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  1. Skip report; go straight to slideshow Like a Siren’s song, drawn to the only prominent cabin in the cove, six ill-prepared “navigators“ had a deuce of a time locating the new MITA site. At fits and starts, each grassy meadow became more acceptable as we meandered westerly, and a couple hundred yards from the target cabin was the telltale worn path to bare granite. We finally accepted defeat and pulled out the GPS and coordinates, embarrassed by the gaffe. Six new and established friends set about claiming tent real estate about the beautiful grassy meadow, and surveyed the lay of the land. A NOAA forecast of “light and variable” is always one to take full advantage of, so our destination was the Roque Island paradise, northeasterly. We set off at 8:00 and had an easy crossing to the “secret” entrance of Bunker Hole, tagging Mark Island along the way. At that point, two options were considered; two of the boys opted for exploration of Halifax/Brothers, the remaining group circumnavigating Roque, with an estimated similar beach lunch gathering time. Dana’s sharp eye spotted a raccoon on a steep seaweedy cliff face, scavenging for seafood, occasionally poking out of the rockweed curtain. At other times of the trip, we would debate whether weasel-type critters were mink (favor), sea otter, or marten. Upon entering the expansive, well–protected Roque harbor, we were surprised to see so few vessels anchored-a solitary sailboat, and two motor yachts. We enjoyed a fine lunch and stroll on this mile-long, fine-sand beach, a rarity this far north. The mirror image northern beach [off limits] had similar enticing qualities, and I paddled up to an aid to navigation in the middle of Shorey Cove: What did I see?. In no hurry on this bright, sunny, calm day we meandered back to our home base for the evening routine. Day three called for possible showers in the afternoon, with a possible “sod soaker“ in the middle of the night. We were happy to split up as short-destination paddlers and island hikers for a quiet day. I was eager to check out nearby Sealand, the moniker for the community located deep in the cove easterly from camp. The topo map shows evidence of a road network, though we were flummoxed by the GPS, despite repeatedly walking back and forth over the map-designated roadway, deep into the woods. On the way back we stumbled upon such a road, mined granite to either side of a raised, overgrown path which we followed to the end, arriving at the locus of a former shoreside quarry operation. The smallish area of mining suggested that the granite harvested here was used to establish a landing zone and wharf, the latter estimated to be 20 feet tall at the then-current low tide. We suspected a larger, inland quarry, but neither the topo map, nor our bushwhack disclosed evidence of such, save for the random, rusted inch and a half cable coursing through the woods. A nearby granite-block foundation, measuring roughly 40’ x 50’ was possibly the site of a dormitory for the granite workers? In preparation for the forecasted heavy rain in the evening and overnight, we rigged Dana‘s new 9’ x 12’ sil–nylon tarp next to my woods campsite, in such a way to take advantage of the downsloping mossy floor, and the expected SW wind of the upcoming storm. We gathered there for dinner and convo, and the shelter performed supremely all night; everyone wants the link! By morning on day four the rain and high winds had diminished to drizzle/mist and negligible breeze. Our plan was to circumnavigate great Waas, clockwise, first exploring the lighthouse on Mistake. It would be overcast and breezy in the afternoon, but no deterrent to this intrepid group. We launched early enough on the outgoing tide to avoid being trapped by the seaweed wall that extends out to Middle Hardwood Island, finding the last available passage, and continued along the coast, short-detouring into Hall cove, before landing on the bar between Knight and Mistake. Access to the boardwalk that leads to the lighthouse on Mistake is difficult. Never attempt to climb the steep, slippery wooden ramp to the boathouse-no reasonable place to store boats from this approach, and an accident waiting to happen. At or near HT, we’ve parked on NW end of the island in the past, and bushwhacked to a path that leads to the boathouse. Having arrived at mid tide, D, glad to be wearing his drysuit on this damp, overcaast day, waded to the small slot adjacent to the boathouse, easterly, and negotiated his way to the top. All but one of the others followed. The under-dressed straggler waited for the tide to drop another half inch, worried that his weeny panties would get wet. All would sample some of the offerings from the boardwalk – blueberries, raspberries, and an occasional cranberry. We continued our clockwise circumnav, passing an inaccessible (tide) nearby MITA island, and agreed to avoid the larger swells in the deeper, outer, Mud Hole Channel, by crossing to Little Cape Point, then proceeding across Cape and Popplestone Coves, and around Little Pond and Red Heads, and Pond Pt., finally landing at a small pocket in the rockweedy shore. Lunches were enjoyed, followed by a short walk for a look-see of The Pond. By now, the wind had picked up from the SW, and, by degrees, we slogged to the NW tip of Beals, pit-stopping at Unnamed I, then completed the last leg, under the bridge, through Pig I. Gut, and finally, capitalizing on the well-deserved wind assist, we (6 little piggies) cried “wee-wee-wee” all the way home! Thursday, our last full day, would be a shortish paddle, anticipating an early start for Friday’s obligations. A circumnavigation of Head Harbor Island seemed appropriate; Mother Nature accommodated, with flat seas and sunny skies. I hoped to discover the cemetery on the western tip of the island, designated on the topo map. We came close to it on Tuesday, whilst hiking, but were stymied by the obvious wetlands crossing. After landing, we scouted the area designated on the topo, aided by my GPS. Puzzled by the location, in the relative wet of the lower hill, we extended our search uphill, and, at length, came across the small square cemetery with a dozen graves, a couple hundred yards away from the designated spot my GPS was relaying to me. We found nearby cellar holes and flattened, contaminated (glass, metal parts) shell mddens, evidence of ancient and more recent civilizations. We were soon about the rough waters of the SE island tip, some of us rather enjoying the sporty action that the swells/deep water to shallow/headlands offered us as a playground. R recommended a stop on Man Island, having visited earlier that week, and nobody was disappointed, as we climbed the rocky jagged mound, and lunched atop, with spectacular views. Some were eager to get back to camp to organize and pack, while others dawdled in Nature‘s splendor. Per usual, it rained heavily overnight, and abated in the morning, just enough to allow packing of the final provisions before making our way back to Jonesport Shipyard and our cars, thankful for a glorious several days in this kayakers’ paradise. Reflections: We have had great luck using Jonesport Shipyard in the past as a launch site. Overnight parking fees are very reasonable, and amenities of toilet and fee-showers are quite welcome after several days out. When possible (HT), plan to launch/land in the small cove near the parked cars, so as not to bugger up the working ramp. Though many MITA sites, including private, make no mention of LNT principles, we should all be in the habit of carrying out our own waste, as a thank you to those landowners that have graciously offered their “little bit of heaven“ to strangers. Although I brought a dry suit for possible rainy day(s), I was able to get by with my summer paddling outfit. Our group was equally divided between dry suit and summer attire during this second week of August. The >5-hour drive for most of us was rewarded by the special features of this part of the Maine coast, especially for an extended stay. Consider extending your invitations to new (to you) kayakers. You won’t be surprised that you have much in common, and will likely paddle together again. You're apt to find this waypoint helpful: N 44°30.462', W -067°33.184' Feel free to contact me for information about a trip to this area. Special thanks to MITA and the generous landowner for adding this beautiful site to the Trail.
  2. For those of you who are brand new to kayak camping, here's a link to my video that might help you organize your gear for a kayak camping trip. I hope to follow this up with more short videos, covering different aspects of the kayak camping experience. Feel free to subscribe to receive notifications of future videos. Links to some of the gear recently viewed: Rechargeable Headlamp: https://tinyurl.com/Rechargeable-Headlamp ID Badge Holder: https://tinyurl.com/38ppuhwr Muck shoes: https://tinyurl.com/muck-shoes Poop tube: https://tinyurl.com/poop-tube Thermarest sleeping pad: https://tinyurl.com/Sleep-pad Camp chair: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B091Y2JKMQ/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1 Dromedary bags: https://tinyurl.com/Dromwdary Esbit stove: https://tinyurl.com/Esbit-Stove Silnylon tarp: https://tinyurl.com/silnylon-tarp 4-person carry straps: https://tinyurl.com/carry-straps
  3. THIS EVENT IS NOW FULLY BOOKED. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE ADDED TO A WAITLIST, SEND ME A PM (private message). Level 3 trip that especially welcomes new kayak campers, and a reunion for those of us who don't see each other often enough. Here's a great opportunity for you paddlers who would like to try kayak-camping without the pesky bugs (beware of ticks!). This will be the 15th (almost) annual trip to Jewell, which has multiple campsite options and latrines. We typically have 10 or more (2016=record of 19!) paddlers, but an upper limit has not been established. The Common Adventure Model (CAM) will be adopted The SUGGESTED itinerary is as follows: THURSDAY or FRIDAY: Arrive at _____ (multiple launch site options, with each pod working out details privately or on NSPN Message Board under "trips") on Thursday or Friday, May 18 or 19, in plenty of time for a ______am launch (HT is @ 1103 and 1152, respectively). If you are new to kayak camping, you may need extra time packing your boat, so plan on arriving no later than [BIB-2H]. SATURDAY: Agenda TBD-bring your ideas for a day paddle or island activities. Prior trips have included Whaleboat/Little Whaleboat, Potts Harbor (food), Greens, Eagle, Great Diamond, geocaching, Jewell's WW1 and WW2 military installations, and general camaraderie/gourmet foods around the camp fire. SUNDAY: Back to cars via ????. If you have any questions about this trip or camping in general, Private Message (PM) me. When you can commit to join this group of friendly paddlers, please RSVP on the calendar HERE. You may be asked to add some personal info to the group's trip spreadsheet, closer to the start of the event.
