Friday, May 16, 2008

Paddling in the White Mountains

Long Pond in Benton, NH (near Lincoln) is one of several Long Ponds in the state. We paddled here last summer and would highly recommend it if you're planning a visit to the White Mountain area. In fact, the pond is in the middle of the White Mountain National Forest. So far, it's the most remote place we've ever paddled.

There's no development at all on Long Pond, unless you count the beaver lodges! The pond is about one mile long, has lots of islands, and a shoreline dotted with tall evergreens. You'll get to enjoy beautiful views of Mount Moosilauke and probably encounter some wildlife. We enjoyed some loons when we were here.

Our mid-morning excursion was a family affair -- four of us ranging in age from early 20s to (ahem) mid-50s. I must admit I struggled a little to keep up with the younger, more fit paddlers among us. It was windy the day we visited and I had trouble tracking -- that is, getting my kayak to go where I wanted it to go.

As a recreational kayaker, there's not too much pressure to learn proper paddling technique. Heck, you get out on the water and just paddle, right? It works most of the time! Well, I'm more focused this year on learning some technique and here's why:
  • It's more efficient, meaning you won't tire as easily

  • There's less chance of injury (usually to the shoulder)

  • It comes in handy if there's wind or a current

Stay tuned. I'll be posting some information about beginner technique soon. In the meantime, head to Long Pond. It's places like this that make New Hampshire special. You can enjoy pristine water, watch the wildlife, and take in mountain views all at the same time.

Things to Know Before You Go: Bring dollar bills. There's a parking fee ($3 when we were there) and you'll be expected to leave the fee in an envelope if no one's in sight to collect it. There are picnic tables and public restrooms. The boat launch is a concrete ramp.

Directions: From I-93, Exit 32 in Lincoln, drive west on Route 112, joining Route 116 in about 11 miles. A mile farther, follow Route 116 as it splits left. After 1.6 miles, turn left onto Long Pond Road. Turn right after 2.5 miles, following signs for Long Pond. The picnic area is another .5 mile. Note that the last 3 miles is on a single lane dirt road.

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