We are awesome, at least we think we are. Warning this might be a long read.
Stacey and Emily on the Bold Coast, Cutler Maine
Welcome to some of the highest sea cliffs in New England. Last week I asked Stacey, my go-to-hiking-gal-pal, if she wanted to go on a day hike. She is always up for an adventure. I wanted to hit the coast, I hadn't been there yet this year. She suggested an overnight on the Bold Coast. What's better than a day hike? Well, an overnight hike, of course. My response was a quick yes, despite the fact all my A-list gear was on loan to my wonderful son and his fiancé for her first overnight backpacking trip.
Stacey, the master planner hiked part of the Bold Coast Trail earlier in the summer and knew she wanted to do the complete loop for an overnight, so when I said I wanted to do a coastal hike she knew right where we should head. If you have been around this blog for a while, you know I won't bog you down with the trail logistics, that wheel has already been invented. Check out google or any good hiking book for Maine. I like the A Falcon Guide by Greg Westrich, the Maine Gazetteer by Delorme, and the All Trails hiking app. Another great Maine hiking resource is Aislinn Sarnacki, author for the Bangor Daily News.
Map courtesy of the kiosk at the trail head
We went the opposite direction the map suggests. The forecasted weather had day one being the best so we wanted to take advantage of that for the views along the coast. When we exited the woods to our first view, it was an ah-ha moment. Even though clouds hid the sun most of the day, visibility was still grand enough to make out hearts thump with excitement.
Once we reached the first look-out, the trail pulled us along the Maine coastline with a game of peek-a-boo as we weaved in and out of the forest along cliffs.
It takes Stacey and I forever to hike. First of all, we talk non-stop. Okay, maybe not non-stop because the views take our breath away leaving us speachless. But when we are not captivated and stunned by the awesomeness of nature, we are slowed by taking photos. We don't rush, I did enough of that on my thru-hikes of the AT. We take our time. Most hikers would do this hike in a day, we didn't want to rush it.
Stacey the photographer
What I found most unique about this particular hike was one of the beaches. It wasn't your typical sandy beach. Instead the beach was made up of varying sized stones polished by thousands of years of tumbling in the surf. The stones looked more like river stones and were nothing like the cliffs that surrounded the beach area. It was very odd. The narrow horseshoe cove with its rugged and jagged cliffs stood in contrasted against the beach on both sides.
The map showed five different camping areas. Our plan was to stay at Fairy Head. That would break our adventure into almost two equal mileage days for hiking. But each time we came to a campsite, we were so tempted to stay put. Each place had a view and soft ground to pitch a tent. One place even had access to another stone beach. But curiosity got the best of us and we declined to stay, so we pushed on. As we did so, we questioned our decision in feared we were giving up the "perfect" spot. But we still pushed on.
According to the All Trail's GPS tracker, we were at Fairy Head and should have arrived at the last camping area. We had already passed two sites at Fairy Head marked by signs. But no other sign pointed us in the correct direction. We stepped aside to let two other hikers in the opposite direction go by. We were waiting for them to leave in order to investigate a set of wooden stairs (not the ones above - but similar). To our amazement, it was the final site and the best of all five. There was nothing wrong with any of the others, but this last one was so worth waiting for.
On top of the cliffs we made camp. My tent is on the left, Stacey's is on the right. Little River light house is just to the right of the tree, way off in the distance. It was our night light. The beams of white breaking the fog and mist, the sporadic clanging of a bell-bouy, and the red-blinking submarine radio towers could have been annoying in another place or time. But for us, the tri-fector had a calming and almost hypnotic effect on us.
View from inside my tent.
View from the side of my tent looking towards Canada across the Grand Manan Channel towards Manan Island. When the sun went down, light houses dotted the horizon, all blinking to their own signature rhythm and color to guide ships and boats in and out of the channel.
From our tents, a short path led to a flat out-cropping that we called the dining room. Here we cooked dinner and watched the sun go down. Our endless chatter during our hike ceased as we took in all the grandeur and let our "real' world slip out to sea with the crashing waves.
Right from the get-go, we wanted to wake up early to catch a sunrise on the coast of Maine. The alarm was set. We went to sleep with the help of our tri-fector and a glimpse into a Mariner's life at sea. We wished it would have been uninterrupted sleep, but nature calls even out in the wilderness. With that said, it was still a wonderful night's rest for both of us and before we knew it, the alarm woke us.
Our hopes of a beautiful sunrise was foiled by fog so thick you could see and feel it in the air. But that didn't stop us from getting up and enjoying what we could see. While our visibility was impaired our other senses were sharpened. The smell of the salt air filled our lungs, The crispy damp air stimulated our skin, which we quickly covered, and the roar of the surf and wind blocked out any other noises, even our own thoughts which was a nice distraction. Since we could not watch the sun paint the sky, we decided to nestle amongst a crag in the ledge with our sleeping bags and just take it all in.
No, the ocean isn't side-ways, the photographers was.
As I watched the tide I felt my breathing become one with the ocean as it swelled. In and out I inhaled with the in and out of the waves. It was the best therapy. After what seemed like eternity, it was time to pack up and hike out. I took my last deep breath of fresh ocean air and left my our little nook.
We decided to hike out the inland trail to complete the loop. The inland trail gets a bad rap on the All Trails app. I am not sure why. Sure, it doesn't have the dramatic cliff hanging views, the endless seascape horizon, or the thunderous symphony of the waves. Instead, it offers endless peace and tranquility of a moss covered forest, sweeping marshes, and tall hardwood stands. Not to mention the chance to see big game. We were not so lucky but we did spot signs of their activity. Anyone forgoing the long inland trail is depriving themselves of one of Maine's treasures.
I can't remember now, it if was at supper on the ledge or when we were tucked in our down bags in the craggy cliff, when Stacey said, "We are awesome." I kid a lot about being great, perfect, and even sometimes forget to take my humble pill. But deep down, I am just as self-conscious as the next person. At that moment though, Frankly, I had to agree with her. We were awesome, at least we thought we were. There we were, two gals in our 30's plus 20+ years of wisdom, camping on the ocean's edge.
We didn't settle for what was good. On almost blind faith, we pushed on hoping for what might be better and were rewarded with something great, more than we could have imagined. Was it a gamble? Sure, but we were confident enough in ourselves to accept the risk. Admittedly, years ago we confessed we may not have been so accepting of the unknown. But several grey hairs, wrinkles, and in my case, extra fluff around the middle, are not just signs of aging but also growth of becoming the best we can.
We don't let those signs of maturity stifle our fun though, Underneath the crows feet and dropping eye lids lay kids at heart. After-all, who can resist a bouy-swing.
Weekly Health Update:
- No scales, but my clothes seem to fit a tad looser
- Chips and Soda are off the menu and this week have added no chocolate. Slipped a couple times last week.