Part of the fun of a trip like this is that it is pretty tough to foresee the twists and turns wrought by weather, whims and tide and know where you'll be in a few days. We keep trying though- always a couple of different route scenarios for the next day or two that will bring you to X in a week or Y in two weeks. You may pore over charts and guidebooks all you want, consult the weather and the tide predictions and still, the place you find yourself at the end of the day may not be what you expected in the morning. In a way, that's part of the beauty of the Maine coast and the Maine Island Trail. In some areas, like here in Muscongus Bay, there are many options. You may feel inclined to try as many as you can.
This morning, we're on Hog Island, in the northwest corner of Muscongus Bay. It's been a good, fairly sheltered spot to hunker-down while a storm passed-through. We have a picnic table, over which we've hung a tarp, and the tent is up on a platform. The landing was an easy beach landing, and an easier than most spot to pull our boats well-up past the post-new moon high tide line. Late in the afternoon, after interspersing our time between rainy walks on the beach (a beach that actually has some sand) and time here at the picnic table updating notes and sipping hot beverages, we took a damp two-hour walk on a mossy trail that circles the Audubon-owned island. In some spots, we waded through shoulder-high ferns. Back in camp, Rebecca made brownies in the Outback Oven.
We came here from Thief Island, less than an hour's paddle, but worth it to find a more sheltered spot before the storm arrived. We'd landed there after sunset the previous night after paddling around 24 nautical miles from Ram Island, in the Sheepscot River. We hadn't intended to go so far - the whole idea behind this trip is to make a little time for ourselves to enjoy these places and paint and write, rather than slogging through long miles. But with the storm coming, we knew we'd get land-bound somewhere, and rather than spend another couple of days on Fort Island in the Damariscotta River as we did on our way south, it seemed prudent to just get around Pemaquid Point while the getting was good, and explore some other spots.
A good choice; it felt good to push ourselves, and Thief Island is home to the picnic table with one of the best views around, taking-in a broad swath of the bay, looking to the north, where the Camden Hills are visible above the Saint George Peninsula - a new perspective of a very familiar landmark. Last night, standing on the beach before bedtime, I gazed seaward, watching the Franklin Island light flash three times for every blinding flash from the light on Monhegan.
After leaving Crow Island in Casco Bay, we went-up Harpswell Sound and spent a night at Strawberry Creek Island, and the next morning caught the current up around Sebascodegan Island into the New Meadows River, where our friend Will picked us up and brought us back to the small house where he and his wife Sue spend their summers. We've known Will since we lived in Iowa (which we left in 1998) but reconnected through Facebook. Both Will and Sue are writers and we had a lot to talk about, late into the evening. They dropped us off at Five Islands the next day, and we paddled-off, heads full of stories, inspired.
The Sheepscot River MITA sites were busy that night, and we camped on Ram Island, sharing it with a young family who'd arrived in a powerboat. It's worth mentioning that we see very few sea kayakers, and have encountered none camped on islands. The next day, Sunday, we paddled to Muscongus Bay.
So today we're weighing our options. It's calm now, but the forecast calls for increased winds as the day progresses. We'll probably meander a bit more through Muscongus Bay, keeping in mind the series of moves that will bring us back through Penobscot Bay, and then Stonington in a week or so.
Notes: Some of these places are covered in my guidebook, AMC's Best Sea Kayaking in New England.
Our host, Susan Futrell's book Good Apples: The Story Behind Every Bite is forthcoming in
September, and promises to be a good read. Will Jennings' personal essays may be found in various publications, including I'll Tell You Mine: Thirty Years of Essays from the Iowa Nonfiction Program.