  4. Some of my favorite NSPN memories have involved a group of paddlers clustered around a blazing campfire, waiting anxiously for the proper moment to dive into a freshly-prepared Spanish tortilla, a fragrant stir fry, or a steaming pot of foraged shellfish. On other occasions, I've choked down my poorly-rehydrated meal-in-a-bag while huddled around a wet, smoky fire on a cold, windy morning. In the spirit of encouraging more of the former and less of the latter, I invite you all (well, up to 8 of you) to join me in a celebration of camaraderie, camp cookery, and campcraft. Over the course of a long day, we'll work together to prepare a few memorable outdoor meals and hone our fire building, camp cooking, and other useful outdoor skills. In the morning, we'll focus on individual cooking, using the gear we've already got. We'll start the day with caffeine, delivered in as many ways as the group can come up with. We'll prepare brunch using a variety of canister stoves, twig burning stoves, and open-fire cooking, and do a show-and-tell of everyone's favorite cooking gear. We will review camp and cooking safety and hygiene and talk about a number of potential outdoor cooking techniques and how they can be adapted to a kayaking trip. After brunch we'll head out into the woods for a couple hours. We'll forage for birch bark and other dry tinders, scout for good burning wood in a variety of wetland and upland areas, hang bear bags and rig tarps, and practice some useful camp knots. Back in camp, we'll lash together some cooking tripods, process wood for fire building, learn to start fires with just a spark, and have a fire building competition. We'll cook a communal dinner over the fire, and finish the evening with a dessert baked in the coals. Sample menu (to be refined once the group's dietary demands are known) A caffeinated welcome Brunch classics, cooked individually or in small groups: eggs, bacon, breakfast sandwiches, veggie hash, blueberry pancakes. A walk in the woods Happy hour: shucked oysters, reflector oven nachos Communal dinner: paella, stir fry, kebabs, garlic bread Dessert: blueberry crisp The Celebration will be held at the private residence of an eccentric hermit in Stow, MA. There will be access to an indoor bathroom, covered outdoor patio, fine china and serving and eating utensils, and running, cold potable water. All cooking, dining, and celebrating will be done outdoors, in whatever weather nature provides us that day. Miserable weather will cancel. Mildly-unpleasant weather will simply add additional motivation to hone those tarp pitching and fire building skills. Plan to be outdoors for the entire day and evening, and working at or near ground level around muddy, hot, flaming things and people. This is a group learning experience, not a workshop, clinic, or class. Bring leather work gloves, an open mind, and share the knowledge and skills that you can. Food costs will be split evenly on the day of the event. A simulated raccoon named Jess will be in attendance. This is a dry run for what I hope will be a recurring event, although given the mid-March timeframe, a "mud run" is probably more descriptive. Round two will probably be a communal cooking pod on a club camping trip, where a number of us collaborate on some group meals. The March event may need to be rescheduled if we get late-season snow or soaking rains. Due to the logistics of trying to create a menu that accommodates everyone's allergies and dietary preferences while also incorporating a range of outdoor cooking techniques, I'm going to waitlist everyone who expresses interest for a few weeks, and then invite a group of eight that I can build a menu around. I'll try to accommodate anyone who misses out in a future offering. If you are interested in attending, please send me a private message, and include the following: - any food ALLERGIES - your food or dietary PREFERENCES - any concerns with the following potential menu items: bacon on its own, foods cooked in residual bacon grease, raw oysters on their own, shellfish, chicken, or pork chorizo (as paella ingredients), cheese - how interested you are in open-fire cooking vs. Jetboil/canister stove cooking - how interested you are in communally-prepared meals on a future group trip, vs. cooking your own food individually. - what, if any, gear, gadgets, or expertise you might want to share with the group during this event
  5. Skip report; go straight to slideshow Anyone who has been multi-day tripping with me knows well that I will try to squeeze every available minute out of the day(s), and this river and inland sea safari would be no different. The original plan called for me to meet Mari after she finished her Baxter SP hiking, but a rainy weekend had us flip-flopping the itinerary. We drove up on Sunday in the cold and wet, with my intention to treat her to an original Pat’s Pizza in Orono, but we were happy to settle for Pat’s in Yarmouth for lunch; we would savor juicy Amato’s Italians for supper! Pops was not happy with the already-been-changed Big Moose Inn/Campground reservation for a lean-to on this cold, damp, night. Luckily, an upgrade to a cozy cabin was available, and we flipped on the heat straight away. As would be the habit for the next several days, we were up at Dawn’s crack, for the long day that included a car spot at the finish line, an arduous, 2-hour drive on the Golden Road, pack and launch, and finding a suitable campsite. We were expecting to find competition on this warm mid-to-late June day, and not a little surprised to find the primo Ogden South site on Lobster Lake unoccupied. (Even more surprising was that we came across only one out of 23 river- or lake-side sites occupied during the entire trip). Having most of the day in front of us, we savored another round of Amato’s, arranged sleeping quarters, and paddled a good bit of the lake south of the point-a very stress-free day. Mari cobbled up a wonderful meal with her new cast iron skillet, over the wind protected fire ring: sautéed peppers, mushrooms, onions, and summer squash, combined with delicious mushroom ravioli. The sun lingered, but went to bed, followed by the awakening of the magical star show over the quieting waters. The cold night brought a blanket of morning fog, and I would be navigationally challenged yet again (last trip, 11 years ago HERE). At length, we located the sharply-angled Lobster stream portal to the lake and paddled onward to start our early morning entry into the Upper West Branch of the Penobscot river, accented by this dining moose; we would see two others on the trip. We would spend our lazy second day meandering down this most scenic Riverway, occasionally boosted with a 2kn current. Like a siren‘s song, we were drawn into Big Raggmuff stream, and her noisy, cascading falls, where we dunked into the amber-stained pureness, and later, warmed up by the veggie egg sandwich and sun at the adjacent site’s picnic table. We talked about the possibility of spending the night on the river; I had my sets site on Gero island, where I had spent a few nights many years ago in a lean-to. We compromised by settling into Pine Stream, the last riverside site, and a short distance from the Big Lake, and an easy jumping off (?In) point for the next day. The classic Maine campsite setup with picnic table and overhead ridgepole (tarp support) was a sentinel to this site, easily seen from ~1 mile away. Many of the lakes in northern Maine (Umbagog, Richardson, Moosehead, Chesuncook), given their orientation, are prone to dangerous conditions, with even light winds resulting in challenging waves from the miles-long fetches. We were on the water by six on day #3 and, regrettably, we were “welcomed“ to Chesuncook an hour later, with a light southerly breeze. We knew we were “in for it,” and began the long, 8 mile slog to our next stopping point on Sandy Point. Our strategy was point-to-point, taking advantage of any available lee from the wind and waves. At Cunningham Brook campsite we would encounter the only people shoreside-four men, two canoes, and two large, wind-battered tents. Without a breakfast invitation, we soldiered on, and, by degrees, nestled into Sandy Point’s broad, flat lee. Mar quickly gathered fuel for a fire and spit-spot assembled a gastronomic delight-open faced egg sandwich with avocado, hummus, sautéed onions and mushrooms, and goat cheese, all atop a slab of dense, homemade, multi-grain bread. A refreshing postprandial nap necessarily ensued, and we spent much of the day drying our gear, playing cribbage, and mostly, fretting about the consistent wind. As anyone in the position of leader/parent/more experienced knows, there comes a time when one has to either “poop, or get off the pot,“ and by 7 PM, it was that time. Camp in place, and risk an unabated wind, leaving an 8-mile paddle to the car/landing tomorrow, OR, determine that the wind had lessened enough to make slow steady progress to the next campsite, a six-mile trek, with nightfall approaching? The leader/parent, after weighing all the risks, decided to get off the pot, on the water, and trust his steadfast, yet-unnamed Mad River Explorer 17, to carry them through the quieter wind, but persistent, dead-ahead waves, to the safety of the next–closest campsite on Caribou Point, across the lake. Off we go, with one last stop at “bird turd islet” for