My last day on Bangs Island ends with watching the last ember of light fall below the horizon. Mid-level stratus clouds form the canopy above me as I sit awhile longer on the old dry log at the top of the “beach.” I use the quotation marks because at high tide there isn’t much more than a couple of feet above water below the log. Crushed stone is the prime ingredient worn down by the wind, sea, and weather. Years upon years of change. I wonder which ones have been here the longest and in what form. Our world is utterly amazing. I find it hard to imagine how the diversity of the world we live on now was a single mass surrounded by the sea so many years ago. Compare the timeline with outs and we are just infants in the span of the universe.
I elect to settle down inside the tent for the utterly boring dinner. Darkness has descended. The air is warm and the night filled with the song and chatting of night critters. Click on orange arrow in picture to listen. I believe the bird call is that of an Eider Duck. There were quite a few in the area today. Photo cover for the audio is of a flotilla of females from earlier today.
The Maine Island Association (MITA) guidebook asks boaters to report areas where Eider nesting occurs. The Eider’s are not on an endagnered species list. However, nesting areas are greatly diminished due to lack of suitable habitat, meaning safe from human impact.
My photo of a pair of female Eiders isn’t very good. So here is one I downloaded.
It certainly is a critter night. The day was so nice that I left the tent doors open rather than leaving them closed with the screens unzipped. Oh boy, big mistake! I fell asleep before mediation time. Nothing new with that as I’m usually tired, even on days that I don’t paddle. My alarm went off at 9 pm. I donned my headlamp and turned it on. The sound of “jumpy things” reverberated through the tent, sounding like rain. I looked at the floor and these tiny little critters covered it popping up against the sides of the tent where they meet the floor a few inches above on the sides. There were hundreds underneath the tent jumping too. The warm day must have heated up the ground beneath the tent to wake up these tiny jumpy things, many of which decided the inside of the tent was even better. I took my meds and quickly turned off the light. Now, what? This things are inside and outside of the tent. I doubt that sleeping out on the grass will help the situation. Invitation, “Come and get me!” I settled for stating several times, “Stay out of my sleeping bag!” and then added a humble, “Please.” I zipped myself inside as if I were on a winter trek, sealing myself inside as tightly as possible. I awoke a few times in the night happy that the jumpy things obliged my request.
Morning brought an additional inspection of the state of living critters in my tent. I cleared everything out to find hundreds of the jumpy things still alive. I shook out as many as possible but a bit of a slaughter did have to take place to completely rid my “house” of the pesky things.
A little research here at home helped me locate who the tent invasion of jumpy things were. They are Terrestrial Amphipods or Sand Fleas and sometimes referred to as Lawn Shrimp as they turn orange after death. (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Talitridae) Click here for detailed inforamation.
Click on Orange Arrow as you did in the first audio clip. Note that the photo should be credited to to : Sarah Gregg | Italy / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
My camp resides in a postage stamp sized grassy environment. These grasses cover much of the island with a density that makes exploring without adequate protective clothing impossible. The tree population is 90% deciduous scattered about in small stands. There are no trails here. I’m glad as there are few islands in the bay devoid of human intrusion.
Reminder: Click on Any photo for full-screen.
There is a Brown ail Moth Caterpillar near the tent. The are limited to the coast of Maine and Cape Cod at this time but once covered much of New England. This moth is oh so not nice as its larva eats voraciously, defoliating trees and shrubs and the caterpillar has poisonous microscopic hairs. Contact with these hairs cause a poison ivy type rash that may last from a few days to several weeks. It can become a full-blown dangerous allergic reaction in some people. Their nexts are built at the ends of branches rather than in the croch like gypsy moth. Click for source and more information.
The sky is changing from mostly clear to cloudy. These clouds are Altocumulus perlucidus which are a mid-level cloud forming at heights from 1.2 to 4.5 miles above sea level. Height is determined by the severity of atmospheric disturbance. They are formed by the accumulation of moisture and air that is forced high enough for the clouds to form. The heating of the ocean provide the moisture in this case and the upward movement of air is most likely due to convection. The perlucidus version of altocumulous clouds indicate a change in weather within six to eight hours. VHF does call for deteriorating weather and rain in the evening. Click on any of following for resource and info. Clouds online Names of Clouds WeatherOnline
I head over to my dry clothing and gear, stuff it in a bag once more, carry it back to camp and put each item in its place which is mostly in the cockpit, sealed under my dive flag “cover.” Camera in hand I walk to what’s left of my sandless beach to capture a few more scenes and plants before hiking up over the cliffs toward the south as far as possible to grab a few more photos. This shouldn’t take long as the cliff exposure is a very short distance before hitting trees, shrubs and brush. The tide is rising as well which will cut this portion off if I wait much longer. I’ll take my nap later.
