3 Lakes Trip - Saranac Lake - Part 3

We woke up to our second morning at Saranac Lake to sunshine again! Our friends made a delicious breakfast of pancakes and sausages. We sat around the table for some time and talked before making sandwiches for lunch again. Today we would kayak across Middle Saranac Lake and hike (climb) Ampersand Mountain!

From Alltrails.com: "Ampersand Mountain Trail is a 4.9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Saranac Lake, New York that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until March. Dogs are also able to use this trail."


4.9 miles                      1811 feet

"Only recommended for very experienced adventurers" never mind that we had a 4, 6 and 7 year old with us, but they had great practice playing adventurers at the campsite all day!

No photos from the paddle across the lake because of strong headwinds but I do have this short go pro video!

The hike started out very easy, nothing more than a walk through the woods, and a little buggy but turned into a serious hike soon after and all the way up the mountain. It was a tough hike for myself and the only reason I made it, was watching 4 year old Isaac climbing up the mountain!

Let me tell you about a huge misconception about my kids... someone recently asked me "can you give me a list of your kids favorite hiking trails in Cincinnati" the truth is, there are non! My kids don't have favorite hiking trails because they don't like hiking! They do love an adventure though and that usually gets them through the hike! The first mile on the hike, I had one kid actually in tears crying "I hate hiking". He soon came to me and apologized because he realized how cool of an hike this was AND he beat us up and down the mountain. If I would give my kids the option of staying comfortable in our living room, campsite etc or go on a hike... they would always choose to be comfortable at home BUT I give them an extra push and they are always (seriously ALWAYS) glad they came a long!   well an extra push and a big bag of Swedish Fish in my pocket got them through!

On top of the mountain we were greeted with amazing views of the Adirondacks and some astronaut ice cream from our friend Matt! We explored the summit for a little bit, took a lot of photographs, and made sure kids didn't tumble down the mountain.

The pictures below you can see how far we paddled/ hiked that day! The first picture is from the summit of Ampersand Mountain (3,353 ft) and you can see our campsite (arrow) below! The second picture is of Jake at our campsite pointing up to Ampersand Mountain.

The way back down was tough!!! Apparently not for the big boys and Finn, all 3 of them just ran down the mountain and met us at the trail head! Isaac had a tough time and eventually fell asleep being carried by his Dad... Fireman's Carry Style! The paddle across the lake was not to bad but we did fight some headwind again!

We spent the evening around the campfire. The big boys, Ian and Jake, made dinner for us. Kielbasa & Jambalaya, I posted the quick recipe HERE! This was probably our favorite dinner of the trip. And we finished our Family Olympic Day events! You ask what Family Olympic Day is?

Scroll up, the second picture of our post you can see our home made trophy! We played about 10 games throughout the trip. The Roberts Family against the McGill Gamily. The winner gets to keep the trophy BUT needs to display it on their mantle at home for the year! Some of the games were (and we had funny names for them), who sets up their tent the fastest, who gathers the most firewood, who tells the spookiest camp fire story, who has the most mosquito bites, who catches the first fish etc. The other rule was that next year we are battling for the trophy again and the winning family has to come up with the games. The Robert's won but the McGill's are going to fight hard next summer and win it back!!!

The big boys (and Dad's) also played who can pull out the biggest rock out of the lake. Jake won and since no one caught a fish we counted the rock as the "catch of the day". Jake won us that game! Finn had such a bad allergic reaction to mosquito bites and required Benedryl that we decided we don't even need to count bug bites that he would win that game as well!

The next morning was sadly our last... we cooked breakfast and started packing up the campsite. It was a little bittersweet. We all would have loved to stay longer but we (the Mom's more than anyone) were really looking forward to a hot shower and a real bed! We will be back though Saranac Lake! 

Next stop was Lake Placid (hotel) and introducing the Robert's to our favorite pizza and swimming hole before we went on separate ways again! It was hard to say good bye but all good things have to come to an end... and next stop for us was VERMONT!!!

You can click here to read about PART 1, PART 2, and PART 4 of our trip!



UPDATE! and about 7 months later I finally put together a small video from our go pro footage. Enjoy!

3 Lakes Trip - Saranac Lake - Part 2

We met up with friends from back home in Saranac Lake. It was raining hard that day and I must have checked the weather forecast every 20 minutes... you know just in case the 4 day weather forecast of rain and thunderstorm will change to sunny and dry just because I checked! 

We had a quick lunch, purchased a few last minute items at Aldi and headed to the lake. Changed into our rain gear, unloaded kayaks and loaded them with our gear. One last prayer for our safety and a break in the rain, shuttling the trailer to a different parking lot, going back to that parking lot because of a forgotten life jacket and then getting pulled over and we were finally off. 4 adults, 5 kids, 1 canoe, 1 tandem kayak, and 3 single kayaks plus a lot of gear!

As soon as we started paddling, the rain stopped. Hallelujah! We arrived at our campsite, had enough time to unload the gear from the kayaks, set up camp, and started dinner.... and then the rain came again. And it rained, and rained and rained. The kids were all wet and cold.  The mosquitos seemed to all know that we were trapped under the tarp and they had a feast... We ate dinner (chili that we made at home, froze and reheated on our camp stove), quickly cleaned up and went to bed before 9pm. We felt defeated, especially with the forecast looking so grim.

It rained hard all night long! We woke up to clouds and soon after the sun came out! And the sun stayed out, no more rain for the rest of out stay!!! 

We made breakfast (eggs, bacon and sausages) and just hung around the campsite for a few hours. The little kids played "adventurers" in the woods, jumping from rock to rock looking to find paradise! The big kids (and the Dads) had a lot of fun gathering firewood (slim pickings and everything was soaked) and cutting down dead trees with a small hatchet.

After a few hours of just hanging out we packed up sandwiches for lunch and left to explore the lake with the kayaks. Our destination was the other side of the lake, paddle up Saranac River and kayak through the locks. We did this last year and loved it. You can read about it HERE.

It's about a 3 mile paddle (maybe a little more) to the other side of the lake and up to Saranac Lake. We went through the lock and kayaked a little bit further down the river. We stopped and we all floated down the river together while having lunch. On the way we saw a beaver dam, lots of loons, ducks and even otters! 

On our way back through the lock we decided to stop and stretch our legs. The lock operator let the kids help operate the locks and explained how everything worked.

On our way back to the campsite we stopped at a few unoccupied campsites to look for firewood. We really lucked out at one site (thank you #66) and brought a bunch of firewood home. We ended the night with some dinner (Hobo packs) and S'mores. 

Part 2 or Saranac Lake will come soon! I have a feeling this is getting a little to long! 

You can click here to read about PART 1, PART 3 & PART 4 of our trip!