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Found 38 results

  1. 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
  2. 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!
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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 choose 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!
  6. 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!
  7. 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.
  8. until
    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.
  9. 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 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
  10. until
    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
  11. until
    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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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/
  15. 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
  16. Despite the disappointingly high number of 11th-hour cancellations and "no-shows", we managed to have the grandest time anyway. Early Friday arrivers Greg, Yong, Sandy, Christian, Marcy, Barbara and I enjoyed the always-pleasant trip to Dix, most of us opting for the 25-minute stroll around the perimeter path, before weaving around the ledges and islets in the quiet archipelago. An unanticipated octagonal "STOP" sign planted in one of the rocky ledges halted our progress to another beach break, so we opted for the direct course back to the campground, aided by the 10kn tailwind and swells. Back at the group site we were happy to find Cath, Marty, Andy, and Pat setting up for the pot-luck, which delivered, as always, an exceptional array of culinary delights, to the backdrop of a rising full moon No gill was left unfilled, and we retired early, without a fire to watch, or a worry to tend to. Day 2 was a clone of Friday, and 9 of us headed to Port Clyde to partake of Kyle's trip to the beautiful island chain SWerly. Using the lee of the islands when possible, we paddled close to Hupper, Teal, Stone, Seavey, McGee/Barter (between), and Thompson, before landing at the nice, partially protected MITA beach at _______. After lunch and sunbath we hopped over to _______ to stretch our legs during a short hike. Winds had apparently abated, so the group opted to straight-shot it to Hupper, via Shag Ledges. The smaller group of Marty, Sandy, Stu, Barbara, and Greg opted for a trip to Tenants. Word on the street is that they didn't quite make it, opting for playing in the mud (X2?) instead. Five of the group went to the "Waterworks" eatery, others dined by streetlight at camp, and still others left town. By Sunday am, all campers were sent packing by the SCA, which failed to materialize. Thanks to ALL who came out to play-I thoroughly enjoyed the time together! Link to other pix: http://www.meetup.com/Southern-Maine-Sea-Kayaking-Network/events/233766121/ gary
  17. 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 ($10/head/nite). 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. Post interest here or PM.
  18. I'm in the habit of preparing easy meals for supper while kayak camping. I use a simple (denatured) alcohol "cat" simmering stove for cooking some kind of grain (Kashi pilaf, bulghar, millet, or quinoa) that has been soaking since daybreak. I've tried various "Indian Fare" pouch meals from various vendors, combined with grain and perhaps some chopped "fresh" root vegetables. The beauty of the meal is the "one-pot" cooking, simmered for 20 minutes, without fussing. The ugly is the pouch portion-too much for me. Labels indicate 2-2.5 servings for these 10 oz. foil pouches. DOES ANYONE HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS WHERE I MIDE FIND A TASTY READY-TO-(H)EAT VEGETARIAN POUCH MEAL THAT SERVES 1? gary
  19. 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 8th annual trip to Jewell, which has 2 large side-by-side campsites and a latrine. We typically have 12-15 or so 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 20, in plenty of time for a 10:30am launch (HT-1119). If you are new to kayak camping, you may need extra time packing your boat, so plan on arriving no later than 0900. SATURDAY: Agenda TBD-bring your ideas for a day paddle or island activities (HT-1157). 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-1233). If you would like to join this group of friendly paddlers, or have any questions about this trip or camping in general, post here. When you can commit, please PM the following information to your specific pod organizer: -Auto color, make, model, and tag# (If Cousins Island please register details with Yarmouth PD). -Contact info, including cell, Es, H,W phone, emergency contact and permission to share with participants. gary
