It’s early to bed, early to rise around here. Sunrise is 5:10, and we were up soon after.
Practically the first car in the parking lot, we got the BEST parking spot and hiked up Acadia Mountain for more soaring views of the islands. It is a gorgeous day: a little hot, pretty clear, and few folks on the trail. Hares rabbited across our trail, reminding us of our jumpy cat, Francis.
Our plan is to finish Acadia Mtn and then climb up nearby Beech Mountain to the fire lookout tower, which was used to house the people who literally looked for blazes before the advent of technology/satellites could take the place of the human fire watcher. We finish our hike and return to the van. Our parking space is too precious to give up. Dudley says, “I bet there’s a path along the lake to get from here to the next trailhead.” Nothing shows on the map, but he is confident. “Follow me!” exhorts Captain Dudley.
There is bushwacking, there is slipping on rocks, there is being fwapped by twigs. But there is a trail. Ish. Probably not bonafide, but it’s there. But then there’s the Private: No Trespassing sign. “Follow me!” exhorts Captain Dudley. “Walk quickly!” We have wandered into a private yurt/tent resort with families splashing in the lake. We walk quickly. We proceed past the porch, past the reception area, past two manager-types. We head up the driveway, towards the highway, almost there….
“Excuse me! Excuse me! Can I help you?”
We say we are lost—because we are—we say that it’s a really nice place they have here—because it is—and we explain what we are doing here. She tells us we’re close, just a ¼ mile down the highway. We thank her, and promise to find another way back to our car.
So that was us, hoofing it along the highway. “This is the fun!” exhorts Captain Dudley, big Hughes grin, over the auto exhaust and truck noise.
We do eventually make it to Beech Mountain and up to the fire tower. More splendid views, more granite to climb, more pine forests to enjoy. How will we get back to the van?
There is an island explorer shuttle bus that, if we catch it at the right time, going the right direction, can drop us off near the van. The pick up is 1:19. We have 45 minutes to get off the mountain. There might have been some running.
We did make it for the shuttle bus—early—and had a delightful chit-chat with a first season ranger whose job that day was ‘visitor services’: he sat in a park service vehicle helping anyone who needed help and managing the parking lot. He had recently moved from the Bay Area because he and his family couldn’t afford the rent, and he told us about some fascinating scientific research programs going on in Acadia, one about tracking bats and one about planting non-native plant species in order to plan for a future with climate change affecting native plant species.
Our day concluded with an exploration of our small town of Southwest Harbor, a drive around a road we hadn’t yet been on, to harbors we hadn’t seen, and a visit to the local odd store for a coin operated shower! We met the owner who, true to form if one is going to live in an out-of-the-way-place, has many jobs: running this quirky coin-operated shower store that also has for sale hooked rugs (two years’ ago winter project), camping gear, Maine hats, garden pots with stuck-on mosaics (last year’s winter project), ice, blueberry everything, and live lobsters. Plus, she plants seedlings for the nearby nursery, runs 2 seasonal cabins, and 2 all-year apartments. All from the comfort of her hammock behind the cash register.
So it was a day of unplanned adventures. Tomorrow awaits!