rest and pee break, before making the crossing in diminishing light, on this longest day of the year. They only aids to navigation that we relied upon were the light spot (?house, ?big rock) across the lake, and the dark shadow of the shoreline near our intended destination. Over miles of lake, no lights were to be seen, save for the reliable stars overhead and on the horizon, the latter twinkling magically through the denser atmosphere. Upon reaching close to the shoreline, we paddled in an easterly direction, anticipating the campsite near the corner of the peninsula, before heading southerly. GAIA was at the ready, with Google Maps as a back up. Luckily, with high magnification, both Gaia and Google maps featured the detailed shoreline that brought us spot-on to Cardiser Point at 11 PM, after the 4-hour travail. The last, and 4th day of our river/lake trip was upon us, and we were quietly visited by a curious deer, meandering about our campsite. We had slept late ‘til about 6 o’clock, in no hurry to depart, and made our way to the opposite, easterly shoreline in the still-southerly breeze. On to the landing at the Museum (closed) and Ranger Station (nobody home), unload gear, wash/rinse boat, and store everything out of the way. We started the long drive to pick up my car at the launch. Not much memorable to say, except that Mar’s Prius was successful driving on the Golden Road. We creeped along the Northeast Carry Road, with numerous potholes and an occasional full-width puddle. After a long drive back to the landing, we lunched on the porch of the museum, watching the ever-stronger winds, then enjoyed a postprandial nap on the closely trimmed lawn. A quick stroll to see the moonscaped skeleton of Ripogenus Gorge, nearly lifeless following construction of the dam that raised the water level 40 feet, backed up for 25 miles. Back on the road to our stay at Big Eddy Campground, a lovely spot, where fishers, as if in a carnival ride, were either paddling, drifting, or anchored in these oddly-shaped boats, apparently enjoying themselves, despite any evidence of fishing success. We bathed in the chily eddy, the 2kn current pushing us upstream. We retired in the POC #1 cabin-double bunk for me, overhead single empty, and Mari on the unpadded porch floor, of course! Most of Day#5 was spent on the Lower West Branch, launching from the power generating station in a raft provided by Northern Outdoors. Absolute bliss, except to say that some old man in a ?drysuit (claimed to be a sea kayaker) was tossed from his overturned raft in a Class V rapid, and rescued a furlong downstream, unharmed. Side note: Always eager to determine if/how we are connected, I generally probe people about their background. As it turns out, our rafting Guide is the daughter of a woman who was a friend in my high school class! We had a good chat about Casco Bay, where she has sea kayak guided in the past. What is her favorite island? Jewell, of course! I was sad to leave Margreta after supper that day, but also eager to get back to Susie and the kitties, then take a load off (I had pushed my luck to the brink!). Mar would spend the night at Big Moose Campground, and complete a solo, CCW loop of Katahdin that included Hamlin and Baxter peaks, on yet another glorious day. REFLECTIONS: -If you incorporate plans to paddle a big lake like Chesuncook on a CANOE trip, be aware of the inherent dangers, and consider alternate plans that may include a layover day or 2, and nav skills that might allow a night paddle, in the right conditions. -Mossies and black flies are around in great numbers, dawn and dusk. Wear pants and long-sleeved shirts, and a cheapo, not vintage, head net. -Consider bringing a smallish cooler-ours lasted a full 3 days with a frozen 6L dromedary inside. -Strive to be on the water early, which leaves you time to “chill” (by the fire) at the end of the day. -Shuttle service is tough to secure. Only 1 outfitter was willing to provide a 2-part, person/gear-only shuttle from Greenville, quoted @ $415. Additional fees for any trip include road entry/access to North Maine Woods, and camping. -I can’t recommend the best time to visit this beautiful region, but can say I’ve had supreme luck before July, after Labor Day. -Don’t rely on the NFCT Map #11 for detailed navigation. The “North” symbol, askew, if assumed magnetic, is off by 10°, westerly; the declination here is 16° W, not 15° (on map). Also, no Lat/Long reference marks! I’m going to blame the map for my screw-up on Lobster Lake! -Overview of our paddling/rafting/climbing area:
  6. Join us on Squam Lake for a welcoming introduction to kayak camping. If you've never kayak camped before, or are just getting started, you're about to discover some of the most enjoyable parts of the sea kayaking experience. With a sea kayak, you've got room to bring along plenty of gear, your favorite foods and creature comforts, and none of it has to go on your back. Rather than hurry back to shore to beat rush hour traffic, you can linger on the water, relax on the beach before dinner, and then enjoy an evening of camaraderie around a crackling campfire before retiring to a well-pitched tent or hammock to dream of the next day's adventures. This overnight trip is open to and intended for any NSPN member who is comfortable in L2 paddling conditions and has camping and paddling equipment suitable for early May temperatures in New Hampshire. The average overnight low is 37 degrees, but it has dipped as low as 22 in early May in Holderness. Temps on the lake often feel colder than on land, and Squam gets wind funneled down from the nearby mountain ranges. On the plus side, the tides are lower, and there are fewer sharks and jellyfish. You do not need prior kayak camping experience, although you should have some familiarity with your camping gear. This is only a single night trip, and our camping destination is only a few short miles from the car, but we will be approaching this trip as if it was a much longer journey. We'll be taking the long way to camp both days, stopping for lunch on intermediate islands to cook hot meals, evaluate potential camping sites based on weather and resources, and go for short hikes. Squam Lake has a maze of islands, and we'll take turns refining our navigation skills as we island hop our way to and from camp in our loaded boats. Once in camp, we'll gather firewood, rig some tarps, and set up a communal eating and social space. We'll hang bear bags, raccoon-proof our boats and tents, and practice fire building. We'll explore the finer details of dish washing, camp hygiene, WAG-bags, and Leave No Trace principles. We'll set up our tents and do a bit of show-and-tell and talk about our gear choices for the trip. I'll set up a camping hammock and tarp as a demonstration and an opportunity to lounge. We'll cook our dinners individually, and then cook a group dessert over the campfire while we tell stories and plan future adventures. In the morning, after some hot coffee and breakfast by the fire and a walk around the trails to warm up, we'll break camp and head back out to "sea". Again, we'll stop for a hot lunch somewhere along the way, and hopefully navigate our way back to our cars for a late afternoon return to civilization. As part of our preparation for this trip, there will be a healthy online discussion and maybe a group Zoom to talk about gear, food, and clothing choices, and to answer any questions. The anticipated cost for this trip is $25 (payable to me by Paypal), which covers your parking at the Squam Lakes Association headquarters, one night of camping, and firewood. Any excess funds will be returned in cash at the end of the trip. Once confirmed and paid, refunds will only be available if someone on the waiting list can take your spot. By applying to join this trip, you affirm that you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and agree to follow some common-sense, common-courtesy protocols (staying home if sick, notifying the group if you become sick, e.g.) to ensure the safety of the group. If you're interested in joining this trip, send me a Private Message. The number of paddlers we can accept on this trip is limited by the tent space available on the three raised tent platforms that we are required to use in our group camping site, so in your message to me, please include the following: A bit about your paddling and camping experience ("I've done a bit of backpacking, most recently in 2019, but never camped from a kayak") Details about your tent and its size ("It's a 6-person car camping tent from 1970 with a rather unique odor") Details about your sleeping system ("I have a 30 degree down bag and a foam mat") If you are planning to share a tent with someone, definitely mention that - you'll jump to the head of the class! If you are a veteran sea kayak camper who would like to help facilitate this trip, send me a PM. Feel free to ask questions here on the forum, but to join the trip, see the instructions above.
  7. What's your preferred brand/model or material for small dry bags? I've been using a small polyurethane coated-nylon dry sack for my first aid supplies and other day-hatch essentials. Recently filled them with water and noticed lots of pinhole leaks. My clear PVC dry bags are bombproof, but they don't slide well past each other when packing for camping. Favorite alternatives?
