A short video highlighting a few of the things to see and do in Acadia National Park. Enjoy!
We continued to descend as quickly as possible but that was slow going at the best because each step had to be felt before placing your full weight on your next step. A fork in the trail arrived and while I was pretty certain which direction to go, I did not want to end up making a very costly error so out came the lighter. Most of the time you would think of a lighter as a source for light because there is so little there. In complete darkness a lighter can blind you for a minute or two. After a little light near the sign indicating which way to go a little feeling of calmness fell over me and now time to continue on. Unfortunately it took another minute to go as my eyes needed to re-adjust to the darkness. Moving slower once again we came to a staircase built out of rocks. I recalled this part of the trail and knew that Karen should be at the bottom waiting – this is if she was still brave enough to be sitting in the dark forest. I was anticipating that she moved on to the car. There was just one problem, I had the only set of keys. What I believed to be the bottom of the stairs was approaching but I could not make out a bench and there certainly was no sign of Karen. I stopped and tried to get my baring’s but the feeling of being lost was creeping in. I could not find the direction of the trail and where to go next. Finally I decided that the best direction was to continue in the same direction we were already going.
Moving extremely slowly we I found more stairs to descend and in a short time the place we left Karen was in front of us. Still no sign of Karen though. I was pretty sure that she had returned to the vehicle. Maybe it was more hope that she had gone back. Only one way to find out – continue on. The trail was relatively flat at this point with few stones to trip over allowing us to move faster. FINALLY! THERE IT IS THE PARKING LOT! There may have been more whoops of joy if it were not for the welcoming words of Karen. O.K. so they were not as welcoming as scornful. The ensuing conversation does not need to be repeated here but I was still extremely glad to see her standing by the car.
Kristy and Lysa have agreed on a new hiking rule since this – no hiking within 45 minutes of darkness. I believe we just need to bring flashlights next time. A good night hike can be a great experience. The next day the girls thought we should go back to bubble rock so mom could see it. What they didn’t realize is that mom had no interest what so ever to go back to that location after the less than positive experience the previous night. I believe this was a great learning experience for all of us and created an adventure we’ll never forget.
The view from this location was spectacular being able to see the remaining remnants of daylight and the glow of several towns off in the distance. Over one of the towns we witnessed fireworks being set off. A great location to see fireworks from above them. Watching fireworks from an airplane is something I would like to do someday. This was as close to that as I can imagine for the time being. Now for the inevitable problem. The trail was extremely difficult to see as there was very little light and trees sheltered the trail from any light at all. We were not carrying flashlights. Our only source of light was a cigarette lighter. As we started the hike back towards the vehicle I wanted to check in with Karen to make sure she was alright and that we were on our way. Wouldn’t you know it, my cell phone battery was dead. Not that I would have had great reception if it did work being that service had been spotty all day as it was. The only option was to get back to were Karen was sitting as fast as possible while traveling in the dark over loose rocks and branches. Seems like a good recipe for disaster.
As our eyes adjusted to the limited light conditions you could make out some of the light colored rocks in some areas. At least enough to know where the trail was – thankfully! Did I fail to mention that on our way to Bubble Rock we came across a dad and his two children that had taken a wrong turn and struggling to get back to their car? We could here them off in the distance and eventually met up with them. Once they were pointed in the right direction off they went and we did the same. It was obvious when they found the parking lot as there were loud whoops of joy! That brought a smile to my face as we continued on our hike. I only mention that here because now we were in the position to take a wrong turn and make this an extremely long night. At this point Kristy and Lysa were getting really nervous. I assured them that things would be fine as I have been traveling in the woods in the dark before while getting to my hunting locations. What I did not tell them is I was more familiar with the land when heading to out for hunting. The only familiarity I had here was going up the trail the first time and that was after sunset.
After a full day of exploring Acadia National Park, the sun was beginning to wane so off to find a great spot to watch it set. Looking at the photo above I would say we were successful although I’m sure there are a number of great spots to watch both sunrises and sunsets. We pulled over on the side of the road, got the tripod and camera, and found the best spot to view the sun as is slowly merged into the horizon. There were a few other cars that stopped to quickly take a picture and then moved on but for most of the time we were able to enjoy a spectacular sunset on Mount Desert Island, Maine which is were Acadia resides. This was likely going to be our only opportunity for enjoying a sunset as Hurricane Irene was headed our way and the next night would be filled with clouds. Once we were satisfied with the viewing it was time to move on to our evening residence.
Along the way I caught a glimpse of Bubble Rock sitting high above on a ledge of stone. Wanting a longer view of this large rock that appears as though it could tumble over the edge with just the smallest incentive we found a parking lot with a trail to a better viewing area. Earlier in the day this parking lot was full so we continued on planning on returning later. There was about 30 minutes of daylight left and the hiking trail was only 1/4 mile long. Doing the math assuming a walking rate of 2 miles per hour it should take us about 15 minutes to get there, 15 minutes of pictures and enjoying the surrounding and 15 minutes back to the parking lot. I knew it would be getting pretty dark by the time we got back to our vehicle but we should be fine so off on another adventure it was.
About a third of the way Karen decided she was going to utilize a bench along the trail and would wait for us. I expected that the trail should terminate not to far ahead and we would get a nice look from a viewing point and then return to the car. As we continued on the trail it kept winding back and forth and then began to ascend more than expected. The longer we followed the trail, the darker it got and the more I began to realize this trail led right to the boulder we had seen from a distance below. Well, it shouldn’t be to far now so on we went. Finally we were at the top of the trail and near our objective. It was amazing to me that the National Park Service would allow people to get so close to this rock at the edge of a cliff. Once we finally saw this boulder I understood a little better. There was no way anyone was going to move this rock allowing it to go over the cliff. Once you realize that it has been in this location since the glaciers you can understand how unlikely it is to move.
Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park is the first place in the United States to see the sun rise during the winter months. This is because this location is far enough east in Maine and high enough to see the sun rise before areas that are further east. People like to be the first to do many things or experience something for the first time. Here is a place that anyone can do something before anyone else in the United States – watch the sun pierce the horizon. Unfortunately we did not make it to Cadillac Mountain to witness the sun rising but we still enjoyed setting foot in the beautiful Mountain. Even if we had it was during the summer so the first place to see the sun rise would have been Mars Hill, Maine.
My first impression of Cadillac Mountain was looking at it on a map while looking for the highlights of Acadia National Park. It was puzzling how this could be considered a mountain at only 1530 feet above sea level. I’m use to mountains being several thousand feet above sea level. After getting there and learning more about this place, I now understand why it’s considered a mountain. First of all the steep ascent from sea level to the top suggests a mountain. Also, according to geologists, what is currently the top of Cadillac Mountain was the center of the volcano which helped to shape this area. Apparently the mountain use to be considerably taller until the glaciers moved through and cut it down giving us the scenery available today.
After watching the sunset in other areas of the park we headed back to the top of Cadillac Mountain to witness a beautiful star filled sky. Most impressive was seeing the Milky Way. I have not seen it in a number of years so it was nice to be reminded of its’ spectacular display. Also, fewer and fewer people are able to see the Milky Way so it was nice to show our children what it looks like. Unfortunately I need to work on my photography skills capturing stars so I don’t have a picture that shows the milky way in all its glory. I was able to get a nice photo of the big dipper.