Zoomed in on buoy from cliff. It’s position and movement indicates current and speed.
Enjoy the Slide show.
Well, here I am. My first morning on Bangs Island. A place I made an attempt to visit during my practice trip last year. The attempt was ruled out rather quickly because a strong current gripped my loaded down 14.2″ recreational kayak as soon as bow turned toward the Island. Safety first folks. The sea was perfectly calm but currents can be as dangerous or even more so than a wild ocean. First rule of self-rescue, “Know when not to go out.” My golden rule for anything.
I sit on a rock looking out over the channel toward Great Chebuege Island, remembering last night’s return trip and chuckle about my creative parking of Abbie B. She looked truly undignified. I wonder what she said about that but maybe it’s best to leave that one alone. Sorry, Abbie B.
Here’s the video clip taken within minutes of leaving Abbie B creatively parked. I added a bit light for better viewing. You will here the wind and see gentle water. Note that I am in a protected cove which means what is beyond has a bit more flavor. The tidal current pulling at a steep angle upwind of water movement was moderately strong. It was still a challenge to walk from the safe landing point over to camp. I was in mid-thigh to waist deep water whose incoming waves were hitting me on one side, waves rebounding off the rocky shore was shoving everything beneath the water outward, my feet stumbled over underwater rocks, while pulling Abbie B behind me. At least trying to keep her behind me. The wind, push and pull of surface water kept pushing her into me. A nudge from her bow hurt enough to motivate keen awareness of Abbie B’s location and making adjustments accordingly.
For my hiking friends, This is like walking broadside to a stiff wind above tree line at the same time a stonger wind at a 90 degree angle is driving the lower half of the body outward, while navigating through a rock garden. Use your imagination by adding the work of pulling a large hardshelled empty pack which is floating on a layer between the opposing forces with an empahsis on the upper broadside wind. Believe me when I say that, you don’t want to get hit by the backpack. Bruises and a bit of being beat up is the least of possible injuries. The few times Abbie B was shoved against me were just love taps from here bow. These hurt enough to keep a sharp eye on her throughout the short crossing to camp. It was a constant chore to keep her behind and off of me.
Back to my morning view, the three rafts lying just off the shore are a mystery to me.
They don’t like like a working floating dock;
such as the one in the harbor between
Little Chebeague and Long Island.
Click on photo for full screen to see the docks better
I’ve learned that these docks are owned and operated by Bangs Island Muscle Co. “BANGS ISLAND MUSSELS are hand-raised using techniques that are meticulous and labor intensive, by design. We nurture and harvest our mussels with the utmost care, relying on our worker’s knowledgeable hands instead of powerful and damaging machines to get the job done right. The extra time and effort that we put into BANGS ISLAND MUSSELS pays off in extended shelf life and premium meat quality.” From the Company’s about page. Click here for more info. It is also worth checking out their Harvenst page for a map of locations and a more detailed description of what they do. Click here. They offer a photo slide show on their home page, Click here.
The following is a gallery showing the docks, my protected home (one from surf landing point showing the length of walk and the now exposed seaweed covered rocks I walked through with Abbie Band there other is from my “private beach.”) A photo of sky from tent floor and one of the interior of the island from my outside of tent door. More on the latter in my next post. * You can view the photos full screen by clicking on any one of them.
This post links back to Finding Camp, Bangs Island.
Route from Jewell Island to Bangs Island in Red. Butterflies at locatons viewed.
Green Dot with arrow – fisherman. Blue dot is campsite.
Red line is route from Camp to beach near Great Chebeague Island Boat Yard
Red Line is back to Camp on Bangs Island. Purple Line is Wind Direction. Black Line is Tidal Current
The wind is picking up just a tad. Abbie B and me feel it a bit as we scoot from Hope Island over open water on the way to the east side of Bangs Island. We pass Sand Island along the eastern shore. I had planned to cut across to the west side of Bangs Island to the campsite but choose not too. It can’t be helped. The weather and the water are too perfect to abandon so quickly. So, Abbie B and me head for the east side where are able to relax our pace to savor each moment through the joy of simply floating, rather than paddling. Exploration is in full swing.
The vegetation on the south end is mixed forest with deciduous concentration in a few places. We find a man in a small boat fishing where the island is extremely narrow, much like an isthmus. High tide buries this ” pinched” land-bridge save a few feet that keep the island intact. What are you fishing for? He says something but with the “downeast” drawl at its best. I have not idea what he said but wish him well as if I did. We paddle on toward the Northern end of the island where it rounds off with a high sandy cliff. There is a designated camping area here. A nice place, high on a bluff with a grand view of the bay. I don’t fancy camping here. No way! I avoid such places for an overnight unless there is an absolute certainty of gentle weather. I will give up a lovely view for a safe haven in a heart beat.
