Backpacking adventure to the Cutler Coast: Part 1
August 10, 2016
Let’s face it; there is much to gripe about.
February 25, 2017
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Backpacking adventure to the Cutler Coast: Part 2

Cutler Coast Public Reserve Land

Read Part 1 Here

birdMorning dawned bright with the clouds beginning to lift off the sea. From my tent I could tell it was about to get really beautiful on this cove and that I’d see all the scenery today that I’d missed yesterday. Before this I wasn’t sure if I was going to stay a second night or hike out after one night and spend my Saturday kayaking on the Orange River—not far from Cutler, but spending my day here seemed too good to pass on. I had a dilemma though. I’d only brought in enough food and water for one night. A second night’s food and water was back out at the car. I’d have to hike out and then back in, and then of course back out tomorrow. It’s not like I’d been training for this shit. Extra hiking is something worth deliberating at my age but still I found I did very little deliberating. The short route out is 3 miles from where I was so it was just an extra 6 miles total and I’d do this all much lighter than yesterday as I’d leave most of my gear at the site. It was a no brainer for me, but as I went to crawl out of my sleeping bag and get out of the tent I found my left foot rigid, stiff, and hot with pain anytime I tried to step with it. This upset me greatly. I tried my best to ignore it, determined not to let a little foot ruin this whole damned plan. I hobbled around my site gathering up my wet clothes from the previous day and dragging them out to my little cliff overlooking the beach where I draped them on the rock in the warm summer morning sun. I made coffee and drank it with a breakfast of oatmeal out on the cliff, a hoodie draped over my head fending off mosquitoes from the woods. I kept working on my foot and rubbing it while I waited for my clothes to dry and once they were I was up and in them. My foot wasn’t really good but I decided it was good enough and that once I’d gotten going I wouldn’t even notice it. I put both of my feet into my still soaking wet hiking shoes. Nothing was going to dry them out so I had to rely on thick wool socks. I hit the trail and was cruising.I climbed a ridge, skirted a high cliff overlooking the sea and then crashed through the meadows. bogs, and woods with abandon. The day was warming and might easily reach 80 degrees. I was low on water and calories. I scooped up whatever blueberries I passed on the trail without lingering for rest and got to the parking lot in good time, my foot seeming to be no worse for the wear.

Cutler Coast Public Reserve Land. Black Point Cove in the morning sun.

Cutler Coast Public Reserve Land. Black Point Cove in the morning sun.

The sun was getting higher and the air getting hotter. I sat in my car steaming with a throbbing foot and decided I had to go. ….

The lot was bustling! I sat in my car eating lunch watching it go to full capacity as hikers continued to pour in. I was thirsty, hot, tired, and still hungry after my meager lunch. After taking off my shoes to let my feet dry my left foot started throbbing again. I ignored the pain and placed my focus and ire at the crowd of people swarming the parking lot preparing to hike in. I started getting anxious about this development. Again I was being irrational and unreasonably territorial but I thought that I’d really grown to like my little private cove beach and I didn’t want to share it today with all these yahoos and that if I had to I might as well just head out and find some other place to go. And this I probably would have done except for the fact that I’d left my tent and gear back in at the site. I had to hike back. The sun was getting higher and the air getting hotter. I sat in my car steaming with a throbbing foot and decided I had to go. I changed into another dry pair of socks and hit the trail with a noticeable limp. By the time I got back to Black Point Cove I was sucking wind. My foot felt like a numb club that I was just dragging along. There were a few groups of people on the pebble beach that I greeted on my way through. I couldn’t spare time for deeper conversation however because I wanted to be back at my site and off my foot.

Cutler Coast Public Reserve Land. Maritime spruce forest.

Cutler Coast Public Reserve Land. Maritime spruce forest.

I sunned myself on the beach for quite sometime while I watched a puffy cloud hang over Grand Manan Island motionless for what seemed like hours….

tentI got back to my tent at 2. There were several groups of people down on my cove’s beach. I didn’t care. I was exhausted and crawled inside my tent for a nap. With foot elevated on my backpack I drifted in and out for hours while listening to the echoed sounds of the hikers exploring the cove below me. By 4:30 the people were all gone. I knew there would probably be no more. Those were the day hikers. I had a full late afternoon and evening of sun to enjoy this entire cove all to myself. I crawled out of my tent and hobbled down to the beach with my bedroll and a flask of blueberry moonshine. Moonshine would be the medicine for my pain. This was foolish and I knew it even then. Soaking my pain in alcohol was only going to further whatever inflammation I was having and exacerbate the problem, but I was going to do it anyway. I wasn’t about to let my foot steal away every damned ounce of pleasure that could be derived from this magical place. I was going to pour all of that damned moonshine (yes all of it, you see I carried the whole mason jar back with me from the car!) down my gullet and kill the pain. I can’t abide by this method to anyone but I do have to say that the remainder of my day passed blissfully. I sunned myself on the beach for quite sometime while I watched a puffy cloud hang over Grand Manan Island motionless for what seemed like hours. I spied the water for whale (saw none) and seal (perhaps a few heads out there bobbling). I crept along the shore deep into the coves and crags snapping pictures left and right. I crawled out on the point and watched the tide literally pour in so that I timed my exit from the point close. I watched the sun set and then crawled back up the bank to my tent. Groggy from the evening sun and moonshine I passed out for an hour or so.

Cutler Coast Public Reserve Land. Relaxing on the beach with a flask of blueberry moonshine!

Cutler Coast Public Reserve Land. Relaxing on the beach with a flask of blueberry moonshine!

Cutler Coast Public Reserve Land

Cutler Coast Public Reserve Land

Cutler Coast Public Reserve Land. Sun setting behind the cove.

