Sunday, October 28, 2012

Calm Before the Storm at Sears Island

   How still was the air on Saturday?  Still enough that it was easy to capture a seagull's reflection as it took flight.
 How warm was it on Saturday?  Warm enough that I didn't bother with waterproof boots, and waded through the water gladly. 
Warm enough that folks in costume for the Zombie Walk and trick-or-treating wore only their costumes.  When you live in Maine you get used to answering your door to find a princess skirt peaking out from beneath a warm winter coat and snow boots taking the place of glass slippers. 

   A very peaceful day to be on the water; at least here in Maine.  We launched from Stockton Springs.  The Harbor was busy- a lobsterboat bringing in traps and tossing them over the side.
A crew pulling the docks from the water. 
 The pending storm may have caused the work to be done on Saturday, but the season caused the dock to be pulled.

As we crossed to Sears Island remnants of morning fog were still visible.
But as a whole, what stands out was how quiet and still the ocean was, flat all the way to Isleboro.

Folks were out enjoying Sears Island, mostly walkers and their dogs.  At times it seems like Sears Island is Maine's largest dog park.  There were also hunters, dressed in bright orange.  Saturday was the first day of hunting season and a great day to be out. 

But on Sears Island, it seems like unwary dog walkers and hunters could be a bad mix.  I've never heard of accidental shootings there, but next time I drive by I might add a sign that it's hunting season and tie an orange vest or two to the fence.

Sears Island is joined to the mainland by a causeway, so our adventure included a portage; two boats at a time up a trail, one boat at a time down the stairs.

Sears Island is also a great place to scout out sea birds.  We saw scoters, laughing gulls, loons,herring gulls, mergansers, ring-bill gulls and cormorants. 

Back in Stockton Springs the lobster boat had delivered a second load of traps.  A dropping tide had left  the first set of  lobster traps above water, ready to be loaded on a trailer and moved off for winter storage.

 A calm quiet day, which seems especially calm in view of the  bigger, more exciting seas which are due.  Hopefully all affected by Frankenstorm will take care and stay safe....

Summary:  Launch Stockton Springs, lots of parking.  Sadly the flush toilet is closed for the season, but a portapottie remains.  8 miles around Sears island, a portage required across uneven ground.  High: 9:30AM.  Launch 10:50 AM, finish 1:45PM; one stop, one portage.

Friday, October 26, 2012

High Water

Recent rains have swelled our lakes and streams creating new pathways.  So who can resist leaving the stream bed to paddle amidst the trees?
Apparently not Mark and I.
Where am I?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Flying Shadow Paddlers

 Still water, a low sun and a flat vertical surface; perfect conditions for a double shadow, or shadow paddler.

Unlike a mere shadow,  shadow paddlers don't appear below you, but above.  They don't just have one head, but two, an upright head, and reflecting head below.  And there is no dark shade connecting you to a shadow paddler.

They are most easily spotted against a solid surface, a cliff or a wall, but can also be seen in the leaves of trees growing on the sides of rivers.

The top part of the double shadow comes from light reflecting up from the water which is blocked by your body.  The upside down shadow is light blocked by your body first, or, another way of describing it, your shadow's reflection.
This photo shows the light points creating shadows

Whatever the cause, it always seems magical to look up and see a shadow paddler beside me, paddling through the brush and over rocks.

Magical, and maddeningly difficult to capture on film.  By the time I notice conditions are right, the wake from my kayak is dissipating the  shadow paddler.  Wait for the water to still, and by then the sun has moved, or the wind picked up.

It's easier to see the double images in a video.  The video below was created from stills, so it is a bit choppy.

Have you had any luck capturing Double Kayak Shadows?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Halloween Tour: Dawn in Stephen King's "Derry"

A structure in the Barrens
Something is wrong in Derry, something is off.  A feeling of despair hangs over the city, much as a fog of industrial exhaust clouded the city's skies years ago.  Now, for the most part, the industry is gone, but the screams of the old machinery linger in dark corners, waiting to terrify all who happen upon them.

