Imagine spending the 4th of July on a bright sunny day, endless blue sky above, large body of sparkling water stretching for miles…. well, of course we all can imagine this scene, since many Americans head to the beach or lakes to celebrate our independence. I did the same thing yesterday…. but on a body of water that few people have ever seen, let alone spent hours paddling around…. see the photo above. Round Lake is part of the remarkable William C. Whitney Wilderness Area near Long Lake in the Adirondacks.
I was able to enjoy this beautiful wilderness spot thanks to the long tradition of New York State’s effort to preserve the Adirondacks, including adding to the publicly-owned landholdings through strategic purchases. Round Lake, a small body near the larger Little Tupper Lake, used to be part of the Whitney Family private “camp.” For those of us who think tents and marshmallows on sticks when we hear “camp,” rest assured that the Whitney “camp” like other great camps of that era in the Adirondacks was anything but primitive. In the late 19th Century and early 20th, many wealthy industrialists bought vast acreage in the Adirondacks for their summer vacations, since the air here is cool and clean, and “roughing it” was a noble calling for the elite back then, long before Patagonia fleece and Timberland boots. In 1997, New York state bought 15,000 acres from Marylou Whitney, the surviving heir, and the William C. Whitney Wilderness is the result of that purchase, adding a valuable parcel of lakes, streams and deep forest to the “forever wild” lands of upstate New York. Now all Americans can enjoy this beautiful area once reserved for a private family.
Like most of the lakes in the forest preserve, Round Lake is a “no motors” place, so the few people who come here do so with paddles in hand. I passed a few canoeists and fellow kayakers, but for the most part I shared the afternoon on this lake with the wood ducks and their chicks.
We raced around for a while, and then they — and I — headed home for naps! What a great way to celebrate Independence Day!