We had traveled north to Mount Desert Island on the last day of April in the hopes of getting in a day of hiking before Acadia was swamped with summer traffic. After completing two hikes and enjoying lunch in Bar Harbor with a friend who works at one of the campgrounds in Acadia for the summer, we decided to attempt one more hike before returning home. Studying our pocket hiking guide for a few minutes, it was a toss-up between the Great Head trail and Gorham Mountain but we finally decided on Gorham Mountain.
Arriving at the trail-head, I pulled my hiking poles from the trunk and followed my husband to the trail. I’m not sure what happened next, but I acknowledged a woman coming the other way and somehow (perhaps from the distraction) stumbled over something. It was one of those slips where you just keep gaining forward momentum while attempting to regain balance before successfully remaining in an upright position or finding yourself face-down on the trail. My movement indicated that this wasn’t going to end well but somehow, in this frenzy of acceleration, I managed to step over a rock about shin-height in size as I continued forward. Fortunately, my husband was able to catch me before I hit the ground.
Once this disaster was averted, we continued our hike. Not long into our journey, I realized that maneuvering along granite ledge trails was a bit more difficult than the dirt packed paths of other areas we have traveled. One difficulty is the unevenness of walking along rock, with no real place to plant hiking poles for balance (little good they did me at the start of this endeavor). Still, I managed to carry on without any further mishaps.
As we progressed up the mountain, unique shaped cairns pointed the way. Unlike the stone piles I have seen, these took on a more interesting rectangular shape with 2 base stones and another across the top. From time to time, I looked to the sides of the trail for evidence of wildflowers coming into bloom, but with temperatures just beginning to hit mid-50s there was no hint of color.
Eventually, we came to some stone steps leading up to an overhang. The overhang protected a plaque dedicated to Waldron Bates, Pathmaker. Apparently, Mr. Bates was the man responsible for making the trails more accessible by adding stone stairs and metal rungs, as well as creating the unique cairn system I had observed earlier. Not far from this spot, we had a choice of either maintaining our course along the Gorham Mountain trail to the left or exploring the Cadillac Cliffs Trail to the right. Having heard that the Cadillac Cliffs Trail was more difficult and wondering if either one of us would actually fit through the narrow passage, we opted to stay on our original course.
I had some difficulty managing the number of stone step areas we encountered. My husband later surmised that at this point in time, hiking poles are actually hindering my progress. He felt that I spent more time figuring out where to place my poles when we encountered steps than if I had just used my hands to help me climb over the rocks. Perhaps. They certainly didn’t help me regain my balance early on.
Eventually, we reached the summit at 525 feet (I’m sure that there was a 1 missing in front of that number). We spent some time admiring the views of the water and the mountains before descending back down to the car. The hike had taken an hour and 15 minutes. At 4:10 we would just make it to the last quilt shop in Trenton on our way home. Three hikes, three quilt shops and lunch with a friend. It had been a good day.