Archive for the ‘kayaking’ Category

Moosehead camping

July 24, 2010

Last week we abandoned left the hens and the garden in the care of our friend Joe and headed north to Moosehead Lake for a week of camping, hiking and rustication at Lily Bay State Park.  At 117 square miles in area, Moosehead Lake is huge, more of an inland sea, with 400 miles of shoreline and 80+ islands, and is the headwaters for the Kennebec River, which flows past our little mid-coast town on its way to the sea.  The whole area is dotted with lakes and many, many fabulous hikes of varying degrees of difficulty.  (A terrific guidebook, North Woods Walks, was written by Chris Keene a local guide.)

Our campsite was right on the lake, and we fell asleep each night to the loons calling and the trees rustling in the breeze.  We had pretty decent weather, a couple of rainy days, and some truly gorgeous calm days for great paddling on the lake.  We paddled and hiked and cooked s’mores and generally had a wonderful time.  Photos below.

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Gone paddling

August 3, 2009
Whiting Bay

Whiting Bay

but check back in a couple of weeks for an update from my favorite place to camp in Maine, Cobscook Bay State Park.  In the meantime, a great friend and neighbor will be looking after the house, hens and the garden.  Thanks, Ron!

the forecast was right…sometimes

August 20, 2008

We’re back at Henbogle, a little damp around the edges but in good shape after our camping vacation. We had a soggy start (note the water puddling on the tote lids) but we packed our gear into plastic totes and off we went –with a sled to haul the totes into our campsite! The totes take up a lot of room in the truck, but we arrived with everything dry, pretty miraculous given the driving rain we drove through to the park.

We had 3 stunningly beautiful sunny days, and some rain on the other days, but nothing we couldn’t manage, and when the rain brings views like the one on the right, who cares?

And did I mention we have all the gear needed to keep us (mostly) dry? We arrived and in between the raindrops, we set up camp, first the dining fly, to use as a staging area, then the screen tent, to provide more raindrop and bug free space, then the tent.

Of course, the sun came out just often enough to make sure we decided to stay on. Cobscook Bay was as gorgeous as I remember. Our campsite was spacious and fairly level with great water access –we could paddle Cobscook Bay right from our campsite, or paddle over to the boat launch and load up the boats for paddling elsewhere (although on this trip we didn’t do too much paddling).

Something tells me we’ll be going back next year.

Marvelous Merrymeeting

September 14, 2006

Sunday afternoon, we loaded up the kayaks and drove south about 8 miles to Bowdoinham for a paddle on the Cathance River downstream to Merrymeeting Bay. Merrymeeting Bay is an incredible inland estuary formed where 6 rivers meet and merge into one, the mighty Kennebec River, which continues its travel to the ocean at Fort Popham and Popham Beach. Merrymeeting Bay covers about 9,000 acres and has a tide of 5 feet, even though it is 17 miles from the ocean. It is an important habitat for wildlife and a glorious spot for birdwatching.

We put in at the Bowdoinham Town Landing at about 12 pm, and paddled downriver on the Cathance toward the Bay. The tide was coming in, and mitigated any advantage of paddling with the current. We weren’t rushing, stopping to poke about in a few places, and we were paddling against the wind for much of the way; we got to the edge of the Bay at Center Point at about 1:40 pm. We aimed for some granite ledge, planning on getting out to stretch our legs.

As we approached, a mature bald eagle took flight from a pine in front of me, dropping lazily toward the water before stretching his wings and flying off. The bird was less than 15 feet away, and the sun was at its back shining through the wing and tail feathers; it was an amazing sight.

We stretched our legs and drank some water, looking about at this gorgeous place. In the fall it must be an incredible sight, filled with migrating waterfowl stopping to feed on the wild rice along the shore of the bay (see the rice on the left in the bottom photo). Climbing back into our boats we again agreed that we are really lucky.