Abbie B and me round the point finding the wind has moved from light and variable to around 8 knots flowing in from behind. I slowly guide us down the west side of the island. Camp should be just beyond the “isthmus” or close to it. Hmm, I’m not seeing it and add nuzzling bow up to the island in the vicinity to scan for the familiar red lid of a tupperware container. Each site has one. The name of site is on the lid. A log book, an about MITA pamphlet, kayak safety, and “leave no trace” camping practices are inside each one. Five minutes pass before the glint of red catches my eye. The container is mounted on a post for a site that is tucked in behind shrubs and trees. I park and extricate myself from Abbie B as close to shore as possible leaving her behind to check out the area.
It is a short scramble through reedy grass to reach the “beach” and a thickly vegetated area beyond that. There isn’t much space for a tent. Scratching my head, I ponder as to the flattest space for sleeping but am hard pressed to find a suitable spot for the tent. I don’t mind a few lumps but having a rock or hard lump poking me in the kidney or a lung is not conducive to sleeping. I give up and head over to the read and sign the log book. It appears that very few people seek out this place. There only three names listed for the entire season. Too bad. It’s a decent site i.e. quiet, sheltered, and hidden from view. My kind of place! Okay, go get the gear out of Abbie B. It’s getting late and I’m out of water.
The task of placing the tent is still a challenge but one with a comfortable body sleeping zone is finally found. Ten more minutes pass just for this chore. The rest is easy. Grab, carry, and toss gear according to a well established habit for the where and how stuff is organized for a pleasant stay. Now, off for the water.
I hastily push Abbie B back into the water, climb in, secure myself and head for the Great Chebeague Island Boat Yard. Daylight is waning and the crossing is a bit of a paddle so I put all I have into the trip. We make pretty good time and land safely on the long sandy beach. The tide is rising quickly causing the need to pull Abbie B as high as possible and secure her to a log. The forehatch is opened, two water bladders are grabbed and then a jog up to the restaurant/pub. Thankfully the bathrooms are level with the ground and the dining area is up a floor. I’m still in full gear, sweating like a pig and feeling quite filthy compared to this high-end suit wearing vacationers. The sink is deep enough for me to fill the bladders/4 full and top off the two liter bag strapped to my back. It’s an old platypus bike hydration system that still works well.
I am stopped by a gentleman just who is smoking outside near the building but in view of the harbor. He asks some questions and makes small talk. It is truly getting dark and chatting with this man is not on my happy list at the moment. I try to be polite but it isn’t possible to continue. I gotta go, nice talking with you. A wave and a sand kicked up behind me puts and end to the encounter. My full company of water is back in the hatch. My next move is to grab my homemade headband which has two Revere See-Me Lites. One is a white nav. lite for visibility the other is an emergency strobe. Both have a three miles visibility. I put it on and turn the nav. light on. It isn’t completely dark yet but enough to need one. Thankfully, there isn’t much for boat traffic here, so not much to worry about.
The paddle back has its own work and will not be a fast crossing. The wind is in my favor but the rising tide is producing a current intent on sucking Abbie B and me north of the island. This puts me a beam to the waves. A little finesse and some patience finally brings me to the little cove where camp is located. The surf isn’t hard but enough of problem that the only place to land is in a little quiet space around fifty yards from camp. We glide in nicely with and easy exit out of Abbie B plants my neoprene booted feet on land. Land that will soon be underwater. The best way to get Abbie B and myself over to camp is in the water. I hitch up a tow-line and wade into the water for a “hike” to camp. I pull Abbie B behind me while walking in waist deep water. The incoming wave action and rebound from the rocks creates some difficulty in keeping my footing. There are plenty of big rocks underwater that have a desire to trip me up within this push and pull and slapping of the sea against me and Abbie B. I have to turn around and reposition Abbie B every few feet to keep the elements from smashing he into me. That would be painful!
It takes awhile but we do make it to camp where the tidal influence hasn’t buried enough rock for an easy pull of Abbie B across them to the beach-like spit of land below camp. The last light of dusk has created some beautiful light conditions as well. I provide creative parking for Abbie B and run to the tent to grab my camera and snap off some pictures before securing Abbie B and settling in for the night.
I gave a lot of thought to as to how I should end this portion of my journey. How do I wrap up Jewell Island? What I’ve shared barely scratches the surface of a very unique history.
