The Magic of the Adirondacks and White Pine Camp


Right before the Christmas holiday, we had the opportunity to visit the White Pine Camp, located in Paul Smiths, New York. All we can say is that this place is magical. We of course are partial to the Adirondacks in general since we were married at a historic family estate in the area and have spent many years vacationing and exploring the Adirondack region. White Pine Camp epitomizes the traditional Adirondack camp in both style and experience and allows its guests to decompress, disconnect from the world and reconnect with nature, which we so desperately needed. I must say, at first this was challenging since we just went live with our start-up and we had no cell reception or Internet but we quickly got over the inability to connect with the outside world.

White Pine Camp is a lovingly restored Adirondack Great Camp that once was the summer White House of President Calvin Coolidge. The camp was designed in the tradition of the magnificent wilderness compounds of comfort built a century ago by the rich and powerful of the Gilded Age. White Pine Camp offers a secluded year-round retreat in the largest protected wilderness in the continental United States. During every season there is always something to do outdoors that will appeal to just about anyone whether it is active like hiking or cross-country skiing or something more relaxing like watching the leaves change.

When we arrived, the Adirondacks had just been hit with several inches of snow (on top of 12” a few weeks earlier) making our destination feel like a winter wonderland and very Christmas-y. By the time we drove through the property to get to the main lodge where the office was located it was just before midnight after eight hours on the road. Steve Maselli, the Director of White Pine Camp was gracious enough to wait up and greet us at the main camp. We brought in a bottle of Pinot Noir to show our appreciation for the non-traditional check-in time and enjoyed a glass of wine with Steve before he drove us over to the cottage that would be our home for the next few days.

Our new temporary home was the Gardener’s Cottage and it was simply precious. Steve gave us a tour of the cottage and soon after we settled in. Did I say we had our two dogs, Maximus and Dillon with us? Gardener’s Cottage is one of the two dog-friendly accommodations on the property. Our cottage also had the biggest claw-foot tub that we had ever seen and was the perfect place for relaxation in the days to come after hiking and exploring the property. Our first night’s sleep was one of the most peaceful that either Peter or I had experienced in a long while.

The next day we strapped on our camera gear and went post-holing in our snow boots around White Pine’s back trails and snow-covered roads. The property is gorgeous, and massive, and the white pine trees everywhere are majestic and filled the air with aromatic scent that was invigorating. If you’ve never been to an area with a lot of white pines you may not know what I am referring to, but the air smells like it’s been pre-cleaned and feels healthier. As we walked around the property, there were so many great things to photograph and we did the best we could with the elements nature provided which included a consistent shift back and forth between rain and snow throughout the day.

The lights of White Pine’s main camp early in the afternoon were a welcome site after three hours on the trails. The lodge was decorated in the quintessential Adirondack camp style with animal heads on the walls, unique furniture and a massive fireplace that I could stand upright in. The lodge also had been decorated for the Christmas holiday so it had even more of a festive feel to it. While we were in the lodge, Steve was with another one of the guests, and we started talking. Harriet was staying at the camp with her husband, kids and father and was originally from Germany. She and her husband now live in New York City both working for the United Nations. White Pine Camp was their get-out-of-Gotham plan for Christmas. As we started talking, it turns out that Harriet had never had my all time favorite holiday cocktail (you may recall what it is from a recent previous post), eggnog. Right then and there we all decided that we would meet back up in the lodge once the kids were put to bed to make the festive cocktail concoction together.

After meeting Harriet, we took the long route back to our cottage where I took a well-deserved soak in the world’s largest claw foot tub. The bathroom itself was incredibly spacious and the tub was oriented towards a picture frame window that looked out onto a wall of snow-covered pine boughs that would throw up a cloud of white dust every time the wind whipped around the house. After I indulged in the tub experience, Peter did as well. You may also recall from an earlier post that we have a claw-foot tub in our Maryland property that is the bane of Peter’s existence partly due to the fact that he showers in it with curtains that stick to him in the process. However, Peter soaked in the tub for about an hour reading his favorite magazine, watching the snow blow, and I think he may be coming around to claw-foot tubs . . .

Later in the afternoon, Steve asked us if we were up for an adventure. “Heck yeah!” Who says no to that question on vacation. So Steve drove us over to a dear friend of his who lives on Lake Placid. We parked the car and had to hike in about a quarter of a mile to what has to be one of the most magical homes in the Adirondacks. We crossed several wooden bridges and came upon a house that was lit up with Christmas lights and looked as if it was suspended from the trees—Tapawingo, built by its current owner and her husband by hand over fifty years ago. We had a glass of wine with her and Steve and heard the story of how this place was brought in and put together piece by piece. In a future post, we will write about Tapawingo since it deserves its own entry. From Tapawingo Camp, we headed over to The Whiteface Lodge for a quick bite to eat. Could this night get any better?

After dinner, we headed back to White Pine Camp. It was eggnog time. Luckily, Harriet happened to bring a hand mixer. Harriet made clear that she usually does not travel with kitchen appliances, but something prompted her to do so. I told her that it was the universe preparing her to meet us and to get ready for the most decadent holiday drink around. The main lodge was not outfitted with all of the items needed to prepare an extra large batch of eggnog, but we got creative and made it work. About an hour later our eggnog was completed and we sat by the fire hanging out and sipping on our fluffy Christmas heaven in a cup. It was a great way to end our trip and it was fabulous opportunity to start the holiday season while making our own history in such a historical camp.

The next day we sadly had to leave for our next leg of our trip, which had us arriving in Portsmouth, New Hampshire for a few days. We had the best time at White Pine Camp and are now trying to figure out if we can make it up there again this winter for an ice climbing trip with friends. If for some reason we do not make it back this winter we will most certainly be headed back once the weather breaks. Hopefully, this time we will be able to get in some cross country skiing as well. Our biggest regret was that we did not get over to the historic bowling alley that is located on the premises and is where Calvin Coolidge himself would bowl the night away. There will always be next time! Overall, we had an amazing trip, met great people and got to experience a place that is so special we are still talking about it. Steve could not have been more gracious host and was equally generous with the time he spent with us. We cannot wait to go back and enjoy more time at this historic destination.