Jump to content

3rd Annual Downeast Retreat! Bar Harbor Sept. 9-12


Recommended Posts

Our  Downeast Retreat based out of Mount Desert Island turned out to be grand  time * This year, some 20 NSPN'ers gathered in Bar Harbor for four days of sea kayaking and on-land togetherness. This is the third year of having this event on the weekend after Labor Day , and with many repeat participants and a now familiar location ,  we have pretty much established a good format for doing things here  together.  We hit almost all of the intended paddling hot spots in the  area over the course of four days, :
Mount Desert Island Intro   .jpg

Some paddlers actually began to filter into Bar Harbor  earlier in the week. By  Wednesday before our "formal" start on Friday  , there were already a handful paddlers in Bar Harbor, paddling with Nate Hanson of Pinniped Kayak  with Carl Ladd, enjoying  an ocean skills class on Wednesday along the rocks and ledges of MDI's eastern coast,  and on Friday, for the second year, some 11 of us gathered for a  moving water jamboree in the boisterous tidal currents of Sullivan Reversing Falls .   

Sullivan 1.jpegSullivan 2.jpeg Sullivan Falls 9.jpg

 By Friday night,  most of us we were assembled on Mount Desert Island , with most staying at the LLangolan Inn near Hadley Point, some at the nearby Hadley Point campground, and yet  a few more  staying elsewhere on or off the island. On Friday night some of us ventured into Bar Harbor and were led by Mike to  a good Italian restaurant , while others stayed at  the LLangolan, rested  (Sullivan Falls was quite a workout)  and dined on the  impressive  stores  of food supplies that had been assembled there.  LLangolan has indeed  become our MDI  base of operations and home away  from home while on Mount Desert Island  .  
Friday Day 1. 
MDI Friday .jpg

On Friday we formed two groups : 10 of us committed to  a one-way trip along the east coast of MDI. We dropped off a few cars in Bar Harbor, then caravan'd  down to Seal Harbor, where we  set off for a journey along the  spectacular east side of Mount Desert ,  about 13 miles up to to Bar Harbor;  there we retrieved parked cars while Pru, Bob and Beth continued  on another 6.5 miles to Hadley Point, where we picked them up  them  after retrieving cars down in  Seal Harbor. This  trip involved a bit of logistics, but was all worth it as we had a lovely tour along a ceaselessly lovely rocky cliffy coastline , in a nice meaty 2-3 foot sea state and in improving weather.  



On our return to Bar Harbor , we intersected with the other group returning from their  tour of the Porcupines off of Bar Harbor, with reports of what sounded like a day every bit as enjoyable as ours
1 shari A.jpeg1 shari B.jpeg 
Once we were back on land  , a number of folks had a hankering for seafood , and set off for Thurstons Lobster Pound in Bass Harbor, while the rest of us languished in the barn ,behind the cottages at LLangolan, continuing to diminish the  cottage food supplies. 

Saturday Day 2
 Saturday was a perfect sunny mild day with calm seas so we had the option of paddling most anywhere, so we divided  into three groups: two explored the Cranberries from Seal Harbor , and the third group toured the Porcupines and Ironbound Island ,

MDI Saturday  .jpg
Group Ironbound set off from the sand bar in Bar Harbor, filtered out of the harbor and past  Bald Porcupine island, then crossed to Ironbounds , on the other side of Frenchmans Bay.  Ironbound is that "one step beyond" the Porcupines, sort of the Valhalla of Frenchmans Bay cliffside paddling. The group had a fun  time among the ledges, cliffs, and rock gardens along Ironbounds dramatic south point , and returned to Bar Harbor via Long, Burnt, and Sheep Porcupine islands.  
1Pru .JPG1PruB .JPG2Pru L.JPG

2Pru L.JPG


Cranberry Group One and Cranberry Group Two set off from Seal Harbor for the Cranberries . We in Cranberry Group One had a most pleasant amble,   circling Great Cranberry, and stopping at  Crow Island for a lunch and rest, then  explored " the Pool",  a curious inlet set into  Great Cranberry, and finally , with grand view of the Hills of MDI for a our return journey, crossed back to Seal Harbor fem the eastern corner of Little Cranberry .
Cranberry Group 2 circled Sutton and then Bakers island, crossed past Bunker ledge south of Little Cranberry back  to MDI , and followed  the coast back to Seal Harbor. 

back at LLangoln, we all gathered in the barn for our scheduled potluck, further decimating our  seemingly inexhaustible supplies of food and drink.  

