I had an unexpected day off, and since it was raining and a bit dreary, it seemed unlikely we’d be getting overrun with visitors at the campground. I packed my boat and headed out mid-morning in the pouring rain. The air felt warm though, the raindrops invigorating, and with a day ahead of me, I could meander at will, maybe even find a little time to relax somewhere if the weather cleared.
There were a few MITA islands in the archipelago that I hadn’t visited since I started the #mita30in30 challenge, Little George Head, Harbor and Kimball, so I paddled off in that general direction and saw this pretty boat as I crossed the Thorofare.
As I rounded Green Island, the cove was completely empty – no boats tied-up at the landing, no kayaks on the shore – so I thought ‘why not?’ and stopped for a quick swim in the quarry in the rain. With the end of summer upon us, you never know when the idea of a swim will seem less inviting, so it’s a good idea to do it while you can. Green Island is one of my least favorite popular destinations for guided trips. It gets crowded enough that at high tide we sometimes stack kayaks like cordwood, and most groups take enough time that we can’t get to other islands. You’re sharing the place with all manner of other boaters and it’s often a ‘there and back’ trip, as if the whole point of going kayaking is transportation to a swimming hole. Kids like it though, and some guides seem to invariably take this trip, since their clients don’t seem to mind or know the difference. I had it to myself though, and it felt great to jump in and go for a swim.
I went on to Little George Head, a tiny islet connected by sandbar to George Head Island. I’d stopped on George Head on a guided trip last weekend, but didn’t get over to the tiny neighbor. I love these tiny islands, and I could see it would be fun to camp here, despite being so close to Steves Island, which is truly a favorite campsite (the site on George Head looks awfully nice as well, tucked up in the forest). I suppose this is a good area to head when it’s crowded and you want the security of 7 campsites all within a quarter-mile of each other. By now, the rain was tapering, but wispy dark clouds continued to drift past.
Across Merchant Row, I came to Harbor Island and landed below the smaller campsite. If the weather had looked more promising, I might have stayed here for awhile, since the woods above the ledges are perfect hammock-hanging spots, but I was enjoying the exercise, and besides, another couple miles would bring me to Kimball Island, which would be my 23rd out of the 30 islands for the MITA 30 in 30 Challenge. If nothing else, the challenge was giving me a good excuse to get to some spots where I don’t often stop.
By now the rain had stopped and the wind had begun to blow from the east and north, and it occurred to me that if it persisted, I’d need to work harder to get back. Also, I heard my name on the radio; Old Quarry was trying to reach me. My handheld was not powerful enough to transmit that far, so I called on the phone and discovered that they were indeed expecting me there to guide an afternoon trip. Better to omit what led to this, but let’s say I’d started the day expecting to have that trip, and when it went to someone else instead, I said to myself ‘fine, I’m going paddling.’ So there I was, and too bad, there was no way to get back in time. Someone else would have the privilege of towing a tandem into the wind.
So I landed on Kimball, took a few photos to document #23, and decided to paddle around it. As I did, I stopped on the ledges at privately-owned Rosebud Island for a sandwich. The north wind was picking up, the air turning cooler and clear. A mild swell buoyed me up and down as I went around Kimball Head with Brimstone Island and Saddleback Ledge Lighthouse standing-out clearly on the horizon. I made my way into the Thorofare and passed by the village of Isle au Haut. Now I was kind of ready to get back, but I had about six miles to go, all against a fairly steady wind.
So by the time I arrived at Gooseberry Island, I was ready to relax a bit. Not only that, but the sun was shining, and out of the wind, the air felt warm. I hung my hammock between a couple of boulders and spent some hours of quality ‘hanging-out’ time.
And then I headed back, arriving just after sunset.