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  1. 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.
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