  20. Lobster Buoy Campground hosted several groups of sea kayakers for the annual event. People arrived in dribs and drabs, the earlier arrivals paddling around Sprucehead Island in decent weather. The usual pot-luck gourmet spread out along 2 tables, and the large group enjoyed comraderie around a crackling fire. Saturday started with a little breeze out of the SW, as too many (someone counted 22 kayaks on the beach) commenced launching around 9:30. The NSPN/SMSKN group had broken into 2 pods of 7 or 8 paddlers. My bunch included Mike, Sandy, Kyle, Therese, Dave, Carolyn, and Bill. We adopted the "buddy" system and started our paddle as the fog rolled in. We thought better of hand railing to Dix with some of us strangers, instead employing Mike's mapping GPS. A quick stroll about the groomed paths connected us with a resident of this small community. While helping her with various pieces of luggage for her trip to the Mainland, she made us aware of the need to support MCHT's efforts to secure neighboring High Island into the fold. We decided to stay "inside" of the weather, and paddled the northern coasts of Andrews and Hewett, sans GPS, and made our still-foggy way to Bar for lunch. We met up briefly with Ed's group at northern Flag, his contingent traveling CCW. Ed and I had chatted a bit by VHF, just to keep track of each others' whereabouts along our opposite routes. After our lunch break, we employed the 3 Stooges "spread out" advice (a central navigator is flanked to her left and right by paddlers who spread out far enough to still see the most "central" paddler) on our way to #6 Nun. Of course we were dead on after our 1/2 mile, flatwater crossing, the same result later for hitting the "target" on Sprucehead. Of course now the fog began to clear, and we enjoyed a leisurely paddle back to the now-high launch/landing spot. Reservations for dinner at a Rockland eatery were honored by 9 (I think) of us, and by Sunday morning most of us had started for home, filled with memories of new and old friends, as is typical of this annual outing.
  21. On a cool Friday afternoon, Rene, Warren, and I set out to explore the islands of the Cape Porpoise archipelago, near Kennebunkport, ME. Our campsite for the weekend was on Cape Island, the outermost island in the group. The inner islands are surrounded by mudflats during the lower half of the tide cycle. No sandy beaches here. Launching or landing involved precarious carries over seaweed-slicked boulders. After setting up camp, Rene lead us over to Goat Island, where Warren was pleased to find they had remembered his birthday. On the way back around the exposed side of Goat and Cape, we found a patch of lumpy water, and I felt it wise to put down the camera and hang on to the paddle with both hands for a bit. It took a while for me to cool off after that. After some more keel-hauling of boats, we turned our attention to gourmet dining. Our waterfront campsite feature a beautiful fire ring and stone benches, which we gladly put to good use as the sun slowly sank below the horizon in front of us. Saturday's paddling could have been three separate trips in one. We started the morning by winding our way north through the rocks to Timber Island. After lunch we rode the incoming tide up the Little River, threading our way deep into the marsh grasses, stirring up geese, ducks, and egrets, and eventually arriving at "the source of the sea", where a freshwater stream cascaded down to join the tidal flow. With the current now slack, we paddled back out of the river and headed directly across Goosefare Bay back home to Cape, which from a distance looked like a tropical paradise, with four protruding pines filling in for palm trees. No sooner had we arrived than a dreadful wind conjured itself out of the north, driving us to the other side of the island to hunker down in the leeward rocks to prepare dinner. But our reward, upon returning to camp, was a most spectacular sunset. And they all paddled happily ever after... The end.
