Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ocean Kayaking in the Deer Isle Region of the Maine Coast – Stonington to Isle au Haut

The Deer Island Region of the Maine Island Trail
The Maine Island Trail (MIT) is a 375-mile chain of over 180 wild islands along the coast of Maine.  In mid-July friends Dundee, Cully, David and I did a three day paddle on the MIT in the Deer Island Region.  The Deer Isle Region extends from Stonington south to Isle au Haut and east into Blue Hill Bay.  We tented two days on the two acre Steves Island (name by coincidence.)

We put-in at Stonington, Maine at the Old Quarry Ocean Adventure campground.  Click the video below for exciting footage of our trip, including a Google Earth map of our MIT route.

Here are some special notes on our trip
  • Over the years, the pronunciation of “Isle au Haut” has drifted considerably. Nowadays, people who have spent time on the island pronounce it “i-la-HO.”
  • Dundee was both our Chef and Navigator.  He is top-notch in both areas.
  • Where are we in the Atlantic? A map and compass are mandatory in these Deer Island
    waters.  Admittedly we had moments where we were questioning the name of the islands we could see in the distance.  Certainly, when fog is present (frequently), you either stay on a known island, use your map and compass to get to your next island destination, or back to the mainland.
  • Disposal of human waste
    • The Maine Island Trail Association (MITA) requests all island visitors carry off solid human waste and dispose of it safely on the mainland.  The Maine Island trail Guide lists several good carry off methods to help you deal with human waste on the Trail.  We chose the Crap Wrap method.
  • Water
    • We brought our own potable water. The islands we visited had no drinking water - and remember, we were in the ocean. 
  • Day 1 Old Quarry Campground to Steves Island
    • A 4.6 mile paddle from Old Quarry Ocean Adventures campground to the 2 acre Steves Island where we camped for two nights
    • Met Randy and son Steve from Lancaster, PA
    • First come – first camp.  Steves Island 2 acres and three sites – ten max
    • Put-in and Parking at Old Quarry Adventure Campground
    • 90 plus minute paddle from Old Quarry to Steve’s Island.
    • Dave caught Mackerel
  • Day 2 Steves Island to Isle au Haut
    • 11 mile paddle was from Steve Island to Harbor Island, where we walked around the Island.  We continued our paddle pass Merchant Island, Pell Island, Nathan Island, and entered the waterway of the Isle au Haut Thoroughfare.  We had lunch outside the Island Store.  We returned to Steves Island the same route.  The round trip was close to 5 hours with windy and choppy seas.
    • Dundee cooked us McNestlers for breakfast.
    • Paddle to Harbor Island (went ashore), then to Isle au Haunt.  Total paddle back to Steves Island was about 5 hours in windy and choppy waters.
    • Lunch Isle of Haunt at Island Store
    • Found mussels on Steves Island for a feast and invited Randy and Steve to join us.
    • We located mussels on Steves Island.  A warming here must be made about Red Tide
  • Day 3 Steves Island to Crotch Island quarry, pass Stonington and takeout at Old Quarry
    • 6 mile paddle passed the George Head island sandbar in a whoop-de-doo surfing wave.   We visited Crotch Island which was once a world renowned granite quarry.  We went up the “crotch” past hills of waste chunks of granite.  We saw osprey and eagles. We continued along the shoreline of the town of Stonington with its many wharfs of commercial lobster and fishing operations.  Lobster boats have the right of way and we learned this quickly as our final hour coincided when lobster boats returning in mass to sell their day’s work.
    • With expectations of a rain and wind storm on Wednesday night, we decided to curtail out trip.  After a coffee and orange juice, we hada  burrito breakfast of pita bread, eggs, cheese and salsa.
    • Crotch Island and stone quarry.  At the turn of the century, Crotch was one of 33 major island quarries along the Maine coast. They provided work for an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 people, creating a boom-town atmosphere in nearby coastal towns. Crotch Island is an active remnant of what once was a dominant industry and colorful part of Maine’s past.
    • Crotch Island's 450 acres are littered with the rusted relics of its past, and dotted
      with hills of waste rock, chunks of granite that didn't break right and couldn't be used. A steam-powered Brown hoist crane with a 40-foot boom stands rusting near the V-shaped inlet that gives Crotch Island its name.  We saw an osprey nest on a hoist crane.
For those interested in more detail of our Deer Isle Region paddle, Bedford Community TV has an online 25 minute video.

To learn about my 2010 trip on the Maine Island Trail (MIT) visit Sea kayaking and Camping on the Maine Island Trail:  Outdoor Steve’s Blog post of August 2010

The Maine Island Trail Association (MITA)
The Maine Island Trail Association ( MIT is a must membership for any outdoor enthusiast considering an ocean paddle.

As a member of the Maine Island Trail Association (MITA) I enjoy the benefits of an MITA e-newsletter and a MITA Guidebook. Dundee, Cully, Dave and I used this guidebook with its maps and island descriptions to plan our three day 22 mile sea kayak paddle in the Deer Island region of the MIT.

