A summer in Mount Desert Island
By 2023 MCHT Richard G. Rockefeller Conservation Intern Daniel Snider
I spent the summer living and working on Mount Desert Island writing trail assessments for Maine Coast Heritage Trust. I was sent up and down the coast, from Pembroke and Cutler to the Blue Hill peninsula to Brunswick, to walk on MCHT preserves and collect information about trail conditions.
One of my favorite preserves that I got to this summer was Frenchboro, an island off of MDI with over 13 miles of trails along the rocky shore, through the forest, and around the town. After an hour on the ferry from Bass Harbor, the island emerged out of the fog. I was able to get on the trail right from the ferry terminal. Marked not by blazes but by buoys, the trail followed the shore in and out of the woods and took me over beaches with thousands of perfectly smooth stones. During my two full days on Frenchboro, I had views across the water of Swans Island, back to the mountains of Acadia, and out over the open ocean.
A huge part of my summer experience was formed by my time spent at Blue Horizons preserve– my home for the summer.
While walking, I took pictures of all the trail infrastructure, bog bridging, wooden and stone steps, benches, steppingstones, as well as problematic sections of trail that may be eroding, braided, or too steep, noting how long these sections lasted and whether or not there were clear ways around them. I created a document for each preserve so I could upload the photos and measurements and store them in one place. These documents provide the stewardship team with a current idea the overall conditions are on the preserves they manage.
At the end of a half-mile fire road on the Western side of the island, a cabin looks out over the Mt Desert Narrows toward the Blue Hill Peninsula. I’ve been to very few places on the coast of Maine as peaceful as Blue Horizons, a space where I could enjoy a walk on the beach, launch a kayak and explore rocky islands off Indian Point, or cook myself a dinner to eat on the deck as the sun set over Blue Hill. Wildlife was all around me at Blue Horizons; eagles flew overhead and perched in the pines on the water’s edge, seals chased countless schools of pogies that splashed around the water every evening, porpoises blew air as they swam by, herons swooped low over the water, and garter snakes enjoyed the warm grass around the cabin. The calming beauty of the cabin and the land, water, and wildlife around it was a constant throughout the summer, and after days working in other spots along the coast or weekends away, it always had me ready to return to the island.
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