As I wind down my second season here on Mount Desert Island at Acadia National Park, I’ve been reflecting on what it is that makes Acadia unique among national parks. The origin of the early trail system in the park certainly meets that criteria. There are numerous publications that touch upon the historic nature of Acadia’s trails. These island trails were built over a period of many years – both before and after the establishment of the national park. Early trailblazers included Native Americans and, subsequently, European explorers turned island settlers. These settlers were farmers and fishermen who established the foundation of some of today’s current industries. Following the settlers, a new wave of tourists arrived in the mid-1800’s including artists and writers from the Hudson River School – called rusticators – whose work led to a new breed of island inhabitant. Following the Civil War, travel to Mount Desert Island picked up and the major towns of the island enjoyed an influx of affluent families who purchased land and built summer homes on Mount Desert Island.
Native Americans were the first to blaze paths throughout the island although little remains to suggest precisely where these trails where located. Their trails were most likely portage paths for traversing the island between lakes and ponds via canoe. Some evidence of potential carry paths is still in existence today in the form of current hiking trails. For example, the Jordon Pond Carry Path provides passage between Eagle Lake and Jordan Pond while the Jordan Stream Trail makes a connection between Jordan Pond, Little Long Pond and the sea. I’ve hiked both of these existing trails and can easily imagine this ancient use of these connector pathways.
With the increase in population following the influx of wealthy families to the area in the late 1800’s, the towns grew in size and the desire to maintain the natural beauty of the area led to the development of civic and village improvement societies. One of the earliest civic organizations was the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations. In addition, each community on the island created their own village improvement associations that specifically addressed their unique needs. It is because of these early preservation efforts that the island-wide trail system exists today. Early trail builders included George Dorr, Herbert Jaques and Walden Bates.
Many of today’s trail names pay homage to those who helped establish and maintain the aesthetic and natural beauty of Acadia. I’ve tried to hike most of these early historic trails – many of which are adorned with memorial plaques commemorating the person or persons who contributed land, money and time towards the preservation effort of Mount Desert Island’s unique surroundings. My July 25th post explored one of my favorite historic trails – the Beachcroft Path. Time to honor some of the other early trails that helped make Acadia what it is today. I hope you enjoy the photographs I’ve captured of some of these amazing trails. The pictures show not only their beauty but the incredible engineering work involved in their construction.
Built by George Dorr, the Emery Path was constructed from money donated by Mrs. John Anson, a member of the Bar Harbor Village Improvement Association. The path was named for her late husband, John S. Emery. The Emery Path is a tad over ½ mile long and is said to contain over 900 steps. While I did not count the steps as I climbed, I am not inclined to disagree with this assertion. 😊
Located in the same area of Sieur de Monts as the above trail, Dorr built this trail as a memorial to Mrs. Charles Homans. She donated several very important tracts of land to the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations that would later be incorporated into Acadia National Park. The view looking down onto the Great Meadow from this trail is unrivaled!
Considered to be an ancient Native American travel route between Bar Harbor and Otter Creek, the Jesup Path runs from Sieur de Monts, along the Great Meadow and eventually ends in the town of Bar Harbor. Part of the trail is now a boardwalk that protects the fragile ground through a swampy area. There are a pair of Barred Owls that hang out here – although they have eluded me this summer! I’ve heard but not seen them!
Our staff photo challenge scavenger hunt is over. It was fun for those of us who participated. Here are some of my other entries.
The above shot was #12 on our list and the task was to capture a butterfly shot. I had no doubt where I would choose to go to find the most butterflies. Thuya Gardens is all about Monarch butterflies right now. They are floating en masse in the sky above the border gardens and feeding on the Joe Pye Weed in particular. It was magical to watch them flutter in the air and gracefully descend onto a flower.
I guess I cheated here a tad on the rain drop photo! 🙂 A close-up shot of the fountain on the Village Green in Bar Harbor. It might have been raining as well 😉
I submitted a couple of real rain drop photos just to be fair!
In retrieving a full moon shot, I was forced to wait until I got off work. The nice part about that is I did not need a headlamp! Boy – was it bright out! I wasn’t able to make it down to the coast for the moon rise due to work schedule – but still captured a nice shot and reflection on the water with the spruce tree silhouettes in the foreground.
When you want to find a mushroom to shoot, all of a sudden they disappear!! I searched for mushrooms on several hikes before I found any worthy of a photograph. This gem was located just off the Quarry Trail near Blackwoods Campground – on a small unmarked side-trail. Love the bright green moss in the background – such rich, earthy colors!
I noticed these leaves floating in the fountain on the Village Green and I thought they made a nice mosaic of fall leaves floating on the water. Notice the coins sparkling in the background!
It was obvious that one of the Rockefeller bridges would be chosen for this challenge photo. I wanted something a little different than a wide-angle shot of the entire bridge. The Cobblestone Bridge is one of my favorites and I decided to focus on the arch spanning the Jordan Stream.