Paddling back against the current but with the tide was a snap, the tide pushed us along, requiring mainly paddle strokes to correct direction, and the Bowdoinham Town Landing was in sight in just an hour of easy paddling, we arrived at about 3 pm. We got home in plenty of time to unload the boats and commune with the chickens a bit before dinner. Life is good.

When chickens give you eggs, make quiche

September 11, 2006

Sunday dawned clear and sunny, but feeling guilty, we decided we should paint, and I needed to do some laundry. The kayaks sat forlornly against the barn.
We got another 3 eggs from the chickens Sunday. (We now think all of them are laying, even Daisy, our late bloomer. Daisy’s comb is growing larger and redder, as did the other chickens’ combs before her.) With all these lovely eggs, I decided a quiche was in order, which makes a terrific brown bag lunch. This one is Tomato and Swiss Cheese.

I did another load of wash, and hung it on the line in the sun as the quiche was cooking. (I love the scent and feel of cotton sheets dried on the line). While I was cooking and laundering, Dan painted the back wall of the barn. Just as I took the quiche from the oven, he came in and said, “It’s a really nice day, maybe we should take the boats out.”

Before he could change his mind, I was putting on my wet shoes and packing some lunch. More on our paddle down the Cathance River to Merrymeeting Bay next time –right now, time for this early riser to hit the hay, 5 a.m. comes so soon….

A Glorious Saturday on the water

September 10, 2006

At last, the weekend arrived, and the weather was beautiful. After a cold and gloomy Labor Day weekend, I was longing for good weather and the chance to get on the water once again. The weather forecasts sounded good…then not so good… then cold and rainy…. Clearly, the weather pattern was unsettled and we would just have to hope for the best.

When our friend and neighbor Karen learned we had kayaks, she agreed with alacrity to bring her kayak home from her family’s camp, so we could paddle together. We proposed another trip to Nequasset Lake, to show it to Karen. Other friends heard about the trip and joined us, and on Saturday we all met at the lake for a day on the water.

Karen tried to catch us some lunch with her fly rod, but alas, the fish weren’t cooperating, so we made do with our picnic lunches, which, seasoned by sunshine, fresh air and friends, were delicious.

We all agreed we are incredibly fortunate to live in such a beautiful place, with the beautiful natural resources that surround us, and good friends to share the fun. We spent about 6 hours on the water, and I learned the painful lesson that yes, I sunburn easily, even in September. Nonetheless, we’ll be back on the water soon. House chores can be done when the snow is on the ground.

Floating Breakfast

August 27, 2006

Saturday morning, we got up early to meet friends Lynn and Mark for a morning paddle on Nequasset Lake. Lynn suggested earlier we pack a breakfast, and I immediately agreed recalling fondly my floating lunch days as a counselor at Camp Pondicherry Girl Scout camp.

It was cool and overcast, but beautiful. The mist was just lifting when we put in at about 7:30, and the lake was glassy calm. We paddled about halfway up the lake and found some ledge to stop at for our picnic breakfast.

I’d had a technical challenge that morning, so my blackberry-ginger scones became blackberry muffins (scuffins?) as we were out of butter (out of butter? how can that be?!) — not terrible, but not scones, either. Adequate, sort of — not an accolade I like to apply in association with my cooking.

Fortunately, the cheddar-broccoli quiche made from our own broccoli and eggs was yummy, and Mark brought a batch of fabulous blueberry muffins, and the view from our rock was gorgeous. With hot coffee from the thermos, breakfast bordered on divine.

As we ate and chatted, the mist began to clear. In front of me, the dew on a spider web became more visible against the backdrop of the lake. Preparing to leave, we noticed some hens and chicks growing on the ledge, escaped from someone’s garden, no doubt.

As we paddled the rest of the way around the lake, the cloud cover lifted and the sun came out, and by the time we returned to the boat landing, it was warming up nicely. Which turned out to be a good thing, because as I disembarked from my kayak, things went awry, and in the blink of an eye, I was swimming –oops! Some additional practicing on the getting in and out of the kayaks is called for, I’d say. The kayak, however, stayed upright, and our gear remained dry. Phew!

