Waking Up in the T@B at Rollins Pond
There are lots of good places to camp—near interesting attractions, or easy to get to, on the way to something or a means to get to another place you want to be. Rollins Pond isn’t exactly any of those things, but it is my absolute favorite place to camp. It isn’t particularly close to any little towns really, it doesn’t have a lot of amenities, but it is beautiful and quiet and peaceful and what you might think of as quintessential Adirondack camping. It is a campground with about 260 sites, but you never really realize there are that many people around. Almost all of the sites are nestled among lots of trees and are waterfront along the pond, so it is the perfect place to take a kayak and paddle to your heart’s content any time of day.
We discovered Rollins Pond a few years back when we went to the annual Tear Up the ADK event in the adjacent Fish Creek Pond campground. That was an opportunity to meet up with some other teardrop camper owners and try out the social side of camping. We had never realized that these two DEC campgrounds were 20 miles west of the Saranac Lake/Lake Placid area of the High Peaks of the Adirondacks. We had loved camping in that area for many years and had never even thought about the idea that there might be more remote camping nearby. Fish Creek Pond is also is a campground with a lot of sites and most of them directly on the Ponds that the campground surrounds with it’s 5 miles of camp road. The campsites here are more open and the campers are more of the family camping/group camping type who have been vacationing here for many years and who enjoy the nightly parade of boats across the ponds and the familiar call of taps being played at dusk every night.
You have to enter Rollins Pond by driving through Fish Creek and winding through at least 2.5 miles of campers before getting to the turnoff that leads back to the trash and the shower house and eventually to the Rollins Pond entrance. Just the fact that it doesn’t have a direct access off the main road and that its entrance is a mile or more beyond the turnoff makes it a bit of a commitment to go out to Rollins. It has a hilly road with sites mostly off one side and nestled amidst a forest of white pines and balsam fir trees and some sections of river and white birches. The sites here are some rooted and not always easy to get into, so the place overall lends itself generally to people with smaller rigs and more nimble setups. The pond is restricted to mostly non-motorized watercraft, which makes it better for paddlers and avoids some of the noise common at Fish Creek. It has that balsam fir scent reminiscent of the ADK that smells so sweet and is everywhere.
We’ve camped here several times since we discovered this place. It isn’t exactly close to home, so coming here is an effort worthy of spending a few days or more. Last year we thought we might try a couple of days somewhere on the way up, three nights at Rollins (since we couldn’t exactly get four nights in a row at one spot) and a couple of nights home to make it a week away. With everything going on in 2020, we originally booked two different trips, knowing that dates and plans might need to change. In the end, we booked a third trip between the two because the dates were better and we really needed to get away. Having booked in this way, we weren’t sure if the sites we got were going to be great, but they looked pretty good online.
We got to Rollins and the site we got was perfect. It would have been great any year, but particularly in 2020 when we were trying to minimize exposure to others. It wasn’t too close to the road, there was good access to the pond, the neighbors weren’t too close and it was surrounded by really tall evergreen trees. We settled in to just relax and enjoy. There was supposed to be a good amount of rain the first night, so we setup our “serious rain site” with the shadesail on the side of the camper to cover the entrance and protect our chairs and the Big Agnes Three Forks over the picnic table with two sidewalls to cover the sides on the outside of our camp.
Waking up in the T@B here was amazing. It had gotten down into the 50s overnight and we had stayed snug inside the trailer. There was a cool breeze through the screens when I woke up and I could see the pond through the trees out the window. It was the first morning where I woke up without that “cold morning/warm in bed dread” that came with camping in the Shadow. In the Shadow, you might wake up snug, but it wouldn’t last for long. Once you decided you really needed to pee, you needed to get a jacket and shoes and grab your toothbrush. After visiting the bathhouse, it just made sense to stay outside and shiver and get the coffee going and not try getting back inside to curl back up in bed or upset anyone still sleeping.
But in the T@B, you can get up and pee and then curl back up in bed without waking anyone, or having to get shoes. You can brush your teeth and make coffee and still get back into bed. Getting out into the chill of a cool camp morning has become more leisurely and not as rushed or necessary. Also, there is more sleeping privacy in the T@B. If you were trying to sleep in a bit in the Shadow, there came a point in the brightness of morning where the door/window was essentially a viewport for nosy neighboring campers to see into the bed area. The T@B has the windows up enough that you are sleeping below their level, which is great for privacy and for having the screens blow a breeze above the bed if you leave the windows open.
After a couple of nights at Rollins, we realized that three nights wasn’t going to be enough and decided to change our reservations and take another site for a couple more nights there rather than heading off to try a new campground. This time we managed to get a site near the end of the camp road with lots of birches surrounding it and a lovely view of the pond. There was no connectivity at the far end of the camp, which was lovely for ensuring that your last couple of days of vacation were enjoyed with no temptations from work or the outside world, but no so helpful when all you want to know is whether the ever-changing weather of the ADK is going to dump more rain this way or not.
We had not expected rain the night we moved camps, thinking that the brief showers we saw as we setup were likely all we’d get until sometime the next day. So we had setup the “maybe rain” setup for camp, with the table uncovered and the shadesail on the side of the camper to protect the chairs and give us a nice spot to sit and look out to the pond. This new setup thing was interesting. With the Shadow, we had never had a reason to sit near the camper and look out. If the Big Agnes was set to cover the kitchen, we expected rain and it was more of a place to shelter from it to cook and eat and keep the chairs dry at night, but not necessarily a place to sit and enjoy the view. With the shadesail on the side of the T@B, it makes a comfy little spot with the camp rug and our chairs and a little table. It is open enough to not feel like a “shield” and makes a nice spot to drink your morning coffee or write or read. Our camp setups have always had the “dining room” of the picnic table, the “living room” of sitting by the fire, the “bedroom” of the camper and a “kitchen” of sorts with either the combo of the galley in the back of the Shadow along with the table, or the more proper kitchen in the T@B. Now with this extra spot of having a place for our chairs by the side of the camper OR moving them to sit by the fire, it’s like we have an extra camp room, a “family room” you might call it.
We woke up in the night hearing rain fall and rather than having that “we weren’t expecting rain, omg!” moment we used to have in the Shadow where we quickly scrambled to grab shoes and run to the car for jackets and start stowing things like chairs and tables under the camper, we were able to quickly assess that no, nothing was at risk. The chairs were under the Shadesail and the few things left out could handle a bit of rain. We were able to go back to sleep with the sound of the rain on the roof and wake up assured that besides dealing with some wet picnic table benches, we were going to be dry and happy campers. When we awoke, the skies had cleared and we could see the pond from bed. We were snug under our covers and able to slowly get around to the day having slept in a bit. We really enjoyed this new camp style last summer and the changes the new T@B brought.
In thinking about where to go for our 2021 trips, Rollins Pond was a given. We knew it would feel like a safe and relaxing getaway no matter what was going on in the world outside. So we made a week there the anchor of our 2021 “big trip” and managed to get a site at our favorite end of the campground. We’re so looking forward to getting there and paddling around and enjoying some relaxing time away from it all. Waking up in the T@B with a view of the Pond will be the icing on the cake! We can’t wait!