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Bar Harbor, Maine

The Northeastern States - Part 2

Weekend Five - Acadia National Park, Maine
On this weekend, we went camping on Mt. Desert Island.
The Black Woods campground looked like a rock garden. Large granite boulders, mosses and lichens, mushrooms and our own squirrel. He chattered and ran circles around the site.

The only National Park with a real city in it, Acadia mixes dramatic scenery with boutique shops and gourmet restaurants. Some are appalled by it, but we enjoyed it.
Besides, Cadillac Mountain was one of the most memorable hikes I've ever done.

At the start of the hike, it was obvious that a battle was taking shape.
A clash of the titans. A struggle between the heat of the sun, and the cold of the wind.

As a result, there was an ebb and flow of the temperature.

Walking along, I was impressed by the floor of these forests.
Pine needles and mosses made up the carpet. The shadings of the mosses were from an artists palette, 57 varieties of green. The lichens on the sparkling granite complemented the mosses.
And various mushrooms were placed perfectly to accent the rest of the pattern.

Squirrels chattered their obscenities at me as I walked, but I ignored them and continued onward

Looking at the tangled patterns of nature, I was thinking about how we love messiness in the wild, but hate it in life.
As kids, we answer for our messiness to Mom and Dad.
What if we had to answer to Mother Nature and Father Time?

Mother Nature:

"What are you doing? Wipe your feet in that mud puddle before you come into my forest.
I'm getting sick and tired of chasing around you all day, messing up your neat little patterns. Everywhere I go, you and your friends are forcing more order into all my hard work.
I send mud slides to get those little houses off my coasts. I send earthquakes to wake up those dummies who insist on filling in my marshes. I send volcanoes to clear out my forests. I send drought to get rid of overpopulation. I send tornadoes to wipe up those ridiculous trailers, and I send hurricanes to make my coast look the way it used to.
But all you do is ignore me! You don't get the message.
You build bigger dams, stronger walls, taller buildings, and better insurance policies.
Well, it doesn't matter. I'm through talking to you and I'm done messing up behind you.
Just wait till your father gets home!"

So we've used up Mother Natures' infinite patience, and now the punishment will come from Father Time.
Bigger than a belt, and worse than a grounding, this is one punishment I don't want to be around for.

But for now, I just keep walking and enjoying the fine mess that nature has left me.
After a few miles, I broke out of the forest and above the tree line. I walked up the granite spine of a hill, with open views all around me. Moving slowly around gnarled trees and large granite boulders, I looked over Bar Harbor and out at the islands.

At the top of this hill I found many depressions, full of last night's rain water, chilled by the 30 degree temperatures. I stopped and drank this cool wine until I was full, then continued. I dropped down over a ledge, past a pond and meadow, then started up Cadillac Mountain. After 2.5 hours of chasing cairns, I reached the top.

Resting on the peak, I met an old man who, with arm braces, moved with great difficulty. He smiled at me.
"Did you walk up?" he asked.
"From the bottom?"
Yes, from over there on the coast, I said, pointing.
"Aren't you cold?" he asked. I was in shorts.
A little.
"How is it?"
Beautiful. The views are great, so is the forest. I was alone for the whole walk.
He looked over the edge. "I wish I could walk up," he said wistfully.
I wish you could too, I answered, looking at his frail legs.
He smiled, nodded, turned, and continued. Just to go this far in his condition impressed me.

I wanted to take a different path down, so I chose the West Trail. It would take me down 1500 feet in 9/10 of a mile.
About 10 minutes later, I realized that this was a mistake. Apparently, they built these trails before the invention of switch-backs, because most of the trails go straight up and down. This one was straight down, over water-slickened bare granite.
Many times I slid over the slippery rock. Many times I thought about how stupid I was to be doing this alone. A few times I got 'Singer leg' as my legs vibrated like a sewing machine. I clung to trees, crawled, rested, cursed, and finally reached the bottom, 70 minutes later.

At the bottom, I rested and washed in Bubbles Pond. Then I started up Pemetic Mountain. This was another wooded, 'straight-up' trail. There was a great cliffside overlook of Cadillac and Bubbles pond. I felt my blood pumping like it hadn't in quite a while. I still had seen no one on the trails today. I ate a snack and continued.
At the bottom, I found Jordan Pond. While not quite the jewel that Bubbles is, it is a very nice pond. It was warm enough for a swim, and I cursed myself for not bringing a towel. Oh well. At least my feet appreciated the half mile of level ground as I walked the east side of the pond.

I then headed for Triad. Here, the forest became obscenely lush. Ferns and brilliant green leaves were everywhere. The mud was black and rich, trying to suck my boots off with each step. I scaled some granite cliffs, passed a lone photographer and continued upwards. I passed over the top of Triad, then took the Hunters Brook Trail to route 3, and returned to camp at 3:30. There, I collapsed in the tent and fell asleep. Angie returned at 5.

I took a shower, then we went into Bar Harbor for dinner. At Testa's, I had a delicious Lobster Thermidor and two Long Island Teas, which were great medication for my aches and pains.