One snowy night while longing for summer's return I
proposed a canoe camping trip to the GONewEngland website. At the 5th
Anniversary Party Michelle told me of the AMC site at Beal Island in
Boothbay Harbor, Maine and offered to co-lead. Soon after, with the
site reserved and the event posted we began to plan the trip. Dan "The
Pup" offered use of his cooking equipment and culinary skills, as well
as a canoe. After a meeting to plan the menu we were ready to go.
Beal Island is a primitive campsite where you must paddle everything
you need to the campsite. the AMC does provide a fire ring, outhouse,
and two picnic tables on the beach. Even in Dan's big "guide type"
canoe we needed two trips to haul all our gear over. Upon returning to
the put in site to load up again we were met by Michelle and Lou, and
soon Martin was there too. After the short paddle to the island we
began to establish our weekend home.
A view of the beach
Tents were pitched, tarps and chairs set up, gear stowed, and
firewood gathered. Soon we were socializing by the campfire, enjoying
our peaceful retreat with snacks and a beverage. Stars shined overhead
and waves gently lapped at our beach. Saturday dawned and when we went
down to the beach we discovered the work of a raccoon raiding party.
They even managed to break into Dan's impenetrable storage box!
Luckily they didn't get into the coolers, and we prepared a breakfast
of eggs, pancakes, sausage, coffee, OJ, and cinnamon rolls.
Michelle, Lou, and Dan prepare breakfast
Later the morning calm was shattered by a scream! Michelle was
climbing the stairs to the campsite when she encountered a huge snake.
Luckily it was only sunning itself and chose not to devour the shaken
Michelle. After the excitement died down, Martin rallied us to explore
Dan, Michelle, Lou, and Martin
The diverse nature of the small island was amazing. Along the
shoreline we encountered rocky beaches, seagrass marsh, and boulders.
Away from the water were towering pines, dense stands of balsams, and
meadows edged with majestic oaks.
Martin leads Dan and Lou into the deep, dark
Hiking along the rocks
Around noon Dan, Martin, and I paddled back to the put in site.
Martin would wait for Kathy Kelly to arrive while Dan and I went for
more provisions. Those raccoons had made off with a loaf of garlic
bread and I think some beer and a bottle of wine! When Dan and I
returned it was time to begin the evening meal preparation.
KK and Dan have a bite to eat
Lou, Martin, and KK decided to spend some time swimming though the
water was a bit chilly. Michelle oversaw the meal prep, making sure
the veggies were being cut to appropriate "bite" size. I learned why
KK was the GONewEngland motivator when she handed me an icy 25oz.
Foster's from her cooler as a reward for all my effort!
Time for a swim
Before the evening meal we all set out to paddle around our island.
Martin and KK were in the lead followed by Michelle and Lou, then Dan
and me. We headed north along the east side of Beal, noting where the
trail we hiked earlier snaked through the tree line. Reaching the
western side of the island we were greeted by a huge osprey nest built
in a low tree near the edge of the channel which lead back to our
camp. Paddling became more difficult as we were heading directly into
the rushing tide Tidal fluctuation here is between 8-10 feet. The
lighter canoes were able to negotiate through after a couple tries
(and were treated to the sight of a slumbering porcupine high in a
tree in one of the coves), but Dan and I kept getting swept back. We
told the others we'd go back around and meet them at camp but fared no
better in the open water. We decided to put in at a sheltered cove on
the northern end of the island and wait for the tide to ebb. Having
checked tidal charts we knew it would be 1 1/2 hours until the sea was
calm again. Luckily I had made an impulse by at EMS not long before
this trip, and on my PFD had my new whistle, which was used to attract
the attention of a passing boat. A boat manned(?) by two very
attractive Rescue Babes! Yep, Dan and I were saved and delivered safe
and sound back to our campsite. Sadly, the Rescue Babes declined our
offer to join us dinner or even gas money for their boat.
Later in the evening we settled down to feast under the stars and
by the campfire. We enjoyed garlic bread, pasta with marinara sauce,
shrimp, ginger/garlic grilled chicken, and stir fried veggies (summer
squash, broccoli, peppers, and mushrooms). As we dined, Martin noticed
movement and shined his flashlight to reveal a raccoon sneaking into
our midst. We ate, cleaned up and socialized well into night, enjoying
the fire and starlight.
That coon Martin saw earlier must've been a recon scout because we
had barely reached our tents when we heard the night time raiders
descend upon the tables in search of what they may have assumed would
be a feast. All leftovers were securely stored so they had to be happy
with what they got from the trash bag we tied off or leave empty
The raccoons had fun with this pinata we set up
Sunday was another beautiful day which we began with another hearty
breakfast. Before long the dishes were done and efforts turned to
breaking camp. KK and Martin decided to spend a little extra time at
Beal, so they stashed some of the leftover fruits and breakfast in a
cooler. We crammed all the gear into the canoes and bade farewell to
the island. Back at the put in, Michelle, Lou, Dan, and I loaded our
vehicles for the drive home. KK and Martin returned to Beal for a
KK and MK on KP
KK sent me an email asking me to be sure to mention her and
Martin's encounter with some friendly seals as they left. Made me
wonder if those bumps Dan and I felt paddling out in the dusk that
first night really were...
My Thanks for a fine weekend go to: