Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Stinson Neck in the Snow

We had an amazing run of warm-for-December weather, and well, I guess it had to end sometime. We've been paddling in 40 and even 50-degree weather... not a lot of big trips- mostly afternoon jaunts out to the nearby islands. We work all morning, and most days I'm pretty restless by lunchtime, ready to get out for a paddle or a walk. We've also had Rebecca's parents visiting for the holiday, and her Mom has joined us for a couple of paddles. I haven't been looking forward to snow in any particular way, but not really dreading it either. Bad weather makes it easier to stay in and get work done, but I get a little stir-crazy after a bit. This afternoon I suddenly found myself done with work and alone. We'd just had our first real snowstorm, and though the temps were below freezing, there wasn't much wind. I got my gear together, left a note on the counter and headed-out.

Off to the east, Western Mountain on Mount Desert Island rose into the clouds, where it appeared to still be snowing. It was nearing high tide as I followed the shore of Stinson Neck: icicles dripping down from overhangs, fresh snow on spruce boughs. Most of the lobster boats still out have been fitted for scallop dragging. One of them motored in slow circles out beyond Crow Island as I crossed the mouth of Conary Cove and headed out to the Lazygut Islands.

 A few days ago out there (I guess it was Christmas) we were out at Lazygut at a lower tide and a very small swell. There's some really nice ledges out there where we find the occasional wave and some rocks to play around. Today the tide had covered the ledges, but I rode some waves through the narrow, shallow slots between the Thrumcaps. I took a break for a cup of hot chocolate.

I've enjoyed paddling with others, but there's something about getting out by myself that I don't get when my journey is shared. The experience becomes more intuitive, making choices without discussing them, just going. No conversations or observations, just the thoughts passing through my head, and with any luck those thoughts eventually get replaced by pure action: paddle paddle paddle, edge, turn, oh look an eagle, rock, turn, wave, etc, etc.

I do find myself thinking about what I'm working on, and that can be good too. Who knows where thoughts will go- as much a part of the trip as the physical route. I'd like to be able rationalize my paddling that way, that some of the best writing happens in my head when I'm not holed-up with a computer.

I headed around the west side of the neck, following the rocky shore below the Haystack School and into Billings Cove, where it was calm, getting close to sunset above that thick layer of clouds. A bit of snow had started spitting down again, and it felt good, invigorating, fresh. I paused in a still stretch of water and listened. Unfortunately, I can't quite experience silence anymore- just the ringing in my ears that descends when there's no other sound to distract my brain. But it felt quiet.

I carried over the Sunshine Causeway and made my way around Plumb Point. Lights had come on in the house, and I made my way toward them.


Seayakvt said...

Nice trip Michael. I often choose to paddle alone because of the exact reasons you mention, plays the added benefit of not having any particular pace, or often, no particular destination. Just paddle and play.

Lindsay Newland Bowker said...

beautiful and an inspiration..happy new year to you and rececca

Ellen Rowan said...

Those lights were probably ours- I wish I'd known you were out there!!! ;-)

Anne-Marie said...

Just signed up for your blog and finding the paddling photos and stories inspiring! We are having a mild winter so far, in Sw Ontario and I may have to get the kayak out again before the truly brutal weather sets in. Can I ask where Rebecca got the tall neoprene boots she is wearing in the photos?

John Foster said...

Again, great photo's.

Michael Daugherty said...

Thanks all- Anne-Marie, I think you're referring to the Chota boots that Barb is wearing... amazingly, she got them at Goodwill. But they and other boots like them are available at NRS- also think MEC has a decent pair.

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