Going Sea Kayaking? Pack Some Layers.

A summer sea kayaking trip documented by photographer Andy Gagne shows how traveling via the MITA trail requires mindfulness—and a puffy jacket.

The incoming tide quickly covered the exposed rocks and sand bar during a foggy afternoon on Little Hog Island off of Naskeag Point.

In the first July of the pandemic, Andy Gagne, who regularly reports for this magazine, found himself in possession of a rare commodity for a Maine-based photographer in the summer months: free time. He and his now-fiancée, Sarah Kearsley, both certified sea kayaking guides who have worked for Rippleffect, packed up their gear and shoved off from Naskeag Point in Brooklin. They spent the next seven days on the Maine Island Trail Association (MITA) trail exploring and camping the breathtaking archipelago between Stonington and Isle au Haut known as Merchant Row, which features 11 Maine Coast Heritage Trust island preserves, finishing up the trip in Blue Hill Bay with views of Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park. “It turned out to be a really unique adventure because, as you can see, we experienced every type of weather throughout the time we were out there,” says Gagne. From rough seas and thunderstorms providing little visibility to calm bluebird days when Kearsley and Gagne were able to paddle 10 to 20 miles at a stretch, the mood for their escape from reality became one of complete mindfulness. “On the ocean, the weather is so much more extreme and always changing,” says Gagne. “This tells that story—how you never really know what to expect. It really helps you appreciate those beautiful sunny moments. It was a trip in July, and yet I was thinking, ‘Man, I would really like my puff jacket.’” In other words, the old adage rings true: if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute. Gagne and Kearsley now live in western Maine, where much of their time is spent exploring the mountains and rivers, but they always look forward to packing up their sea kayaks and reconnecting with the coast.

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