  22. On a sunny Friday, seven of us gathered at the bustling Dolphin Cove Marina in Harpswell to begin our paddle to Jewell Island, where other NSPN and SMSKN paddlers were already converging from Winslow Park and Cousins Island. The skipper of the lone sailboat we encountered called out "isn't it a little cold for that?" as we paddled across calm, 48 degree water toward Eagle Island. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch on Eagle, and admired the view from Admiral Peary's fortress-like house. Landing in a deserted Cocktail Cove on Jewell, we soon found our other pods of kayakers camping along the southwest side of the island and quickly established our camp. And then it was time to eat, and eat, and eat some more. We snacked on guacamole, cheeses, and smoked salmon while pots of lentil soup and lamb curry simmered. Cookies, cakes, and pies emerged from kayak hatches to end the evening's excesses. As the sun sank to the horizon, a lone paddler approached across the dappled water, and another round of food was prepared for Paul's arrival. It was a glorious night to linger by the fire, but eventually we all drifted off to our tents. Rising early on Saturday morning, I wandered over to the Punchbowl to watch the sun try to rise through the low clouds. Fresh deer tracks lead down to the water, and evidence of deer and raccoon was everywhere on the island. The Punchbowl was deserted, save for a few dozen gulls scavenging after low tide. I followed the western shore for a bit, climbing to the site of the 90mm anti-torpedo boat guns that were installed during the second World War. The view from the walk back along the still water of Cocktail Cove to camp was breathtaking. Our pod paddled over to join the SMSKN group for the day's adventures. The group decided to paddle to Little Chebeague, passing the south tips of Cliff and Hope Island on the way. We landed at Little Chebeague to stretch our legs and re-confirm our group plan to circumnavigate Long Island. A new brood of privy warblers will soon be gracing the island. We paddled past the lobster boats on the west side of Long, and gathered together one final time at the south tip, where an intrepid foursome split off from the main group to round Peaks Island while the rest of us headed back toward Jewell. We squeaked through the rocks between Jerry Pt and Overset Island, and then found a sandy beach for our lunch. We continued up the east coast of Long to the Stepping Stones, and then lined up for an orderly crossing of Luckse Sound back to Cliff, and onward to Jewell. The Peaks Island crew made good time and arrived a bit later. A group hiked down to the south tip of Jewell to view the campsites in Smuggler's Cove, and to take in the views from the fire control towers that directed the island's gun batteries. Saturday night featured another campfire, with even more dessert options than the night before. 2AM brought rain and lightning, and we woke to a blanket of fog surrounding the island. Our pod was the last off of the island, and hopped from island to island by compass bearings until the noon sun finally burned through and we were back at our cars. The kind owners of the marina waived our parking and launching fees when we gathered in their restaurant for one final meal together, which was a perfect ending to a thoroughly-enjoyable weekend trip.
  23. See calendar posting. Like last year, we'll plan to launch from multiple locations. Post preferences here, then coordinate /communicate details with members of your pod. Before signing on to this trip, please ask yourself "Could I do this trip alone?" PM me with any ?????? you may have. gary
  24. A few weeks ago, Warren made an offer to mentor someone interested in kayak camping this season, and I took him up on his most generous offer. We discussed trip planning and gear selection, and I pored over my gear and made sure it was ready for the colder temperatures we'd been experiencing so far this spring. We settled on a one night trip to a private MITA island in mid Casco Bay, and the tides and weather lined up nicely for our trip this past weekend. We launched from Winslow Park in Freeport, alongside a troop of Boy Scouts from Marblehead, who were paddling over to newly-protected Lanes Island to perform a service project. Their camping gear was ferried over on a small power boat, whereas our gear had to be packed away hatch by hatch. Luckily, it all fit. Winds were light, but building to 10 knots out of the south, so we swapped our two daily paddling plans and worked upwind to the southern tip of Whaleboat and then rode downwind toward our destination. We stopped to check out the meadow campsite on Whaleboat, and to admire the rocky shoreline it looks out onto. With the wind at our back, we enjoyed a pleasant paddle along the varied shore. At one point, a bald eagle flew overhead, and a bit later, a mink scampered up from the waterline as we passed. Having paddled 9 nautical miles for the day, we hadn't seen a single boat or person out on the water since launching. But as we approached the group of islands where we intended to camp, we saw two kayaks hauled up the beach and a lone hammock at the treeline. We glided silently past, wondering whether another NSPN group was out enjoying the weekend. With plenty of daylight to spare, our first order of business upon landing