Canoe camping on Squam Lake

This weekend Kate and I took the kids canoe-camping on Squam Lake.  Squam is the second-largest lake in New Hampshire, just north of its big brother Lake Winnipesauke. This was our third such trip for the wife and me, and the second with the kids.

For an outing where you’re supposedly leaving it all behind, we sure did take a lot of stuff with us!  We crammed the canoe with gear: a four-person tent, Therm-a-Rests and camping pillows, sleeping bags,  food and water, camp stove and fuel, bowls and cups, clothes, bathing suits, flashlights, bug spray, camera, water filter, first-aid kit, and a few other sundries.  Kate is a master of canoe-packing, and so we were able to squeeze everything in and still have room for four humans.

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

(All pics in this post can be clicked to enlarge.)

We paddled out of Piper’s Cove and began the four-mile cross-water journey to the dock on our peninsula.

Where we were

Where we were

A broader perspective

A broader perspective

Leaving Piper's Cove

Leaving Piper’s Cove

Some scruffy guy in a boat

Some scruffy guy in a boat

Going out was easy – the wind and current were both with us – and we enjoyed a hot, dry afternoon en route to our dock.  From there it was a five minute walk to the campsite, where we quickly made ourselves at home.  Kate took the kids swimming at a little beach a few minutes away while I sorted out the tent interior and started organizing dinner.

Home away from home

Home away from home

Elanor enjoys the beach

Elanor enjoys the beach

In case you doubted they're sisters...

In case you doubted they’re sisters…

Serious about swimming

Serious about swimming

Dinner was couscous with raisins and peanuts, but the kids had their eyes on the prize:  the post-dinner s’mores.  As Kira would happily tell you, just as she told us about fifty-eight times during the weekend, the best part of camping is the s’mores.

Toasting marshmallows for s'mores

Toasting marshmallows for s’mores

Kate and Kira

Kate and Kira

Elanor

Elanor

After we cleaned up from dinner, there was time for a sunset paddle.  I was granted a reprieve, as Elanor volunteered to paddle at the front, freeing me to sit in the middle of the boat with Kira and take pictures. The sunset over the lake was just glorious.

Sunset over Squam Lake

Sunset over Squam Lake

Bedtime went reasonably well, given that we were all sharing the same tent.  Kira was convinced not to sing too loudly, since we were all interested hearing the evening loon calls.  The loons did not disappoint!  (In fact, the loons were the one saving grace for me later that night, as my aging bones rebelled against sleeping on naught but a Therm-a-Rest.  Those things sure were more comfortable twenty years ago!  But as I lay in ‘bed’ trying to find a comfortable sleeping position, I was treated to a wild concert of warbling loons, their distinctive cries echoing around the lake.)

The next day was full of camping-related activities:  a morning paddle, a hike through the woods, more swimming for the kids, with Kate and I tag-teaming to allow each parent a bit of a rest break.  (Camping with kids 4 and 7 years old is a far cry easier than doing so with 2 and 5 (our previous trip to Squam), but it’s still a handful for the parents!)

Family paddle

Family paddle

Intrepid explorers

Intrepid explorers

The most beautiful sight in the woods

The most beautiful sight in the woods

Elanor was bit grumpy at the start of our hike, complaining of weary legs and itchy mosquito bites, but her spirits were lifted first by some good scrambling rocks, and then by a boardwalk across a dense swamp.  You may wonder why the swamp was a highlight; let me show you:

Blueberries!

Blueberries!

The walkway through the swamp featured thick blueberry bushes growing on both sides.  It was only the last day in June, and so most of the berries were unripe, but even the 1% that were edible provided a feast for the fruitophile. The kids spent about half an hour collecting, and Kira took great delight in bringing me the fruits of her labors. After one such handful, I told her “I’m the luckiest dad in the world!” Her response was to become grave, and to don the expression unique to children who have caught their parents breaking their own rules. “Don’t brag,” she admonished.

Elanor atop her rock

Elanor atop her rock

Boardwalk across the swamp

Boardwalk across the swamp

The Gathering

The Gathering

Sprint to the finish

Sprint to the finish

Dinner that night was simple:  I had purchased two bags of freeze dried dinners (cheesy pasta with vegetables), which are prepared by boiling water, pouring the boiling water into the bags, stirring, and waiting.  It meant we had more time for s’mores and another evening outing in the canoe.

Another beautiful evening

Another beautiful evening

Action shot, taken by Elanor

Action shot, taken by Elanor

Kate made me include this one

Kate made me include this one

Gibbous waxing

Gibbous waxing

We were audience to more loon calls that night. The next morning Kate woke early and went out with Elanor on a canoe-outing to collect more blueberries for our oatmeal. They also pumped some filtered water en route, since on such a hot weekend our store of water bottles had run low. And then, sadly, it was time to pack up the site, reload the canoe, and head back to Piper’s Cove.

SIttin' on the dock of the bay

Sittin’ on the dock of the bay

A crowd of boats at the dock had forced Kate to park the canoe on the far side of the peninsula, but thanks to our ever-growing children, we were able to carry all of our gear in a single trip.  Also, we were fortuitously placed to rescue a pair of teenagers who were stranded across the bay from the dock, having wrongly assumed their little spur had a connecting trail to the nearby larger peninsula. Since we had already loaded the canoe, Kate and Elanor ferried them across one at a time.

The return journey was more vigorous for the grown-ups, with a strong headwind kicking up chop, and the prevailing current going against us. Also, it seemed that every five minutes a motor boat would speed past, sending out a wake that would rock our boat up and down. “I love the choppy waves!” exclaimed Kira. “Wooooohooooo!” Elanor shouted.  “$#@!” grumbled the parents. But with Kate providing 100% of the steering and about 75% of the propulsion (they didn’t call her ‘Paddles-Like-the-Wind’ at Cornell for nothing!) we made good time and avoided capsizing.

A couple of hours later we were back at Piper’s Cove.   “Kira,” I said.  “You look like I feel.”

Cheering for big waves is hard work!

Cheering for big waves is hard work!

The End.

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About dorianhart

novelist, game designer, amateur musician, dad
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6 Responses to Canoe camping on Squam Lake

  1. rebecca says:

    wonderful pics! looks like y’all had a great time =).

  2. Anonymous says:

    You guys are all so awesome. 🙂 Can’t wait to see you in August! -Betsy

  3. Lisa says:

    Absolutely made my night! Also Kira is right the best part about camping is the smores!

  4. Josh says:

    What a great outing! We used to go kayak camping on Squam, but haven’t taken the kids there yet.

  5. chrisosmond says:

    Lovely family and lovely photos. If all lifeblogging had these production values the Internet would be a handsomer place! Awaiting more!

  6. Leah says:

    Awesome. I love the pic of the two girls with wet hair.

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