Quiet Water Canoe Guide: New York

$15.95, Appalachian Mountain Club
$15.95, Appalachian Mountain Club

To broaden one’s horizons, try the Quiet Water Canoe Guide: New York. Here everything is our oyster—literally, from the oyster beds of Long Island to Coles Creek on the St. Lawrence River, from East Bay on Lake Ontario to the Erie Canal and onto Lake George. Here is complete how-to and where-to information for over 100 destinations— more than a third of them in the Adirondacks. New York state is indeed a rollicking paddler’s fantasy, “one of the most watery corners of the continent,” says writer Bill McKibben.

One of the lesser-known destinations in Quiet Water Canoe Guide is South Pond, a large pond reached by a short walk (down a steep hill) from Route 30 between Long Lake and Blue Mountain Lake. “Because of difficult access, the lake receives only modest attention and that primarily from fishermen,” the authors note. “The state owns more than three-quarters of the shoreline and all of the beautifully forested islands.” On the summer day they paddled it, the authors saw a doe with her fawn drinking at the water’s edge as well as ring-billed gulls, common mergansers, two northern divers and a loon.

So detailed is this volume that one can get a pretty good facsimile outing just by sitting in an armchair and reading. In-depth descriptions, maps, illustrations and photographs are complemented by nature essays, my favorite being the one on blackflies and mosquitoes. Blackflies, we learn, have been around for 180 million years, and in all that time have managed to come up with only one primary life goal: to make more blackflies. If you’re squeamish, don’t even try to read the description of the mechanics of a mosquito bite.

These four volumes will give you as complete a personal library on Adirondack waters as you are likely to need for years of paddling pleasure.