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9th Annual NSPN Downeast Paddle Retreat, Bar Harbor, ME Sept. 14-17, 2023


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September 14-17, 2023
Initiator: Peter Brady

   This now-traditional 4 day event is designed for folks to gather, socialize, and paddle in the  Mount Desert Island area  at a great time of the year. This year’s retreat will be from 
Thursday afternoon Sept. 14th to Sunday afternoon Sept.17th,  with group paddles each day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Please note that this event will be one week later than previous years , as we wish to secure a good foothold at Rose Eden Cottages , which is hosting another event on the weekend after Labor Day.  
Most people travel &  arrive on Thursday afternoon or evening, and depart on Sunday afternoon.  But some arrive sooner and leave later, so there can be the option for more paddling or other activities in the days before or after the event.    

Our base of operations will be at Rose Eden Cottages,  Rte 3 near Hadley Point , Bar Harbor, 
Rose Eden is a cottage resort with some 12 cabins.  In 2022 We moved our base of operations to Rose Eden, and it worked well as a gathering spot. We can gather there for car caravans to launch sites, and in the evening to socialize and plan next day’s trips.  A number of yearly attendees will have already reserved at Rose Eden.
 For those who plan to stay elsewhere, there is a wide variety of accommodations in the area , including nearby campgrounds which have been popular.

Accommodations are on your own. Make your own arrangements (including reservations, cancellations deposits whatever) for your entire stay during this event. You are encouraged to make reservations (at Rose Eden of course, or elsewhere) as far in advance as possible, as Bar Harbor is becoming more popular as a travel destination, and many hotels are booked many months in advance.  Even campgrounds are often booked up.     
  By now we’ve accumulated a menu of trips suited to this area, and there seem to be more each year. The general plan is to have each days paddle planned the previous day, usually by some sort of meeting, :  pot luck dinners, meet & greets, gatherings at Rose Eden.  
Some favorite destinations are: the Porcupine Islands off of Bar Harbor in Frenchman’s Bay, the Cranberry Islands on the south side of MDI, Bartlett Island and Sound, and Blue Hill Bay  on the West Side, and the dramatic eastern shore of the island between Bar Harbor and Seal Harbor.  In the last couple of years our variety of trips expanded further into the Gott Islands and Soames Sound, and this year we did a full moon paddle, so  new trip ideas are always welcome. 

There is also a Sullivan Falls  Tidal training class with Pinniped kayak  timed to coincide  with this event. Most years several NSPN’ers have done this class in addition to the retreat.  
This is a rain or shine event, unlikely to be canceled , since theres usually someplace to paddle around MDI  in all but the harshest conditions, and there are many other activities in the area as an alternative,  if weather is truly crappy. 

Please note that the Acadia night sky Festival is probably earlier in the week, so it's likely that some of us will extend out trip to attend. More information will follow. 

Some recommended accommodations:
Rose Eden: our base of operations. 12 modest cabins, a gathering area in the rear , laundry facilities.   
Llangolan Inn & Cottages :   across the street from Rose Eden; with 8 bungalows and a few rooms in the main inn  
Hadley Point Campground:  this campground is very  close & convenient , on Hadley Point Road. With a laundry room and hot showers. 
Eden Village: A cottage resort similar to Rose Eden , a short ways away on Rte 3.
Trenton (off the Island): Just across the bridge to Mount Desert Island, between Ellsworth and Bar Harbor there are cottages and motels that are  probably less pricey than on Mt. Desert Island. 
 also campgrounds used by NSPN’ers in 2022, not too far away: 

Halls Quarry
Mount Desert  Island Campground 

If you are interested in attending, please RSVP ( check " I’m going") in the calendar posting for this event . (Sept 14th, 2023)
A Group PM  with all of participants will get going in the months and weeks  before the event , for information sharing, planning and communication. 

if you have any questions, reply here or PM Peter Brady (PeterB) 


Edited by PeterB
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  • 4 weeks later...

I might stay on the island this year, instead of an hour plus away at my dad's.  I went to make a reservation at Hadley's Campground, and they informed me they were instituting a $25/day EV charging surcharge.  They wanted $77/night plus taxes.  I was offended, because I think I will only use around $5/day for driving, and they would already be charging me $15/day extra for the electrical hook-up!

So does anyone have experience with my campsite short list below? 

There are plenty of other campgrounds, but I don't feel a need to pay more for a water view.  I hope to see enough water from my kayak!



The last few years I've been paddling with the late start "mellow" group, mainly because I wanted a late start.  However, I have missed the bumpy water, which is part of the reason I am thinking about camping on/near the island.

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 I know Somes Sound View Campground  and Mount Desert Campground (also on Somes Sound) from years ago and remember them both as very good. Mount Desert Campground is often hard to get reservations at because of its popularity and quality ; maybe the top campground on MDI. Somes Sound View (I called it Hall Quarry) Campground is a fine  place, generally good campsites with a handful of outstanding sites that you'd be lucky to get.
Both are well- situated for accessing MDIs various put-ins, and  reasonably close to Rose Eden. There are  big campgrounds along Rte 3 closer to   Rose Eden, but they're bigger, more commercial,  more RVs etc. Mount Desert is very quaint and probably doesn't allow RV's. 

Edited by PeterB
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  • 2 months later...
  • 3 months later...

The Retreat is now one week away, and those who have RSVP'd for this trip  are all on a group PM thread, so we're all able to communicate with each other, but here's a general update.

This is  a rain- or- shine event, and though it's likely we'll  have some precipitation and weather next week,  rest assured that this event is ON ,  and Rose Eden Cottages will be our base of operations. If on any day the weather is too crummy to safely and happily paddle on the ocean, we'll still have the options to paddle on some inland ponds, and there are lots of on-land things to do: Every year some folks have taken paddling days off to fit in hiking, bicycling and general touring around MDI, so best to be flexible.

The event starts @ 6PM on Thursday: a number of us are staying at Rose Eden Cottages so we will be there starting  Thursday late afternoon. For those attending , please check your PM's on the NSPN website and/ or texts  on , there will be  regular updates. Feel free to contact me directly as well, by phone, text, or PM. 


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  • 2 weeks later...

The Retreat, as you all must know; was upended by Hurricane Anne   which struck the Bar Harbor area on Saturday ,  right in the middle of the  planned event, disrupting travel and paddling plans for almost everybody . It evolved into  a two day paddling event, with trips on Thursday and Friday, for  some 11 folks who didn’t cancel plans entirely .  Most vacated by Friday afternoon , 5 of us hunkering  in motel rooms & cottages on Saturday.  Will patch together a trip report soon. 

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