Thursday, October 28, 2010

1000 Miles

Today we passed the 1,000 statute mile mark for 2010. This year the weather has been very warm and mild, we started with a 5 mile paddle on March 5, but didn't really have time for paddling regularly until May.
I estimate that about 700 of those miles were from the landing near our house, so I thought I'd post some fall photographs of the middle Penobscot.
The Patience heading for its winter berth Oct 17
Mark heads out on an adventure
Peaking into Cove Brook Oct 10
We see eagles most days; most recently 2 adults and 2 immature; maybe a late hatching?
An adult takes wing
Mark playing in moving water at the Souadabscook
Color comes late to the Penobscot highlands
As the tide falls the bedrock, looking like weathered elephants, peeks through.
The banks are unstable, even where they are rocky, so most houses are set back from the river.
Mark contemplates when this hemlock will topple
Paddling by a point near Dorothea Dix Park
I like the way the ripples reflect the color
An odd band of fog

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween Tour - Bucksport Silver Lake

Basics: Silver Lake: Located on Silver Lake Rd, which is McDonald Road in town.  From Route 1: north on Route 15 beyond Bangor Savings and Bucksport Post Office. Dirt ramp, limited parking, no facilities. (Bathrooms are available at both ends of the harbor walk in downtown Bucksport.) 6 miles.

Fort Knox: Entrance Fee, flush toilets. Plenty of parking most days.

The actual date of this trip: September 15; I saved posting until now because of its haunted theme.
Carol Olivieri Schultz, in her book Ghosts on the Coast of Maine, claims there is a female ghost seen about Silver Lake on foggy nights. She makes the case that this is the ghost of 1890’s murder victim Sally Weir, seeking to have her skull reunited with her body. Sally’s skull still rests in an evidence drawer. Silver Lake was created in the 1930’s and apparently the lower end used to be a cemetery. When the dam was built the old bodies and monuments were moved. But were all the old bodies found?
We started with a quick walk along the southern shore of the lake. Crypts such as this one hidden in the woods help to verify the tale of an abandoned section of the cemetery.
We launched our boats from the official boat launch further up the lake, and began our paddle by heading north into the wind. It’s been a dry summer and the water in the lake was low.

Silver Lake would make a good substitute for Black Lake, the setting for Lake Placid, the movie (best movie about Maine ever!) Like the fictional Black Lake, Silver Lake has cattle along the shore,
and lots of stumps popping through the lake.
In fact, Silver Lake could well be an old forest burial ground.
Though the water was low we could make it behind the large island easily, and flew on the wind down to the south end. From the water, no tombstones were visible.
There was however a cute peninsula (which may sometimes be an island) near the cemetery.
It had a well build pier of stones on the shore, and a nice windbreak/back rest near a fire pit and would make a pleasant place for lunch.
Across the Lake, and Street was a newer cemetery, but looking closely I saw several older stones. Perhaps that’s where the old corpses were moved when the lake was put in?
They moved the stones; but did they move the bodies?
If you’re in Bucksport, you should take a minute to check out Buck Monument. You'll find it on Route 1, across from the Hannaford grocery store. It’s a monument many people have read about somewhere and it’s singularly unimpressive in real life. A quick stop there will help make you a more cynical person.
For Knox shrouded in obligitory creepy Maine fog
Ghosts, ghouls and more have been spotted at Fort Knox, as have brave knights, civil war soldiers and much more, mostly at events arranged by the Friends of Fort Knox.
Center Courtyard
Fort Knox was built to defend the Penobscot against a third invasion from the English, and though it’s never been fully manned, thus far it has been successful.
With a fine mix of granite, red rock and brick, and endless rooms and hallways, Fort Knox is a great place to explore.
Be sure to check out the river as well. Seals are often spotted in the fast moving currents of the narrows.
Seasonally, for an additional charge you can ride to the top of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge.
Map of Silver Lake
  A final interesting link for Strange Maine, and their story about the unsolved murder of Sarah Ware

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Camden - Sea and Lake Paddles

Camden; where the mountains meet the sea. In the summer you can sign up for kayak tours right from the town dock. And why not? The harbor is filled with schooners, yachts and sailboats, and just a half mile out is tiny Curtis Island with a lighthouse on the backside.
Our first destination in Camden was Laite’s Beach on Bay View Avenue. I wanted to explore it as a possible launch site. In season, restrooms are available there. It’s a small beach, with very limited parking, quite a ways above the water.

