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Muscongus Bay camping, 18July03

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Overall a very enjoyable weekend camping and kayaking around pristine Maine islands.

Five explorers launched from the Friendship town landing, on Friday morning. It was clear and in the low 80s. We had to shuttle our cars to park about 1.5 miles away, and the last person to park was able to hitch a ride back from some local people.

Our first destination was Black Island, 5 miles away. When we arrived we could see a power boat docked by the larger camp site, and found it was already taken. The smaller site was available, and though more crowded, it has a smooth grassy area for pitching tents.

One of our neighbors was a younger couple that came by a canoe from the mainland. We thought they took quite a risk and were lucky the water was calm enough for them to make the trip.

After pitching our tents, we considered going 5 miles out to Eastern Egg Rock, where landing isn’t allowed, it can be approached from a distance. But it became cloudy and windy, with a forecast for rain and possible thunderstorms. So we chose to explore some closer islands. That was a good choice, because it did rain soon after we launched. We kayaked to Thief Island, a public island, nearer towards the mainland, that allows camping. Surprisingly, we met 2 other large kayak groups on the bay. Both with 10 or more people, and both camping on Thief Island. We wanted to join one that were having anchovy paste and snails for an appetizer!

Friday night we relaxed next to a bonfire on the rock shoreline. (It is not permitted to gather wood from the interior of the island, but it is OK to gather driftwood.)

Saturday was beautiful weather all day. Our destination was Port Clyde, we took a meandering 7 mile or so route, stopping on one island, arriving at Port Clyde by mid afternoon. Since we were camping at a place without any facilities, the luxury of a store, public toilets, cafes, etc. was much appreciated. We had lunch on a deck next to where the ferry from Monhegan Island (10 miles out) docks.

On the return trip we went around the east side of Hooper island, and had great views from the kayaks. There was steam evaporating from the shore, from the late afternoon high tide washing over rocks that were heated up during the day. Many of the pristine islands are densely covered with spruce trees, some have large boulders and high rock cliffs. We saw ospreys, terns, gulls, double-crested cormorants, sea ducks, a few great blue herons. We saw seals near Seavey Island, and a group having a cookout on Stone Island. We made an open water crossing to Otter Island. It seemed we owned most of the bay. There were very few other boats.

Saturday night we enjoyed another bon fire, relaxed and roasted marshmallows. A heavy fog came in during the evening. (Shining a flashlight through the fog had the strange effect of magnifying everything.)

On Sunday morning our trip back started out in fog, but it gave a lot of beauty to the landscape. It softens the edges of the islands, and gives a dense background that shields out everything else in the background. We could see just far enough to the next island. Those who had a compass and map were quite helpful.

When we got our kayaks and gear loaded back on our cars, around 1 PM, the fog finally burned off, and we had mostly clear weather for the tip home.

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