There was an attack upon the Island’s inhabitants during King Philip’s War by a group of Abenaki “Indians” back in 1676. There is much truth documented as to the true story and later embelished by local storyteller so as to assign a meaning to the name, Indian Rock.
Mining took place as an aside from Cod fishing by two different owners. The second ought to have learned from the first which was a complete failure.
Samuel Butts attempted to mine the pyritic shale to abstract Alum. The operation became known as Butt’s Boondoggle. Capt. Chase leased the land to the newly formed, Portland Mining and Railroad Company. This time Copper was the chief end and Alum as a biproduct of leftovers. The available pyritic shale cost more to obtain than to process, another Boondoggle for sure.
There have been shipwrecks, one of which the men washed ashore. Capt. Chase owned the island at the time and buried them within the interior of the island, complete with headstones.
The island changed hands many times over the years. At times, it was divided on a diagonal, having two owners for awhile on separate occasions. The longest held ownership spanned about sixty years. The government take-over for the conversion to a light and observation station followed this final ownership. The Mckeen family farmed the island, clearing much of the southwest end for fields of hay and a few potatoes as as well. There was a main house, a cabin, guest house and barn. A wooden wharf was built extending to a single pilon of rock and wood (Later transformed by the military into something more formidable.) The history of this family’s attachment to Jewell is both interesting and amusing. I also find it hard to imagine the island as it was then. The forest is thick and referred to as trees that “reclaimed their land.”
Oh, there is so much to say. And, within the desire to speak, I am left with the need to head back to Jewell Island once more.
Treasured Rocks by C.R. White, “By the Sea” 1887
All Jewells of the crown I bring to place before thy feet, o muse, with countless treasures from the earth and air wirth sunbeams from the caves of abondaire: But none my Jewels can compare with jewels that the sea gods wear: All in a golden setting sun, where Jewell’s Island on the wave is hung, Like emerald jewels on the bosom fair of the sea nymph Arethusa.
[Historical information from “History of Jewell Island, Maine” by Peter Benoit. I tried to contact him for photo permissions, especially of the farm but he is away at this time.]
I imagine that most of you have had enough of Jewell Island. Me too. I’ve been on this island far much longer than planned. I’ve walked all the trails and explored most of the shoreline, including the conglomerate places at low tide. Now that I’m home researching the island, I must go back. There are questions that need answers and the off-trail places to explore.
– Back to the journey.
I let go of the rock steps one more time, eyes gazing out over the quiet water. The vision before me changes with each blink of the eye. The reality is that everything I see alters its variables at speeds far beyond true comprehension. The pathway from eye to brain to understanding utterly fails to keep pace with nature.
Colors are mirages blending, melting from one to another; magnified, dimished, refracted, bending. Sun-dogs and rainbows, the aurora borealis, and stratified skies, create large spaces within the depths of self. These are special memories, larger than life creating magical spaces that eclipse even the most difficult circumstances.
Land forms, be it island or rock, a stick in the mud, or the top of a mountain outcrop, fathomless in their own way. Constantly shifting from minsicule displacement to large catastrophick events.
The rest of the constituents above and below, the ocean conveys the most powerful forces that delight and destroy.
I was going to wait for a more appropriate time to share another quote from “The Pine Tree State.” However, I believe it fits within this post rather well, even though the place being referred is Old Orchard Beach, Maine.
“One of Taine’s charming bits of description fits admirably into the scene before us: “The coast stretches into the vapor its long strip of polished sand; the gilded beach undulates softly and opens its hollows to the ripples of the sea. Each ripple comes up foamy at first, then inensibly smooths itself, leaves behind it the flocks of its white fleece, and goes to sleep upon the shore it has kissed. Meanwhile another approaches, and beyond that again a new one, then a whole troop, striping the blue water with embroidery of silver. They whisper low, and you scarecely hear them under the otucry of the distant billows; nowhere is the beach so sweet, so smiling; the land softens its embrace the better to receive and caress those darling creatures, which are, as it were, the little children of the sea.”
This is the picture that the summer visitor knows, all greace and feeling. there is another, known only to those who have stood here when some autumnal gale was storming along the coast as if it would crush it to atoms, when destruction rides upon the tempest, and all the world of waters seems at war with itself. Silence falls on every tongue at sigh ot the great ocean running riot without a guiding hand; for any disturbance in nature’s orderly movements brings home to us, as nothing else can, what shadows we are and what shadow we pursue, —
… and we fools of nature,
So horridly to shake our disposition
With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls.”
John Taine Click for more ino on this author
I spent a good deal of time exploring the stone steps and so did many of my readers. For this reason, I am re-posting the photo before continuing my journey. It will all fit together.
