ADK Island Camping

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by Kim Andresen

ADK Island Camping

Camping on an island in the Adirondacks is anything but ordinary!

Guest Blogger: Erin Hanczyk 

Day 1: Arrival and Survival

“Shake, shake, shake it off, shake it off,” I can't help but sing to myself as two 70+ pound dogs shake off the lake water that’s weighing down their fur. After the excitement of paddling to our very own island site, these pups are ready to call this piece of Earth their home for the next three days. 

Camping with two large dogs has its challenges – like their lack of ability to calmly sit in the canoe with all of our camping gear, or wait until we’re on shore to jump out of said canoe, hence, the shaking off of lake water. 

With our friends close behind, we quickly shifted our canoe on shore to make way for their full speed approach to land. As their two huskies proceeded to face-dive out of their canoe before hitting shore, I felt like maybe it wasn’t just our dogs after all. As the four dogs took their first full sprint laps among the trees, it was time for us humans to unload the canoes.

The first thing my husband likes to do when we pull up to shore is start chucking our firewood stash as far as he can in the general direction of the fire pit. This makes for a game of ducking and dodging as I try to retrieve our tent and gear. Where I succeed with this challenge is by harnessing my inner Ben Stiller (queue Dodgeball reference) by always remembering “if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball,” or in this case firewood.

It was nearing dusk and the predicted thunder was starting to rumble in the distance. We picked up our pace setting up our tents, food stands, and tarps. We knew with the storms coming that night, that the tarps were a priority. 

It wasn’t looking good for a first night fire and celebratory s’mores so we huddled along the shoreline watching the dark clouds creep closer and the lightening become more frequent. We were determined to storm watch until the first drop of rain hit. Well, if you know anything about a storm, rain doesn’t typically start with one drop, it’s more of a sky opening up, dumping sort of rain kind of thing.

It did just that. 

Day 2: Innovate and Levitate

“PULL UP YOUR END!” I yelled to my husband who was standing on his tippy toes to pull the rope as high up on the tree as possible. To rewind, the small scattered thunderstorms that were supposed to nearly miss us, became a full night of downpours, directly over us.

Despite the soggy slumber, a bright sunny morning dawned, and we went into full innovation mode to determine how to best dry out our tents. After about an hour of the men bantering back and forth with ideas while the women unloaded our stuff from the wet tents, a solution was settled on. We’ll just hang them from the trees! Surprisingly this went very well. With all of our tents hung up to dry out, our campsite resembled something out of Harry Potter. Levitating tents! 

With the work complete, we settled for a classic camp breakfast. Bagels toasted over the fire, scrambled eggs on the cast iron, and a fresh brewed mug of camp coffee from the percolator. 

When camping on the primitive islands in the Saranac Lake Region of the Adirondacks, there is no sense of time (unless you have a watch — but I suggest not looking at it). Sit back and relax, don’t plan, just live the camp life. 

After breakfast, the men went out fishing, the dogs were curled up napping by the toasty morning fire, and the women deemed it NAP TIME! 


When I woke up from my nap, I watched the lake for a long time and let the complete peace restore me. The sound of the water splashing the shoreline, the call of the loons in the distance, the cool breeze and the shake of the pine needles falling through the air made the campsite feel more like home than my actual house. In a matter of 24 hours, even with the obstacles which felt more like adventures, I felt completely relaxed and the stress of work and life sort of just melted away. 

Camping rejuvenates the soul, the fresh air clears the mind, and the seclusion of an island is a freeing experience.

At this point in the day, the sun had warmed up the land and the water, and I could feel the warmth cause goosebumps to rise on my skin. My friend and I decided to head out on the water with the pups for the afternoon, explore the other islands, catch some rays, and enjoy a picnic lunch. I’m sure we looked like some sort of comedy movie with four large dogs sitting between us in the canoe. 

As this beautiful, sunny day started to draw to an end, we paddled back to the campsite to prep for dinner and pour some much needed wine.  

Our last night’s feast featured marinated steaks, asparagus, and mac salad. Hungry from the day, we fell silent as we all inhaled our perfectly grilled meat and veggies. In the blink of an eye the our plates were empty. Somehow we always eat better when we’re camping then we do when we’re at home.

With our bellies full, and our hearts happy, we toasted to a great weekend. The sky began to change as the sun set, and like the first night, we huddled along the shore — but this time to watch the still water absorbing the bright oranges and blues as the sun sank behind the tree line. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Ready to plan your island camping trip?