Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"I Really Like This Place"

On Sunday I launched from Causeway Beach and headed south. It’s funny how sometimes I look at the chart before the trip and get all kinds of big route ideas- the distances covered, the islands circumnavigated, but after about forty-five minutes of non-stop cardio, that all goes out the window. Sunday was sunny, thirty-ish, calm. I had all afternoon.

Pickering Island lay ahead and I looked forward to cruising along its long crescent-shaped beaches, which, with the low winter sun, looked cool in the shadows cast by the spruce forests. Around me, the surface roiled gently. The tide was going out, just about mid-tide now, and it surprised me how much current squeezed through these small islands and ledges. I paused to let it turn me here and there. Maybe that’s when everything slowed down.

My bow pointed toward a ledge- a small island really- a hump of stone rising from the sea. So I paddled over to it. A crow cawed at me and flew away. Maybe at a lower tide I could find a landing here and climb up, but for now I felt content to drift past.

I came to a beach on a small island and got out for a look around. Privately-owned with a conservation easement managed by the Nature Conservancy, the island’s public access status is perhaps a bit ambiguous... but not in December. I tramped through the snow, up though grassy meadows to a bluff overlooking a broad expanse of Penobscot Bay. I kept saying to myself “I really like this place... wow, I really like this place!” True, I say that about all the little islands, but for a moment there, I fell for this one.

I followed the shoreline of Pickering Island around and headed over to Crow Island. This five-acre island is state-owned, and was once even on the Maine Island Trail (check out this article by Dave Getchell Jr. in the May 1989 issue of Backpacker Magazine).

Eagle nesting may account for its current exclusion from MITA, but again, that’s from April through August. Of course, I couldn’t help looking around and thinking about where I’d put my tent: in the meadows, beneath the stands of spruce, overlooking the pocket beaches where the smooth stones clattered with every wave- one could hardly go wrong. Again, I caught myself saying “I really like this place...”

I crossed back over to Deer Isle, aiming for Heart Island, and as a nearly full moon rose above my bow and the sun fizzled into the clouds on the horizon behind me, I followed the shore back to the causeway.

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