  8. until
    Level 3 trip that especially welcomes new kayak campers, and a reunion for those of us who don't see each other often enough. Here's a great opportunity for you paddlers who would like to try kayak-camping without the pesky bugs (beware of ticks!). This will be the 14th (almost) annual trip to Jewell, which has multiple campsite options and latrines. We typically have 10 or more (2016=record of 19!) paddlers, but an upper limit has not been established. The Common Adventure Model (CAM) will be adopted The SUGGESTED itinerary is as follows: THURSDAY or FRIDAY: Arrive at _____ (multiple launch site options, with each pod working out details privately or on NSPN Message Board under "trips") on Thursday or Friday, May 19 or 20, in plenty of time for a ______am launch (HT is @ 1432 and 1531, respectively). If you are new to kayak camping, you may need extra time packing your boat, so plan on arriving no later than _______. SATURDAY: Agenda TBD-bring your ideas for a day paddle or island activities. Prior trips have included Whaleboat/Little Whaleboat, Potts Harbor (food), Greens, Eagle, Great Diamond geocaching, Jewell's WW1 and WW2 military installations, and general camaraderie/gourmet foods around the camp fire. SUNDAY: Back to cars via ????. If you would like to join this group of friendly paddlers, or have any questions about this trip or camping in general, Private Message (PM) me. When you can commit, please RSVP on the calendar and add your info to the group's trip spreadsheet, closer to the start of the event. When the calendar roster is full, please send me a PM if you would like to be included on the waitlist. gary
  9. Skip report; go straight to SLIDESHOW Having done a number of multi-day kayaking trips, I thought it would be fun to invite others for a shorter version in Casco bay. The plan was to spend two nights at one island, move camp, and tent on a different island for two more nights. Jewell is a favorite of mine, and would be the first stage of the two-part trip. Despite memories of my last time parking HERE @ Cousins Island back in 2013, five of us gathered at Sandy Point Beach for a 10 AM lunch. The tide schedule was optimal for this adventure, and we launched under sunny skies and calm seas. Within 10 minutes we were hailed by a gentleman comadeering an oyster farm float. Turns out this captain is a 5-star kayaker, and, without knowing any of us, repeated “I am better than you.“ We readily accepted his declaration, as well as not one, but two dozen fresh oysters on ice. Thank you very much, Thomas, of Madeline Point Oyster Farms. We meandered over to ‘Lil Chebeague, had a look-see, and enjoyed a fine repast. Post-lunch, under blue sky and flat (in contrast to the next day’s paddle) seas, we bee-lined to S. Cliff and were soon crossing the bar (Rule of thumb for crossing the bar: any time above half tide) to Jewell’s Cocktail Cove. Tent sites were claimed quickly at the Twin Oaks site, and most were anxious to get down to the business of the day, dispatching fresh oysters, which was done with aplomb by four of the five campers. Apparently, fresh oysters are to be eaten until they are gone, as it makes no sense to “save some for later.“ Kyle and Vytas, always the adventurers, arrived @ dusk with 1/2 cord of firewood, camped @ #2 site, and dashed back home in the morning to go to work! Friday’s plan was to rendezvous with paddler #6, who was planning to launch from Cousins. Everything seemed favorable to meet him on Crow, until the forecast changed from “light and variable” to “11 -14, with gusts to 20.” We launched at 10 from the Cove, and were pleased to see that the wind was not yet up as we paddled to Eagle, via Brown Cow Ledges. Lunch and a loop hike to southern Eagle was enough of a delay for Mother Nature to bring in some heavy wind from the east, so we were pushed to the gap between Bates and Ministerial to consider our next step for meeting Ben, whom we had communicated with earlier that morning. Yong found him on his cell, and he had not launched, so a rendezvous at Crow was not likely to happen, given the weather and time circumstances. The group consensus was for Ben to make the short paddle to a nearby island to solo camp, while we tried to figure out how to get back “home.“ Rather than face the often-dicey waters north of Jewell, with its long fetch to the open sea, we decided to paddle the lee side of Cliff, then paddle directly into the easterly wind to Jewel, thinking that Jewel might block some of the wave action, but not the wind. Just before making the crossing we met SMSKN’s John and Greg, campers @ south Jewell, awaiting transport back to Jewell, as they reported having no luck paddling our intended route, thwarted by the strong wind. Nonetheless, our blood was up, and we decided to make a go of it. The tight cluster of five paddlers made slow and steady progress across the gap, and, at length, nestled into the warm arms of the Cove. Yong and I offered our never-used, always-carried repair kits to effect repairs of boat (leaking crack-Dana) and drysuit (torn neck gasket-Debra). We later enjoyed meals by the fire, and late into the night, when most had retired, Dan, with his new aluminum Dutch oven, delivered piping hot cinnamon buns close to midnight, apologizing for the burnt bottoms. I had not even noticed, having dispatched the bun in a (almost) single bite. Many of my saved waypoints on trips like this are dining out options, and Day #3, moving day, would (not) be a nav exercise to find the restaurant at Dolphin Point Marina. No problem, as we would just follow our noses through the bumpy waters around the Brown Cow, western side of Eagle, and straight shot to the restaurant, parking at the southern tip of the expansive grassy field. After delicious meals, most took the scenic route to the Whaleboats, while I paddled straight-line to our Base Camp for the next two days, to meet Ben, who likely had already suffered enough alone time. Camp #2 was spectacular, with many options to disperse tents, and the most supreme feature: the wind–protected western gathering spot with a seashell beach, sunsets, and a low-tide bar to the adjoining western island. Dan, ever the camp chef, rigged an overhanging davit to hang his grill and Dutch oven, results of which produced toasted cheesy breadsticks and POPCORN, respectively, among other delicacies. A few scavenged mussels were served as appetizers. Seems the local raccoons got “wind” of the party, and Dan woke up to empty food hatches and incriminating paw prints. Others noticed hatches with evidence of foiled illegal entry attempts. STORE YOUR FOOD IN YOUR TENT VESTIBULE @ NIGHT. Day #4 was cloudy and calm, and we proceeded northerly along the chain of islands, stopping at a few MCHT sites, finding time for this modified cornhole game, prize going to Ben for finding the 50-point hole. Along the way back to camp, Yong and Ben ventured across the bay to Harpswell, with dim hopes that a shoreside seafood shack would be open on this holiday weekend; it was not. We repeated the nightly beach festival and stowed excess prime oak firewood for the next guests. The IPD holiday was warm and sunny, and we mosied back to the cars, spending much of the time with on-water nav practice. Ben led the tour of his nite #1 campsite, the last stop before ending our journey @ Sandy Point, memories sated and tires inflated. Reflections: -If you are “from away,” don’t bother with the online resource wardensreport.com. Call direct for a fire permit 207.827.1800 -Food stored in your kayak overnite may result in damaged hatch covers and diminished food supply. Make room in your vestibule. -Fresh oysters should be dispatched anon; leave no trace but shells. -For successful parking @ Cousins, forward your float plan to the Yarmouth Harbormaster. -Aluminum Dutch ovens are all the rage for kayak camping. -After discarding the high and low, the average liquid consumption for the other paddlers ~2.5L/day
  10. Skip report; go straight to slideshow As the summer fades, so too, do my memories of previous trips to the beautiful Saco River: five decades ago with family and friends, the memorable highlight being the loss of my buddy Ricky‘s bathing suit, him running up the beach trying to cover up his now-public “privates”; a trip with friends in high school that involved a shuttle on my Kawasaki 500; two decades ago with our local Boy Scout Troop, me paddling in the stern, my two boys lazing up front. It was uncharacteristic of me to plan a paddling trip with my son, on only 2 days notice. I typically lay out all my gear on a bedsheet on the garage floor, at least a week before an upcoming trip. Because the weatherwoman had forecast a bluebird sky, crisp fall Saturday, I decided what the heck, we could do this. With not a little cajoling, we cobbled together enough food and gear for an overnight trip on the river. We started our two-hour drive shortly after N got home from work, and arrived early enough (dusk) at the Saco Pines Campground to set up our tent, then hastened to our destination that was the reason for our Friday tenting-Flatbread Pizza in North Conway. We had hoped to be on the water by 8 o’clock on Saturday, but my previous phone call to the office required us to check in at 8:45 for registration. The unforeseen (by me, anyway) SNAFU of the ever-popular Fryeburg fair was disconcerting. Because of the snail-paced traffic along the Fair main drag (route 302), the proprietor at the canoe livery was not willing to have someone drop us off at Walker’s Bridge; instead, we had to shorten the trip by 10 miles, by launching at the more upstream location of “The Landing“. We crept most of the 5 mile, one-hour trip to the Landing, parking-lot hawkers flagging fair goers with enticements of coffee/donuts, fire ring, and porta potty. We quickly loaded the canoe, jumped in, and were finally on the water at 1120. A small party of eight with three canoes were the only people we would see on the river during the next two days. We made good time along the meandering river, averaging 3 kn, assisted by a <2 kn current along this upper portion of the trip. Long sandy beaches were plentiful, and account for the summertime popularity of this section. The depth of the water averaged less than 1 foot on our first day (gage height =2.5’; flow~250 cfs); we scraped bottom only a few times. The trip up to Walker’s bridge was pleasantly uneventful. The fall colors, though not brilliant, were soothingly reflected in the flat water. Upon nearing Walker’s rips, we landed at the infamous skinny dipping beach, to survey potential tent spots. There were many, though the former lean-to of my youth had disappeared. We climbed up the granite bridge trestle to scout out the short rapid, and agreed that either extreme river left or right were the only options, and