Sunday Day 3
( if you noticed an asterisk in the first paragraph next to Downeast Retreat was a grand time", Heres why:)   
On Sunday  both the weather, and our on-land fortunes took a turn for the worse when John Monroe ,who had taken the day off from paddling to hike  the Precipice Trails on MDI  trails , took a sliding fall and broke his left ankle on their return to the trailhead, Fortunately  he was in the company of Dan, Beth and Mike,  all of whom  are trained in  winderness first aid  , so they splinted  and  bundled John ,and  ultimately he has able to be walked off the trail with the assistance of  park rangers ,and was taken first to Mount Desert Hospital, where his injury  was confirmed as a broken ankle, then taken by ambulance  to Ellsworth,where he  was operated on and casted. The experience was sobering for all of us  as John's  was a pretty unspectacular fall that could have happened to any one of us.This in turn revived the  recently popular truism  that "more kayak injuries occur on land":, , , Johns the experience was doubly painful as he was due to fly to the Grand Canyon for a hiking  trip that would finish off his month long cross country journey that had begun in June .  
 Back at Langolan, we sorted his belongings   , Bob and Shari ferried Johns car, boats and gear back to Massachusetts, and Mike and Betsy, who were staying on at Langolan through the week, assumed the role of  of Johns companions and valets,  driving him back home to Massachusetts later in the week. 

For the rest of us,   the water turned out to be the safer  place to be. Four of us  braved the worsening forecast  and  toured Bartlett  sound, but, after a  thunder squall that drove us off the water and into  into the woods on Bartlett  island  for about 1/2  hour we were pleasantly  surprised  to discover improving conditions; the sun came out, the 20 kt winds, forecast for most of the day,diminished , and we had an nice ambling tour amidst islands and seaweed gardens  for the rest of the day.

Sunday Chart 2 .jpg


The others  had used this  crummy weather day to practice and paddle in the fresh water at Long  Pond, before the lightning squall that chased us off Bartlett sound prodded them off the water and  back to LLangolan. 


ON our way back to Llangolan, Bob and I, still in our gear, drove   past Long Pond on the way back to LLangolan  and had the treat of washing off by lurching fully dressed right into the pond and freshening up  . 




Monday Day 4
Monday Chart .jpg
BY Monday, many were heading back home or had already left, and    a remaining group of six of us used the last day to do the nickel tour of the Porcupines, jumping from one island to the next, stopping for lunch at  the far end  of  Long Porcupine, and returning the way we came. Along Long Porcupine, we paddled past some enticing  ledges that  we made a note of, vowing to return next year for some more involved play and landing drills.    


Speaking of next year: this year's gathering was evidently a success, as by the time we had all left, we had all eight cottages and some of the rooms at LLangolan reserved for next year. I'm thinking of staying on a few days to combine some hiking with paddling next year. Mount Desert Island and Bar Harbor were busier this year than years past, perhaps due to the NationalPark centennial, or maybe because the area is just a good place to be at this time of year, something we all could readily agree with. It was indeed a perfect pace to gather and paddle with a prefect group of people at a perfect time of the year.   

Thanks Jane and Nick and Pru for photos in this report. Some are mine but they weren't very good. More photos welcome!























Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Peter, for your trip report!  And for relieving me of the pleasant chore...  But, knowing me, you know I can't NOT respond with some photos and text of my own!

Here goes:

This is some of the motley crew indicating that we have indeed figured out where everyone is going for the day and how they're going to get there.  This was, by the way, no easy task!  But you can see that the boys are pleased and confident about the the plan!


Preparing to launch at Seal Harbor for the coastal day from there to Bar Harbor (and beyond, for three of us!)



Our esteemed president, all dressed up and ready to go!




This is the coastal group (minus me, of course, who - as always - is behind the camera) posing before launch.




It was a really wonderful day in all respects.  Very foggy as we drove from Llangolin (at north end of island) to the south (Seal Cove, where we were launching).  But the fog started to break up the farther south we went, until, as you can see in photos above, it was fog free at the launch.  However, once we started paddling, heading north once again, there was a fog bank ahead of us.  Really pretty!




Peter enjoying some of the wavy action by the rocks.




There was a lovely stream of frothy water that formed a road along which we paddled...



You don't have to go to Baja - or Wales - or Scotland for caves!




There are some along the coastline, accessible when the waves and tide are favorable.




Lotsa cruise ships.




In his report, Peter had us all ending at Bar Harbor one Day One.  Not true!  Bob, Beth and I soldiered on, another seven miles to Hadley Point.  I have no idea why I was so stupid as to do this!  It was a pretty dull coastline, although I'd heard about The Ovens and never seen them.  So this is The Ovens.  Nice, but....seven miles??




