Most of us older folks have some kind of protracted health problem. The bane of my twilight years has been waging an ongoing battle with arthritis. My knees, hips and hands are all being treated for the chronic disorder. A few years ago, the affliction resulted in a knee replacement, and I recently received an artificial hip.
One advantage of a new hip is the recovery is much less painful than a knee replacement. However, it still doesn’t qualify as a fun process. Each day consists of a monotonous regimen of physical therapy, icing and short boring walks. After wearing out neighborhood routes and local walking trails, I decided to expand my horizons. More precisely, my wife, Nancy, suggested a collection of relatively easy hiking trails in Down East Maine as a possible antidote for my persistent grumpiness.
Lodging was scarce in Washington County due to a bicycle event. However, we were able to reserve the last room in a motel in Milbridge for the weekend. Our research indicated there were two appealing trails in nearby Steuben: Pigeon Hill and Hollingsworth.
Plodding along ever so gradually, especially on steep ledges that required precise footing, Pigeon Hill became the first peak conquered with my new fake hip. The open 313-foot summit provided exceptional views of Pigeon Hill and Dyer Bays and the surrounding islands and peninsulas.
The Hollingsworth Trail was a gentle 1.5 mile loop trek through the Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge. Mostly an easy walk, we traveled over some ledges and along rocky beaches that were a little more difficult. The highlight of the outing was our arrival at the rugged shoreline of Petit Manan Point where a comfortable bench afforded me the opportunity to rest my weary hip. Petit Manan Lighthouse and Island were visible in the distance. While relaxing, I attempted to dazzle Nancy by relating exciting details of my sea kayak traverse of the treacherous Petit Manan Bar a few years ago. Actually, that probably wasn’t the first time she’d heard me recite the same yarn, but it gets better with each telling.
Ever since our recent experience biking the superb Penobscot River Trails in Grindstone, we’ve been intrigued with the prospect of visiting the Cobscook Shores Park System which was constructed by the same philanthropist, Gilbert Butler. Located on the rockbound shores of spectacular Cobscook Bay in Lubec, we weren’t disappointed. This creation is another triumph for Mr. Butler. Consisting of multiple recreation parks situated around the irregular shoreline that has a dramatic range of tides sometimes exceeding 26 feet, they offer great opportunities for hiking, biking and kayaking.
Limited to hiking on this trip, we began with trails in Red Point Preserve. They were exceptional. An easy ramble on Salt Bay Trail led to a screened picnic pavilion on Red Point where there were outstanding views of Salt Bay. On our return, a route on the left provided us with access to picturesque Red Point Island. Hiking the island trail was more challenging. The narrow twisting passage began with a stepping stone crossing to the lofty atoll. Since this area is flooded at high tide, we chose low tide for our traverse.
I found the hilly footpath on Red Point Island to be a formidable rehab hike. Using two hiking poles and cautiously creeping along, I negotiated without discomfort the network that consists of two loop hikes. An attenuated causeway connected to an appendage of the island where the second loop rounded Little Point. The panoramic vista from cliffs on the promontory was phenomenal. During our trek, we encountered two pavilions, several picnic tables and multiple overlooks scattered about the island.
Trails at Huckins Island Park were our final destination. Our first selection was Young’s Beach Trail, a rolling narrow path that guided us to a delightful isolated pebble beach. We finished the day with an easy walk along the shore of South Bay on the Bay to Bay Trail.
We departed Cobscook Shores with the realization that there was much more to explore. A return for more hiking is a definite. Kayaking and biking will also be part of our future Cobscook Shores endeavors.
My Down East trails experiment was a success. The more difficult walks increased the strength and flexibility of my hip and thigh. And, I’m back to my former gregarious self. Just ask Nancy.