decided that the near, more active left passage would be more fun. Given the early hour and our respectable paddling pace, we chatted about extending the trip by continuing paddling beyond the pre-planned take-out of Brownfield, to camp a few miles beyond, leaving an approximately 12-mile trip for Sunday. I phoned Saco Bound, and Laura agreed to our request for a pick up in Hiram at 1415 on Sunday. We were quickly back on the water and happy to recover from the disappointing float plan from earlier that morning. We took a 10-minute break to harvest some dried firewood from fallen trees, the 8-foot sections neatly and evenly balanced on the gunnels. We had decided that 6:00 would be the cut-off time for finding a beach-side camp, and within a few miles beyond the Brownfield bridge we landed at a supreme site. N Got busy sawing the firewood, while I prepared the evening repast on a conveniently-placed large stump. We savored the warming meal and fire, hoping to elevate our core temperature to prepare for the cold night ahead. We dropped our knackered heads on the pillow at 9:15 and slept soundly in our cozy tent. Day 1 track My watch thermometer read 28.8 F at 0700 the next morning, and we shook off the frosty flakes from the tent and fly, on the water by 7:40. Within a short time we sited a small group of five deer at the waters edge and sat stock–still as we floated closer. Long stares from the wild animals finally resulted in a single loud snort (Who decides to make that call?) and a quick departure. Of course a photo attempt bombed, the creatures too far away, as was the case the day before, when a single deer crossed the river in front of us. The section of river beyond the Brownfield bridge is a bit deeper, slower, and forested, though no less beautiful, with occasional high sandy banks. There are fewer camping beaches, and many are “posted”. Because of our decent pace (N at the stern with his kayak paddle), we took a few short diversions – one, a clockwise loop around and oxbow that dead-ended, the other a quick duck into a granite-lined culvert (see track, day 2). We arrived at the Hiram take out a few hours before the designated pick up time. We had hoped to find a café serving a warm breakfast; Alas, no such luck in this sleepy hamlet. We toured the cemetery, searching for the top three unique names; Thankful, Freedom, and Ephraim were the winners. Dan arrived early and shuttled us back to our car. We loaded, then made haste for Flatbread again, relieved that we had not filled up at an imaginary café! Day 2 track
  11. Skip report, go straight to slideshow Tide schedule (E. Boothbay) Mon, 8.5: LT-0904 HT-1521 Tues, 8.6: LT-1000 HT-1617 Wed, 8.7: LT-1055 HT-1715 Th, 8.8: LT-1154 HT-1814 Susie had given me marching orders to make room for her annual Girls’ Week. Of course I complied and schemed up something that involved sea kayaking. I had invited a bunch of my buddies, but Dan was the only one who could make it. As time goes by, (and it does, in my seventh decade) I often wonder “Will this be the last time that I “______“ (fill in the blank: back-country ski, scuba dive, sea safari, post a trip report). Through the clear lens of the retrospectoscope it is obvious, but we rarely know in the present, that this is the last time. I supposed that it might be my last safari, as I expected this trip to finish “connecting most of the dots” from Kittery to Eastport. G's paddlelog.pdf We had picked a very nice weather window, and rendezvoused at Wiscasset Town Landing around noon, to spot a car. The line @ Red’s was >1hr; better luck on the way home? We doubled up and drove 20 minutes to the Waldoboro Public landing. We were on the water by 1310 and floated lazily down the flat, tidal Medomack River, two orange kayaks containing two happy paddlers. Very little current, a few hours before high tide, as we marveled at the undeveloped shoreline for most of the way. On this bright, sunny day we took a shady rest at a small promontory, complete with bench, and nearby trails to some ?preserve. We meandered unhurriedly toward our first night’s destination, and came upon a small sailboat off its mooring, knocking against the shore. We paddled on, but as someone who has more than once had a sailboat (and kayak!) adrift, we agreed to circle back and do a rescue and tow. Easy to pull her off the rocks, harder still to attach her to the nearest vinyl mooring ball. We tried hailing the home nearby, the only respone a bark. We figured they could sort it out, and paddled on. Crow Island is to Muscongus as Hells Half-Acre is to Stonington, a crowd (hopefully not tonight!) favorite. Visions of Troop 88 saturating the island quickly dissolved, as we happily saw two adult kayakers emerge from the island woods, the only residents. Mark and Red from Amesbury, Massachusetts were trying their hand at kayak camping, having launched from nearby Round Pond. Dan had a gut feeling that he had met these two before, and in fact, they had attended one of the recent NSPN holiday parties! Our request for permission to camp was granted, as the island has two separated group campsites, and I was certain that they had offered us the premier one. Boats were unloaded, tents set up, and preparations for the evening repast commenced. Dan was game for trying a famous Amato's sandwich, and I had picked him up two (tonight’s supper and tomorrow’s lunch; ditto me) at the Portland store on my way by that morning. The overhead squawking as we supped was very familiar to me, as similar birds at my house are constantly entertaining me. I was happy to be enlightened by Dan that these were “sharpies“-sharp-shinned hawks, a whole family nesting above us. At twilight we pored over charts in preparation for tomorrow’s long day. Dan tried to convince me that the decimal degree scale on his laminated charts was the wave of the future, and at the same time I felt my leg being pulled. Paddle track Day1(8.4M): here We hoped to be around the “danger area” of Pemaquid point early, and by taking advantage of an outgoing tide (LT=0950), we were upright @ 5am, and launched @ the pre-planned 6am target. The water was glassy, and Dan almost lost his head in disbelief. No worries-he had 2 extra lobes in this reflection. A stop at ____ I., our alternate camp for the previous nite, made us thankful; we had a deuce of a time navigating the rock/seaweed landing zone. Beyond that, two nice tent platforms, one western cliffside, and raspberry bushes aplenty. Thank you, private owner, for including this on the MIT! Back in the boats, and soon bewildered that we had covered enough ground (water) to be crossing into New Hampshire already! Houses atop steep rocky shoreline were our beacons for the next few miles to Pemaquid Point. The slight breeze (2-4kn) was much less than the point forecast of 8-10; what would we face after rounding the lighthouse? Not much-just more glass. Conditions were ideal for extending the trip westerly, a 1.5M open-water crossing to the Thrumcaps. I was a bit “at sea” that my 240°M course didn’t seem to get us closer after our ½ hour paddle. The highly visible, and appropriately named White Islands had the lure of a siren, but Dan could see the error of my ways (off), woke me from my trance, and steered me to the 2 nearby islands within spitting distance. We wandered up the Thread of Life, a sometimes-lively trip, but dead quiet this time. We stopped at the S. Bristol public launch, climbed up to the picnic area nearby, and feasted on still-fresh, day-old Italians. A quick leg stretch to the drawbridge and back to the boats, with only a 2+M trek to our camp, a favorable tide assist upriver. Fort I. is to Damariscotta River as Crow is to Muscongus, and we shot through the narrows to the N landing zone. Teenagers were coming and going in various John boats, though this was no Scout Troop, rather, locals out for a few fun nights of camping. Again, plenty of room to share quarters, and we pitched tents at the grassy, breezy, flat, southern promenade. I managed a cat-nap, just before the music started, a “moldy oldie” to appease this member of our duo. The “yutes” were respectful as twilight approached, with dimming of the music, and focus on the campfire. The next day’s (Wed) forecast called for cloudy skies, with increasing chances of showers late, lasting into Thursday. Would Dan mind if we shortened our trip and sretched out Wednesday? Quickly “No” as he pondered being stuck with me under a tarp in the pouring rain @ Ram I., waiting until noon before heading up the Sheepscot! Day2 track (18.8M): here Fog is to be expected any time along the Coast this time of year, and we were not surprised to wake up to it on the last morning. We took advantage of the max ebb, and shot through the narrows @ 0800, averaging 4+kn before sidling up to Linekin Neck. A few minor foggy crossings before entering Linekin Bay, then to Boothbay Harbor Public Landing, where we hitched the horses to a float. I searched for a bakery, without luck, and settled for a delicious slice at Pier Pizza, then one more. Dan was still digesting his triple D (double-dose dinner) from Fort, and opted out. We strolled back to the boats and were off by 1215, making our way to Ram, through Townsend Gut. We surveyed the tenting options, enjoyed a snack, and launched into the Sheepscot, taking advantage of the last 1.5h of max flood. Both water and paddlers were confused at the confluence of the Back and Sheepscot Rivers, opposite Fort Edgecomb. A nearby cove is named “The Eddy” on the chart. We landed, double-kayaked back to Waldoboro, and headed our separate ways (until a reunion shortly thereafter, after crossing into Damariscotta, where paddles exchanged hands). Dan was driving south when the thunderstorms hit, 15 minutes after leaving Wiscasset. Where do you suppose I was (with umbrella, napkin pile, and smile on my face)? Track Day3 (20.8M): here REFLECTIONS: -Thank you MITA for providing sleeping accommodations! -If you want a great paddling partner, invite Dan. Great sense of humor, savvy nav skills, expert camper/outdoorsman, and easy-going. Perhaps this was NOT my last sea safari! -Be prepared for implementation of the decimal-degree wave coming your way; 0.01°=0.6M😜 -A one-way paddle lets you enjoy double the coastline. Consider different options besides car spotting to make this possible, including a bus ride. The $12, 3:10 from Wiscasset to Waldoboro was an option for this trip. -Local officials are very receptive to grant permission for overnight parking. Police and Harbor Master are best avenues. -Tidal advantages are important considerations when paddling big coastal rivers-plan accordingly. -Amato's Italian sandwiches take the guessing out of what food to pack. Day1 lunch or supper and Day2 lunch can be savored, thanks to the preserving qualities of their famous sour pickles!
