A Splendid Finish

Isle Au Haut Travel Blog

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Another yummy breakfast at the Keeper's House!

Woke up around 5AM today and took advantage of an abandoned inn to pad around and snap some interior pictures.  It wasn’t very long, however, before I heard Marshall puttering about downstairs.  I soon headed for floor level and greeted him, knowing the first order of business was firing up a fresh pot of coffee!


Chatting with Marshall, I asked him if I could give some money to ship a mag light to Bowdoinham (Ed had loaned me a torch to navigate back to Kathleen’s place each night and I forgot to return it – since he uses it to walk his dog at night I wanted it to get home ASAP).  Marshall accepted the flashlight and some cash, then got busy with housekeeping chores.


Julie, Tracy and Char soon arrived and another delicious breakfast was whipped up – a custom egg sandwich (featuring a light biscuit) accompanied by a bowl of yogurt with nuts.

Post Office, or PO Box? You be the judge!
  It will be tough to abandon this royal treatment.


Marshall disappeared and surprised me by returning at 7:45AM with change from my postage request.  “How did you manage that?” I asked.  Turns out Isle au Haut’s teensy post office (see picture) opens at 7AM every morning so locals can be ready for the mail boat’s 8AM arrival.  Tracy, Marshall and I chatted over coffee in the parlor while Julie put my lunch together (a beefy avocado sandwich, an apple, more granola and even some popcorn).


This entire AM sequence was very laid back, so I didn’t push off for more hiking until 9:15.  Mindful that I would need to catch a 4PM mail boat ride back to the mainland, there was no ambitious agenda.

Hiking Bowditch Trail
  I only hiked Bowditch Trail and a portion of Long Pond Trail.  I really wanted to follow the latter to its namesake, but that looked to require more time than I had.  Both trails trekked through the island’s interior with no coastal views, so nothing stellar, but I will add a review for Bowditch since I hiked its entire length.


Completed this circuit in good time and after rebounding about two miles along Main Road to the turn-off back to the lighthouse, I pressed on towards the main village.  Figured I would check out the civilized portions of Isle au Haut during my few remaining hours and my initial target was Black Dinah (pronounced DEAN-uh) Chocolates.


Tracy and Julie had made me aware of the local chocolatier, one of the island’s very few industries that apparently has garnered a lot of acclaim for their delicious treats.

Black Dinah! But I'm not grooving on the SHUT slat at the bottom...
  And there’s more.  Tracy told me the location offered a small café (though Julie supplemented this info with the important detail that it was only open Friday & Saturday this time of year) and a short trail just behind led to a splendid overlook.


An auspicious beginning.  No doubt I had narrowed the search by spying a Black Dinah sign at the first driveway once the road was blacktopped again, as Tracy had described.  Unfortunately the signboard included a hanging shingle saying SHUT.  I ventured back and there were two residences, one ‘feeling’ like it was Black Dinah, but things were quiet and no further signage to help confirm I had reached the promised land.

Happy pooch who accompanied me for a mile back to the lighthouse...


Continued on towards what might loosely be referred to as “town,” passing the National Park Ranger Station.  Just beyond Town Landing was the island’s gift shop, which I visited to chat with the owner and score a tacky magnet.  Also snapped a picture of the post office, probably the bittiest one I’ve ever seen.


Then it was back to the Keeper’s House, and I picked up a dog along the way.  He was lying on a front porch and jumped up as I ambled past, idly escorting me and exploring interesting smells as we headed back. Char was working in the garden when I reached the lighthouse, so my first question was whether it was okay the pooch had tagged along (we were now about a mile from his house).  “He’ll find his way back, he follows everyone,” Char replied.

Acadia National Park ranger station on Isle au Haut.
  Oh to be a dog on a quiet Maine island.


