Saturday, August 7, 2010

Bar Harbor to the Hop (Maine)

Low 10:30AM, launch 9AM, back 11:40AM, 8 miles. Launched from the Bar for which Bar Harbor is named, off Bridge Street. The Bar is dry at lower tides, but will become completely submerged as the tide rises. No parking on Bridge Street, parking along West Street (more likely early in the day.) No facilities, we like the restrooms on Thompson Island. Our trip: Bar Harbor to the Hop, past Bar Island, Sheep Porcupine, Burnt Porcupine, Rum Key, and Long Porcupine.
Happy are those who take a kayak tour out of Bar Harbor. In just a short distance they can be paddling by impressive rock formations and landing on quiet beaches. Those able to cross the busy channel will find even more dramatic cliffs and striking views.
But, for those not on tour, be warned that it’s a lot easy to find a parking space at 8:40 than it is later on. (We took this trip on a Monday, so our observations don’t reflect busier weekend conditions) Though, with the cycle of the lowering tide, we could have left our car on the bar and come back to it. This is always a busy area, when we launched there was a smallish group loading into tandems, before we launched we were joined by a larger group which arrived by bus. On such a glorious day, in this incredible summer, there was no reason not to be on the water.

We paddled around the back of Bar Island, but on the cliff sides of the Porcupines. We met another group which may have launched from town, heading around Sheep Porcupine. They had children in some of the doubles and I wondered if they would try the channel crossing to Burnt Porcupine, or if they would stick to quieter waters. Sheep to Burnt is a long crossing, and often a busy one. It shouldn’t be undertaken lightly. A Green Can marks the channel.

Sometimes we’re able to poke into keyholes and other inlets on Burnt Porcupine, but not today. There was an odd surging, a combination from the low tide and slight swells which made entering unwise.
Guillemots love the cliffs of the Porcupines, they nest in the cracks. We saw one fly to its home on Long Porcupine, just a tiny dark spot, no chicks were visible.

More visible was the iconic Seagull on a Rock (SoaR), always an evocative picture.

We were alone for much of the paddle, but not at the Hop where an motorized inflatable arrived just as we did. We both got out with cameras to take pictures of the area. They followed a path to the top of the Hop, but we stick mainly to tombola and sea life there.

We headed back along the opposite sides of the outer islands (to land at the Bar at low tide, it’s best to keep to the north side of Bar Island). A guide with two sports passed us heading out to the Hop, a smallish group or kayaks was on Rum Key, two groups of kayaks were on different beaches on Burnt Porcupine. Many of the kayakers were spread along the shoreline looking for treasures in the low tide. In that way they were not unlike the many seagulls we see, who feast at low tide. Off Burnt Porcupine a Diver Ed’s big Starfish Enterprise sat while the audience reviewed treasures of the deep. A pair of old Wilderness Systems Sealutions were visible on Bar Island, and a second set quite a ways behind. Since Sealutions haven’t been manufactured in years we wondered about their source.
Arriving back the Bar was jammed with walkers, a trailer load of boats was pulling away, another set getting ready to launch, a pair of rented Old Towns clattered off the roof of a SUV and were ready to launch. In a short while all those kayaks would be off shore as well, enjoying the beauty of the islands against the dramatic backdrop of the Acadia Mountains. No parking spaces remained on the street.

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