Saturday, September 05, 2009

Return From Maine

We're back in South Carolina and it appears we brought some of Maine's fall-like weather with us!

After several days in the basement of the Eastland Park Hotel in Portland, Maine for the Audubon Education and Centers Conference, it was exhilarating to head northeast on U.S. 1 for a day of hiking in Acadia National Park! The skies were clear, the humidity was low, and the views spectacular.

From the park's webpage: "Acadia National Park is a land of contrast and diversity. 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." The park's blog also describes recent Hawk Watch data.

Our day in the park (click on "view map" here) began before sunrise on Sept. 3rd, but not early enough to make it to the top of Cadillac Mountain before the sun cleared the horizon. Breathtaking nonetheless! We drove the park road loop and stopped at all the appropriate sites (Thunder Hole, Sand Beach, Otter Cliffs). We grabbed "breakfast" at Jordan Pond and continued around the loop road, which circles the east end of the park on Mt. Desert Island, to Bar Harbor. We grabbed some lunch supplies and headed for hiking on the Precipice Trail, which is advertised as "iron rungs and ladders on exposed cliffs, very steep." Sunscreen would have been a good idea as we scrambled up the east face of Champlain Mountain! That was an exhilarating hike! Can you find the man in the blue shirt in the next-to-last image?

We hiked south from Champlain Mt. by the Beehive (plenty of crazy people swimming in icy water of The Bowl) over Gorham Mt. to the trailhead. The majority of this hike was along the exposed ridgeline with ocean views to the south and east! We turned north along the seaside trail and made another stop at Thunder Hole. More people were present in the afternoon than were in the early morning. The water level still was not quite high enough to generate any "thunder," but we would have hated being in the water that close to the rocks as tragically happened when Tropical Storm Bill moved by last month. By the time we got back to the Precipice Trailhead, we were ready to sit in the car for the three-hour ride back to Portland. We hiked five hours and had our fill. Silly Flatlanders.

On Tuesday, the new seasonal naturalists arrive at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest. We'll be rested and ready!

Images by Mark Musselman

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