We quickly hit up a travel plaza for Starbucks and a bathroom break and were happy to see a distinct lack of traffic heading north on 95 (a nice change from our Montreal road trips where we usually leave later anyway). Cris had a conference call he had to facilitate so we stopped in Brunswick for him to use the phone and for the rest of us to stretch our legs, browse some book and music stores and generally just be on vacation. Vanessa had reminded me to pack a book, and I'd brought one for her on request as well, but Forest needed to pick one up. The first book store wasn't going to open until 10, it was about 8:45am when we stopped, so we wandered back toward the green where a small farmer's market was set up. I got a yummy lemon curd scone and Vanessa picked up some shelling peas for a snack and we meandered over to the gazebo to sit in the shade (it was already getting warm) and hang out killing time (Cris said to expect it to be half an hour from 9). We got an update that he was done earlier than expected and headed back the length of the park to meet him in front of Bull Moose - a book and music store that was open. We ducked in with a 5 minute time limit and I found a new to me used copy of The Changeling Sea that I decided to hike with instead of my pristine Mrs. Pollifax mystery I'd originally brought. Back in the car again, we made a gas station stop but it was a small one without a bathroom, so we had to stop again before heading north. I think we ended up leaving Brunswick just before 10am.
We were getting hungry a bit before noon and decided to stop in Bangor for lunch. Vanessa found a diner on Yelp that had good reviews and wasn't too far from the highway, and we ended up at Fabulous Nicky's Cruisin Diner. The decor was eclectic, mixing movie and music and TV stuff, and I had a pretty good deconstructed breakfast burrito.
We drove through a series of small Maine towns, keeping an eye out for interesting things in yards and on signs - we were all a bit tired and punch and kept misreading things, but the huge barn painting of an eagle wielding two chainsaws (wood art) was really real. We stopped at a grocery store to grab some water (I picked up an extra liter) and to replenish lunch supplies in a forgotten sack. I went in on some cheese to add to my planned lunches. We also found that one of the pack water reservoirs had leaked all over the car but it seemed to have stopped (Cris, Forest and I all checked our packs) and nothing was ruined. We got to the trail head parking lot at around 3:30, and I misunderstood when Cris came back from signing us into the overnight log that there were already 2 groups in at the three camp sites (rock ledge camping was okay though). A car full of people drove in as we were starting and had big packs as well, so it felt like we were competing for the last site. It turns out that what Cris had meant was that one group had been there last night and would be out today, so we ended up being fine. A pair signed in and hit the trail just before us as well. One last trip to the outhouse, a ritual drenching with bug spray and slathering with sunscreen, and we hoisted our packs at just before 4pm to hike in.
I had us take the fast and flatter Inland trail to get to the camp site as it would be more manageable with full packs, we could save the more challenging coastal trail for our day hiking. There were lots of board walks over boggy and mossy sections. Unfortunately when Vanessa couldn't get water from her drinking tube, she found that her bladder had been the one that leaked and it was empty. :-/ Forest had left two liters of water in the car, so that was the back up plan (to go back and get them) if we found that the rumoured water sources weren't filterable. There were one or two smallish hills (still had to catch my breath a bit, but the running I'd done to get ready for Tough Mudder was still helping). We passed the cut off path that connected to the coastal trail and continued to follow the inland path around the lake. It was an interesting mix of terrain/vegetation/rocks, going from swampy (and horribly buggy) to pine forest, to deciduous forest, and lots of banks of sun warmed blueberry bushes (no fruit yet though). The group of five campers caught up and passed us, so we resigned ourselves to last choice of tent sites. As we turned the point of the lake, we started to hear a low hooting and soon spotted a light house as we came to the coast - the noise was either from it (there was some mist) or from the very low frequency array at the naval research station that we'd passed. It was a bit distracting and detracted from the sounds of nature, though there were lots of birds (and bugs) to counter it. The lobster/crab boat motors were loud too and carried really far across the water (there were lots of trap/pot floats bobbing in the near coast water).
As we came into the Fairy Head camping area, the couple (with French accents) went up the access path to the first small site, so we continued on. The second site on the cliff had tents set up already (we could hear some hooting from them as well but not horribly loud, it was the group of 5 who had passed us on the trail). We went over a rocky beach area and were considering some ledges but the third site (up an older steep wooden staircase adorned with fishing lines and floats) was empty and had just enough space to set up two tents (with some log rearrangement) and spread out my one person bivy (my backpacking tent would have just fit as well, if I'd managed to get the bent pole repaired in time). The swarms of bugs made me take Cris up on his offer to share his tent though, the thought of having the mosquitoes on the bug mesh against my face was not appealing. The "primitive privy" was a toilet seat sitting on a mesh sided box filled with recycling, it was ... substandard. I went in the woods. We'd made it the 4.8 miles to the camp site by 6:15, lots of time to pitch tents then flee down to the less infested rocks to cook dinner while looking out over the water (Bay of Fundy). I'd gone the long way round to the cooking ledge, via the stairs and broken boulders, and decided to climb back up the short way, with some rock climbing easily done one handed as I carried my stove etc back up to the tent site. We saw some seals bobbing in the water near the crab pots, but I wasn't fast enough to grab a picture. I re-hydrated and heated up jerk chicken and rice and peas, an experiment in dehydrating a regular meal that was okay - the chicken cut up finely in my food processor was a bit jerky-like, but the oil in the sauce wasn't as much of an issue as I'd feared. I shared the excess as I'd not properly portioned it out before freezing it to try and keep the chicken from spoiling in the warm weather. We'd all sweated a lot on the hike in, the open areas had the sun beating down on us. As soon as the sun was down though the mosquitoes descended and we fled back to the tents. We'd left the rain fly off so were able to star gaze a bit (no northern lights while I could stay awake) and watch the fireflies doing their best shooting star impressions. I was too tired to read and was probably asleep by 9, camping earplugs in and eye mask on.
