Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Baker and Cranberry Islands

Five of us met at Seawall in Acadia National Park and headed across to Great Cranberry Island in a stiff northerly breeze. It was just after nine in the morning and we had all day, which these days translates to until about four in the afternoon. My only paddling in the Cranberries had been in September, with Todd on our trip up the coast, and ever since then I’d been aching to get a closer look.


Not long after crossing Western Way, we found a nice mellow swell splashing in among the rocks. Nate and I established a trend for the day: we paddled into an area and began discovering its features, only to look up after about fifteen seconds and realize that Rebecca, Barbara and Peter were waiting for us far away. (That’s an exaggeration: time passes quickly when you’re in the rock groove). So we’d catch up, find some more rocks and do it again. We felt naughty, goofing off when we should have been moving along. But that’s why we were there. Or no, actually we were there to get further and see more places... just in less detail. Of course we wanted both.



We stopped at Crow Island to check out the campsite, surprising a trio of small deer, who sprinted away from us, finally stepping into the water and swimming across to Great Cranberry. They swam surprisingly quickly, and climbed up the rocks on the other side with admirable finesse, shaking off with white puffs of moisture erupting around them.


As we headed over to Baker Island, the wind calmed down some. We sat in a grassy meadow and ate lunch. What do we talk about when paddling? A common recurring theme on this excurson was the keeping of poultry, with an emphasis on slaughtering them. I’ll spare you the details.



Some boats come equipped with rock magnets, while others seem to prefer staying outside the surf zone. After we left Baker Island to head around Little Cranberry, Nate and I once again lagged behind. You know you need to keep moving, but somehow your bow just points to where all that white spray is exploding around the rocks. At the end of the day, sure, I remember the relatively flat stretches, but the scenes that readily flash into my mind are those ones in the rock zone, surf crashing everywhere, a little uncertainty about how the next moments will play out as the backflow sucks out beneath my hull and dark spots are revealed as rocks. The stern starts to lift and... anything could happen next. In the best of scenarios, you’re propelled gracefully over and through an obstacle course of rocks with a few well-placed strokes.



What makes it so fun and addictive? There’s lots of answers: connnection to the sea, adrenaline... It’s one of those activities that puts you right in the moment, when there’s no room in your mind for anything else. And I know that I’ve only scratched the surface of it.



As we crossed back over to MDI, the pre-sunset light was gorgeous. We’d had a 12-mile paddle on a sunny day, played like kids, seen the wildlife, and even ate well, all in good company. We returned to the put-in and, finding the surf breaking over the ledges, burned-up whatever energy and daylight we had left trying to catch a few of the waves.



2 comments:

Jills said...

Love the photo 4th up from the bottom--going over the falls.

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