Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Camminando | Maine, Acadia :: Mount Desert Island

My nature pilgrimages took me to one of the most beautiful and topographically varied places, the Acadia Park in Mount Desert Island, north coast of Maine. Acadia presents a very diverse landscape varying from pine trees and granite boulder overlooking mountain lakes to sandy beaches and cliffs on the mighty Atlantic coast; falcons, hawks, seagulls and many other species of birds contribute to a very diverse habitat. If you are tired of the land, there are many boat tours in the foothills town of Bar Harbor taking you to whale watching.
The Acadia web site describes the park as: "Comprised of a cluster of islands on the Maine coast, Acadia is positioned within the broad transition zone between eastern deciduous and northern coniferous forests, and hosts several species and plant communities at the edge of their geographic range. Steep slopes rise above the rocky shore, including Cadillac Mountain, which at 1,530 feet is the highest point on the U.S. Atlantic coast. While surrounded by the ocean, the entire fabric of Acadia is interwoven with a wide variety of freshwater, estuarine, forest, and intertidal resources, many of which contain plant and animal species of international, national and state significance."
This is my second visit in over 12 years, and I am truly enjoying hiking and experiencing the solitude of some of the least known hikes. It seems that the mainstream tourist’s interest is more about physical challenges in hiking than the landscape and wildlife. The most popular hikes “Precipice” and “Beehive” are highly challenging and demanding for those of us with fear of heights ---we are rewarded going through not crowded alternate trails, where the focus shifts from the attention and stress of not falling to a precipice to the actual beauty of the remote views as well as the enjoyment of the immediate landscape and wildlife.
My first day hike, quite demanding because of the 90F degree temperature, included the Beachcroft trail (alternate to the Precipice trail) to the summit of Champlain Mountain, then I followed the ridge ---with very few encounters--- and down to the Bowl, then final descent to Sand Beach. Unfortunately, in spite of the resemblance with a Mediterranean landscape, there was no swimming: the ocean temperature did not go above 50 F degrees!

Great Ridge Trail (South of Mount Champlain)

The Bowl

Thunder Hole

Sunrise from Mount Cadillac