In my 2010 paddle on the Maine Island Trail I emailed the office of the Maine Island Trail Association, and MITA responded answering my questions about island fire permits (there is a telephone number in the MITA online ( and hard copy guidebook); camp site reservations (There is no need for camp reservations on any of the islands - a MITA member has access to all sites on the trail, at any time, unless the guide descriptions indicates otherwise); The Deer Isle overview page of the guide has a list of put-ins available, and we selected Old Quarry Ocean Adventures

"Everyone must do something. I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends" S. Priest

Click this link to SUBSCRIBE to OutdoorSteve's YouTube Channel


Steve’s latest book, Outdoor Play "Fun 4 4 Seasons" is available as an e-Book at Kindle ($3.99) and hard copy at ($11.95)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Vermont Wilderness camping and paddling with family and friends

"Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

In early July I did two days of paddling and one night of tenting in the Green River Reservoir of northern Vermont.  My companions were my adult son Tim; my two teenage grandchildren; my friend Dundee and his adult son Paul; and Paul’s two teenage boys and his ten year old daughter.  Our transportation was three kayaks and three canoes.

The below 5 minute video is better than words, but here is a summary:
  • I used the Green River Reservoir web site to identify our preferred camp site and place to make reservations.
  • The nine of us in three cars had a two plus hour trip from Sunapee, NH
  • Access to the Green River Reservoir is only through the Park Ranger Station
  • All camp sites are only accessed via the water
  • We had a half hour paddle to our chosen camp site #25
  • We had intermittent rain throughout the first day, BUT rain in no way hindered our wonderful family and friends trip.
  • Paul was our top notch menu planner and Chef as he did on a prior trip (Paddling the Waters of Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada).  Paul made a marvelous macaroni, cheese, and hot dog supper – and a great McNestler egg-cheese-bacon-English muffin breakfast.
  • We had three tents and a large camp tarp on site #25.
  • We  decided to see if we could start a fire with flint and steel – and each of us took a turn at this task.  You will see this teaching moment in the videos.
  • This is a magnificent lake to swim in clear and deep water.  The surrounding cliffs leave no shore lines – so a person really must be a swimmer to swim here.  All nine of us are experienced swimmers.
  • NEVER jump into water without first checking for rocks, depths and dangerous obstacles.  See the video for our cliff jumping fun.
  • In the evening we went for a paddle around Big Island (we had stayed on site #33 in 2012 Peak Foliage Paddling and Camping in the Green River Reservoir of Northern Vermont)
  • Wildlife is prominent in this area.  We saw nesting loons, herons, beaver signs, and even moose scat.  We were told eagles were there, but we saw none.   

    No grandfather, father, or friend could have enjoyed a better time.  Life is great!

For those interested in more details of our trip click here for our 25 minute video titled Wilderness camping and paddling with family and friends: Green River Reservoir

About Green River Reservoir
Green River Reservoir became a state park in March 1999 when 5110 acres were purchased from the Morrisville Water and Light Department. This is not your typical Vermont State Park – Green River Reservoir provides camping and paddling experiences in a remote setting. All campsites can only be reached by paddling to them - some are a 1 to 2-mile paddle from the launch site.

The park will remain in its wild and undeveloped condition, with low-impact, compatible recreational use allowed on and around the Reservoir. Management activities will be only those necessary to maintain the property’s character, protect the environment and critical resources, demonstrate sustainable forest and wildlife management, control excessive recreational use, and ensure high-quality outdoor experiences for visitors.

The 653-acre Reservoir includes about 19 miles of shoreline, one of the longest stretches of undeveloped shorelines in Vermont. Access to the park is in the southern part of the Reservoir off of Green River Dam Road. The Reservoir is designated as a “quiet” lake under Vermont “Use of Public Waters Rules.” Boats powered by electric motors up to 5 mph and human-powered watercraft (canoes, kayaks, etc.) are allowed.

There are 28 remote campsites at various locations around the Reservoir. Camping is allowed only at designated campsites and can only be reached by boat. Each remote site has a maximum site occupancy based on the characteristics of the site. There is one designated group campsite that can accommodate up to 12 people. Some campsites are closed each season and rehabilitated due to overuse through the years.

"Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

Steve’s latest book, Outdoor Play "Fun 4 4 Seasons" is available as an e-Book at Kindle ($3.99) and hard copy at ($11.95)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

"Looking into the eye of a Rainbow"

At 7 pm on Wednesday July 9, 2014 I witnessed a magnificent double rainbow and its complete reflection on the water.  In essence, “I looked into the Eye of a Rainbow”.

Look closely at the above picture.  In the very middle of this "Rainbow Eye" you will see Nestler's Island in Perkins Pond.  This picture is indeed a "one in a trillion" shot. (Photo by Dundee).

Perkins Pond is a 157 acre pond located in the Dartmouth-Sunapee Region of New Hampshire.

"Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

Steve’s latest book, Outdoor Play "Fun 4 4 Seasons" is available as an e-Book at Kindle ($3.99) and hard copy at ($11.95)

"Everyone must do something. I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends" S. Priest

Click this link to SUBSCRIBE to OutdoorSteve's YouTube Channel