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.

This is part of a series of posts about my 200 mile trip up the coast of Maine by the Maine Island Trail. Previously:  Bar Harbor through Downeast Maine
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.

View Day 7: Jonesport to Machias in a larger map

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…
Roque Islands
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 vacation.

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