A fun workplace challenge!
Throughout the summer, our fee station staff have participated in several monthly “contests” just to make life interesting and to have some fun. For the month of September, we are engaging in a Photo Scavenger Hunt! As you can imagine, I jumped right on this and since our official start date of 9/8/19 I have been busy capturing some of the necessary subjects. Not everything I post here will make it to the “final” 16 – but I’ll share some of my efforts!
The first photo (Entry #1) on the list must include a favorite rock formation. Acadia boasts many such features including the infamous Bubble Rock. However, my all-time favorite is the above glacial erratic that is perched on the edge of the shoreline along a quiet part of the Park Loop Road. I have affectionately named this rock “Lynn’s Rock” since I have climbed down to this little beach many times and consider it my own private spot.
For my Tuesday Trek this week, I chose to walk around the Witch Hole Pond carriage road loop in search of some more scavenger hunt photographs. I almost missed these ducks entirely! They were so camouflaged that it was not until I turned to clamber back up the bank from this marshy area that I caught a flicker of movement and discovered these two ducks resting among the lily pads.
One of the prettiest bridges in the park spans the Duck Brook gorge and serves as the entrance to the Witch Hole Pond carriage road system. There are 17 total bridges in the park – 16 of which were built by John D. Rockfeller, Jr. The Duck Brook Bridge was completed in 1929. Visit the Acadia National Park web page to learn more about these historic bridges and the carriage road network.
The sunrises and sunsets I’ve experienced along the coast of Acadia over the past two seasons will share a place among the fondest memories I will take away with me when I depart here in late October. Tonight I walked down to the rocks and played with my camera. The glow in the eastern sky from the setting sun was subdued yet still enchanting.
I got a second chance to shoot the moonrise at Little Hunters Beach tonight. Arriving just before moonrise, I calculated where the moon would appear using my compass cell phone application. I moved around the cove several times taking shots from different angles and I think this one was my best effort.
I would have preferred that the tide was coming in a bit stronger since it would have given me some nice slow shutter speed water effects in the foreground. But, alas, it was not to be. The effect is somewhat “dreamy” and I’m satisfied. 🙂
Sometimes the best laid plans are foiled. I intended to walk to Little Hunter’s Beach to capture some moonscape photographs on Tuesday evening. When I got to the cobblestone beach, I discovered a dense fog on the horizon that obscured the rising of the moon. At first I was disappointed, but then thought I could at least secure some sunset pictures.
Imagine my surprise when this sailboat suddenly appeared crossing the horizon while I was waiting for sunset! With the fog as a backdrop, and the sails lit by the setting sun, I snared an unexpected and pretty cool photograph! 🙂
It’s supposed to be a little clearer on Wednesday night, so I’ll try my luck again with the “almost” full moon rise.
Wednesday was a busy day for me. I had several goals to accomplish – visit Thuya Gardens to see what was blooming and visit with the Monarch butterfly caterpillars, walk the loop around Witch Hole Pond in search of pitcher plants, and pick up a package in Bar Harbor (a new air mattress for my upcoming Isle au Haut camping trip).
I started with Thuya Gardens. It was the perfect day for photographing flowers. There was a light cloud cover with no threat of rain. The last time I had visited Thuya Gardens in early July, irises and peonies were the flavor of the day along with a smattering of foxgloves. The season got off to a slow start due to the cool, wet spring. Today, I was anxious to see how the garden had progressed over the last month. It was a riot of color! Dominating the scene were lilies, foxglove, delphinium, astilbe and phlox. The lilies, in particular, were at their peak and absolutely stunning.
I managed to visit the Monarch caterpillars in their hidden spot in the garden among the milkweed plants at just the right time so as to be all alone with them. Given that I have never seen the garden so overrun with visitors, I can only say that my solitude was serendipity. I had at least ten minutes to observe the caterpillars in action and shoot photographs before anyone else located this little land of enchantment.
After my Monarch caterpillar fix, I drove over to the end of Duck Brook Road to hike the Witch Hole Pond carriage road loop. I knew that the pitcher plants were blooming and wanted to seek them out. Along the way, I scared this little creature at pond’s edge.
After my Witch Hole Pond excursion, I drove back home and hopped on the shuttle into Bar Harbor to pick up my package. I am convinced that the first two weeks of August are the most popular vacation times for the majority of folks worldwide. As I pushed my way through the throng of tourists, I was struck by the absolute calm of the harbor compared to the streets of Bar Harbor.
Last Friday morning I decided to explore the coastline at low tide and drove over to the Wonderland Trail on the quiet side of the island. Since this is a popular “tidepooling” spot, I was expecting company and was not disappointed! However, there is ample shoreline here making it possible to meander among the rocks and pools without feeling overcrowded.