Cutler Coast Public Reserve Land. Sun setting behind the cove.

barefootI awoke at nine. It was dark and my foot was throbbing. Supper was difficult. The mosquitoes were vicious and thick. I ate my chili, washed it down with more hot tea, and then decided I’d need to sip more moonshine if there was to be hope for sleep this night. All night I tried to get myself comfortable in that tent, all night I tossed and turned, all night my foot throbbed in pain. The pain so bad that I alternately moaned and cried through much of it. I couldn’t get comfortable. I wouldn’t get sleep. I was miserable. I thought if there was sleep to be had tonight it would be from my car and I even considered packing up and leaving to hike out by the moonlight but thought against it. If I’d had a headlamp I probably would have done it in the dark but instead I decided that I’d just stay awake and endure the pain the best that I could until the sun rose and it became light enough to see my way out.

I poked my head out of my tent at 2:30 am and I swear I could see a deep and dark bloody smudge already rising behind Nova Scotia far across the waters…

The Cutler Coast is so far east in Maine that the summer sunrise happens there much earlier in the morning than the more populated central and western part of the state. I poked my head out of my tent at 2:30 am and I swear I could see a deep and dark bloody smudge already rising behind Nova Scotia far across the waters. Maybe that was just the fractals of my pain searing my brain. I moaned whimpered and whined for another two hours before it was light enough for me to start getting ready to go. The mosquitoes outside were horrible. Very gingerly I packed up everything from within my tent breathing my pain through my teeth. I didn’t want to make coffee, I just wanted to get out as fast as my tired brain, aching limbs, and searing foot would allow. And that really wasn’t fast enough. The sunrise over the bay was glorious. In retrospect I judge it the most beautiful sunrise I’ve ever seen in my entire life. But the truth is that the beauty of it, though not lost on me, was worn down and dull to me. I knew if I would truly ever get to enjoy it I’d need to get some pictures but the 30 feet to the stairs leading down to the cove (the best place for the shot) seemed impossible to traverse on two feet. I crawled over to the stairs on two knees and two hands instead and took a few amazing shots. I literally crawled back to my tent and packed it down and in to my back pack. I ate a handful of nuts and dried fruit, drank some water, and took the last of my aspirin (4 of them). I still hadn’t been on my feet yet nor slipped a shoe on yet. I tried working at my foot with my hands but it was slightly swollen and it hurt too much to even touch. I had no idea how I was making it out of there. I couldn’t even put my own body weight on that foot let alone the extra weight of all my gear. It was no use marveling at the feat I was about to attempt while thinking it impossible; I felt I didn’t have a choice, I had to go. The last thing I did before putting that backpack on was loosen the laces on my wet left hiking shoe then tenderly slide my swollen foot in to it. It hurt like hell. From my knees I put my backpack on, I laced up my shoe, and stood up. White bolts of light shot across the backs of my eyes and I almost keeled over backwards. I grabbed out at a small spruce tree trunk and steadied myself. Once straight with the tears dried from my eyes I set out for the car. I could move. There was weight on the foot. It was not broken and neither was I. It was 6 am.

Cutler Coast Public Reserve Land. Sunrise over the Bay of Fundy.

Cutler Coast Public Reserve Land. Sunrise over the Bay of Fundy.

hikeThe first big test as you leave my camp-site and head back east on the trail is an open rock face studded with blueberry bushes that goes straight up. There’s nothing to hold onto here and my foot didn’t feel like it could handle the flex of the incline. Somehow I managed but my right side was taking a tremendous toll doing all the work. At the top I rewarded myself with some blueberries and took a brief break on the cliff where I snapped my last two photos and headed for the inland trail down by Black Point cove. On the cliffs surrounding the cove were several tents of hikers still snoozing in the early morning air. I quietly and slowly hobbled past them and then up and into the woods. The inland trail did a number on me. The woods were still a lovely dark green in the early morning and the coolness was a welcome treat but the way through also encompassed barren outcrops and grassy marshes where the morning sun beat down on my ragged body. A particular challenge was the bogs. A system of planks are laid down for traversing the bogs and it was a struggle to maintain my balance on those planks. Doing so was crucial. Had I lost my balance and ended up in the bog it wouldn’t be pretty. At the northern end of the inland trail is a sign-post that marks the distance to the trailhead at 1.8 miles off. This is the last leg of the journey out and it seemed like it would never end to me. I’m sure I looked every bit the part of a zombie in an apocalypse movie groaning and dragging one foot along the entire way. At 8:30 am finally, mercifully, I emerged from the woods back into the parking lot and shuffled to my car. I started for home the second I got in my car. The pain in my foot was so intense I thought I might not be a safe driver. I didn’t need it to drive but the pain was a major distraction as I struggled to keep in my lane on the winding coastal roads. In Machias I got some coffee and food from a Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru. In Jonesport I found a full service station and filled up. I drove the rest of the way like a tired trucker strung out from the road and a night of no sleep. I made it home safe and hopped on one foot into the house.

Cutler Coast Public Reserve Land. Morning sun over Grand Mannan Island

Cutler Coast Public Reserve Land. Morning sun over Grand Manan Island

Afterword—

I’m still not certain what my foot was all about. I never went to a doctor. I called my nurse sister and consulted with her. I’d call it a severe case of tendonitis, but it kept me on crutches for the next four and a half days before I could start walking on it again. It’s really too bad this flare up had to happen on such a beautiful journey. I would have hiked the whole trail system had my foot been up to it. This of course only means I have to go back. I hear it gets real quiet out that way in the fall. Maybe next time I’ll bring a pal along.

Be sure to check out my photo album to see all of the stunning photos I took over my Cutler Coast weekend. Thanks for reading.