A Trip To Acadia
Acadia National Park
It is hard to tell when I first learned about Acadia. One photo here, one mention there, and, eventually, it came to the point, when I was consciously gathering information about the park. Soon, that evolved into an idea of going there and experiencing the place in person.
This national park is very popular with around 3.3 million people visiting it each year, which, considering its size, makes it the most people-crowded park in the Unites States. Nevertheless, I hoped to find some more private experience. I found it at Schoodic Peninsula - a relatively remote corner of the park.
Getting here took me longer than I expected, and after almost seventeen hours on the road, I found myself in the darkness of the night, on a rugged, rocky shore of Atlantic Ocean, listening to the sound of breaking waves somewhere beyond the reach of my flashlight. I stayed there until the morning to catch the first light and wander on rocks in complete solitude.
A long time ago, lobsters were so plentiful that Native Americans used them to fertilize their fields. In colonial times it was considered a poverty food. Until early 1800s lobsters were gathered by hand in tidal pools along the shoreline. Things have changed since then: lobsters are delicious meal now, and modern technologies have replaced the hand-harvesting. In morning hours you can observe catchers' vessels sailing along Schoodic Peninsula, or at least hear them in a dense fog.
Fog is not unusual in Acadia. Depending on the season chances to witness this weather phenomenon vary, but most opportunities fall to August. During this month it is so common that locals sometimes refer to this time of the year as the Fogust. It is beautiful if you see the fog covering the Frenchman Bay while standing atop of the of Cadillac Mountain, or walk by the ocean shore and witness it up close. The shore option became my experience and left long-lasting memories. It is so calming to see the white wall moving above the ocean wiping off the horizon line, making the scene around you absolutely boundless, but not infinitely distant.
Fog, Schoodic Point
The primary route through Acadia on the Mount Desert Island is the loop road that connects park's lakes, mountains, forests, and the coast. This scenic drive has several parking areas and pullover points, where you can stop, enjoy views, and, where posted, read interesting facts about your surrounding. Most of the road is one way, and there is a fee collected at the entrance station.
Park Loop Road
The scenic Ocean Path Trail meanders for approximately two miles from Sand Beach to Otter Cliff. It provides fantastic views of the ocean and the coastal line. I had little time to explore it properly and put on my to-do list for the next time.
Ocean Path Trail
Jordan Pond is a glacier formed tarn and is one of several lakes in the park. Trails, a carriage road, and the park's loop road provide easy access to any side of it, giving a lot of opportunities to enjoy views. But the location on the South is famous for its background: two dome-shaped mountains called South and North Bubbles.
Bass Harbor Head Light
My have-to-see location for the evening was the Bass Harbor Head Light - a small, charmingly photogenic lighthouse. Due to its popularity, it has been pictured in all imaginable ways and different weather conditions by hundreds of photographers. Still, I hoped to find my interpretation of the scene. I arrived in well before sunset, but the place already looked like a seabirds nesting ground: photographers were everywhere on nearby rocks. The high tide pushed them closer to each other limiting the choice of composition to the minimum. I took my time looking at the scenery and trying to visualize my composition. a bit later I won a little free patch of rock under cliffs and took a long exposure that I now enjoy so much.
My experience with hiking in the forest was quite brief, but very enjoyable. It happened by accident when I got confused by markings on the map, made for me by a ranger a day earlier, and stopped in the wrong parking lot. My goal was to find the Waterfall Bridge, but instead, I found myself on a trail, surrounded by balsam firs. The trees exuded a fragrant aroma that made me slow down and slowly walk among these trees and breathe the fresh air.
A network of 57 miles of Carriage Roads is an excellent way to enjoy the park's woodland. The construction was directed and financed by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., whose primary goal was to create a system that would highlight the beauty of Mount Desert Island while staying in harmony with the environment. Roads repeat curves of the landscape as much as possible, but in many spots, there was a need for a bridge. According to the National Park Service, there are 16 stone bridges, all of a unique design. Some of them are very photogenic. I had two in mind: Hemlock and Waterfall bridges. I put them on my list for the time when the sky is clear, and the sun is high, hoping that the surrounding forest will diffuse the light and help with a compelling photograph. The Hemlock Bridge looked promising. The dappled light was quite pleasing, and I managed to frame a beautiful, warm scene of the place.
In the afternon I decided to have a little break and walk along Eagle Lake - another natural tarn and popular place for those who enjoy spending time in a boat. Swimming in the lake is prohibited, as it is also a source of water for local towns.
Old Stump near Eagle Lake
Blue Hill Overlook
While having many places where you can watch a sunrise, Acadia cannot offer similar opportunities for a sunset. Most land with an open view on the West is private property, making it off-limits for public. But there are still a few places where you can enjoy the setting sun. One of them is the Blue Hill Overlook, located not far from the Cadillac Mountains Summit. I came there right before the parking lot started to fill up quickly by arriving visitors.
It is something special to stay on the top of a mountain and look up into the dark sky, full of stars and with the Milky Way spanning from one horizon to another. Acadia is a great place to experience this, especially on the Cadillac Mountain summit, that provides a 360-degree view.
Staying overnight at the Cadillac Mountain is a good idea if you want to be the first in the continental United States to see the rising sun. This fact and the accessibility of the summit make the parking surprisingly hard, despite its impressive capacity. The hosts of the campground where I stayed, advised me to get here early as the parking lot could be filled in a few hours before the sunrise, by those who are not lazy enough to wake up at 2:00 AM. I decided to be lazy a bit, yet to ensure a spot for my car. So I simply spent the night at the back seat and emerged from there with the first light.
At the time of my visit I knew nothing about islands, visible from the Cadillac Mountain and read some information only upon the end of my trip. Now I know, that Islesford is a picturesque harbor town, with spectacular views of the Mount Desert Island, and that one can get there by a local mail boat or a tour boats from Northeast Harbor and Southwest Harbor. It has a museum, operated by National Park Service, several quaint shops, galleries, and artisans.
Islesford and Cranberries Isles
I left Acadia on the third day of my trip. The experience I got met the expectations, but I had firm intent to come back and explore the park once again and explore things that I missed this time.