Last year, I mentioned a book called “Living on the Edge” and wrote a small post about some of the plant life found in the austere environment along the edge of the ocean. This time, my focus is on the tide pools. As the tide recedes twice each day, small pockets of ocean water become trapped by the rocks along the intertidal shore. The marine life that inhabit these pools must endure harsh environments as the ocean comes and goes – at low tide the pools are exposed to increasing temperatures, low oxygen levels and predators like wading birds. At high tide, the crashing waves cause friction and another set of predators in the form of ocean fish descend on the submerged pools.
I sat and observed several of these tide pools and was amazed at the diversity of plant and animal life thriving in this rugged habitat! It was so much fun! The more I explored and watched, the more I “saw.” It is definitely addicting!
After visiting Wonderland last week, I checked out the book “Living on the Edge” and re-educated myself on some of the animals living in the tide pools. I am going back to Wonderland again and this time I’ll be on the look-out for sand dollars, sea cucumbers, star fish, sea urchins and tube worms!! Hoping to spot some of these now that I know what to look for….
One of my favorite hikes last summer brought me to the summit of Champlain Mountain on the North Ridge trail. This year, for a little variety, I decided to ascend via one of the other routes up to the summit – the Beachcroft Path. This trail dates back to the late 1800’s and was built by the “father” of Acadia, George Dorr along with the help of the Bar Harbor Village Improvement Association. The meticulously laid stone steps wind their way up the steep slope of Huguenot Mountain via several switchbacks. Near the summit of Huguenot, the trail descends slightly to the valley between Huguenot and Champlain and then starts a 1/2 mile steep ascent up the western slope of Champlain.
I loved this hike. The Beachcroft Path is a marvel of engineering design and underwent some trail maintenance earlier this year – making it a sweet walkabout and a great route to summit Champlain. Along the way, I took time to turn around and enjoy the views of Dorr Mountain, the Tarn, Cadillac Mountain and Frenchman’s Bay in the distance.
The hardest section of the trail is the final push up to the top of Champlain and, while it was steep and involved some minor rock scrambles, it was totally do-able and a great aerobic workout!
Descending the South Ridge trail of Champlain, I skirted by The Bowl and went up and over Gorham Mountain. My final mile was to the Otter Cliff shuttle bus stop so I could catch the #3 Sand Beach shuttle back to my car at Sieur de Monts. Gotta love the free shuttle bus system in the park! Great day of hiking in Acadia National Park! 🙂
A significant part of the Workamping experience is exploring the area surrounding your temporary home. Last week on my day’s off, I fulfilled a couple of bucket list items in one short trip. With Jim over from Vermont for a brief visit, we decided to head north for a couple of days on a much-needed road trip.
My first mission was to set foot on the eastern most piece of land in the United States – the West Quoddy Head. According to the Maine Lighthouses guide, the West Quoddy Head Light Station is one of 73 standing and “lost” lighthouses along the New Hampshire, Maine and New Brunswick coastline. A lighthouse on this point has guided ships through the Quoddy Narrows between Lubec, Maine and Campobello Island, New Brunswick since 1808. The current brick lighthouse was constructed in 1858 and is still an active navigation aid. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is surrounded by the Quoddy Head State Park.
Jim and I spent an hour or more exploring the area surrounding the lighthouse and walked down to the cove via one of the paths. It was a brilliant blue sky day and, while inland it was hot and humid, here at the lighthouse the air was clear, crisp and cool! A few more pictures of the lighthouse from different perspectives are below.
After leaving West Quoddy Head, we traveled through Lubec, Maine and across the channel onto Campobello Island. I became familiar with the Roosevelt Campobello International Park last summer through some of our campground visitors who had either stopped in there on their way to Acadia or were planning a trip there after leaving our area. So, my next bucket list item was to visit this island before the end of the summer and tour the park. The Herring Cove Provincial Park is adjacent to the Roosevelt Park and that was our destination for the remainder of Tuesday’s tour.
The campground was surprisingly empty – much to our delight – and we had our pick of campsites settling on one close to the water. It was a welcome respite from the crowds that descend on Mount Desert Island in the summer. We pulled out the tent bag and commenced to getting our accommodations in order for the evening and discovered that even seasoned campers forget things! We realized that the tent stakes had somehow vanished from the tent bag since the last time it had been used. (or had someone “borrowed” them??) Improvisation to the rescue! Jim had any number of screwdrivers in his truck toolbox that fit the bill nicely 🙂
After setting up our tent, we savored an easy dinner of assorted cheese and crackers and fruit washed down with an Italian red wine, and spent the remainder of the evening exploring the coast. It was a quick walk across the grassy dune to Herring Cove. I was hoping for a full moon photo but it was overcast AND I failed to realize the time zone difference – so I think I may have been off on my calculations as to exactly when moonrise would be occurring 🙂 We still enjoyed a fantastic stroll along the cove punctuated with sightings of a harbor seal, a loon family, a few cormorants and some eiders along the shore.
Eventually the mosquitoes drove us back to our campsite and we dove into our tent to escape the ravenous beasts!!