Soaked to the skin, wearing cotton, I quickly got cold. I know cotton and canoeing/kayaking is a bad mix, but haven’t had a chance to upgrade my wardrobe to include kayaking friendly synthetics. Still, once I shed my soaked t-shirt and donned my dry fleece jacket, things improved. We loaded the kayaks and headed home for lunch.

At lunch, sitting on the deck in the sun, we got the laptop to check the weather. The forecast called for cold, overcast and showers likely for Sunday. Not good kayaking weather, especially sans synthetics. In a wink, Dan and I were loading the boats again, and we headed back to the lake to explore the other boat launch. Jam and pesto could wait.

At the lake inlet, we paddled upstream a bit until a large snag blocked the way, then we turned around. The water was calm and glassy, but as we got closer to the lake, the wind picked up. I’d hoped to practice my entrances and exits, but it wasn’t the day for that, so we paddled a bit to get accustomed to the way the boats handled in the wind and waves. In all, we spent a glorious 5 1/2 hours on the water yesterday. I hope we have a long, warm fall; it would be great to spend the next 6-7 Saturdays the same way.

The Sweet and the Bittersweet

August 23, 2006

This time of year is full of delights — the plenty from the garden, the crisp Maine air, the gorgeous mornings which call to mind Keats’ Ode to Autumn:

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease;
For Summer has o’erbrimm’d their clammy cells.

But these delights signal the end of summer , and my summer holiday ended this week, with my return to work. Yes, it good to see work colleagues, my favorite students, to meet new students eager to make their mark on campus, but oh, I miss the days in the garden, and the freedom to follow the rhythm of the sun.

Still, the gorgeous weather allows us to fit in a later afternoon/early evening paddle. Yesterday we tried a new spot, Nequasset Lake in Woolwich. What a beautiful paddle! The lake serves as the source for drinking water for several nearby communities, so there is very little development as the water district owns much of the shorefront. It was a delightful paddle, one we will do many times again in the future, I am sure, as it is only a short drive from the house. We have no photos today, as we were in a rush to get in the water and forgot the camera.

Perhaps there will be more paddling on Wednesday, and on Thursday, we plan to make pesto for the freezer, yum! I’ll share the process then. Now, it is time for work!

On Cloud Nine….

August 18, 2006

Owning a handyman’s dream home is really a dream (I am actually serious) but it does tend to monopolize your life if you are not absolutely vigilant about making other plans. While I honestly do get immense satisfaction out of working on the house, there are some things I have missed, like paddling.

Dan has never done much paddling, or boating at all really, if you dismiss the brief flirtation with an aging ski boat he bought before he met me. I worked summers through college at a Girl Scout camp and then lived in on Moosehead Lake, so I had a lot of opportunities to paddle, including some coastal paddling trips. As we now live within 1/4 mile of the Kennebec River at Merrymeeting Bay, it seems like too good an opportunity to pass up.

Thus we began seriously talking about the idea and what kind of kayaking we wanted to do, and what kind of boats would best suit us. We rented a couple of Old Town Canoe Loon 138 kayaks and spent about 2 hours paddling yesterday, and went for a long paddle on the Kennebec again this morning, and we are hooked. Our little town has a magnificent boat launch and waterfront park, and the view of town from the river is wonderful. Without even really focusing on birdwatching, we saw loons, osprey, bald eagles, several great blue herons, and a kingfisher. It was glorious paddling.

Those two kayaks are staying with us, our rental agent just also happens to be an Old Town dealer, and we got a good price on (barely) used kayaks. Although Dan is pictured here in a red one, we both got cloud blue kayaks. Look for us on the water again tomorrow –that is, if my arms can move! It has been a few years since I paddled on a regular basis. I love life in Maine.