By Francis McGovern
“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”
— William Shakespeare
The Long Pond Day Use Area is about twenty five minutes deep into the White Mountain National Forest down an unpaved road. It is set in a quiet, beautiful area that feels pristine and new in the morning just after sunrise. At the very end of the road is a small dock and entry point for Long Pond.
We were looking to spend the morning Kayaking somewhere in New Hampshire that wasn’t too far from Boston but that still offered views of mountains and sky and was a bit further into the woods. When you first pull up to Long Pond, it’s about 2 hours and 45 minutes from Boston.
I was joined by my youngest son, Wesley, who turned 13 this summer and loves to head out and have adventures. He is probably the biggest reader in the family (after me) and we share a love of the outdoors. On the way up we listened to Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer’s book about Christopher McCandless and his wanderings and adventures that sadly led him to develop an odd sense of asceticism, taking him so far into the wilderness that it killed him.
It’s hard to read that book as a parent now, as you want to encourage your kids to roam but to stay healthy and happy at the same time. Wesley is curious about why we do what we do, and why we travel to certain places, but like any thirteen year old he likes to have something to do or to go somewhere that he hasn’t beforeーa goal or a destination. He likes to do new things. We decided over the weekend to book the trip. It was pretty much a day trip; we headed up on a Tuesdayーthe night beforeーto camp out at a nearby campground, and then we headed to Long Pond on Wednesday morning.
Building the fire the night before, and putting up the tent, I realized that we would have to keep finding new things to do. When you are 13 or 14 you don’t want to travel with your father, you want to go places with your friends. You want to grow up. You can’t really take your parents to the places you want to go. In the morning, we sat by the rushing brook just near our campsite, watching the sunrise through the trees. Then we kept trying to find the best way to cook pancakes and eggs over the fire, eating the mistakes. Every trip is a learning experience and chance not only to learn, but also to teach.
When it came to kayaking, we were lucky to have a great teacher and guide. First and most important was our New Hampshire Kayaking Guide Elijah Sobel from North County Kayak. We met Elijah through his fiance Kesley, who truth be told was a great intern at Literary Traveler about ten years ago. She was then and is now an even more talented writer and teacher in the White Mountains. (Read her piece about teaching writing)
Elijah was a great guide. He was friendly, patient, flexible, and made sure that we had a unique experience that was perfect for our skill level. We opted for an early morning kayak tour, and he was there waiting to meet us bright and early.
When you get out in the kayak, it’s quiet and the air is clear and fresh. Elijah helped us get our bearings and started out in perfect view of the mountains. Elijah lives and works in the White Mountains and knows the nooks and crannies of where to kayak.
The feel of the kayak was very smooth and comfortable as we started paddling in the water. The day we travelled there was just after a rainstorm and there were no bugs. You would have to work hard to tip over one of these kayaks.
We have a good amount of canoeing experience as we live near a river and have a canoe. And truthfully, kayaking was not very different. The kayak felt very stable, and once you are in it, you get into a gentle rhythm, and with steady strokes, you become very much one with the water.
We spent the next few hours circling the outer edge of the pond, staring off at the view or into the woods at the shore. We were the only ones there except for some turtles sunning themselves on a rock. Eventually we stopped at one of the islands in the center. You can feel the power of nature surrounding you and calling you to learn it’s lessons.
Elijah is also a teacher who works with students at a nearby New Hampshire private school. He developed a passion for kayaking and the outdoors as a young man. He has been busy over the summer and offers a few different types of trips depending on what you are looking for.
We traveled in the mid to late summer, but the fall is an ideal time to book a fall foliage Kayak Tour. If you are looking to try out a new outdoor experience, kayaking is a great exercise; it was easy, stimulating, and fun. It is a peaceful activity to do on your own, but perfect to do with family and friends. The late summer/early fall is a great time to visit the White Mountains, take off your mask, and enjoy the fresh air.
Spending time in nature is one way to lift your soul. It’s one way that we used to get us out of the challenges of the pandemic: being inside, working, getting all of our things done, hoping for a better dayーa day that we are still hoping for while we learn what nature can teach us.
Francis McGovern is the co-founder and founding editor and publisher at Literary Traveler. He has run the site for over 20 years. He was at Walking Magazine and then spent three years at Lycos.com where he served as a product manager for their suite of personalization products including My Fidelity and My Lycos.
Francis has also run a search engine consulting practice as well and has served as Vice President of Operations for the reviewed.com network. He has helped to lead and develop many literary tours and cruises and loves to discuss books and ideas with a group of travelers as they discover new places.
North Country Kayak can lead you on a Kayak Tour
For More Information: Please visit NorthCountryKayak.com
North Country Kayak was founded by Elijah Sobel:
Born and raised in New Hampshire, Elijah fell in love with the White Mountains at an early age with ski trips to Tuckerman’s Ravine and hiking the Presidential Range.
When he was a child, his dad, David Sobel, stuck him in the front of a whitewater canoe, and he ran his first Class III rapid at age seven. After attending the University of Vermont, Elijah moved to North Lake Tahoe, California. He spent seven years working in the outdoor recreation industry, honing his passion and craft for guiding individuals and groups in wilderness settings.
In 2019, Elijah relocated back to Bethlehem, New Hampshire and currently works for Holderness School. His excitement for paddling and experiences on the water is contagious, and he has a strong focus on safety for everyone.
Inspired by an enduring sense of adventure and the possibilities of sharing his passion with others, Elijah is excited to bring guided trips for all skill levels to the North Country.
Kayaking Long Pond
Long Pond is pretty remote. Look to travel about 2.5/3 hours from Boston. It is located on the backside of Mt. Moosilauke deep in the White Mountain National ForestーLong Pond provides a real wilderness experience. You’ll paddle the perimeter of the pond exploring inlets and coves, spotting ospreys and herons.
Duration: 3 Hours
Departure Times: 10am & 1pm
Departure Location: Long Pond Day Use Area
(Book Now for 2021!) Fall Foliage on Echo Lake – Franconia Notch State Park, NH
A New Hampshire classic! Home to the Old Man in the Mountain, Franconia Ridge, and the Cannon Cliffs, nothing screams “Live Free or Die” like a kayak tour in the notch. Paddle the perimeter of Echo Lake while admiring the fall foliage.
Duration: 2 Hours
Departure Times: 9am / 12pm / 3pm / 5:30pm
Departure Location: New England Ski Museum Parking / Echo Lake Boat Ramp