was to decide whether a sunny bench-like nook in the rocks would provide enough wind protection to serve as our kitchen. With the sun out and and an osprey circling over a nest on the the adjacent island, we got comfortable and devoted a good 30 minutes to this task, just to make sure. With our limited space to make camp, I was happy to find that my tent lined up with its lowest profile exposed to the prevailing south wind. Even the rocks align themselves to the wind! Right around the corner we found a small cove with a wind-sheltered ledge at the perfect kitchen height, and promptly moved there for appetizers and dinner prep. Warren cooked up an Indian feast, and I opted for chili, Fritos, and guacamole. We watched the osprey come and go, and watched loons, eiders, and gulls go about their routine as the tide fell and rose, and then it was time for us, too, to turn in. Waking to a foggy "sunrise", I explored a bit of our shoreline, and then made the mistake of announcing that I'd be ready for an early departure since I was already partially packed. Not everything goes back in the dry bags as easily or as compactly as it does when packing back home. I quickly learned that although my tent and fly fit nicely into a tapered dry bag back home, I was now combining a perfectly dry tent with a soaking wet fly in a single bag. Oops. At least it was only a one-night trip. I straggled down the beach with the last of my gear and made it into the boat just a few minutes past our "early" departure time. With no wind to worry about until later in the day, we worked our way north, handrailing along the shoreline in the fog, and exchanging hellos with the first and only boat we saw on the trip. A second, immature, bald eagle greeted us from a perch high up above the water as we paddled onward. With visibility around 1/3rd of a mile, and several ~1 mile crossings to get back to the cars, we spent some time plotting our bearings. This was my first time navigating to targets enshrouded in fog, so we did things by the book, plotting courses for the centers of islands, keeping close together with a sharp watch for traffic, and staying well outside the "busy" boat channels. A highlight of the trip for me was watching a little island slowly emerge from the fog in front of us after paddling into the abyss. Warren introduced me to several NSPN landmarks in the area, including Andy's rope swing. I used the fact that it wasn't high tide to avoid any temptation to give it a swing. We passed by the octagonal HOUSE seen on the chart, and made a final foggy crossing back to the ramp at Winslow. Just as we pulled our boats up the ramp, a motley flotilla of kayaking Scouts arrived back out of the fog, and our weekend of solitude on Casco Bay drew to a close. I'd like to thank Warren for introducing me to the joys of kayak camping and for guiding me through the pre-trip planning process. Most of the hard work happened long before we got on the water, and when we finally did, things unfolded smoothly. It was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend on the water, and one I won't soon forget.
  25. I've had a chance now to prepare two lunches on the new JetBoil MiniMo stove. Here are some initial impressions. The MiniMo differs from traditional JetBoil stoves in two ways: it has a wider, shorter cooking vessel, designed to make it easier to eat directly out of the pot, and it has a newly-designed valve which they claim allows it to simmer and cook food, rather than just boiling water. My hope in purchasing the MiniMo was that it would allow me to heat and eat all of the pre-made soups, stews, and ethnic dishes that are now available in foil pouches or tetrapak boxes, rather than having to rely on boiling water for ramen or dehydrated backpacking meals. So far I've confirmed that yes, you can boil butternut curry soup just as easily as you can boil water, with no harm to the soup or the pot. For the second meal, I fried up a diced slice of bacon and some diced onion, and then poured in the soup to heat through. The frying test turned up a few issues. First, I needed to open the fuel valve fairly wide open to get the piezo igniter to work. I should have turned it back down before adding the pot with bacon. As with most stoves, there's a constant risk of a gust of wind blowing out the flame when simmering. A stove like this really needs to be closer to eye level so you can keep an eye on the flame when cooking at low heat. Sitting in front of it and looking down at the stove on the ground wasn't the right setup. I definitely burned some bacon onto the pot before I wised up and turned down the heat. Once I got the flame low enough (and once a bit more grease rendered out of the bacon), the rest of the frying went smoothly, and I got the same results I'd get cooking at home. In went the soup, up went the flame, and three minutes later I was burning the roof of my mouth on some hot soup with fried bits of bacony goodness. Upon finishing my meal, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the burned on "fond" had deglazed itself when I stirred in the first ounce of soup. Cleanup (back home) just needed a quick wipe with a kitchen sponge. So far, I'm pleased with the way the stove performs. I'll try some more ambitious meals in the coming weeks.
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