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Isle au Haut: A Billion Stars and Pristine Trails

“This whole earth which we inhabit is but a point in space. How far apart, think you, dwell the two most distant inhabitants of yonder star, the breadth of whose disk cannot be appreciated by our instruments? Why should I feel lonely? Is not our planet in the Milky Way?” — Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Anchored in a quiet cove, boat rolling steadily (and indicating why we were alone in this place), we stepped out into a brilliant sky to bear witness to a billion stars. The Milky Way so bright it reflected off the water. This was what we’d hoped for, yet almost missed fleeing mosquitoes earlier in the evening. We were not so alone after all.

The thing about sailing that is so attractive is your ability to place yourself in places like this, nudged up against a corner of Acadia National Park that few ever venture to. There are no buses or fifth wheel camp trailers on Isle au Haut. Those are fine people too, just more than I seek out when getting away from it all. Here you find the quiet bliss inferred in the very concept of a nature preserve.

Spending a bit of time on the main stretch (where the road is actually paved), we found the locals friendly and the ice cream sandwiches tasty, but I couldn’t buy a stamp for my postcard after 11 AM. Isle au Haut has what must be one of the nation’s smallest Post Offices. If you want counter service get there early. So it goes. The stamp will have to wait.

The hiking trails are mostly well-defined here, and in some boggy corners nature’s winning the battle to reclaim them. They say build it and they will come, and surely we do, but not so many that you ever feel you can’t get some solitude. We saw precious few fellow hikers, despite the delightful trail network. This naturally continued out at the anchorage. Precious few fellow sailboats. There is plenty of elbow room on Isle au Haut. May it always be this way.

Isle au Haut Lighthouse (1907)

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