  12. Another late post from Sept 2018. Looking to generate enthusiasm for more multi-day trips in 2019. Canoe or Kayak its all good. This was a 5 night trip threading about 44 miles flat water. For those unfamiliar, BWAC is a huge expanse of lakes covering thousands of square miles in the Superior National Forest. It is part of the same geography as Quetico on the Canadian side which is even larger. With a few exceptions most of these lakes are for paddle craft only, you can't even hoist a sail. Overall this was a wonderful experience and I have an renewed interest similar areas such as Quetico, French River, Algonquin, and Killarney. If you choose to enter the BWCA be ready for primitive camping and you will need some navigation sense. Be certain talk to outfitters and plan accordingly because once your out there you are really on your own. For example we saw many paddlers in the lakes near entry points, but once we penetrated 2 portages inward, we saw nobody. We took up 2 campsites during our paddles and touched 7 or more lakes. For meals we packed provisions and also caught walleye. Several of these days included strenuous portages due to the load which included 3 Duluth packs and the Kevlar canoe.... about 140 pounds of gear (a micro-light load for 2 men for 6 days). My brother and I encountered significant winds on the several days which caused us to hug one shore or the other. By the third evening all was still and the lakes turned to glass. We did have rain on two mornings which we used as an excuse to sleep until we got hungry. We didn't' see any moose during the 6 days but water fowl, bald eagles, and hungry little critters are every where. We even had a mink come by and take a fish right in front of us. My brother saw a wolf on the last day. https://flic.kr/s/aHsmrZyivE
  13. I failed to post my paddle excursion to Allagash ME in Aug 2018. Looking to generate enthusiasm for more multi-day trips in 2019. Canoe or Kayak its all good. This was a 3 night trip covering about 45 miles of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW). This was a low-skill paddle which almost anyone could complete if you scale your miles to match your fitness. This time of year the rapids were warm, shallow and short and it was easy to stay out of trouble, and since you're basically a bead on a string, you really can't get lost. Also the forest rangers monitor your progress which is good but occasionally this detracts from the wilderness feel. Due to low water below the falls the outfitter had proposed an upstream drop with a recovery at Michaud Farms. We also considered starting nearer Chase Rapids, but neither of us had been in whitewater recently (or paddled together) and we didn't want to dump in the first quarter mile. We chose to deal with the shallows and establish the St John as the exit, so our hosts dropped us on Umsaskis Lake near the road crossing. We explored the still water of Umsaskis for a couple of hours before aiming down stream. Umsaskis Lake, Long Lake, and Harvey comprise about 8 miles of flat water before the Long Lake Dam where you portage into moving water. We camped at Sweeny Brook about about 2 miles below LLD. Total of about 12 miles which included a few exploratory detours. We saw two moose that day, the first standing mid-stream at the camp. We paddled up on a Lynx just before lunch near the Hosea B campsite on the second day and then proceeded into Round Pond. Round Pond is a large and beautiful body of water and it would be a great place to spend a few nights. We ended up camping at Cunliffe Depot which was quit far beyond our goal because the original target(s) was occupied. It was about a 20 mile day but we had moving water much of that time. The third night was just past Allagash Falls at Big Brook South after a short 8 mile day. We did the standard 3 pass portage around the drop...there was really no hurry...and we enjoyed exploring the moonscape just below. In the morning we saw a cow and her calf until they spotted us and splash-off into the woods. The last part of the float included some wading due to low water which we had expected. In most cases the canoe floated-over once we stepped out of the boat. https://www.flickr.com/gp/rrb-precat/3V233B https://www.maine.gov/dacf/parksearch/PropertyGuides/PDF_GUIDE/aww-guide.pdf
  14. Skip report-go straight to slideshow. This would be my sixth visit to Umbagog, and second time as organizer for an NSPN long weekend of kayak camping. We happened to, by chance, pick peak foliage weekend, which was spectacular, as was the company. We gathered in dribs and drabs at the spacious public boat ramp in Errol, above the dam. Our destination was a remote group site on the eastern shore, a 5+ mile paddle from the ramp. We would paddle much of the way against the barely-moving Androscoggin River. Despite the (false) advertising, our hopes of seeing a moose were dashed, though I suspected our best chances were along this section of the trip. (I’ve never seen a moose on the Lake or River!) About half of the group decided to peel off to explore a few of the remote sites at the Magalloway/Umbagog/Androscoggin confluence. This marshy area for many years was the site of a nesting bald eagle pair, and was a big attraction when I canoe-camped with the boys here some 25 years ago. Alas, the tall, dead pine tree succumbed to gravity, and is only a fond memory. We made a beeline to Pine point, then a short paddle across the mouth of the Rapid River to our northerly-facing campsite in the woods. The landing zone was not a little dicey, but we managed to haul the boats and set up our multiple tents and tarps, our little village for three nights of camping bliss. Night time falls early this time of year, but we were well-prepared with a roaring blaze around the stone fire pit, a perfect source for grilling up asparagus, pork, bratworst, and tall tales. Some were worried about staying warm during the projected cool temps (one claimed temps in the low to mid 30s overnight), but, by morning, ALL campers were accounted for. Saturday was a lovely day for exploring the Rapid River, so we kayaked around the corner and moseyed up the river, only as far as where the rapids started, where some played in the Class II. Here we stowed the boats, enjoyed snacks, and proceeded up river along the path and Carry Road. Occasional signs and symbols attached to trees signaled short paths to the river, all with spectacular views, the favorite with open, flat rocky ledges and bright sunshine. About half the crew decided to turn back after a nice stroll, while the few remaining journeyed as far as Pond in the River, where hints of civilization included scattered cottages, pick up trucks, and docile guard dogs. I hoped to recognize a cottage that resembled anything from Louise Dickinson Rich’s book “We Took to the Woods”, but was stymied. We turned back after stopping to look at what remained of “the Alligator”, scattered metal parts of a mechanized thingamajig to regulate log flows into the river. Our jerry-rigged combination of three separate tarps kept any rain at bay, and, for a second night we enjoyed another feast, campfire, and camaraderie. Sunday started off lazy and continued, as we bushwhacked to a more coveted group tent site on the southern-facing portion of the peninsula-fingers crossed for securing this for next year! Three departed early for home and other–worldly commitments. Some chose to continue the low-key day by paddling close to the shoreline, in and out of coves, snapping photos of beautiful foliage, while others did a longer, clockwise route of the Lake’s upper half, dealing with some moderate northwest winds. By the third night we were completely accustomed to the gourmet offerings, fire, and friends, so we repeated. Monday morning arrived, and we had had nothing more than a rare sprinkle over the weekend. We left in groups of two, four, and two, at separate intervals, and made our way back to the cars and home, most of us drawn into the parking lot at Errol’s LL Cote (? Northwoods version of L.L. Bean), to find the latest gadget/gear. Thanks to all who came out to play and enjoy Mother Nature’s finery!
  15. Seven of us enjoyed a weekend of paddling, hiking, dining, and camping on Moon Island in Squam Lake. We launched under sunny skies from the Squam Lakes Association in Holderness, NH, and paddled to Moon, where we set up camp and then set out for an afternoon exploration of the islands and coves to the south. Cocktail hour in the sun by the water's edge transitioned to our traditional potluck dinner and dessert and conversations around a roaring fire. On Saturday we all paddled north to visit the outdoor chapel at Church Island, and then half of the group hiked up the Rattlesnakes for lunch and views, while the rest of us explored the NE end of the lake. The SW wind picked up in the afternoon, and both groups had a sporty paddle back to camp, where more food, fire, and fellowship ensued. A few of us even pried ourselves away from the campfire for a moonlight paddle under the starry sky. We woke on Sunday to dropping temperatures and building SW wind, and decided to head back to the cars after breakfast. In our final 5 minutes of paddling before turning into the shelter of Piper Cove, the winds ratcheted up another few notches, and we all got one final thrill before ending our trip and heading back home. These kayak camping trips are absolutely my favorite part of the NSPN experience, and I'd love to see more members join us at Squam or on other beginner-friendly overnight trips in 2019. If there are things that held you back from camping with NSPN this year (too cold, can't take time off work, not sure if you have the right gear, e.g.), I'd really like to hear from you (you can send me a PM or discuss it here). For next year, we're aiming for a Saturday/Sunday trip on Columbus Day weekend, with an option to stay over until Monday, so that nobody has to take time off of work. There's also talk about scheduling some early and late summer trips for people who aren't comfortable with "shoulder-season" camping weather. Come join us!
