Photos and text by Nancie Battaglia
Doing the Seven Carries is a great adventure no matter what the season. Last winter we chose a day blue with sunshine to ski the ponds and intervening woodlands. It’s a ski trip that comes especially recommended when snow is sparse.
Our group of five schussers and two doggers leave a car at Paul Smith’s College on Lower St. Regis Lake and then pile into a second car to shuttle to Little Clear Pond, our starting point.
A new layer of snow-fuzz tops the ice, a perfect surface for kicking and gliding our way through the wilderness. After skiing across Little Clear, we follow a carry trail for a half-mile to the bog at the east end of St. Regis Pond and then ski along a narrow channel to the pond itself, the gem of the St. Regis Canoe Area. Rounding the peninsula on the right, we spot a local landmark, the fire tower on St. Regis Mountain.
Compared with some of the adjacent puddles, St. Regis Pond is a biggie: four hundred acres, fourteen campsites, four islands, and forever wild. After a quick repast, we head easterly, skirting the big island, to the short carry to Green Pond. Then it’s on to Little Long Pond, Bear Pond, and Bog Pond. Some of the carries are measured in feet or yards. The ponds are cocoons enveloped by pine and hardwood forest. We enjoy their small size and serenity because after Bog we hit the big waters of Upper St. Regis, Spitfire, and Lower St. Regis lakes.
If it were summer we might glimpse one of the fine old bluebloods that summer on the lakes, cruising the kingdom in an antique Hacker or Fay and Bowen. In winter we’re more likely to see a construction guy on a snowmobile. The camps on these three connected lakes sport grand rustic architecture, old and new. The lakes also boast plenty of wind. Sailing races are held at least twice weekly in the summer. The wind isn’t likely to take the winter off, so skiers beware.
On the narrow channel to Spitfire we encounter open water that the dogs scoot along thoughtlessly. The humanoids, in a rare display of superior common sense, cut through the woods near the shoreline. Then we pass Rabbit Island, where scientists conducting an experiment once infected bunnies with tuberculosis bacteria.
Final strides lead us through the slough to Lower St. Regis Lake, skiing among aquatic plants that retain their autumnal hue. The color adds a nice contrast to the day’s winter palette. With the sun descending behind us, we reach the college and load into the waiting car. After retrieving the other vehicle, there is one thing left on our to-do list: recharge at Charlie’s Inn near Lake Clear.
DIRECTIONS: From Lake Clear Junction (intersection of NY 30 and NY 186), drive north on NY 30 about 6 miles to Paul Smith’s College on left. After leaving one car at college, return to Lake Clear Junction, turn right, and go 2.8 miles to Fish Hatchery Road. Turn right and go 0.4 miles to Station Road on right. Park at other end of Station Road, then ski along tracks a short distance to an unplowed road. Turn right and soon after take another right to reach Little Lake Clear.