And I'd also heard that there were keyholes.  Well, there was one.  This is it.  Nice.  But...seven miles??




This  rock formation seemed ready to eat the land beyond...




We finally reached Hadley Point as the sun was heading down.  I was having a shoulder pain that made me unwilling to even lift up my camera to take a pictures of the very welcome sight of Joe Berkovitz waiting there to help us with boats and to transport us back to our digs.  In appreciation of that, the photo below is from the beginning of Day Two, when some of us went out to Ironbound.  It was a lovely calm day to start, and here's Joe, in all his reflected glory...




I didn't take many pictures on Day 2 because I was too busy having fun.  But it sure is a beautiful coastline!



At lunch at the end of Ironbound after we'd spent the entire morning playing in the rocks, a few of us paused to do a little bit of island art...




On the way back, these pleated cliffs were extremely pleasing...




Day 3, infamous Day 3...  when some of us rather foolishly went out on the water - when thunderstorms were forecast; others rather foolishly went hiking - and sh*t happened; and some  were smart enough to go shopping and gallery watching and lunching at the Asticou Inn, where the group was safely inside when the skies opened and caught the rest of us outside...

I was in the fresh water group at Long Pond, with which I am very familiar from years spent visiting relatives with a small rough cabin on the lake.  I've paddled its shores many many times, and knew that if it thundered as forecast, it would be very easy to get off the water anywhere around the lake.  It was foggy and overcast, and quite windy.  But it made for a sober but rather handsome grey palette...


P8120237 (1).jpg


We went into a calmer area on the west side of Northern Neck, where there was some evidence of seasonal changes to come...




We decided to head back when it was getting closer to the time that the storms were forecast.  The launch at Long Pond (where Peter et al did their gear cleaning after their paddle near Bartlett Island) has a nice sandy area, and my group - Joe, Judy and I - stopped to practice some rolls.

We discovered that we were not alone!



Just as we were getting out of the water, the predicted storm arrived - with a bang and a deluge.



Ducks huddled on the dock.




Completely soaked, we loaded the boats onto the cars.  Just as we finished, almost as quickly as it had arrived, the storm departed, leaving calm water and clearing skies.




After such a lovely day, it was truly distressing to return to the Llangolin to hear about others' adventures and to find that John had what turned out to be a tib-fib fracture.  So glad he was with a competent group - and that because he was carrying a pack to prepare for the Grand Canyon trip - there was plenty of gear to keep him warm and splint him up.

Other than this, and that many of us had to leave the next morning, it was another really terrific NSPN Bar Harbor Retreat.  Llangolin is now fully booked by us for next year, but there's the Hadley Point campground right around the corner, and some people have extra fold-outs etc in their cottages that might be available.  I would encourage anyone who hasn't yet had the pleasure of paddling with us the weekend after Labor Day to consider doing so next year.  It's really a special event.  Many thanks to Peter for coming up with the idea and making it all happen!

And thanks to all my paddling and dining companions as well!




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Awesome pictures, Pru, (I seem to lack  the  gift for taking good- on -the -water photos; yours are fabulous )  Thanks. 
In his report, Peter had us all ending at Bar Harbor one Day One.  Not true!  Bob, Beth and I soldiered on, another seven miles to Hadley Point.   Hey thats not true! I duly mentioned the leg from Bar Harbor to Hadley point both in the trip report and in the map of Day1.

Heres a bonus  photo by Nick, which I was reluctant to include for obvious reasons .  Nick suggested that this  it  have a competition for best caption:
mine would be:  
"Peter's  snarling, squinty- eyed,  incomprehensible beach briefing elicits only vacant stares of disbelief."  


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great trip report and photos!  Thanks Peter ( and Pru for your wonderful photos!). It was a wonderful weekend. 

One correction - Friday, Day 1 group 2 went around the Porcipines and also Ironbound where we encountered some big slow swells (several sets of 4-5 feet swells) along with some lively conditions. 

Very funny photo...the deadpan expressions next to Peters is a riot! 


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is a wonderful time for paddling on MDI and has always been a great weekend paddling with NSPN folks.  I am looking forward to next year and perhaps trying new places to visit such as the island chain from MDI to Swain's.

Ed Lawsojn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I just read this report through again. Sounds like most everyone had a great time. I hope John is completely recovered from his broken leg by now! 

Yesterday morning I ventured out on the Gulf off Yankeetown, FL, with a few fellow Greenland stickers for a serene (flat calm) 10 mile paddle. 

Merry Christmas, everyone! Hope to paddle with you all next summer!




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...