  16. Skip report; go straight to slideshow. A 4:30 AM start through three hours of hard-driving rain was an inauspicious start to this trek to the far North. Even with very short driving breaks, I met up with Yong in Tadoussac around 2 o’clock, doubled up the kayaks, and drove another hour and a quarter to Sainte-Rose-du-Nord. We would start our river safari the following morning. Most of this group of nine paddlers got acquainted over a fine repast at Rose Café, after which we dispersed to our various overnight lodgings of tents, bed-and-breakfasts, and local hostel, the latter of which served up a fine musical display by a talented young man. Day 1: Sunday morning’s 8 AM launch time was delayed slightly by hot-out-of-the-oven delicious pastries. We left the harbor and northern shore to explore the southern side, our destination Baie Eternite, an uneventful 14.3M mile paddle under sunny, muggy conditions. We enjoyed lunch at the empty Anse du Gros Ruisseau campsite 10-20k south west winds were predicted over the VHF, but never materialized. Information from the VHF continued to be wrong on ensuing days, and we relied heavily on Amy’s phone weather app, including radar. We landed at our campsite at the lower half of the tide cycle, and paid for it dearly, as we slipped, sunk, and plopped (Pam) in the plaster-like mud. The campsite was otherwise supreme, with six well-spaced tent platforms and a picnic table, completed with our added awning. Day 2: The tarp was most appreciated early the next morning, as heavy showers pestered us from 5 AM to 10 AM. Amy’s radar promised a 2- hour weather window, so we did the skedaddle at 10 AM, with careful consideration of potential bail out locations (Slim Pickens along this steep-sided [>1000' height], deep [>600’] fjord). We stopped for a quick snack/bio break at the deserted Anse de Tabatiere campground, before eventually crossing to the northern shore. Before our scheduled lunch stop at the halfway point of Anse de Roche, we were surprised by a small pod of belugas swimming near us, an immature dark-colored torpedo passing just beneath my boat. Of course, no pictures, but several witnesses. We took cover under the fine pavilion at the pier, filled our tummies, then paddled on. Again, we never saw the forecasted 10-20 (Gusts up to 35 in squalls), but were quite startled by a solid wall of approaching rain behind us, within 10 minutes of our next campsite at Anse a’ Tanis (des islets Rouge). We paddled “with intention“ and the clouds quickly emptied out, as the signature Quebec flag and pole welcomed us to a dining pavilion structure (a perfect location to later pitch my 2 x 7‘ tent, sans fly) and 5 tent platforms. By mid-afternoon, there was enough sun to partially dry out the wet gear, then gather on the ledges by the river to chat and relax. Near-complete track Day 2 (14.7M) Day 3: A light drizzle greeted us the next morning, forcing a wet and slippery boat loading. Intermittent showers were forecast again, with the promise of clearing by early evening. We paddled without haste, sometimes breaking (unintentionally) into separate pods, fascinated by different geological displays under clearing skies, to Pointe a Passe- Pierre campground. The rocky, seaweedy, first potential landing site thwarted us, and we settled on two separate landings on the other, eastern side of the point. Brent and I thought otherwise of climbing up the rocky shore to the numerous tent platforms, he settling on the nearest “islet” towards the river (later coined Brentwood), and I, determined to be as close to the river as possible, pitched my tent far out on the rocky point (later dubbed Yorktown by others). Mossies were trifling, as we watched the sun set, at our shoreside gathering spot on the point. Hours later, an obnoxious cruise ship interrupted many of our snoozes in the middle of deep slumber, a stark intruder to this wilderness-like setting. Track Day 3 (9.7M) Day 4: An early morning hike before the 10 AM BIB was a delicious challenge for our legs, but not stomachs-a steep climb with rewards of bountiful blueberries (Brent picked 2 cups and ate?) and panoramic views, including Pointe a Passe-Pierre. In no hurry to finish the 6M last day, we dilly-dallied in the large bay before Tadoussac, and were treated to occasional ?Minke (I see a lot of white) sightings, Minke2Sag.mov before timing our crossing between ferries, then on to a group landing at the sandy beach around the rocky point. Autos were slowly retrieved at various parking lots, and plans for the next chapter were shared: Nova Scotia for hybrid biking and camping; Bold Coast to join another paddling group; touring Quebec City; biking near QC; whale watching up the St. Lawrence coast; other. Approximate route Day 4 (5.7M) Saguenay map download with our complete route: Saguenaytrip2018.pdf Thanks to Troad for organizing a spectacular trip-a great trek with old friends and new! REFLECTIONS -VHF forecasts were not very accurate for our time there. If you are lucky enough to get a signal (spotty for my Verizon plan), bring up a local radar plot, and carefully plan a safe route with possible bailouts (there are few), then roll the dice. There is no shame in being pinned down for another day if Mother Nature forces your hand. Depending on the potential wind direction, small, rocky projections on your chart might provide the smallest bit of shelter from wind/waves if weather comes up. -Shuttle services were provided by Ferme 5 Etoiles in Sacre Coeur (~20 mins from Tadoussac) All were pleased with their services, which may include bailout possibility at L’Anse de Roche, as they are N of there. -Water temps were warm enough (?65F) for swimming (for some), more fresh water westerly, becoming saltier and colder eastward (Tadoussac T ~ 50F [ave 57F]). Most were comfortable wearing summer apparel during this warm, muggy trip. -Water can be filtered from numerous streams indicated on your nautical chart, if you don’t want to haul it from home (I did, and hauled 7L, drank 6). -I was pleased with my hostel room in Sainte Rose du Nord. Others stayed in local B&Bs, or campground up the hill (no reservations required). -Tadoussac landing: Time your arrival here carefully. We chose flood slack-ish. Nautical charts show that the spring ebb max can throttle to the neighborhood of 7k! -Whales Oh yeah, I almost forgot! Despite what I naively thought, don’t expect to see any whales in the western Saguenay, but sightings are common close to St Lawrence, including from the Tadoussac ferry. If you have the time to hang around after the trip, take a <1/2 hour ride N of Tadoussac to watch whales from the shore, at either Whale Interpretation Center , Paradis Marin , or Mer et mode (free kayak launch), where I spied Razorbills, Gannets, Minkes, Humpback, and possible Fin. Yeah, it’s cool to say you were paddling with the whales, but the shoreside elevated views afford better vantage points to see the action.
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    DO NOT RSVP FOR THIS EVENT BEFORE READING. It’s been >10 years since I posted an NSPN trip to Umbagog, one of my first trip postings. Lets return and enjoy northern Maine paddling amongst Mother Nature’s fall splendor, while staying at a group campsite (#13; http://www.nhstateparks.org/uploads/pdf/Umbagog-Remote_Campground-Map.pdf) on Lake Umbagog (um-BAY-gog). We’ll launch on the Androscoggin River, upstream from Errol, above the dam, and mosey to our campsite: https://www.gaiagps.com/datasummary/track/8a3cb6bf-fa8e-4314-bbe9-53e53646c52d/ Lots of shoreline to explore, including the lower Rapid River. Some may wish to hike along the Rapid River all the way to Lower Richardson Lake, passing Pond in the River, the setting of Louise Dickinson Rich's classic book “We took to the Woods”. Limit 12; carpooling encouraged for this long drive. Your paypal (gyorkattdsdotnet) payment of $30 guarantees your place fireside. RSVP on the calendar AFTER submitting your payment please.
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    Level 3 trip that especially welcomes new kayak campers, and a reunion for those of us who don't see each other often enough. Here's a great opportunity for you paddlers who would like to try kayak-camping without the pesky bugs (beware of ticks!). This will be the 10th annual trip to Jewell, which has multiple campsite options and latrines. We typically have 10 or more (2016=record of 19!) paddlers, but an upper limit has not been established. The Common Adventure Model (CAM) will be adopted The SUGGESTED itinerary is as follows: FRIDAY: Arrive at _____ (multiple launch site options, with each pod working out details privately or on NSPN Message Board under "trips") on Friday, May 18, in plenty of time for a ______am launch (LT-0753). If you are new to kayak camping, you may need extra time packing your boat, so plan on arriving no later than _______. SATURDAY: Agenda TBD-bring your ideas for a day paddle or island activities (HT-). Prior trips have included Whaleboat/Little Whaleboat, Potts Harbor, Greens, Eagle, Great Diamond geocaching, Jewell's WW1 and WW2 military installations, and general camaraderie/gourmet foods around the camp fire. SUNDAY: Back to cars via ???? (LT-0944). If you would like to join this group of friendly paddlers, or have any questions about this trip or camping in general, Private Message (PM) me. When you can commit, please RSVP on the calendar and PM the following information to your specific pod organizer: -Auto color, make, model, and tag#. -Contact info, including cell, Es, H,W phone, emergency contact and permission to share with participants. gary
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    Come out and camp/paddle during the most pleasant season! Home Base will be Lobster Buoy Campsites in S. Thomaston, Maine, gathered at the Group Site ($13/head/nite; your spot will be secured when I receive your payment) or private site. Arrive Friday, leave Sunday. Paddling options abound: NE to Owls Head, SE to Muscle Ridge, or SW to Port Clyde. Typical pot-luck evening buffet (proper attire please) for those so inclined to participate. gary
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    Join us for an early fall weekend at Squam Lake, Friday morning October 6 through Sunday October 8th. Our group base camp will be on beautiful Moon Island (approximately 2 miles from the Piper Cove Put-in). Numerous areas to explore on daily paddles, with the option of a hike up one or both of the Rattlesnake Mountains (fabulous views). Still warm enough to practice rescues/rolls/bathing. Typical pot-luck gourmet buffet for those who would like to participate. Possible night paddle to Walter's Basin for dinner on Saturday, though we have enjoyed the food from tremendous chefs on night #2! Details will be posted as we get closer. Cost TBD. Our camping site limit of 12 people must be respected; once capacity has been met you will have the option to be put on a waitlist. gary
  21. Join us for an early fall weekend at Squam Lake, Friday morning October 6 through Sunday October 8th. Our group base camp will be on beautiful Moon Island (approximately 2 miles from the Piper Cove Put-in). Numerous areas to explore on daily paddles, with the option of a hike up one or both of the Rattlesnake Mountains (fabulous views). Still warm enough to practice rescues/rolls/bathing. Typical pot-luck gourmet buffet for those who would like to participate. Possible night paddle to Walter's Basin for dinner on Saturday, though we have enjoyed the food from tremendous chefs on night #2! Details will be posted as we get closer. Cost: $20/camper. Our camping site limit of 12 people must be respected; once capacity has been met you will have the option to be put on a waitlist. Your spot on the roster will be confirmed upon receipt of camping fee via paypal (yorksnhatgmaildotcom) or check (send me a Private Message for details) gary
