Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Lake at Last

     Waiting is the hardest part. But with Labor Day come and gone the wait is over, the time is right. Early September is one of the year's sweet spots. It's a little quieter with vacationers back to work, kids back to school. Yet it still feels like summer, with hot sunny days. And here's the thing - the water is still swimmable warm. That's important because what I've been waiting for is to dip into Lake George. 

     People have been swimming in the lake all summer, of course. The Town of Fort Ann has a little beach at the end of Pilot Knob Road. Great spot if (and only if) you're a town resident. There's also public swimming at Huletts and Tiroga Beach, all in Washington County. These are enjoyed by lots of people. But not everyone is a beach person. Crowded sand isn't really what I'm looking for, even if half the crowd are wearing bikinis. Another alternative is to have your own camp with beach and dock. This is great if your name is Rockefeller, Buffet or Gates. Real estate on Lake George is incredibly pricey and my chance of owning anything there is a case of "slim meet none". Or is it? Actually we all own some very nice water front property. It's called the New York State Forest Preserve with over 20,000 acres in the Towns of Fort Ann and Dresden and miles of scenic shoreline. 

Tiroga beach with Rogers Rock across the lake

Well worn map of Shelving Rock

     I've been making the twisty, turny drive down to the end of Shelving Rock Road for years. Mostly on Sunday afternoons, mostly for a few hours of picnicking, sunning and swimming. Sometimes we'd bring a canoe, paddle out around the islands. Then there were the evening trips. Get done milking early and feed the cows, then on the longest days of the year when there was also a full moon, head for the lake. Trail run up to Paradise Bay in the twilight, then swim until the moon was high enough to light the way back. Those are experiences that stick with you.

     Over the years things changed. More people, more partying. The trail from the end of the road was closed. DEC added regulations and the area became day use only. No more moonlight outings. And no more summer Sundays. It had become too popular, too crowded with the nadir being Log Bay Day, pretty much the antithesis of every reason I liked to come here. 

Log Bay

     But all is not lost. Summer ends and I have the good fortune to be able to sneak away mid-week. That's what Gwenne and I did for a few hours just the other day. And it was wonderful. We swam, walked the lakeshore, waded across Log Bay. There were  a few folks there - sunbathers and several anchored boats with people on deck reading, sipping wine. Some young guys were out in the bay playing games and there was this one old dude who didn't need no stinking bathing suit - he was literally hanging out in the buff. 

     Life was good at Shelving Rock the other day. And I'm not really anti-social. Honestly I'm not. I especially enjoy seeing little kids. The way they see the water as a big wet playground. Pure joy. They "get" what life can be. But every place has its limits, some point where its beauty, its natural essence is simply overwhelmed. Shelving Rock in summer is at that point. Waiting was hard but I'm glad I did. My September swim was worth the wait.

I Splash...They Swim

     Did I say I swam in Lake George? Well...
     Full disclosure - what I do is wade, float, splash and scare the bubbles out of the fish. Certainly a lot of fun but probably not swimming in a strict sense of the word. But there are people, lots of them especially this weekend, who do swim here. 
     This Saturday and Sunday, September 17 - 18, fourteen individual swimmers and fourteen relay teams will attempt to swim the length of the lake. This is not a race, rather an event and fund raiser that gives swimmers a chance to challenge themselves. The logistics and expense of organizing an individual attempt can be daunting. Since Diane Struble (Gwenne's mom) first did it in 1958 only five others had accomplished the feat until this year. Earlier in the summer both David Dammerman and Jaimie Monahan added their names to the list of end to end swimmers. Now a whole lot of others may join them.

Caution - Mother-in-laws in the water

     Bob Singer deserves credit for putting together a great event. You can watch swimmers depart from Mossy Point Boat Launch in Ticonderoga from 3 - 5pm on Saturday, September 17 and they will be finishing all day long on Sunday, September 18 at the Lake George Village Docks on Beach Road. Download a brochure with swimmer bios and more info here.

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