Monday, September 7, 2015

End of Summer

Isle au Haut
While gathering photos from some of the trips I've led through Pinniped and Old Quarry over the last month, it became clearer to me why I haven't written posts about individual trips- I've been busy.

Fog Island
We've spent a lot of time on the water, but the rest of the time we're doing other work around Old Quarry. It often starts at 6:30 in the morning and ends around nine in evening, shortly before we eat dinner in front of a tv show on the computer. We tend to nod-off before the show is over.

Little Sheep Island
But it's been good. You know it won't last forever. You just focus on the work. We get out on the water most days. We'd love to be on the water even more, but the big picture here is that the entire operation at Old Quarry is what enables us to get those trips.

Fog Island
And we especially appreciate it after working at a brand new company last winter- we were lucky to get any sort of trip or lesson, let alone one that ventured farther than the local salt marshes. Most of my time and effort went into trying to develop the business- an uphill battle to be sure... and we didn't have the Stonington archipelago at our doorstep. Cumberland Island is wonderful, but not everyone can get there in a kayak, and even then you need to choose your days to go with the tide.

Hells Half Acre
Most of the guided trips that leave from Old Quarry are a half-day or less, so even though we don't have "milk run" trips covering the same territory each time, we do tend to find ourselves in the same spots pretty freqently.

Isle au Haut - Western Head
When people rent boats we recommend all the same islands we visit on guided trips- places that most paddlers ought to be able to get to fairly safely. People like the swimming quarry on Green Island, or the view from the top of Little Camp. The south side beach on Hells Half Acre makes people want to hang-out for awhile, and Little Sheep Island feels like another world, despite our ability to get there and back in two hours.

Little Camp Island
You never know who you'll get on a guided trip, but we've had a lot of people who seem truly grateful for a chance to do what many of us paddlers may eventually take for granted. For some people, it's a really big deal to get into a little boat and propel oneself over the ocean. And many would never give it a try or attain the privileged view of the islands without the help of a guide.

Little Camp Island
Despite the satisfaction of helping all kinds of people get out there, I'm not sure I would guide if I didn't also get the chance to take them to the next level- teaching and taking people on longer trips and into more challenging environments.

Isle au Haut
I've had a few full-day trips and classes through Old Quarry and Pinniped, including another three-day trip around Isle au Haut. Pinniped attracts more clients who want to learn and be challenged.

Sullivan Falls
Nate Hanson at Sullivan Falls
Renting-out boats is a bit scary, and probably the least satisfying part of this business. We ask a question or two to discern a renter's preparedness, but it's a moot point if they're determined to rent a boat. Every once in awhile I launch someone who seems to understand what they're doing, but few are even vaguely prepared to be on their own. They're just determined to take the cheaper and more independent option of renting a boat and a guided trip doesn't interest them. Sometimes, as I'm launching someone, they may ask the last minute question "so what happens if I tip over?" Plenty of "experienced" paddlers need to be shown which side of their paddle is up. Sometimes we show them. Sometimes they obviously know it all.

Rebecca launches her group

Most of them return eventually..

Long Porcupine Island
The summer has flown past. It seems like a long time ago when we were taking out standup paddleboards or poling canoes in our spare moments, and yet it's been just over two months.

Isle au Haut
That's the summer here in Maine, and it pretty much ends this weekend. We'll be here at least until the end of September, when we'll head up to the Bay of Fundy Sea Kayak Symposium, where I'll be assistant coaching. I'm not sure what we'll do after that.

Gooseberry Island

In the midst of all of this, I've also needed to do some last-minute work on the guidebook, which is now due out in April of 2016- a year past the original release date.

Smith Cove, Brooksville
It feels very different today at Old Quarry than it did even a day ago. The wind picked-up this morning and a steady stream of campers checked-out and drove away, anticipating traffic jams on I-95 in southern Maine. They seem subdued, heading back to the cities and jobs. We still have a lot on our schedule, but the pace seems less frantic. 

Little Camp Island

1 comment:

John Foster said...

Great photos. One of these days I will come up and kayak with you.
Have a great fall.