  22. Level 3 trip that especially welcomes new kayak campers, and a reunion for those of us who don't see each other often enough. Here's a great opportunity for you paddlers who would like to try kayak-camping without the pesky bugs (beware of ticks!). This will be the 9th annual trip to Jewell, which has multiple campsite options and latrines. This trip will be cross-posted to MITA and SMSKN, so I will limit the NSPN contingent to 10, with waitlist. We typically have 10 or more (2016=record of 19!) paddlers, but an upper limit has not been established. The Common Adventure Model (CAM) will be adopted. The SUGGESTED itinerary is as follows: FRIDAY: Arrive at _____ (multiple launch site options, with each pod working out details privately or on NSPN Message Board under "trips") on Friday, May 19, in plenty of time for a 10:00am launch (HT-0553). Choose from the following launch sites, or others: Cousin's Island, Winslow Park, Dolphin Marina, and Bug Light (S. Portland). If you are new to kayak camping, you may need extra time packing your boat, so plan to arrive no later than 0900. SATURDAY: Agenda TBD-bring your ideas for a day paddle or island activities (HT-0631). Prior trips have included Whaleboat/Little Whaleboat, Potts Harbor, Greens, Eagle, Great Diamond geocaching, Jewell's WW1 and WW2 military installations, and general camaraderie/gourmet foods around the camp fire. SUNDAY: Back to cars via ???? (HT-0730). If you would like to join this group of friendly paddlers, or have any questions about this trip or camping in general, Private Message (PM) me. When you can commit, please RSVP on the calendar and PM the following information to your specific launch pod organizer: -Auto color, make, model, and tag# (If Cousins Island please register details with with Yarmouth PD). -Contact info, including cell, Es, H,W phone, emergency contact and permission to share with participants. gary
  23. Join us for a mid-summer retreat on Saddleback's MCHT cabin in the Stonington archipelago. Limit 12, with pods launching from Old Quarry or Wooden Boat School. Past day trips have included IAH (with and without circumnav), Marshall I., Green I. quarry, and meandering/exploring the other numerous islands in this kayaker's paradise, including Saddleback. Pot luck is the routine, for those wishing to participate, with special recognition/praise for 3 to contribute main suppers. Breakfasts/lunches on your own. $44 via paypal (gyorkattdsdotnet) or check (PM me) reserves your spot. Once you have paid, please RSVP on calendar event. http://www.mcht.org/saddleback/
  24. Skip report; go straight to slideshow: https://goo.gl/photos/hHjPR3ULzB4HbSBQ9 In deepest darkest winter, I E'd Rob to gauge his interest for our now-annual sea safari, August next. Rob: “What do you have in mind?” Me: “It involves a haunted house, spooky towers, and West Bus Service.” Rob: “I’m in!” We decided to delay the carefully-planned trip by a day, as Sat. called for 10-15 SW, and possible severe T-storms. After a long Sunday carpool from Hampton, we left near HT from the public ramp in Machias, and landed on a familiar shore close to dusk. The Cross I. setting is familiar to many, and would serve as Day2 launch pad to tackle the Bold Coast, weather permitting. It was, and we launched @ 7:45am to cheat a little on the tail ebb (Cutler LT=0828). We were facing a tight window, knowing we had to be through the Narrows bridge no later than 2pm, before the current would turn against us (ROT: current starts flowing southerly, 1.5h before high water @ St. John [in our case: 1536]). A 5-10NW was predicted, but is was calm for the first leg of the trip, as we paddled ~1/4 mile offshore. Rob kept trying to find the magic “escalator” outside, even though we were good for 3.5-4k for much of the first half. During the last half of the trip a SW ~10k picked up, allowing some occasional short surfs. We were closer to 5.5-6k (GPS), with an occasional 7.3 on a “downhill” ride. Working against the clock, we decided against the Sandy Cove landing, and opted for Carrying Place Cove instead, enjoying a <10min bio/lunch break before re-launching. The water was a little messy around the Quoddy Light, and of course we now faced the NW wind and associated chop up the Lubec Channel, only making 2k. Quite knackered, we slogged under the bridge @ 1400, the slow current now heading south. Another mile to our home for the night @ Sunset RV Park, where we enjoyed a “double-wide” pavilion, surrounded by multiple options for pitching our tents on the lush, expansive grassy ground. The owners and staff were very welcoming and gracious, to the tune of the loan of Joanne’s car to enjoy a nice meal at Cohill’s downtown! A stop at Monica’s Chocolates across the road topped off another long day. The original plan for Day 3 was head up to the Letang Peninsula in New Brunswick, but because of our late start, a closer MITA island became our revised destination. This ferret-like critter was determined to stow away in my front hatch, but I decided otherwise. We got a late-ish start, and made our way to Eastport, via Dudley and Treat, hugging the shore up to Dog I. Light, before peeling across to Deer Pt., where the neighborhood of “Old Sow” was becoming restless. We had some current against us as we headed to Leonardville for Customs check-in (phone call only) and lunch in the shade We would then head into the Fundy Isles (West Isles), a beautiful archipelago featured in the current edition of Adventure Kayak magazine, and spend a quiet night next to a pleasingly idle marine farm. Route for Day 3: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6933039 Day 4 woke up bright and sunny, and a mid-morning launch had us pointing for Bliss Harbor, riding the end of the ebb, before getting a push up to Letang. The fog seemed to march in with the colder waters of the early flood, so we handrailed along the southern shores of Bliss and Letang Harbors, finding these atypical formations along the latter. We suspected we might get through the arch and around the islets (dubbed “the 3 sisters’) at HT. After setting up camp, we paddled CW amongst the other islands of the preserve, briefly stopping to chat up a local, raking seaweed, to be sold to commercial outfitters by the ton; his boat could hold 5, but he would soon quit at 3. Made a 20-minute run back to the sisters at HT, but they thwarted our efforts to weave around and through these beautiful landmarks. More post-supper careful planning for next day’s trip to Eastport, before heading to bed, alarms set for 4am. Route for day 4: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6933687 Forty-eight minutes after phones chirped, at exactly HT, we pushed off in the dark, dubbing with lit compasses. Rob had better luck than me, clipping a small PFD light to his paddle pants, duct tape shielding direct light to his eyes. Fog again, but no issue finding the mini peninsula pointing E from Letang, then handrailing to the SW tip, and diagonally over to Frye I. We had confirmed the day before with locals that the very green potential bar to Letang was indeed passable, especially at this point in the cycle. We soon found ourselves “at sea” in the fog, unable to recognize what the topo was telling us. We straightened ourselves out, and paddled on to Green Pt., where we issued a Securite call for the busy Letete Passage crossing. At 1.5h after HT, we met some confused water, and current pushing us N due to a strong back eddy created by Macs and Mohawk islands. We gathered at G”S5”, safely out of the path of some close, slowed-down big boats, and crossed to the SE peninsula on Macs I. We met some good ebbing current against us, proceeding along southern Macs; a local suggested we’d have no problem getting through Little Letite, and we didn’t. Around Pendleton, then a peek to see what water was moving through the little passage behind Pendleton-little to none. The N coast of Deer I. is a bit bold in its own right, and we were treated to kinda closeups of the local wildlife before taking a lunch break at the rocky beach before Oak Head. The pushing current around Clam Cove Head sped us along to Kendall Head, then to our planned campground for Day 5. After unloading our gear and checking in at the office, a gruff, self-appointed security “captain” from the top of the beach warned us about landing, before checking in at Customs in Eastport. His call to an even gruffer park manager resulted in the appearance of the Customs Officer at our boats, soon after we decided we would NOT be staying there under any circumstances! We made our way to the designated, overcrowded Customs check-in float, finished Customs, photo-opped, then made our way back to the warm-and-friendly Sunset RV campground. (Don’t even THINK of staying elsewhere when up here-great home base for multiple day trips). A long day on the water-25+ miles/11 hours. During our nightly, next-day planning, I suggested to Rob that we might cut our trip short, given a forecast of showers, possibly heavy, and T-storms for the next few days. OK-we left our 4am alarms in the “on” position, and carefully planned the last leg of our journey to Cobscook Bay. Route for day 5: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6933249 A clear, warm, and calm day 6 made for an easy paddle along Seward Neck and across the still bay, peculiar not to be dodging any lobster pots here or anywhere, during the past several days. Though not needed now, the calculated waypoint for Denbow point was spot-on, and we mostly drifted over the quiet ripple of Reversing Falls, 1/2h before slack flood. We broke fast in a little cove nearby, then finished the paddling at Edmunds Public Launch, Rob tending boats and gear, while I hoofed it 1.5 miles to Rte 1, where the 1020 West Bus would bring me back to the car in Machias. Route for day 6: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6933040 Take home points: Bold Coast: -If the weather window is favorable (you decide), we’d suggest leaving Cross I. or Cutler no later than 1.5 and 1h, respectively, before LT at Cutler, adding some extra time to the arduous trip UP the coast. -We can’t be sure if we were close to, or “on” the escalator to Lubec; a following SW 7-10 made it difficult to read any current nuances. Some have suggested being 1/2-1M from the coast-we were < that for most of the trip. At some point you should be averaging 6K. -Have a number of bailouts programmed into your GPS. -Remember you’ve got to be under the Narrows Bridge >1.5h before HT @ St. Johns. Beyond: -Pay VERY close attention to timing of currents in this region, and be conservative re: arrival times at these potential trouble spots. We found ourselves behind schedule more than once. -Thanks to John Carmody and strangers for “local” knowledge. The best reference we could find for this area, which I obtained via local interlibrary loan: A Cruising Guide to the Bay of Fundy and the St. John River: Including Passamoquoddy Bay and the Southwestern Shore of Nova Scotia Paperback– December, 1999by Nicholas Tracy (Author), Sarah Petite (Illustrator) -Max flood at the Falls is at 2h pre-HT @ St Johns; slack is 1h after HT @ SJ, or 1/2h after HT @ Lubec (Coffin’s Neck, nearby). -As with any multi-day safari, be prepared to alter your plans on the fly. -Choose your paddling partner(s) carefully-Thanks for joining me Rob! Trip planning dialogue.docx
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