I did a little research to find some places in the area we could paddle and possibly camp for a night or two. I found some information on Long Pond and Mountain Pond. Ultimately, we decided to paddle Long Pond in the morning and then paddle and stay at Mountain Pond for the night.
Long Pond is east of Franconia Notch off NH 116 and Long Pond Road. After two and a half miles back the gravel Long Pond Road, we took a right onto the Long Pond Access Road which ends at the pond. There is a $3 self-pay parking fee at this little hidden recreation area.
There are picnic tables and a nice boat ramp along with a pit toilet. There was one car in the parking lot when we arrived.
We unloaded our Sea Eagle FastTrack 385, inflated it, and got it ready to launch on this beautiful morning.
There are several islands on this mile-long, 100-acre lake making for a bit more interesting paddle.
Along with one other canoe, we had the lake to ourselves this morning.
It was a lovely paddle, although we didn't see any wildlife and the breeze was going to be a bit tough to navigate on the way back.
When the leaves change this fall, it will be a gorgeous place for some peaceful leaf-peeping.
We paddled back into the breeze ....
finding calmer water behind some of the islands.
By the time we got back to the ramp, there were another half dozen or so canoes and kayaks on the lake and a couple more launching. It was a very nice paddle, but I was anxious to get to the more remote Mountain Pond.
We had considered camping at Long Pond, but camping is restricted and you have to be at least a quarter-mile off the lake which defeats the purpose of lakeside camping.
Mountain Pond is on the eastern side of the White Mountains near the Maine border off of NH 16 and Town Hall Road. Camping is allowed plus there is also a first-come shelter with a privy available.
We found the parking area and trailhead. There is a 2.7-mile trail that goes around the pond, and the shelter is a mile down the north side of the lake.
I knew we would have to portage the FastTrack about a third of a mile to a put-in. We inflated the boat, threw on our backpacks full of gear and headed down the trail.
We came prepared to set up a tent and stay a couple of nights. We had to take a few breaks carrying the boat along the rocky trail, but it wasn't too bad. Just past a sign where the loop trail intersects with itself, we found the short path to the put-in off to our right.
Soon, we had the boat in the shallow water of the clear lake, our gear was loaded, and we were ready to go in search of a campsite.
We passed what looked like a great waterfront campsite on our left as we wanted to see what the shelter was like. It was just a short way past the campsite, maybe a quarter of a mile or so, that we found the shelter, and no one had claimed it.
I inspected it and was glad to see the firepit. I found the privy up on a hill behind the shelter.
Our only hesitancy in taking the shelter was that it was right on the trail going around the pond. So, we continued to paddle along the shore looking for other campsites. It's a beautiful lake with surrounding mountains.
We didn't see any other good campsites and ultimately decided to go back to the shelter. We unloaded the boat .....
and hauled our gear up the hill to the shelter. We decided to go ahead and set up our tent in the shelter as a barrier against mosquitoes and any other "creepy crawlies or critters" as Linda called them.
The shelter is just off the lake but has a nice lake view.
There was some wood already cut and under the shelter, but it was pretty green. It just so happened that we had a bundle of wood in the Jeep, so I paddled back to get it. Linda took a couple photos as I headed out.
What a lovely evening.
When I got back, we went for a sunset paddle before getting a fire started. We had loons on the lake, and their mournful calls just made the whole setting that much better.
The water was like glass, as we worked our way to the southern side of the lake.
We paddled over and Linda said "There's a beaver lodge". At that exact moment, splash!! It was a beaver tail-slap, which is a danger warning and what we believe is also the beaver's way of saying "Get out of here!".
We weren't near the beaver at the time, but that let us know it was there, and we paddled over to a reasonable distance for some photos. We watched it patrol a little area for quite awhile.
And then it sent us on our way with another tail-slap.
After our beaver encounter, we paddled back to the shelter. We heard people on the trail and arrived just as they saw that the shelter was taken. We assumed they went back and set up camp at the waterside campsite.
We pulled the boat up on shore, .....
and started a campfire.
It was so quiet with only the calls of the loons as our soundtrack.
Linda boiled some water on our MSR Windboiler stove, and added it to the "just-add-water" meal she had prepared. After dinner, we read by the fire until the moon came up over the lake.
It was just a wonderful way to end a magnificent day.
Tomorrow, we'll just be hanging out in our little paradise. Until next time. :)