In the car, I had been listening to a new radio station. They never played commercials, but between most of the songs, a retro chorus would sing-out the call letters and an announcer claimed “ten thousand songs in a row.” They dug pretty deep to find songs that the classic rock stations hadn’t already beaten to death. So, as I pulled-up to the seaplane ramp in Trenton, I had a disco tune firmly stuck in my head. When this music first came out I hated it, but now I couldn’t get enough. The beat is a bit quick for kayaking though; I could envision a swiftly-paced paddle ahead. Fortunately, when I moved the car to the parking area, Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” came on, a tune that had been rotating off and on through my mind's playlist ever since the President sang a few lines of it during a speech. By the time I launched, Al Green was firmly entrenched; it promised to be a groovy paddle.
I headed up the Jordan River, a tidal inlet stretching several miles north from its mouth at the Narrows. The forecast called for increasing southwest winds, so the river seemed a good place to avoid them. Even out on Mount Desert Narrows, the water appeared calmer than it had been in Stonington. For the first mile, I paddled along undeveloped shoreline- deciduous trees and eroding soil beneath the plateau of Hancock County Airport. I hoped a plane might land or take-off- a strange thrill perhaps, but why not? Last March in Florida, I took a long floating break off Boca Chica Key to watch as one fighter jet after another shot into the sky. Not this time though; I kept time with the Al Green tune as I paddled upriver, passing a few houses, finally taking a break beneath the close-cropped pastures of the Bar Harbor Golf Course (in Trenton, not Bar Harbor). What strange places paddling takes us.
I pushed through some ice and headed up a creek that oxbowed its way through a muddy salt marsh. In another hour or two as the tide went out, much of this area would be reduced to mud flats, but I was curious about what lay upstream and how far I might get. There were sheets of ice to break through, and as I proceeded, sharp turns to make as the creek grew more narrow.
Finally, beneath a bank in someone’s back yard decorated with prominent “No Trespassing” signs, I came to a turn I couldn’t get around. I stopped for a moment to admire the yard decor: a couple of rusting semi-truck trailers and a cabin cruiser resting on its side as though dropped there by a hurricane. So this was the head of the Jordan River.
I got out, picked-up my kayak and did a 180-degree turn and headed back downstream. The tide had gone out more than I expected, and in some spots, the creek was barely wide enough for my boat. There was another tributary to check-out, but with dwindling water, it seemed prudent to get downstream while the getting was good. After I passed the shallowest areas, I took a break and ate my sandwich in the sun.
The wind had picked-up from the south, blowing straight up the river, where it clashed with the current, raising a few small waves. It took some work to get back out to the Narrows, where I circled around to Hadley Point and over to the Twinnies and Thomas Island. The Twinnies, a pair of small islands connected by a bar, are part of the Coastal Maine Islands National Wildlife Refuge, largely to protect the eagles that nest there. The eagles probably like it because the shallow bay to the north (mudflats during my visit) attract many many birds. As I drifted nearby, an eagle sat on a rockweed-draped boulder, eating one of those many birds as a few crows paced around it, heckling for a piece.
By then the wind had picked up even more and I felt a bit cold. Across the Narrows, a mile away, the seaplane ramp made an easy landmark to paddle toward. Al Green’s soulful crooning in my mind had been replaced by the hiss of wind and crashing waves, at least for a little while.