Thursday, October 29, 2009

Best Kept Secret—Winter is the New Summer!

By Kristen Rafferty

When the sun and the beach disappear, what’s left? The beautiful Bolton Landing on Lake George is even more stunning after the sun sets and the tourists head home. As the leaves begin to turn, the water darkens, the temperatures drop, and locals take back the town. From ice fishing to karaoke to trucks racing across the frozen lake, Bolton hosts a variety of local events throughout the fall and winter seasons that melt its cold climate into a thriving hot spot.

1. Karaoke at Frederick’s Bar and Grill

Just when you thought the sounds of summer had died. Stop in every Friday night at this local watering hole, complete with a popcorn machine and stone fireplace, and hear “Margaritaville” sung in many different keys. “

I've viewed karaoke night so many times,” laughs born-and-bred local Luke Shane, “and it is absolutely hysterical to see these inebriated adults go ahead and belt out ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’ completely off key.”

Jimmy Buffet, Billy Joel, and good old Frank Sinatra have all been known to frequent the bar-turned-stage that is home to many an embarrassed local and passerby, and drinks are on the house for especially entertaining acts. Frederick’s is located on Main Street in Bolton, directly next to the only stoplight in town.

2. Sugar and Spice and Everything Fall

Everything nice is exactly what you’ll get from the colorful leaves and crisp weather of fall in Bolton.

One local alumna of Bolton Central School suggests the usual activities—“Apple picking, cider and donuts, and the leaf-and-wax paper thing are sort of traditions around here,” says Kristy Schupp. For all the out-of-towners, that last one is a form of art. Locals collect leaves and iron them between wax paper to use as art around town. Boating is another major fall activity, with most locals preferring to go out in cool weather of October rather than deal with the high temperatures and increased traffic of the summer.

“The lake is the calmest in the fall,” Kristy sighs. “It’s just beginning to turn a deep blue for winter, and it’s the calmest it will be all year…you just fly across it and it’s private and just pure beauty, with the colorful mountains all around.” As the weather turns colder, people turn to hiking those mountains.

“Frost on the ground doesn’t stop any of us,” Schupp laughs. And even though you have to be overly bundled, a horseback ride up any of the spectacular Adirondack Mountains is always in demand. “I’m going sometime soon,” Schupp says enthusiastically. “Especially towards November, there’s not as many lines, and it’s a perfect, fun, crisp weather activity.

3. Snowshoe’in in the Sticks!

Strap on a pair of snowshoes and trek your way through the acclaimed Adirondack forests as frost and then snow begin to rest on the wooded lands of Bolton and Lake George. Even more beautiful in winter, the icicle-ridden birch trees and easy-to-follow trails around town make a hike through the backwoods of Bolton an adventure extraordinaire.

Local resident Donny Sammis is a frequent snowshoer, and insists there’s no better way to spend the day. “Snowshoeing is a way for me to gather my thoughts in the peace and quiet and solitude of nature,” he says. “It gives me a perspective on life I can’t get anywhere else.”

Stay alert, though—you won’t really be alone. Wandering around the thick forest has been known to disrupt its thriving wildlife and a few friendly deer and maybe a turkey or two are likely to join you for part of the journey. If you’re lucky, you might even see the town moose. Nicknamed “Henry the Moose” by locals who have been graced with his frequent backyard visits, you’re not going to want to miss out on this unique experience that only the Adirondack forests can give. Visit ADK Kayak, the local outdoor adventure supply store, for all the gear you need.

4. Terrific Trio

Grab a fishing pole, sharpen your ice skates, and start the snowmobile. A day on the frozen Lake George is really the only way to spend some of the most pristine winter days.

“It’s pretty windy out on the lake in winter, but real fun most of the time,” says Lake George resident Luke Sussdorff. The ride out on the foot-and-a-half-thick ice is a thrill in itself, and ice fishing is a popular pastime of the men, while the women and children enjoy skating. Locals congregate around shanties for hot dogs, kielbasas, burgers, and of course, hot chocolate. Any grandparents want to join? Pull out the old beach chairs—they’ll make great grandstand seats for the day of family fun.

“Just the idea of getting out onto the ice, and the actual details of fishing—keeping the hole open and stuff like that—it’s a challenge,” says longtime resident of Bolton and seasonal fisherman, Dennis Carroll. For the prime fishing, skating, and snowmobiling areas, visit the Chamber of Commerce on Main Street of Bolton, or call 644-3831 for more information.

“When I go out on the lake,” says Sammis, who is also an avid snowmobiler, “I go out to get a rush. The flat open lake, me and my snowmobile…I race across it and feel like I’m flying.”

5. Winter Carnival!

The annual winter carnival is held on Lake George—literally. While kettle popcorn and hot chocolate stands populate the outskirts of the lake, the action truly takes place on it. Follow the snowmobiles to the center of the frozen bay and watch as dragsters and derby-style trucks race in front of hundreds of winter enthusiasts. Outhouse races are tradition (you have see it to believe it) and kite flying demonstrations are also on the schedule of events. The month-long carnival kicks off in January with the annual Polar Bear swim, where literally hundreds of crazy people jump into ice-cold water for no good reason except entertainment and tradition.

“I've always wanted to do the polar bear plunge,” Luke Shane says. “But each year I have backed out and been too scared to do so. Maybe one day I'll muster the fortitude to jump in 35 degree water on New Year's Day. I really want to.”

Who doesn’t? Even if you can’t bring yourself to willingly risk hypothermia, spectators are encouraged and welcome. The fun continues throughout the month of February with action-packed weekends that satisfy the whole family. For more information, visit or call 240-0809.

Credits (from top to bottom): Google Images, Dan Sheridan, Kristen Rafferty, Dan Sheridan, Google Images

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