We've avoided Derry for years; too many deaths, too many disappearances, too many innocents lost.  But Halloween is upon us, and it was time to tackle the scariest waters of Maine; Derry's Kenduskeag River and the stream that runs through the Barrens.

We were lucky that the road to Derry was open. The previous night, as we listened to WKIT, the evening DJ reported on an experiment gone wrong at Derry's military facility.  But this morning, there was a new report assuring us everything was okay and we should just go about our normal lives.  The voice giving the report was a little mechanical, and didn’t sound like the normal crew, but WKIT soon launched into “Something in the Air” by Tom Petty followed up by Anthrax and Poison songs before playing the all-clear notice again. It's great to have a locally owned and operated Rock Station, they can play whatever they want.

We awoke early for this trip.  Just after sunrise is the best time to visit Derry, the night denizens have gone back into hiding and the daylight specters have yet to awaken.   Our goal was to launch at the Kenduskeag, paddle up to the stream, explore the Barrens and get out again quickly. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Seven Reasons to visit the Porcupines

Two boats on The Hop
1. Gives us a chance to serve as goodwill ambassadors for Maine. Even though the Bar was much emptier than usual, while launching (and landing) from the Bar Harbor Bar we met people from Iowa, Vancouver, Calgary, Virginia, and Delaware. They come by to chat about paddling, to ask where we're headed and where we're from.  We tell them it's the best time of year to be in Bar Harbor, encourage them to ride the park loop and visit Mount Cadillac.  (We tell them its the best time of year to be in Bar Harbor no matter when they come.)

2.  If it's moderate water, it makes a wonderful paddle; if it's still water we'll explore the keyholes.  (If it's big water, we'll paddle elsewhere.)
3.    It's already Fall.  Mark has begun his annual petition to move south for the winter.  Our skirts and PFD's come inside to dry. Our water shoes linger on the porch, perpetually damp and cold.  Post dinner paddles?  Only if we're committed to paddling in the dark.   Days suitable for ocean adventures grow farther apart and our selections seem more important.  This might be the last day in 2012 where our availability and weather allow a trip to the Porcupine Islands.  Can driving a long distance to test a new harbor compete with a known quantity a little over an hour away?

4.  A wonderful bell buoy.

5.  A quiet beach to explore.  To the east side of Long Porcupine waves roll in from the south, to the west they are blocked and the water calm.  As a result of the active water/quiet water dichotomy;  the west sides of islands tend to have gentle slopes and beaches, the east side soaring cliffs and ragged edges.  We usually aim for the Hop and its wonderful beach.
Water patterns at the Hop
6.  An opportunity to see interesting boats.

7.   Check on the color. 
Nowhere near peak color.  In fact the day was mostly a palette of green and gray.
Do we need a reason to visit the Porcupines again? Not really.  I just had some great pictures and wanted to share them.
Now that the season is winding down, I hope you're able to get out to some of your favorite paddling places!

Prior visits:  Bar Harbor to the Hop
                   Porcupine Islands - Always Amazing
                   Porcupine Islands with Ironbound

Summary Information:  Launch Bar at the end of Bridge Street in Bar Harbor. No parking at launch: parking is available on West Street and side streets. No facilities: the information booth on Thompson Island is open through October; public toilets are also available at the town dock, seasonally.
High 2:45PM Launch 10:30AM Finish 1:30PM.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Can You Catch the Error?

Put your proof-reading glasses on!

Last minute change or savvy move to make sure this PSA gets more publicity?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Phillips in the Fall

   For over 200 years Phillips Lake has been providing tourists with wonderful memories of Maine.   In 1812, Nathan Phillips built a farm on the land above the lake.  The farm was not successful, but its location, on the stagecoach route midway between Ellsworth and Bangor, provided Mr. Phillips with a successful career as an Innkeeper.  At first it was called the Mid-Way house or Lake House, but in time it came to be known as the Lucerne Inn.   The Lucerne Inn and Restaurant is still open today.