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Great Meadow Loop and Jessup’s Path

Having completed our meander along the Shore Path in Bar Harbor, we continued on in search of the Meadow Loop. We walked past the sports field on Park Street, then made a left turn on Spring Street. Spring Street had a significant uphill grade to it, but we eventually reached the end of this road. We stood across the street from the cemetery for a while, looking for the mysterious Meadow Loop before deciding to make a left and walk along the road. Finally, a small sign pointed off into the woods along the side of the cemetery.

This section of the Meadow Loop was a dirt path in a narrow strip of woods between the cemetery and the road. Well, at least the woods were pretty. It did have its ups and downs though. We stopped briefly, while I took a shot of a maple leaf that stood out from the decaying leaves around it.

The cemetery was soon replaced by a golf course, so I was glad that we had that strip of woods protecting us from stray golf balls. Here, the trail turned right across a beautiful wooden bridge and onto the road. We had to walk along the road for a short time before we found a sign pointing us across the street and back into the woods. Now we travelled along a lovely, grassy trail within the woods. I am not sure if it was during this first road crossing or the next, but at some point we were officially in Acadia National Park.

Eventually, we crossed the road a second time, crossed another wonderful bridge and skirted the end of the golf course before coming out on the Park Loop Road. Our intention was to take the Meadow Loop and continue on to either Jessup’s Path or the Hemlock Road making a loop back to the Meadow Loop. We crossed the street and continued on Hemlock Road. This was not a road at all but a path looking across a meadow and the mountains beyond. At first, I thought we were on Jessup’s Path but when I looked across the meadow and saw people walking along the opposite side of this field, I realized we were on the Hemlock Road instead.

We continued our journey on this quiet trail until it finally intersected with the Jessup’s Path. Here we had to decide whether to walk back up the opposite side of the field towards Bar Harbor, or turn onto the boardwalk section of Jessup’s Path towards Sieur de Monts and the Wild Gardens of Acadia. We opted to press on towards the Wild Gardens even though we knew that there would be no wildflowers in bloom this time of year.

This section of the Jessup’s Path was a raised boardwalk that led us through a boggy, white birch and hemlock forest. There were some pullouts and interpretive signs along the way, but the boardwalk was a little narrow for maneuvering around oncoming traffic. Of course, this was where we met the greatest number of people during our walk.

Once we reached the end of the boardwalk, we explored the area around the gardens before returning back towards town. The town was much more crowded than when we had arrived (or maybe after putting in over 6 miles for the day I was just cranky) so I was ready to get back to the car and head home.

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Bar Harbor Shore Path

When my husband had mentioned taking off a week around the October holiday weekend, I encouraged him to take the following week off instead. My reasoning was that we would be past peak foliage time, and quite possibly many of the visitors would be gone. It was also the reason that I suggested we visit Bar Harbor mid-week of his vacation time. Consequently, October 20th saw us heading out the door a little after 8 am for the 2 hour drive up to Bar Harbor.

After a brief stop at a local cooking supply store, we made it into downtown Bar Harbor around 11 am. There were still a lot of cars, but at least we were able to find a parking spot. From there, we set off on the Shore Path starting near the pier.

It was a bit cloudy but still a pleasant walk along the water. We were not that long into our walk when my husband decided he just had to have lunch. It was not quite noon yet, but we found a bench looking out towards some islands so we could enjoy the views while eating our lunch.

Once we were walking again, we stopped occasionally to study some up of the different rock formations just off the shore. Except for a few sturdy Asters, Clovers and Butter and Eggs most of the vegetation was done for the year.  About mid-way on the path, we found a sign for Balance Rock but since the tide was in we could not really appreciated the significance of this boulder. We discovered the impressive balancing act during our return trip later in the day when the tide was out.

Since the path was less than a mile one way, our plan was to walk from town towards the Meadow Loop Trail and Jessup’s Path in nearby Acadia. The Acadia trails will be mentioned in my next post. Suffice it to say that we walked around 7 miles that day between the Shore Path and Acadia.

As we approached the downtown area, I wanted to stop and meander thru the Village Green. Unfortunately, I could not completely appreciate the beauty of this little park since I was pretty much done with wandering around. I did pause to admire the Gazebo in the middle of the Green, as well as a nearby Spider Flower still in bloom.

Perhaps we would have put more coins in the meter and stayed a bit longer but town was quite crowded by late afternoon. My husband and I had never been much for crowds and there were just too many people to linger any longer. In fact, I suggested to my husband that rather than return to our car via Main Street, we should take one of the side roads towards Shore Path and return that way. This was a much better choice for us, since at least the path was not wall to wall people. All in all, it was a good day.

Jordan Pond Trail

I was now fully vaccinated, and my hiking buddy and I actually carpooled to one of the local preserves recently. But now, I was itching to explore something a little further away. In the past, my husband and I made one day trip a year to Acadia National Park, usually during the off seasons. Recently, I decided I wanted to meander around the Jordan Pond Trail. After researching the park, I discovered that the Jordan Pond restaurant would open closer to the end of May. With the restaurant not yet open and the decision to make the trip on a Friday, I figured the crowds would be way done, so on May 7th the three of us made the 2 hour drive to Jordan Pond. We weren’t counting on the fact that it was the official opening day of the park. Despite that, the crowds weren’t too bad, although most of the cars were from out of state.