[Those of you who have not read yesterday’s post will find it helpful with this post. Click to read.]
The colorful stones are part of what is referred to as The Casco Bay Group. Specifically, The Jewell Formation with the description as being Rusty and non-rusty weathering mica-rich schist and phyllite of the Ordovician period some 445-475 million years ago. Source: https://www1.maine.gov/dacf/mgs/pubs/online/bedrock/85-87.pdf
The Ordovician period was a busy time for geological events. I’ll still to the “rocks” here. The source article states the following, “Partial closing of Iapetus Ocean brings about collision of island arc of western New Hampshire with North America resulting in the Taconic Orogeny. Collision of Casco Bay island arc with AvaIonia results in deformation of rocks of Casco Bay Group. Deposition of formations of the Casco Bay Group; volcanism associated with ocean 485 lithosphere builds island arc.”
What I’m most interested in is the phyllite as it is the chief component of the rock steps and of the southwestern portion of Jewell Island. “Phyllite is between slate and schist in the spectrum of metamorphic rocks. Phyllite has flat or crinkled cleavage faces and shiny colors, and schist has intricately wavy cleavage and glittering colors.” Phyllite generally is in the pelitic series—rocks that are derived from clay sediments—but sometimes other rock types can take on the characteristics of phyllite too. That is, phyllite is a textural rock type, not a compositional one. The sheen of phyllite is from microscopic grains of mica, graphite, chlorite and similar minerals that form under moderate pressure.” Source: http://geology.about.com/od/more_metrocks/ig/phyllite.-CN2/
… I turn toward the sea and find it as magnetic to my senses as it has been since we first met. I am greeted with kaleidoscopic variables every time I visit, with each glance or blink of the eye. This space, where my feet are planted is as ever changing and enchanting as the previous moment. However, I feel compelled to let it be for now and take advantage of the low tide. I wish to investigate the features of the southwest end of Jewell Island.
My feet sink into finely ground stones with each step, adding a personal contribution toward geological history. The high bank has a distinct rusty colored belt. This feature adds pyritiferous shale to the phyllite picture. Pyrite is all sparkles and fun to look at. But when these crystals are exposed to the elements, they disintegrate.
“Metamorphism can cause the pyrites to grow as quite large crystals which are hard and shiny when the slate is freshly split. But beware! Pyrites are notoriously unstable when exposed to air and rain and will soon rot away to a rusty stain, leaving a hole. Some pyritic slates will rot away completely.
This “rotting away” is clearly demonstrated at the bank by the stone steps.
There is significant erosion due to the oxidation of pyrite as well as the sedimentary nature of phyllite.
The rain that dissipated to a mist no longer exists. I’m up and out to see the new world. Glad to be outside of my boring tent. That’s right boring. Don’t get me wrong. I love my tent. We’ve been together a very long time. I would never betray it!
My tent is roomy but always arranged in the same way. Every piece of gear and stuff has its place. That’s my grove. My organization. It makes for easy living and efficiency in packing and unpacking.
However, the decor is no different. It never changes. My tent is always the same size, shape and color, both inside and out. The light of the sun and moon are the only variables that create some variation . However, the degree their influence is minute.
I stretch and then walk down beautiful steps made of island rock and stone. I want to stand on the naked shore, open and exposed, as the tidal forces have pushed the sea elsewhere. And like so many times in other journeys, I must grasp this moment. I want to see it all as if in a bubble, memorizing every detail so as not to forget. I smell the air and look out over the sea. I feel the air, moist against my skin. And then, I stop. Still as a statue. What was that behind me? I turn and face the steps.
Someone had a vision, an idea for preserving this place.
Others understood and gathered round.
I see furrowed foreheads weighted with concern,
For the concert between an island and the sea.
Someone drew up a plan.
After a short time,
The many agree to the final draft
Of what was only a thought.
The work begins.
A group of volunteers,
Bearing no thought for pay or compensation.
All that matters is to repair the damage,
And preserve the future.
Stone and rock are chosen,
Sifted and Sorted.
Preparing the way.
From one to the next,
The stones are set in place.
I imagine grit and laughter.
Problems to solve and problems solved.
I certainly know this.
For now I stand,
On just one step.
Firm beneath my feet,
Enjoying the feel of this new world.
I find this scene inside my head, while relaxing inside my tent. I can’t help but have some fun.
A mischievous moment under the sun, as the rain shrinks down to a little misty drizzle.
Giggling girl just out of site. This photo world holds its breath.
Uh, Oh. Cartwheels and Handsprings across the foreground!