lake hummed with powerboats. Only a couple of hours from Boston, the lake is an easy destination for a huge population, many of whom value going in large fast circles more than well... going in not so fast circles.
I guess that’s what we do on the ocean, but on a lake, the inward circle-ness of our routes is more evident; you can only go so far. Granted, I’ve taken sixteen-mile paddles around the far ends of the lake, but you can still only go so far. Out of curiosity, I began paddling the perimeter shoreline in segments, but somehow didn’t sustain enough interest to keep at it. It is interesting to paddle along the shoreline of “McMansion Row,” checking-out the latest additions, but after awhile, it just becomes sad. And it’s amazing how long I paddled along the shoreline of summer homes and never saw another person.
We’ve seen the lake change from a fairly pristine, quiet lake, to... well, it’s still pretty nice, and after the weekend it turned quiet again. But once upon a time the cottages were built on large parcels back in the woods, in dark woodsy colors, and the water was the clearest around. For years, there was no public launch for motorboats. When a ramp was finally built, we watched the water clarity and the peacefulness swiftly decline. These new homes are built to be seen, as are the plastic zillion-horsepower floating phallic symbols that buzz around the lake, piloted by guys with backward-turned ballcaps who, after getting from one end of the lake to the other in no time, ask themselves “that was fun, what now?”
Ah, but who am I to point fingers, or phallic symbols? I mean, look at these kayaks! Our excursions were great- one thing we like about the springtime is the relative quiet. Even the soon to be overrun White Mountains provided me with several long hikes in which I encountered no other people. Snow and ice weeds-out the riff-raff, to be sure.