2016 Adventure – Lower Saranac Lake

I received a very unexpected invitation to go camping at Saranac Lake Islands Campground.  It was an annual trip for my friend Igor and his buddies.

I must make a short pause here and make an introduction.  I know Igor since the turn of the millennium.  He is a super techie guy, do it your-self kind.  He takes great interest and pleasure in all kinds of outdoor activities time permitting.  He is an excellent companion but it is very hard to get a hold of him due to his busy work/life schedule.

Earlier in the year Igor decided to become a member of Porta-bote community and a proud owner of brand new 14′ Porta-bote.  He rigged it with Suzuki 6HP motor and same trolling motor as mine which is a Minn Kota Riptide 55lb trust.

The trip was scheduled for early July.  It was a 5 day camping trip.  Our site was on Eagle Island on Lower Saranc Lake.  The only way to get to the site is by boat.  We planned taking 2 vehicles outfitted to carry porta-botes on roof racks.  Igor also had a hitch carrier which accommodated both of our outboards.  My car was designated as passenger carrier and Igor’s was gear hauler.

We left home the day before.  Picked up my boat and gear and went over to Igor’s brother in-law to spend the night.  Rest of the crew were coming to our designated meeting point early the following morning.2portabotes

Igor owns Ford Expedition.  For these not familiar with this particular model, it is the largest truck Ford makes.  I was certain we could fit everything in it and than some.  We loaded up initially and the truck was already getting full.  In my mind I was calculating how many trips it would take between marina and the camp site.

At the meet I learned that we have more cargo to load.  Food, water, more food and more drinks and of-course more gear.

We were on our way to the final destination around 8 am.  Expedition was full to the point that I think it exceeded the weigh limit.  My rear seat passengers had to take at least one large pack inside with them.  But all was great and we were all excited to be on the road.

Getting to destination was easy.  It took us about 5 hours with a few pit stops.  Finally we arrived at the boat lunch facility.  It was a well maintained place with plenty of parking and a small dock.  Once we had our boats down they were inspected for aquatic invasive species.  The inspection consisted of a few questions pertaining to the last boat use and visual inspection to ensure boats are dry and do not have any organic matter stuck to them.

Setup was quick as usual and considering we had 6 sets of hands boats were in the water in no-time.  But then the hard part… Our gear and food stretched entire length of the dock over-spilling on the beach.

We loaded boats up to the brim and it made no visible dent in overall amount of things we brought camping.  We took one passenger each boat and started moving to our camp site.  Boats moved at 8 MPH with 80% throttle.  I tried to go at 100% but it made no difference.

We did not know the lake very well and had to find our island, I was following Igor.  It is a large lake for porta-bote and at 8 MPH it was time consuming.  We could take a few short cuts due to the fact that our boats have extremely shallow draft.  There were places with rocks inches below surface.


After 30 min boat ride we were finally at the camp site.  Access was not easy with a big boulders obstructing tiny beach.  Then there was a nearly vertical hike.

We unloaded cargo and left our initial passengers at the island.  Ride back was much better, I clocked 15 MPH on my Humminbird.  Going faster and boat started flexing.  We did not take external tanks so we had just enough gas to make one round trip.  In total it took us 4 trips with 2 porta-botes to bring everything and everyone to the camp site.

We could definitely do away with half the things but it was all worth it at the end.  View from our camp site was unbelievable and with a little more effort we were all setup and ready to take in the first evening on the lake!

To be continued…


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