July 30, 2013

The "Maine" Event; Day 5: Bubbles

Wednesday, July 10, 2013: With one more day in Acadia National Park on the itinerary, I decided to get another early start on some of the sights that I had, on the days prior, noticed getting very crowded during the afternoon. I would begin by hiking the roughly three miles of trail that allow one to circumnavigate Jordan Pond. This morning would again be very foggy and it saddened me that I would not be able to view the Bubble Mountains rising over the water as I had seen in many photographs, but I must say that the haze did add to the beauty and mysteriousness of the place. Being that I was venturing out at such an early hour (6:30am), I didn't encounter any other people on the trail, though I did come across quite a bit of wildlife: rabbits, deer, chipmunks, squirrels, etc. I really enjoyed treading the boardwalk that runs through most of the trail and spans the delicate lakeside ecosystem. Another section of the trail requires climbing on the rocky cliff face. It's pretty tricky; every step in uneven and one misplaced foot could send one tumbling into the pond. The mantra at Acadia is "LEAVE NO TRACE" and I'm glad to say that I didn't see as much as a gum wrapper during my entire time in the wild. The park, while heavily visited, remains pristine.

The next sight that I wanted to see is called Bubble Rock, a huge boulder of white granite that seems to teeter precariously on a ledge of the South Bubble Mountain summit. Bubble Rock was dragged to its current location and left behind by receding glaciers during the last ice age. It is a unique feature in that the surrounding terrain of the Bubble Mountains consists entirely of pink granite. While its place on the mountainside might seem dubious, it is actually firmly planted. Everyday, thousands of visitors try their hand at budging the boulder off of its perch, but no one has had any success.

At this point, I would make another loop around the entire park stopping at some of the smaller sights that I had missed on the previous days. Most noteworthy is Little Hunters Beach -- a beach composed not of sand, but of large stones. While probably not a comfortable location for reclining on a towel (it's even difficult to walk on such a surface), this stony bit of coastline was fun to explore.

The very last stop that I would make for the day was to be at Bubble Pond. It proved a beautiful place to sit on a log and reflect on all the wonders I had already seen. It occurred to me that I had only hiked a mere fraction of the many miles of trails that Acadia National Park has to offer. I would be leaving for Boston in the morning, but, as I sat there beside the calm pool, I promised myself that would someday return to Maine with more time to take it all in. Along with the Misty Fjords of Alaska and the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Acadia National Park ranks high among the most beautiful landscapes that I have ever visited.

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine:
but a broken spirit drieth the bones."

~Proverbs 17:22


July 26, 2013

The "Maine" Event; Day 4: Beach, Berries, Bar Harbor

Tuesday, July 9, 2013: I started off this morning early by making another loop around Acadia National Park. This time, my first stop would be at a spot called Sand Beach. As I parked the car and started walking down the wooden staircase from the road, I found a beautiful shoreline surrounded on both sides by jagged cliffs with untamed wilderness jutting up from behind the rocks; a postcard scene, to be sure. As I strolled to the water's edge, the gentle waves looked very inviting, but, unfortunately, the day was overcast, drizzly, and a little bit chilly -- not good conditions at all for wading into the sea. The edges of the beach are littered with driftwood and vividly-colored stones of all sizes. I found a few snails as I explored here. Someone had erected a miniature Stonehenge by the cliff face which I though was pretty cool. In the distance, I could make out the silhouette of a cruise ship at sail, most likely bound for Canada. A small stream runs from the woods to meet the ocean. I followed the flow of the water for as long as I could, crossing over the stream a few times on the stepping stones that span it, before the trail proved impassable among fronds of tall sea grasses. It was here that I took notice of the sweet scent that pervades the air. It is the distinct fragrance of pine needles that seems to be ever-present in Acadia National Park. It is very subtle, but, once noticed, is an absolute delight to the olfactory system. 

From Sand Beach, it is a short drive to the Gorham Mountain Trailhead. This path is made up of larger boulders and is very fun to hike. About halfway up the mountainside, it started to rain. The droplets felt clean and refreshing on my face and arms. It lasted only for a few minutes and never came to a downpour. I'm happy to say that I never had to use the ponchos that I had brought along in my backpack. Before long, I was standing at the pinnacle of Gorham Mountain -- my second mountain conquered in as many days. The haze of the day didn't allow for the same type of panoramic view that I had seen on top of Dorr Mountain, but Gorham Mountain has its own kind of payoff. The summit is covered in bushes full of the famous wild blueberries of Maine. I plucked a handful of the ripe fruits and popped them in my mouth (once again, not innuendo). A little taste of local nature at the end of a rugged hike is a beautiful thing to experience. "This is Living!" I heard my voice proclaim to the gray sky.

The next point on the map is called Otter Point. This is a great place to climb and explore the rocky coastlines of Acadia National Park. I sat here for a long time on a large stone, watching the waves creating tiny waterfalls and splashes among the crevices and espying all kinds of ducks and sea birds afloat on the water.

As I continued around the loop, I pulled to the right side of the road when I saw another small path cutting into the forest that looked interesting. I got out just to give it a quick look and discovered a babbling stream. Lots of fallen trees had spanned the stream creating natural bridges. The ground beneath my feet was soft and mossy, the air in my lungs fresh and cool. That is one of the things that really amazes me -- at Acadia National Park, every path leads to something wonderful.

As dinnertime approached, I went into Bar Harbor. It is a trendy, port town full of novelty shops. I soon found a restaurant in the shape of a lighthouse and decided that I had to try it, but, in this case, the curb appeal was better than the cuisine. The taste here was a tad bland. I enjoyed the wild blueberries on Gorham Mountain much more...

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten
us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection
of Jesus Christ from the dead."

~1 Peter 1:3