By Gabe Andrews –
In the waning days of June, I packed up my Subaru with a foam mattress, sleeping bag, and an eight-month-old border collie named Doug. Among things that scattered my front seat included rations, running gear, and a pair of lightly used Columbia hiking boots. The plan? Pack in two nights camping on Cutler Coast in Maine and then scurry up to a real bed to rest up in before my first marathon.
We arrived with three hours of daylight and two miles of hiking… so I thought.
Weary of an easy theft, I stashed my stand-up paddleboard in the swamp and headed east. About two miles in, my boots began to disintegrate in front of my eyes. I had just picked up the “tested tough” kicks at Goodwill two weeks prior, the sole looked unscathed and the rest looked solid as well. Looks can be deceiving. As if bullet ants marched along the seams, the insole completely separated from the outsole. I had no choice but to stow the dissolved boots and slug three-days of gear in crocs.
My misfortune wasn’t finished. At Cutler, five first-come, first-serve campsites are spread across the coast. The first two sites, which also happened to be the closest to the parking lot, were occupied. So, with Doug in the lead, we marched another two rocky miles in beige crocs, black socks, and bright yellow shorts. What a sight we must have been.
The walk was worth the wait. We made it to our site at Fairy Head to setup camp on a cliff overlooking our private cove. The tide smothered the cobbled shore slowly and ceaselessly. After hours of thirst, tidal pools gulped their salty liquor. The sky stretched infinitely until it melted into the open Atlantic, blurring lines between mediums. The day carried on as it does in summer, borrowing time from the night. Winter tells a different tale. At last, the rest of the stars took what was theirs and delighted any eyes that peered heavenward. The Milky Way displayed her majesty without a hint of anthropogenic intrusion.
The following days were filled with 4:30 sunrises, curious harbor seals, and envelopes of fog. Surely, any visitor experiences a great spectacle with capricious conditions and emotions. Cutler Coast and its 12,234 acres of forests, peatlands, and headlands are must see for anyone looking to commune in Downeast and escape the crowds of Acadia. A morning dip in the chilly emerald water outdoes any French roast. A stroll through maritime forests and spruce-heath barrens brings gifts of solitude and peace. Patience and binoculars offer the opportunity to witness the Great Whales returning north in the summer to forage and mate. If nothing else, you’ll get the chance to marvel at the boreal fauna and flora, taste salt-laden air, and even sift through tide pools in a pair of crocs.
At dawn, I packed my damp belongings and adventure-ready dog to trek back to the civilized world. I returned for my decrepit boots and took a different return route. I encountered a bit more tribulation as I arrived at a boardwalk a couple miles in. The trail disappeared under two feet of water and planks floated above the knees. Rather than backtrack, I chuckled and waded on. Eventually, I made it back to my car sore, wet, and hungry, but fulfilled. I grabbed my hidden paddleboard and drove an hour north to rest for a 26-mile jaunt to Canada and back.