Laite Beach from the Harbor
“We can slide the boats down the grass.” Mark proposed, “then just carry them down the stairs.” Sure - down was easy - but eventually we’d want to bring the boats home. So we went to the official launch beside the condominiums on Sea Street. There are no facilities there and no parking, though parking is available in a nearby lot. I’ve never tried launching out of there in the summer, instead I’ve launched from Rockport, which has a much calmer harbor. In Rockport, for a small fee, you can launch and rinse your boat after.
Though it's quite late in the season, Camden Harbor was still very full.
Mount Battie and Camden Hills State Park form a dramatic backdrop to the harbor.
Camden's library as seen from the harbor.  Look for the tiny tower atop Mount Battie
Most of the schooners were wrapped up for the winter, a few were still out.
Lewis R. French prepares for winter
The Appledore was readying for one last day of cruising.
Meanwhile a frontend loader was pulling up sections of dock.
 After circling the harbor, we cruised along the south shore to Ogier Point.  Once we’d made it out behind Curtis Island the lighthouse came into view.
Closer to Curtis Island
As did some guillemots in their winter coloring.
Guillemots: alcidae with red feet which appear as blurry dots in photos
We went by the day markers, and beyond Northeast Pt. The chart shows passage behind the tip of Northeast Point. Though we were there near high, we found no openings between the rocks, but maybe on a higher high it would be passable. The tiny island just beyond the point was filled with cormorants.
We peeked around the corner then headed back into the harbor. Back at the launch a sailboat was being hauled out - a task made more difficult by a dump truck parked near the launch. We landed at a tiny beach and carried our boats over the rocks to a small turnout which was filled with piles of gravel and dirt for a construction project on a nearby road.
We’d planned to change in the car before going to lunch at the Camden Deli, not as easy a proposition with the activity around us, so instead Mark slipped on pants and I wore a coat over the wetsuit. Camden Deli, the building in the center with large plate glass windows, has an incredible view overlooking first a quiet pond filled with ducks and further out, the harbor.
Camden Harbor from the shore
We wandered the street after, admiring a 2012 model plug-in Prius, in town to impress the attendees of Pop Tech. I guess there was no plug facility available; the car was being charged by a gas powered generator.
Camden doesn’t just have a beautiful harbor, mountains, great restaurants, and fine shops. It also has Lake Megunticook, a charming lake filled with islands and inlets. There are at least four access points to the lake. One on route 105, Washington St; two on route 52, Bartlett Cove and the nearby public launch. The fourth launch is in Linconville, just off route 52 into Norton Pond, which is connected to Lake Megunticook.
A sheer cliff at Bartlett Cove reminds me of Yosemite
We launched at Bartlett Cove, a swimming beach with restrooms in season, and a portapottie still hanging out. Lake Megunticook is tucked behind Mount Megunticook which, along with Maiden Cliff, dominates the lake.
Maiden Cliff has a white cross upon it in memory of 13 year old Sarah Whitesell who was blown off the cliff in 1865.
Mark waiting patiently by the Fang
We paddled over to Fernald Neck Preserve, owned by the Coastal Mountains Land Trust. This rock by the shore reminded me of tree roots.
We took a moment to pose by a huge erratic, Balance Rock, and got rather bland pictures, then continued on along the neck, across to a small island and along the cottage filled shore.
The tip of Fernald Neck
Admiring an Island owned by the Trust, closed much of the spring and summer for nesting
The colors were still bright by the lake, and it was a beautiful afternoon to be out. Our trip had started cold enough to have frost on the car roof, but now the temperature was near 60. Unfortunately, Mark needed to get home and return to work, especially since we'd stopped by Mainesport to look for gloves and got waylaid into kayak discussions.