under the spell of Kineo

i sat down to write this morning….in that space of not knowing…..not knowing how to paint in three dimensions….yet ready blindly to tap a keyboard….and there!… bill had already said it so well….i can’t blame him….who wouldn’t want to share such experiences…but…what’s left to say?…..one of the reasons i write, is to be able to relive my own experience many times….and if i don’t….so much is lost….perhaps i could just add a little…

a little what?….do i exaggerate?….do i spin a half-true yarn?…..yet perhaps….perhaps it’s always OK to add one’s own perception of the ineffable whole….we were on Moosehead Sunday and Monday….and Sunday was as if the Higher Power…..drawing back the dimming curtains of habit-mind….said: Psssst!……experience this!…..and wonder!

The day unfolded in a slow crescendo …..Lloyd and i arrived on the ice just at 10….me smarting from a traffic ticket on the way up…..the officer claims he chased these two Mr. Magoo oldsters for miles, gum-ball spinning….as we had drifted through Dexter, Maine…..yakking….hardly slowing down….. on that quiet Sunday morning.

on the ice, the brightest of suns, a cloudless sky…and only the slightest breath of a north wind….i strapped on skates….carefully navigated into verticality….and began relearning the art of skating…luckily Bill Cunningham was also just starting…and we slowly headed–of course–toward Kineo….now Moosehead is massive….three Sebago’s or two Winnepasaki’s….and it’s dominated by the 700 ft cliffs of a peninsula jutting from the eastern shore. the ice surface was beautiful for iceboats, but required occasional care by aged skaters….so Bill sported two lovely skating poles from nordicskater.com….gradually that magical rhythm….that light show of ice variations….returned…

after basking in the pocket of reflective warmth of the south-facing cliffs, with their cascades of icicles and clinging dwarf pines…..we headed north, searching for that patch of smooth ice in the NW corner of this part of the lake…crossing the major E-W pressure ridge was difficult, and we were forced to scout its entire eastern half….Bill’s sounding poles were almost essential to gauge the depth of puddles on one side or the other…then, finding some shallow water, we crossed…. on, on, we skated….on the ever-improving ice….stopping to wonder….to picnic….until we came to perfect ice–.25 miles square— in the far corner.

everyone who loves ice or snow….who loves space….who loves light….who loves graceful movement….will recognize this “skater’s high”….you see a shore, perhaps two miles distant….and without the slightest feeling of being daunted by the dreary inefficiency of walking…you know that in 15 minutes of minimal effort, you’ll be there…finally at noon, we turned and headed the 4.5 miles back to the launch….as we recrossed the pressure ridge, we spotted an exhausted deer, unable to stand on the smooth ice….our friend was her enemy….now she awaited a slow death…Bill was sure she’s bite us if we came too near….how i wished for that throw-line i hadn’t put in my backpack…

back at the lodge, over hot soup and hot chocolate, we spied the flutter of conifer branches signaling the long-awaited wind…by the time we’d rigged, it was strong….by Kineo, we would have been better with storm sails….our mission was to explore, for a possible weekend regatta, the ice south of an obstructive band of nasty brash ice just below Kineo….unable to bleed speed in the downwind romp, we nearly busted boats crashing helplessly across this tangled mass of ice and snow….then….we found bands of exquisite ice, a pressure ridge, and eventually frozen slush….certainly no space here for a big-boat regatta…

so we circled back to the cliffs of Kineo….the afternoon had been cloudy, but some sort of high sunset was beginning to form….you could feel a certain magic building, a giddiness, as we parked in the lee and explored on foot this exquisite spot…..eventually, after photos, we shot for home….the wind was still very strong, but without it’s violent edge….in short exactly what we love…almost back to the launch, i noticed one boat had detoured from the rhumb line, into hardscrabble strait….this lake is so vast you can’t recognize a particular boat…but i knew only one of our five pilots would have the perversity to be there….and i’d be double damned if i’d be left out.

4 of the 5 boats crossed hardscrabble’s pressure ridge together….by now the sun had fully emerged from low clouds, coating the eastern hills a pale yellow, leaving everything else in a deep blue-ish shadow….everything except for the bright yellow sails of 4 iceboats, as though made of LED’s….we blasted off to the east….you could hardly see the ice…only feel its rumble and rush under the runners….as Bill put it….it seemed we were lightships blasting thru the ether….we took a long sweep behind Kineo, and in its shadow, each of our illuminated sails blinked out. Back at the pressure ridge rendezvous….bill and i approached each other, hands extended low and to the side…and we said what we sometimes say….though now i swore i would never have the chance to say it again…..”THIS……is as good as it gets!”

a map of our adventures:

http://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?hl=en_US&app=mp&mid=ztF2YST1dLcw.kSj4jPw5GqBg

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2 Responses to under the spell of Kineo

  1. Robert Lombardo says:

    Nicely written Jory. As we know the only way to truely experience the day and the ice is to be there on it. But if you cannot then read a yarn spun by Jory. Photos cannot do this huge lake justice, they cannot capture the vastness of the beyond or around the island, one has to be there with their ears and eyes.

  2. Brown Bruce says:

    Jory,

    Fred and I are going up to Rockwood tomorrow. Would you be so kind as to update last week’s map with brash ice locations, open water if any, recommended pressure ridge crossings and extent of explored ice? I hope we have as good sailing as you had. Thanks.

    Bruce Brown
    brbrown@roadrunner.com

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