On my final day I paddled through Jonesport and the rest of Downeast Maine and arrived in the town of Machias to finish the Maine Island trail after casting off in Portland one week ago.
|Final sunrise on the Maine Island Trail|
I had quite the miserable morning with mosquitoes. I was
swarmed, literally. A cloud of mosquitoes made breaking down camp impossible. I
thought I was being cleaver by wearing a wetsuit but they stung right through
the neoprene. Anecdotally, I’ve heard of people going crazy with mosquitoes and
I was on the edge.
Eventually I was able to push off into the morning fog and
sun which made the morning enjoyable again. Today was another logistically
interesting day; campsites in Downeast Maine are few and far between. Getting
all the way to Machias would be preferable but should I not be able to cover
the distance, it would be difficult to find a campsite in between. I decided to
take it as it comes.
It was almost a straight shot all the way to Jonesport from
where I camped and I enjoyed coast alone. It was almost like traveling back in
history as I paddled further and further east up Maine. Gone were the cities,
modernized villages, coastal mansions and tourists. It had been almost
exclusively replaced by the coastal homes of working men and women. There were
no pleasure boats and no commercial ships, just lobster boats and fishing
trawlers. Up here I was probably the only one who viewed the ocean as anything
but a source of sustenance and economy. I almost felt like an intruder.
I stopped briefly in
Jonesport for a cup of coffee and to stretch my muscles out for a while. There
really wasn’t much to Jonesport which was nice. I picked up some gas station
coffee and wandered around a bit. There was a bit of sadness in me knowing that
this was the last town I would stop by before the end of the trail. It hit me
that I would be heading back home soon and although the adventure had taken its
toll on me, part of me wanted to continue kayaking all the way to Lubec and
beyond to New Brunswick. Another trip perhaps…
|The many islands of Chandler Bay|
Long crossings and island hopping was ahead of me from here
until Machias but there were enough sights to see to keep my mind occupied.
Chandler Bay and the Roque Islands were spectacular and I spent some precious
time circling around the many islands. I landed at a beach or two to enjoy
snacks and a lunch. It was becoming apparent that with this pace, this would be
my last day on the trail which is why I stopped more often. The stretch between
Jonesport and Machias was one of the prettiest on the trail and the fact that I
was essentially alone made it even more enjoyable. I continued hopping islands
until I landed at the wildlife reserve- Halifax Island.
|Halifax Island, Maine|
Halifax was mostly deserted and had very few trees which
made for a nice mid-afternoon snack. I poked around for a while and planned out
my one last challenge- entering Machias Bay. It was not anything I hadn’t
encountered before but the wind and waves had picked up and the book did record
this area as having frequent, erratic currents and difficult landings.
Visibility was good but not unlimited; I had to work out my bearings carefully.
Crossing Machias Bay and the entrance was strenuous but
saddening. I fought against some currents and wind but for the most part it
went without trouble. Distant lighthouses and fog horns were my swan song for
this adventure as I paddled further inland through brackish water. The Machias
Bay became the Machias River and, for the first time in a week, I was paddling
upstream and against a significant headwind. I smiled thinking about how phenomenal
the conditions had been for this adventure. I briefly landed in Machiasport for
a victory picture and continued up river to the actual city of Machias. Just as
the last glimmer of twilight disappeared, I ended my trip at the Machias Town
Landing. No celebrations, no finish line, just sore muscles and satisfaction. But
to anyone who saw me land, I was just a kayaker who had come back from a trip.
|Pulling in to Machias Bay|
After a full week on the ocean in a plastic boat, I was
ready to enjoy some creature comforts so, against my wilderness spirit and
outdoor nature, I rented a motel room. I took a heavenly shower (the first in a
week) and dove under the covers of a queen size bed. I even watched some
mindless programming on TV. From savage to civilized in less than a few hours.
Although the phrase is overused, it had been the adventure
of a lifetime. I accomplished something I always wanted to do and saw my
adoptive home state in a way I could never see from anything but a kayak.
|Finally in Machiasport|
I suppose at this point I should write something about how
the trip changed me or how I realized something I never knew about myself. Young people tend to think such trips will
result in some type of spiritual awakening or personal makeover.
In all reality, I’ve never felt that way after a long journey. I
feel renewed, rejuvenated and even rested despite the physical exhaustion. I
even feel like I’ve satisfied the near-endless desire for adventure but as a
whole I am no different. All I can say at this point is, it was one hell of a
Read. Plan. Get Out There!