A Bold Adventure
I silenced the alarm and worked one eye open enough to read the display on my phone—4:15 AM. Was it really worth it to crawl out of this warm, toasty cocoon of blankets for a sunrise? Across the room, I heard my friend stir, providing me the motivation I needed to throw off the covers and step onto the carpeted floor.
It only took ten minutes to drive from the Bluebird Motel to Roque Bluffs State Park. I kicked off my shoes and dug my toes into the sand as I gazed in confusion at the last vestiges of color on the horizon. It was ten minutes before sunrise and yet somehow, I’d missed the show. I’ve learned since that the grandeur of sunrise actually occurs predawn.
The two of us roused our still sleeping companion and together made our way to the famed Helen’s Restaurant in Machias to fuel up for the hike ahead. Filled to the top with great food and service and a ghost story, we loaded back into the car. And after a brief stop to admire the lobstering boats in the harbor, we arrived at the trailhead for the Bold Coast in Cutler, Maine.
When I stepped onto the trail, I felt as if I had been transported to another world. The ground was covered with moss in different shades of green. Feathery ferns grew beneath the deep green pines. Smooth rocks scattered the terrain. The sun shone through the canopy of leaves overhead, creating a speckled pattern on the ground at my feet. There was a magical feel to these woods and I wouldn’t have been surprised to spot a fairy flitting about the branches of the trees.
After a little over a mile of walking along two-plank bridges, packed root covered earth and smooth rocks, I smelled the ocean. And then, there I was, standing on a rugged cliff of the Maine coast. I shed my sweatshirt in the warm sunshine and enjoyed the salty air that swept across the ocean to surround me. I peered over the edge of the cliff and watched the water splash against the rocks.
For the next 3.8 miles the trail wove back and forth from the woods to the rocky coast. Purple irises thrust their way up from the soil between the rocks. Blueberries, not yet ripe filled the bushes along the edges of the trail. A tiny green snake, slithered off the trail and into the grass as I approached. I ventured out onto every overlook, breathing in the ocean air.
It was at one of these overlooks that I spotted a sea cave. I love caves almost as much as I love hiking and I really wanted to go down and explore this cave. But without a rope or some sort of climbing gear, that wasn’t happening. At least not this trip.
I took advantage of every opportunity to wander to down to beaches filled with colorful rocks, worn smooth by the ocean waves. There were no sandy beaches on this trail, only the rugged beauty of the rocky Maine coast.
As I climbed back up to the cliff from one of these pebbly beaches, I noticed a boat moving through the water, stopping frequently. Even from a distance I could see the swarm of birds that followed it. Using the zoom on my camera, I confirmed my suspicion. It was a lobsterman checking his traps. I knew that lobstering was hard work, but I never realized that it involved constant seagull harassment! I thought back to the many times I’d gone to the beach only to have a bold seagull swoop down and snatch away my bag of chips. Here was this lobsterman, confined to his boat with twenty plus seagulls, circling and diving around him. Yet he continued his work, unmindful of their presence.
I knew we were reaching the end of the coastal portion of the trek when I heard the horn of the lighthouse. Every 8 seconds it called to me, drawing me onward with the promise of more beautiful view points, yet warning me off, because I knew that when I reached the lighthouse, I would be forced to turn away from the breathtaking ocean views.
I’d read about the campsites on the Bold Coast—three of them, available on a first come bases—and when I reached the first site, I regretted my stay in the motel, wishing I’d spent last night on the trail. I imagined falling asleep listening to the cry of seagulls, the water lapping against the rocks, and the now, not-so-distant, call of the lighthouse as it lulled me to sleep. I envied those campers that had rolled out of their sleeping bags and watched the sun rise over the ocean horizon. Next time, I promised myself.
As I settled onto the rocks to enjoy lunch, a group of seagulls landed on a nearby rock. I watched them preen their feathers and rest in the warm sun, and wondered if they were the same birds that had spent the morning swarming the lobstering boat, and were now resting up with bellies full from their scavenged spoils.
Not long after, I rounded the last corner of my coastal journey and the lighthouse came into view. I believe it to be the Little River Lighthouse. It’s not a particularly large lighthouse—only slightly taller than the two story building beside it—but I have no doubt that it helps provide safe passage to ocean travelers, just the same.
From here, the trail brought us back into the fairy forest. And although the lighthouse called me back to the ocean, the necessities of life—family, work, and my little Yorkie—steadied my feet as they carried me away from the sea.
Compared to the scrabble across the rocks and the steep trails along the coastal portion of our route, this part of the trail was a leisurely walk. Once again I traveled through moss covered forest and along two plank boardwalks until I reached a large bog. I clambered up onto a giant boulder that overlooked this inland water body, hoping to spot a moose grazing in the trees at its edges. Instead, I enjoyed a quiet, peaceful view without a moose.
When the gravel of the parking area replaced the pine-needle covered packed earth of the trail beneath my feet, I felt energized. The experience of hiking the New England coast had regenerated me. I smiled as I tossed my now empty pack into the trunk and piled into the car with my friends.
We ended our day with one more stop at Helen’s for some blueberry ice cream and piece of their famous blueberry pie, each of us vowing to return to the Bold Coast of Maine.
Teri Lee is the author of Troubled Spirits, a YA paranormal novel set in Maine. Troubled Spirits is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Applie iBooks, Google Play, Smashwords, Black Rose Writing and many other sites.
*Photos are taken by Teri Lee and may be used with permission only