A Family Adventure


Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Nubanusit and Spoonwood Loop

August 9, 2020
Emilie Phillips

Not every kayaking trip is an odyssey to Maine. This time we went to Nubanusit Lake in southwestern New Hampshire. Best of all, we convinced some friends to come with us. Kayaking is a good socially distant activity. Stay one paddle length away from each other, and you are good.

Tyson and I haven’t been to Nubanusit Lake in a long while because the parking is limited. The lake is very nice compared to other lakes in southern New Hampshire. It’s deep and clear and quite large. Half of the shore is conservation land.

Tyson, Isaac, and I tried hard to arrive early to get a parking spot. We achieved 8:45AM. Our friends didn’t show up until 9:15, but we needed the extra half hour to deal with being over prepared. Spare clothes, first aid kit, water and snacks all needed to be packed into the kayaks. We needed to change into wet suits. Our friends are much more accustomed to paddling on inland lakes, so they showed up wearing swimming suits and quickly had their kayak, canoe, and a few bags in the water … and the fishing poles.

It was surprisingly windy that morning. The wind blowing from the south built up 8 inch chop by the time it reached the put in at the north. For the sake of Scott paddling the canoe by himself, we decided to tuck in behind the peninsula and head for Spoonwood Pond. Scott tried fishing near shore, but didn’t catch anything. Isaac attempted to rescue fallen caterpillars from the water. Tyson checked if eagles still nest at the northwest corner of the lake. It appears they don’t. Rachel admired the bottom twenty feet down through clear water. We all swapped stories of how we had been handling coronavirus and lock downs. Then we moved on to swapping stories of past kayaking trips. I am glad Isaac has picked up kayaking. A lot of our fun trips are recent.

Rachel trying a roll

We stopped for snack at the portage between Nubanusit and the lower end of Spoonwood Pond. Tyson almost caught a frog. Isaac spotted some fish below the dam, but what with three kids running around, Scott couldn’t safely get his fishing lines out. I convinced Rachel to try my kayak and paddle. She was paddling a really wide plastic kayak, big enough, she said, to fit one of her kids in the cockpit with her if they got cranky about the canoe ride. Given that, I expected her to have troubles with my skinny Greenland style kayak. She surprised me and climbed in with impeccable balance. Then she tried the Greenland paddle. Most of her strokes cavitated, but she got one or two right and surged forward. Then I tried teaching a balance brace and a Greenland style roll. Rachel said rolling white water kayaks had been easy back in the day. She got the balance brace, but then I skipped too many steps trying to get to a roll before the kids finished snack. So she didn’t get the roll. Tyson climbed in his kayak and demonstrated. Then we got the kids and the canoe and everyone back on the water and headed south on Spoonwood. Well, everyone except for me. My booties had filled with mud from standing in the water coaching Rachel. I sat on a rock and rinsed the mud out. Then, after feeling something wiggling in my left bootie, rinsed out the four inch long orange and brown leech.

Southern end of Spoonwood Pond

The entrance to Spoonwood is deceptive. It looks like it will be a small marshy pond. Then we rounded the bend and it opens up into a wide, wild lake. Green hills on either side, and not a house in sight. No motor boats either. We heard loons off in the distance. Scott caught one small fish and threw it back in. I tried to figure out how to get them to come sea kayaking with us. Their youngest is about the age we started taking Isaac into waves in the Bullitt, but they haven’t prioritized kayaking the way we did.

Isaace doing a balance brace

At the far end of Spoonwood, we carried the kayaks and canoe across the longer portage back to Nubanusit Lake. We ate lunch, then headed north. Their kids were starting to get board of riding in the canoe. I wish I knew a proper kid sized kayak to recommend to other families. Isaac can do so many things with his kayak because of how it fits him. The wind was still blowing from the south, so we lazily floated north on the breeze. Isaac spent some time with Tyson practicing a balance brace. He couldn’t remember the steps he had learned last year, but with some coaching he was able to float on the water. Meanwhile Scott attempted to fish again. He caught a bass, maybe 12″ from the tip of the nose to the last wisp of tail. As he said, just barely big enough to tell it was a bass. All the kids wanted to touch the fish before he threw it back in.

The put in was a zoo. Kayaks scattered across the ramp, a line of motor boats trying to get off the water. Cars backing down the road to drop off more boats. Trucks with boat trailers blocking the way. Kids running here and there. We made it out, but Tyson lost all the enjoyment he had gotten from the paddle.

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GPS Track