BAR HARBOR — The McKay family, who have been coming to their Hadley Point camp every summer for more than 60 years, noticed a change when they arrived earlier this month. A large boulder on the shore in front of the cottage had vanished.
“Adventurous family members, both old and young, waded and swam out at high tide to jump off and play on the large boulder right in front of our camp,” Gladney Nohinek-McKay said in an email. “The boulder was very large, exposed on the low tide and a large enough area exposed in the high tide for a few people to stand and jump from it. This summer the boulder is gone, nowhere in sight.”
Based on an estimate of its size, the granite rock could weigh as much as five or six tons.
Comparison of what’s on the beach now with photos from recent summers shows other nearby rocks don’t appear to have moved. There’s no obvious track, scrape mark or bare area from the boulder being dragged by ice or other force.
Last summer, Nohinek-McKay’s nephew Collin Jones and then-fiancée Kaley posed with the boulder at low tide for engagement photos. When they arrived for the wedding this summer, the rock was no where to be found.
The boulder was about 15 feet from the high water mark, Bob McKay told Harbormaster Charlie Phippen. “It was far enough in the water that it could have had solid ice form around it.” The boulder being moved by ice and water over the winter is “the only feasible answer I see,” Phippen said. “All winter, there was such a snow bank plowed up around that area that I don’t know how you would have accessed it with a crane or anything.”
This winter, the Coast Guard sent a 65-foot cutter to the area in March to break up ice. Wind-driven storms in the winter can cause ice to pile up on the shore, Phippen said. “Bigger things have been moved by ice,” he said. “I’ve seen a 50-foot steel barge on a mooring off the airport ramp in Trenton that, when the ice went out, was all the way over by Lamoine State Park at the opposite shore of the Jordan River.”
If the boulder became encased in an ice floe, Phippen said, “as the ice floe went out, any rocks that might have been embedded in ice would have dropped out of it at some point nearby.” The McKays have yet to identify a nearby rock that could be the repositioned boulder.
If it shifted deeper into the water, far enough to be no longer visible at low tide, it would create a new hazard for boaters in the area.
“I have no doubt the ice has moved it,” said Theo DeKoning, who operates the mussel-harvesting barge Stewardship in Frenchman Bay. “Rocks do move, and after the winter, boaters have to be careful. That corner is out of the way for most boat traffic other than kayakers.”
Correction: an earlier version of this article contained an error. Collin Jones (pictured) is Bob and Gladney McKay’s nephew.