We got to the car at around 1pm and threw our day packs in the back of the car. After some poking at phones, we continued along the road toward Lubec to hit up a small grocery store for water. I'd used the outhouse at the trail head and resisted using the bathroom at the grocery so that I could say I hadn't "cheated" on camping. :-) We picked up a gallon of water each and I sucked down a juice while waiting for everyone to be finished. They had a book exchange shelf, we could have sorted out our reading material there, ah well. We were pretty close to the Quoddy Head lighthouse, the easternmost point of land on the continental US, so we decided to drive out to see it. It was a bit further than expected, and then there were lots of people there, with a mini fair and a band setting up and a truck selling doughnuts. We walked around a bit and looked down at more seaweed covered rocks before heading back to the car and to the trail head.
We hiked back in to our Fairy Head campsite from just before 3pm to 6pm. We retraced the Inland path to the cutoff, then took that for some new experiences. It took a bit of a drop down to the coast, but nothing too extreme. We then took the Coastal trail back to camp from the cobble beach point. We made a snack stop there, sitting on a piece of driftwood while we ate, as I was feeling light headed. Back at camp, I made up a pot of cowboy pasta and burned the bottom of it a bit. :-( The bugs were really bad, I was in the tent by 8 and trying to read. Taking my hiking socks off to get ready for bed, I noticed that my big toe was purple with bruising, it looked like my toenail had jammed back into the cuticle when I hit it. As it got darker, I decided not to read by headlamp, and instead watched the mosquitoes swarming on the tent screen, hoping not to induce buggy nightmares. :-) Forest and Vanessa were a bit punchy, it was fun hearing them teasing and giggling from the next tent over. :-) I was asleep before dark, it had been a lot of hiking that day, just shy of 10 miles. Sometime in the night I started awake with water dripping on me, a burst of rain hit us. Cris scrambled out to put the rain fly on the tent, and Vanessa rescued the clothes on the line I'd put up, tucking my stuff under the rain fly on my pack (my habit from Grand Teton to cover it at night stood me in good stead). Cris tucked my boots under the fly for me and I apologised for being too scared of the bugs to go out. :-/ He picked up another 7 bites for his trouble. :-(
We were on the trail by 7:40 and back to the trail head in three hours, taking the Inland trail. I paused a few times to take pictures to make sure I caught certain scenes, unsure if we'd ever come this far north again. I mistook the short hike to the lake overview for the cutoff intersection, my mental litany of halfway done had to restart once we hit the real intersection. The skeeters weren't horrible all the way out, we were able to enjoy the moss covered forest traversed on boardwalks, but I was waving them off a lot. I bopped myself in the nose with my hiking pole once, luckily not hard, and did notice a scratch on my eyelid that probably came from a bug flail. Forest was walking ahead of us and was startled by a grouse or pheasant, but his startle reaction is much more restrained than mine would have been. :-) The bird sounded like a whining dog once it was back on the ground and trying to decoy us from the chicks. I was really tired and sore by the end (my bruised toe was aching with every step), I was carrying maybe 40lbs again over the 4.3 miles. I drank most of my water, but only ate half of a Clif bar.
There were more people in the lot, getting ready for day hikes, and the two pairs of people who'd camped near us had also parked on either side of us. We talked a bit with the two women from the ledges. There was a line for the outhouse after Vanessa had gone in to change into her car clothes, I ended up just going behind it to change to save time. I could hear the lined up people talking about the Quoddy head lighthouse, apparently it's only open to the public 1 day a year which is why it had been so busy yesterday, they said something about an hour wait to get into the upper room. We managed to cram everything back in the car and get on the road by 11am.
I had convinced people to stop at the Tim Horton's we'd spotted on the
drive in, we were all peeling our eyes for the sign but it kept not
showing up. We did stop to take pictures by the chainsaw artist mural
though, and I caught a drive by picture of Blueberryland. We were all
pretty hungry and finally called a stop at Scovil Millside dining since it
looked decent. Multiple bathroom trips to wash my hands and face, running
water was wonderful to see again. I had an okay maple glazed salmon dish
with great mashed potatoes and regrettable carrots. Forest and Vanessa had
piles of nachos and fries loaded with stuff. Hitting the road again, we
finally spotted the Timmies sign. I let them upsell me to a ten pack of
timbits since I'd get the box, the new salted caramel ones were so good! I
got a medium earl grey to try and keep me awake, and got Cris's coffee and
timbits as well as a minor thanks for driving. We made one more stop a the
Kennebunk service plaza, I grabbed some water since I was feeling parched
and gave in to a cup of watermelon cubes, so good! We got stuck in traffic
on I95 close to Boston and didn't get home until 6:45. I spread out my
sweaty and damp stuff so it wouldn't mold but other than that barely did
any unpacking that evening, just forcing myself to walk over to the
grocery store to get food to make a quick dinner (chicken adobo). I also
had a long desired ice cold gin and tonic, with a splash of limoncello, to
celebrate the return to civilisation. I didn't have that many bug welts,
but I was sensitive to light touches for most of a week after getting
back, the bugs did a number on my brain. Definitely putting a hat net on
my next REI shopping spree!