We stayed the night in the Oasis Motel in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The hotel was pretty dumpy, as it seems was the trend in that area. It probably ranked better than the Ash Fork Inn out West, but not by much. We begrudgingly gave them an extra $10 to stay parked there the next day while we walked down to the river and the falls. The town of Niagara Falls is a year round carnival, reminiscent of Pigeon Forge or whatever the town outside Rushmore was. We walked the Canadian side of the falls first and then crossed the bridge to the US side. While the Canadian side has by far the better viewing of the falls, the US side has a much more extensive park and closer access to the falls. We wandered the park for a few hours before crossing the bridge back to Canada. Continue reading →
Departing Maine – we took a pretty leisurely pace getting packed up and heading out in the morning. Stopped at the visitor center and a few other places along the way as we headed back toward the Thousand Islands area of Canada.
We had chance, though getting close enough (there was much uncertainty about how far the road was passable) and possible rain were concerns, to hike the second highest peak in Maine – Sugarloaf Mountain, but we bypassed that on our way out of the state.
We had paddled the US side of the Thousand Islands area on the way out to Maine, so on the return we chose to stay on the Canadian side. We stayed outside the little town of Gananoque and drove into town in the morning. We stopped at the visitor center and at a nice little coffee shop (The Socialist Pig) prior to heading down to the harbor for some paddling. Finding a launch site and parking was a little bit annoying due to some construction and one way roads (I think we drove around the block three times), but we got on the water a bit before noon. Continue reading →
The primary objective of the days at Baxter State Park was the hiking of Mt. Katahdin, the Northern end of the Appalachian Trail. We chose to ascend via Abol Trail since that’s where our camp was. Abol is a bit shorter, but steeper than Hunt Trail from what we were able to find. We got a very early start (for us at least) heading up the mountain by 8:00. I was a bit paranoid about the time and making it to the top given some of our previous adventures and the various warnings in the printed material. Turns out, the timing was a bit excessive. I think we got to the peak just before noon and given how late it was in the season, there really was no ‘hot’ part of the day to avoid. Also, the pictures we took of the trail map were wholly unnecessary since the trial was obvious the entire time.
It was fun, but also a bit disheartening, to see all the AT through hikers finishing that day having their little celebrations at the top – some brought pizza, some brought beer, special shirts for photos. A couple kids (not through hikers) brought 4-person pot pies (1 each) that they ate cold. It was discouraging only because it kind of dwarfed our day-hike accomplishment kind of like we cheated and jumped straight to the finale.
On our descent, we took the side-trail that went to Abol falls. It was a pretty easy, flat trail, but the falls were not as grand as Katahdin Falls from the day before. Still worth a few pictures.
We decided to spend a few days in Baxter State Park. It was a bit of a divergence from our typical gravitation toward the national parks, but worth it. Baxter State Park is huge and home to Mt. Katahdin. We got to the park early in the afternoon and, after a quick reservation adjustment at the welcome shack to consolidate the two nights we had reserved in separate sites, found our lean-to and set up for the evening. I had never stayed in a lean-to before, but it was nice having a clean, elevated platform for the tent and not needing the rain fly. It was also really nice to not have to make the choice between packing up a damp tent or waiting for everything to dry out in the morning.
Moose sightings were reportedly a thing in Baxter, so we walked and drove to a few of the nearby ponds before deciding to take a hike up Hunt Trail toward Katahdin. The goal was to hike the mountain the next day, but we were going to take a the Abol trail and thus would not have passed by Katahdin Falls, the destination for the evening. The trail wasn’t anything too challenging – just a moderate climb. The falls are pretty substantial, but they cut through the side of a mountain, so finding a good viewpoint was a bit challenging.