Julie made me a cup of tea as I packed for final departure.  Shared my failed attempt to drop in at Black Dinah, and she told me to just knock on the door.  If I failed to connect, Julie told me they had a store in Blue Hill, which I would pass through after I regained the mainland.  We started chatting about Blue Hill and I told her I frequented the town back in the early 90’s because there was a hip blues club called the Left Bank Café that featured top shelf acts.  Naturally Julie’s father was the owner of the Left Bank during that time!


Time to bid adieu, so I thanked Julie and Char for a wonderful stay and hoofed back into town.

Now that's a box of chocolates!


This time my visit to Black Dinah was successful because I did knock on the door.  A guy appeared at a window and shouted “looking for chocolate?”  After nodding my head he gestured to go around to a door at the side of the house and quickly let me inside.  There was a tasteful display of their wares, so I pulled out a twenty and asked him to fix a small box for my daughter.  He was so gracious I asked about the overlook Tracy had mentioned just behind their house.  He instantly acknowledged the overlook and pointed to a trail starting just off their back porch.


“Dang” I replied, because it was 3PM and the mail boat departed at 4PM.

Black Dinah Overlook - you can see the top of Robinson Point Lighthouse dead center.
  His response was that it was a short five minute climb and told me to leave my pack on their porch (in the shade so the chocolate didn’t melt!).  Charmed by the island spirit, I sprinted up the unblazed trail and soon found myself on top of a rocky promontory, affording pleasant panoramic views towards the lighthouse and over the northern portion of the island.


Lost the trail coming back down, but it was obvious which direction to go so I bulldozed through some brush, reclaimed my pack and headed for Town Landing.  I was grooving on all of the last minute sights I was cramming in, so I ventured past the dock to stop in at the Island Store, the sole option for scoring food on Isle au Haut – and the joint is only open 2:30 – 4:30PM daily.  It was like a large convenience store, unimpressive for the most part. Picked up a diet soda and got in line behind a park ranger, who I wound up having a great conversation with.

The Island Store - the ONLY place to score groceries on the island, and they are only open 2:30-4:30P daily!
  She updated me on their trail maintenance routines and confirmed that I had indeed spotted a pair of bald eagles along Western Head Trail yesterday (and further told me an osprey had just nested near there as well).


On the brink of departure, it was starting to feel like I belonged here.  That notion was reinforced when Marshall puttered past me in his Model A Ford as I trudged toward the dock.  He was out looking for his dogs (of course, guess they all run free here) and informed me he’d see me at the dock.  I discovered every day is Christmas on Isle au Haut when the mail boat arrives, because it seemed like the whole town came down to the landing just before Lizzy docked.  Tracy came down too, so I got to complete my farewells before pushing off.


A magnificent destination I will cherish and remember fondly.

vances says:
There are precious few year-round retirees up here, Bill --- the handful that do are usually "snow birds" who also have a place in Florida for winter.
Posted on: Jun 26, 2014
Zagnut66 says:
It's like a different world up there, Vance. Maybe a good place to retire.
Posted on: Jun 25, 2014
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Another yummy breakfast at the Kee…
Another yummy breakfast at the Ke…
Post Office, or PO Box?  You be th…
Post Office, or PO Box? You be t…
Hiking Bowditch Trail
Hiking Bowditch Trail
Black Dinah!  But Im not grooving…
Black Dinah! But I'm not groovin…
Happy pooch who accompanied me for…
Happy pooch who accompanied me fo…
Acadia National Park ranger statio…
Acadia National Park ranger stati…
Now thats a box of chocolates!
Now that's a box of chocolates!
Black Dinah Overlook - you can see…
Black Dinah Overlook - you can se…
The Island Store - the ONLY place …
The Island Store - the ONLY place…
Isle Au Haut Sights & Attractions review
Don't ditch this trail
Bowditch Trail winds entirely through Isle au Haut’s interior. A useful connector to other trails, the lack of any expansive views relegates this p… read entire review
Isle Au Haut Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
A Sweet Retreat
This was perhaps the biggest surprise of my visit to Isle au Haut. Who would suspect this remote location was home to handmade chocolates rapidly earn… read entire review
Isle Au Haut
photo by: vances