Sunday, March 28, 2010


Leg 29, March 27, 2010, from Murch's Brook to Stepping Stone Brook

A week into spring and there remain ample reminders that this is Maine and we shouldn't rely too heavily on the calendar.

All sorts of interesting areas coinciding with the dead low tide of today's walk presented themselves. Tidal pools in particular seemed to have assembled their components to showcase their considerable beauty for the several hours available till the tide comes back in and rearranges things.

It seems there's a brook at nearly every turn, each brimming with the residuals of last week's big rain and continuing snow melt and each stuggling to still put in a respectable appearance when it's meandering finally leads to the receiving waters of Seal Cove or Mill Creek.

The sound of this one beckoned so beseechingly that I clambered over all manner of debris to get to it. As you can see it was worth it.

A couple of inland 'motions' and the debris from nearby quarrying were evident along the way. This one, found wanting I guess and abandoned, is right at the water's edge.

As I rounded the peninsula and headed down Mill Creek the extreme shallows gave off an entirely different color, shades of green and, with the sun head on at about due south, a luminous intensity. The same distinction attached to the wading waters on the other side of the Mill Creek Bridge.
Eight or ten firths can be found along Vinalhaven's coast. These narrow penetrations, some fairly modest like Mill Creek, others more imposing like Long Cove or Crockett Cove contrast with broader estuaries like Carver's Pond and the Basin.
Throughout this walk I've been surprised, astonished really, not simply by the beauty of my surroundings but by the humbling realization that I have been here for over sixty years and never taken the time to see it before. It seems ridiculous now to think, for example, of how often I've driven over the Mill Creek bridge and wondered what the rest of the Creek was like.

Stepping Stone Brook is probably always busy discharging, as it does, overflow from the two mile long watershed that includes Round Pond and, farther south, Folly and Otter Ponds.
Next adventure: Stepping Stone Brook to Holt Point.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Leg 28 from the Bluff at Smith Point to Murch's smelt brook, March 10, 2010

A slice of Vinalhaven Diabase, so described by Olcutt Gates' comprehensive Geology Map, protrudes from the shore at low tide just a few feet from the distinctively different geology of the Seal Cove Formation which begins around the next bend. The map tells me each was deposited around 400 million years ago. It's the kind of information that I just can't do anything with, can't imagine or process, like the particulars of the universe.

I'm out of Perry's Creek and was in no hurry to be thus. Although I've lived her nearly all my life I've really only seen and appreciated it twice, during this walk and during a canoe excursion a few years ago. It's a sanctuary of absorbing beauty and one we will have to enjoy in perpetuity thanks to the generosity of several thoughtful benefactors and to the perserverance of the Vinalhaven Land Trust.

Two substantial brooks empty into Seal Cove from the west. Gully Brook carries rainwater and snow melt from the area around Fox Rocks. I've seen it roaring in the past, often washing out the A. W. Smith Road, but today, with snow melt in decline, it was fairly modest, very unlike Murch's Brook where this walk ends.

Oakes and Cedars seem determined to forego the more secure higher ground for the very edge of the shore, determined to cling there to a foothold. This one is so near the water it had dipped in to retrieve a little seaweed.

At the head of Seal Cove, just before I followed Murch's Brook up to the road I turned to look at the Cove's eastern shore, the next leg, just beyond this tide pool and this unusual arrangements of boulders.

Murch's Brook, emptying the big wetland between Seal Cove and Long Cove was not wanting for material and, in contrast to Gully Brook, was putting on its best face.

The next leg will not be till the end of the month since I am off now to ambulate around another island for a while - England!

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Leg 27, March 6, from Perry's Creek smelt brook to the Bluff at Smith Point.

The low wetland that feeds the Creek and becomes the smelt brook here is several acres of striking beauty and, although appearing dormant now in early March, will be a very busy place shortly. The marsh descends here, to the east, from its very modest high point near the North Haven Road but from there also sends some traffic in the other direction, west to Crockett's Cove.

I took up the walk where I left off last, at the very head of Perry's Creek and headed east along the southern shore, under outcrop whose upper few feet have succumbed more slowly to erosion than the area down at the water line. Only a few hundred feet from the first smelt brook is a second, Indian Ladder, fed from Fox Rocks to the south. Within a few hundred feet then are two substantial streams, one a steady, languid and meandering flow carrying huge quantities of detritus from the west to the tidal critters below and and the other, fed from high rocky elevations to the south, comes careening down during times of snow melt, like now, and rainfall.

The shoreline along the western half of this side of the Creek is all layered deposits. My very cursory research tells me it's Vinalhaven Rhyolite, deposited over 400 million years ago but who knows what my geology friend, the Glacial Eratic, will say. The layers are of different sized material and some of these and some entire compositions are obviously more resistant to erosion than others. The result is striking - deep recesses, caves or protrusions like this one with its very unlikely tree cap. Efforts to erode it
have been abandoned but the assault continues unabated all around and behind it.

At this very low tide I could have walked nearly the entire length of the Creek on just mussel beds.

Next leg, 28, sometime this week from Smith Point to another smelt brook, Murch's in Seal Cove.