Monday was a walking tour of Portland day. As is a bit of a theme, we didn’t have specific plans or schedule. We drove into Portland and lucked out with some free parking on the edge of town. We wandered the waterfront docks, shops, etc and then looped up through the heart of town. We weren’t specifically in need of any stuff and neither of us really shops just to shop, so it was mostly just a walking tour of the city. Continue reading →
We headed out toward Portland in the morning, opting for the somewhat more scenic route down the coast. Down the coast, in this case, meant highway between small towns instead of freeway. For the most part, I didn’t feel like it was “on the ocean” – not like California where you’re driving on the ocean for 10’s of miles. Looking at the map, and the timing of when we would have been driving past, I guess this impression could have been influenced by the fact that most of the run down the coast was after sunset.
The first stop along the way was at Blue Hill Mountain – only about 45 minutes out of Acadia. I’m not sure what the claim to fame of the place was, but it came up in Janet’s search for hikes so we diverted a bit. It was a pretty, and pretty easy hike up through the woods to a peak. There was formerly a tower there, but just the footings remain at this point. Continue reading →
Saturday was supposed to be our third kayaking day and we headed off toward Somes Sound in the morning.
The automotive gods had a different idea. I had replaced all the Subaru brakes just before the trip and they were still wearing in just a bit, but we started to hear some scraping from the right side of the car. A mile or so later, things started to feel a bit rough and I pulled over to the side of the road. It had seemed that the sound was coming from the front so I checked there first and everything seemed fine. The rear wheel, however, was a different story. Two of the lug nuts had blown off, shearing the studs with them and the other three were loose. We caught them just in time – I’m still not sure how we managed to get 1500 miles through Canada before having issues. I tightened the remaining three and we made our way to the nearest auto store (a NAPA about 8 miles away) for some emergency repairs in their parking lot. Fortunately, I had a small set of tools with us and NAPA had the necessary parts to complete a fix: three studs, three lug nuts and one hacksaw (because I goofed seating one of the studs). A few hours later we were back in business, but plans for the day were slightly delayed.
After two days of kayaking we decided to do a bit of hiking. We went back to the Park Loop and found our way to the Precipice Trail. This was reportedly the most strenuous climb and involved a lot of scrambling and a good number of ladders and ledges. I’m not much for heights, but I like the climbing part so I figured I’d see how far I got before deciding we needed to turn back. We ended up making it to the top – nothing quite so bad as the walking along a ridge style of Angel’s Landing. We descended via the Orange & Black Trail which was the recommended route to avoid a lot of crossing paths and having to navigate around hikers coming up.
Overall the trail wasn’t too bad, but to my entertainment, we crossed paths a few times with a couple who apparently were not in agreement about either how far the hike was going to be or how concerned one of them was about the climbing. There were several stages of a somewhat stressful debate observed over the course of the hike.
Having scoped out Bar Harbor (8) before, we had an idea of where to park and where to get on the water. We drove down in the morning a bit before high tide and put the kayaks in the water. We had looked up some of the kayak tour routes earlier and somewhat followed one of the paths around Bar Island and near two Porcupine islands. The most common attraction on this paddle was the abundance of buoys connected to lobster traps.
The surprise sighting of the day was a pod of harbor porpoises. We knew they were something to keep any eye out for, but didn’t really expect to have any sightings. We were just over half way to Burnt Porcupine Island having slowed a bit to give a lobster boat some room when a pod of harbor porpoises started surfacing near us. Over the next 10-20 minutes we probably saw and heard a few dozen porpoises surfacing around us. They were mostly pretty quick just coming up to breathe and submerging again, but they did seem to be curious about us and cruising around the area. Janet was able to capture one on video (it’s small, roughly mid screen, right at the end) over her shoulder and got a few pictures, I didn’t have the waterproof camera and was less willing to take chances with my phone on the water. Continue reading →
With a little planning the night before, we decided to go to the Pretty Marsh area of the island and paddle up the West side. I think we combined two different versions of directions and ended up targeting a launch somewhat North of the marsh itself (10). This lead to some confusion early on as we didn’t seem to be ‘leaving’ the harbor where we expected to start, but instead were just heading up the cost. Fortunately, this wasn’t a navigation test – we were just going to paddle up the coast a bit and then return. Also, there may have been some help from a phone GPS in determining what we were actually doing. Continue reading →