Today we decided to take a sea kayak tour along the West coast of Mount Desert Island. This particular tour emphasizes the naturalist side: flora, fauna and geology to be found right along the coast. The entire trip was about 3.5 hours. There were 10 participants, along with Corky, our guide (fourth from the right in the back row below), and Kat, his friend (third from the right in the back row, next to Kathy). The participants were from all over the country, and with a wide variety of experience and skill with kayaks. One participant did not know how to swim and is afraid of the water, but she agreed to come along with her daughter. The trip was so skillfully guided, and the skills so well taught, by Corky that the woman was able to participate fully and enjoy the entire trip. The rest of us enjoyed ourselves equally!
Here's a photo of some of the kayaks as we set off on our voyage. We paired up in double kayaks. We had not used sea kayaks before, so we learned about spray skirts and rudders, and we had a chance to put it all together in some brisk winds, currents and waves.
Our trip was approximately 6 miles, starting in Bartlett Narrows (the bottom of the red track shown on the chart below). The outfitters drove the kayaks and us to our embarkation point at Bartlett's Landing. Generally, we paddled up the coast, close to the shoreline, for several reasons. First, close to the shore the wind, current and waves weren't as strong. But perhaps more importantly, most of the things Corky wanted to show us were along the shore, and we obviously wanted to be where the attractions were!
Near the end of our paddle (toward the top of the red path in the chart below), we stopped for a rest and a snack on the beach at Indian Point (where the track turns into the shoreline). After that refreshing stop, we paddled back out into deeper water and made straight across beyond Northwest Cove, toward and into Clark Cove, where we beached the kayaks and reboarded our van back to the outfitters' shop.
It wasn't long before our paddling efforts were rewarded! Here is a photo of one of perhaps a dozen or more harbor seals we saw. This fellow was sunning himself on the large rock on the right in the photo below. If you look carefully, you'll see seal pups in the background on the left, in an area of the harbor the seals use as a nursery. Twice along our route, seals swam up curiously to within perhaps 100 yards of us, and it was exciting to see their little heads (Corky describes them as looking like cocker spaniels without ears) popping out of the water.
Not all the spectacle was animate, however. We passed a number of small islands that were apparently pristine, containing their own small ecosystems:
Further along, we spied a bald eagle, swooping from behind us, around a point to its nest in some high tree. We couldn't spot its nest, but we did then catch sight of a regal looking osprey, perched high in a fir tree with a commanding view of the cove that must have been its territory:
Here is another photo of a small island we passed, this time with Corky paddling his kayak in the foreground:
As we described above, we took a short rest on the beach at Indian Point, and then Corky had us paddle a straight heading into Clark Cove. This took us through brisker winds and waves, and, as we approached the beach, we actually were able to surf some of the waves past sailboats anchored offshore. Here's a photo of our group after arriving in Clark Cove, as we packed up our gear and readied the kayaks for reloading on the trailer for the trip back to the outfitters' shop:
Back at the shop, Corky asked us to each consider one thing that either inspired, surprised, challenged or touched us during the kayak trip. We both agreed that the entire trip has inspired us to try more sea kayaking, and to use kayaking more as a means of learning about our natural surroundings.
On our walk back to the shuttle bus, we stopped for some ice cream. As it turned out, several people who had taken the same kayak trip, as well as an earlier one that day hosted by the same outfitters, were on our bus, and the trip back to the campground was made pleasant and short as we chatted with the other kayakers about our experiences.
Expect more kayak entries on this blog in the future!