Dominoes and Dinner Parties

Brace yourselves for our entire trip in and out of Camp in one post – and some amazing photos!

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On Tuesday we headed into Camp. This is where Nikki gave us even less information before our trip, so we really had no idea what to expect. I had to ask if there was electricity and cell service. Typically that’s top on the list of things to tell guests, but apparently that’s “too difficult to explain” (just teasing Nik!). So we took a bus from the Ausable Club down to the Lower Lake. Isn’t is pretty from the boathouse?

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Nik was sweet and stayed with me while our crew climbed nearby Indian Head Point. Apparently part of the Indian’s head recently fell off, his face was looking worse for wear when we rowed by an hour later. Adam went and looked super happy to make it to the top. He got a great view of the valley.

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That’s where we had to go. Or, where Adam had to row us to. Camp is at the far end of the Upper Lake. So we got to business. There were more boathouses than I could count filled with guide boats, canoes, kayaks, and lots of other pretty things. Nikki’s family has monogrammed everything – spots for their boats, paddles, boats, you name it and it has the M-S stamp on it. I was in water heaven.

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Guide boats are traditional Adirondack boats developed in the late 1800s for fur trappers. They are similarly shaped to a canoe but wider and shallower. This enabled the trappers to carry 1000-1500 lbs of furs and still navigate the shallow waters around the mountains. Oh yeah, and there was only one guy rowing that thing, so they had to be pretty agile. The heavier the guide boat is, the better it moves through the water.

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Nikki’s mom Rosemarie acted as our navigator and Adam was a perfect gentleman, rowing all three of us and our over-packed gear up both lakes. Isn’t he the best?

The first lake was a longer 2.5 miles, with a few spots of pretty low water. This was when I learned that he had in fact been on the crew team for two seasons. Holding back your preppiness from me darling?

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We made it to the next boat house, where we deposited our first guide boats. Then we set off on a short jaunt through the woods to the M-S boat house at the bottom of the Upper Lake (I know, it’s confusing) to pick up our next guide boats.

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This was the part we couldn’t row up, connecting the Lower and Upper Lakes. Along this stretch is a caretakers cabin for the Warden. He’s around in case there’s an emergency, to help get you between the lakes, and to haul your stuff in the tractor so you don’t have to carry it the 1 mile between boat houses.

This is the last sighting or sound of the modern world you’ll get. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day sounds of modern technology aren’t allowed on the Upper Lake. That means no electricity, no motor boats, no chain saws. It is blissfully, perfectly, and naturally quiet.

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We loaded up our next guide boat at the third boat house of the day and took off up the 1.5 miles to the M-S camp.

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ausable mountain reserve, adirondacks, glamping, camping, new york vacations, mountain trips, keene valley ny, jen darling

So roughly 3.5 hours later we made it! We picked up our gear and headed to the house. All of the paths around the lakes look just like this. Like a scene from Lord of the Rings, a snapshot from the set of Legend, or like a group of fairies is going to lead a unicorn out in front of you at any moment. I mean it was just stupidly pretty.

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Camp was a collection of cabins – one with a great room, two bedrooms, storage, and a bathroom; one with a dining room and kitchen (yes there was a fridge!); and one as a caretakers cabin for Eric, the awesome-sauce guide, chef, and team M-S captain who cares for the family’s properties (Camp and Pinecrest) year-round to make sure everything is maintained and doesn’t get buried under a snowstorm. Oh right, and two lean-tos.

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This is the lean-to. We slept here. Eight of us in just this one. It was an experience, and next time I’ll bring an air camping pad. Though falling asleep to coyotes, loons and a crackling fire under the stars was lovely.

We got settled, had dinner and stayed up learning to play Dominoes. Nikki’s father Grosvenor was a doll teaching me and giving me advice.

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In the morning, we popped over to the neighbors camp to see if the C’s wanted to go canoeing. Their cabin is similar, though it also has a sleeping porch. We had sleeping porches at Foxcroft, and I would have killed for a night on one after that lean-to.

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See what I mean about monogrammed boating accessories?

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We paddled up the inlet at the top of the Upper Lake to an area called Stillwater. It was also super pretty. The whole area is basically untouched aside from the walking paths – some of which you can’t even find anymore. Now where are those fairies?

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It was an easy hike to get from the Upper Lake past some cool mushroom looking things and lots of virgin forest.

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We found the one unlocked canoe and headed out onto Stillwater. A short paddle around, picking some lilly flowers, and we were ready to go home.

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The C’s brought their adorable kids with them. Austin and Elissa were hysterical and troopers the whole trip. Especially when the M&Ms came out.

We tried to get a group shot of the family. Brita, Doug, Elissa and Kjell were good. Stephen and Austin – not so much.

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We had a little more luck with our canoe. Adam paddled in, and I paddled out to let him rest up for our trip out of camp the next day.

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We headed back to Camp and enjoyed some time out on the swimming dock. The sun was glorious and the water was cold and brisk. The less you moved, the more comfortable it was, if that makes sense. It wasn’t as bad as I expected, but you wouldn’t be able to hang out in it all day. I’m so glad I jumped in.

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That night the C’s came over for dinner. We fit 25 of us into the great room at Camp M-S and had a fantastic dinner party.

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Of course, followed by more Dominoes.

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Look! We’ve finally got tans!

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In the morning, we were sad to pack up and leave. Rosemarie and Grosvenor were amazing host, and I was so happy to get some time with them after so many years.

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Clearly some things never change!

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Last chance fairies. Anyone want to come to the Hamptons?

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It was a beautiful morning to be heading out. A quick hour and a half and we were back at the bus heading to the Ausable Club.

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Between the Upper and Lower Lakes, there’s a secret spot with a spigot resting inside a tree root. Apparently there’s an underground spring that pops up here with the most delicious water. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to try it out. Tuck Everlasting anyone?

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We picked up our last boat up and headed onto the Lower Lake. With a bit more success at navigating the shallows on the second try.

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The gate into the Ausable Mountain Reserve is beautifully campy. We were the only ones on the bus, so the driver asked us to open the gate and graciously waited while I snapped a photo.

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Oh and where was Daphne? At a babysitters. Dogs aren’t allowed at Camp, so she was happy to have a new playmate and we were happy to have 48 hours puppy-free. She was pretty excited to see us. Time to go to the Hamptons!

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We had such a lovely time at camp with the M-S’s and their ridiculously large entourage. Hopefully we’ll have the opportunity to go back!

Photos by JKN + RMS

One thought on “Dominoes and Dinner Parties

  1. Elise Anderson

    THanks so much for the blast from the past! I grew up with going to the lakes since my family has been members since my Great Grandfather’s time. Our guide boat is the blue one with (of course ) the white monogram. Next week I go up and my brother’s a member and we’ll all go up to the Upper Lake then. A treat I haven’t done very often because I live in Colorado. Some little notes if you get up next time- when I was little there was a blue enamel speckleware cup hanging from a chain over the spring you noticed. I think they updated it with a red cup, but I can’t ever pass it without drinking from the water. Cold and so clean tasting! Also when at the Upper Lake Guide’s cabin take the trail (ask for directions so you don’t go up a mountain) to Shanty Brook. That was our childhood destination, and you have to go there. The rocks are close together at spots so (with jeans on) you can travel down them and be shot out over the swimming hole. Truly Heaven on earth. Thanks for the pics. I used one picture of yours on my knitting blog today and gave credit and a link to your site. Happy trails! My blog today- http://lovelyyarnescapes.blogspot.com/2016/06/monday-moments-last-week-till-vacation.html

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