At Jordan Pond, we opted to walk the trail counter clockwise for no reason other than it seemed like the right direction to us. I was glad we did. We had excellent views of the Bubbles during the first half of our journey. In fact, I thought the view from the trail presented a different angle and prospective of the mountains than the classic images taken from the Jordan Pond House lawn.

The first part of the path was very flat which made this more of a meander than a hike. My husband joked that we got more strenuous exercise hiking the mile to Barrett’s Cove than walking the 3 plus miles of this trail. Of course, my friend and I had to stop a few times just to admire the views. She even found a dead tree with an interesting insect trail up the bark. It resembled a henna like pattern and was quite beautiful.

Nearby, my husband had stopped once more to study the Wild Sarsaparilla. Although this plant has 5 leaves, it very much resembles Poison Ivy this time of year. Something was strange here! We noticed some with 3 leaves but quite a few with 5 shiny, red leaves but it was growing more like Poison Ivy. My husband brought up the iNaturalist app on his phone, which identified it as Poison Ivy. But was it really or was there some Poison Ivy mixed in with the Wild Sarsaparilla? Locally, the wildflower had been up for weeks and the Poison Ivy was just making an appearance, so it was hard to tell. This is why my rule of thumb is not to touch anything with shiny, red leaves. It was safer that way.

When we reached the half way point, we decided to have lunch on a small beach, directly across the pond from the Jordan Pond House. It was a lovely spot for lunch and we spent some time there enjoying the views across the pond and the beautifully crafted bridge behind us.

After lunch, we soon learned that the more difficult part of the trail was ahead. First we had to make our way across a tumbledown area of jumbled rocks. Everyone hiking that day was very polite, each party pulling to the side and waiting for the other to pass. Sometimes, someone would have to state, “you go first” since we were all waiting for each other.

Having successfully completed this interesting section, we enjoyed a level area of dirt trail once more. As we walked along, some plant caught my eye. I thought it might be some kind of lily but it was not yet flowering for me to identify it. My husband came to the rescue once again with iNaturalist and I confirmed the identification later. We had found a Showy Orchis.  We found quite a few in this area, along with some Blue-bead Lilies

Following our nature study, the trail turned into a series of planks.  I had read that this area tested one’s balance since only one plank width was laid down. This had me worried. I was pleased to see that this area had been redone recently and now 2 plank widths ran above the trail for about three quarters of a mile. Reaching the end of this section, we found ourselves not far from the Jordan Pond House and the end of our journey.

It had felt good to stretch our wings and fly a new area outside our comfort zone but, I was so glad we had done this during a less crowded time of year. It had been a wonderful journey.

Acadia Sundew Trail

This summer we decided to explore the more north-eastern section of Maine, a section known as the Bold Coast. We would begin with the Schoodic Peninsula, a part of Acadia National Park. The Schoodic Point section of the park is located on a separate peninsula from the more familiar and more heavily traveled area of Acadia. Our goal was to walk a short trail, the Sundew Trail at Schoodic Point before continuing on the loop to hike the Alder Trail to Schoodic Head (elevation 440 feet).

Since we had taken a leisurely pace to reach this section of Acadia, we decided it would be prudent to stop for lunch before entering the park. As we were waiting for our meal, I commented on the ominous black cloud nearby, the only cloud in an otherwise bright sky. My husband did not think it would matter, he thought it was just one of those clouds passing by and would be gone by the time we hit the trail.

Arriving at our destination we heard thunder in the distance, but, giving that the Sundew Trail was only seven tenths of a mile we thought we would have time to explore. Immediately on entering the woods, a short spur led us through an area carpeted with reindeer lichen to a picnic table hidden at the end of the path. With nothing else of interest at this dead-end, we returned to the main, graveled trail to continue our exploration.

While we meandered along the first section of this trail, we noticed that some of the trees had identifying tags tied to their branches, so naturally we spent a bit of time reading the tags. There were a lot of serviceberry trees around. We also spotted the familiar wildflowers that I had been writing about for the past several weeks. Most were done for the season but now the Bunchberries were taking over the scene.

The graveled path soon gave way to a more natural state, with tree roots and rocks along the trail. Some of the areas were quite wet, making the rocks a bit slippery. This wetness also meant that the mosquitoes were out in force.

We did see another side trail with a sign indicating that it would lead to the beach. It looked a bit overgrown so we opted to stay on the main path. We were rewarded for this decision when we found ourselves on a rocky shore with some great wave action.

The sky was definitely darker now and the thunder was getting closer. Soon, we felt some raindrops and decided we should continue on our way. Being that we were halfway around we chose to finish the trail we were on. Back in the woods, it wasn’t long before we heard some pretty loud thunder. My husband was not happy about being in the woods during a thunderstorm but we had no other choice than to keep on moving. When we reached the end of the trail, the torrential rains kept us from leaving the shelter of the kiosk near a picnic area, which we shared with the resident mosquitoes for quite a few minutes.  Once the rain let up, we walked along the road and eventually along a paved path to our car.

With everything being wet now, we opted to skip the Schoodic Head hike. Although the rain had stopped, neither one of us felt like dealing with a slippery ascent to the top of the hill. Instead, we drove to the very end of Schoodic Point to get a better view of the rocky shore. In the distance I saw dark streaks descending from the clouds. I assumed the streaks were an indication of the rain-line.

As we left the park the sun returned. Although it was still cloudy, we thought we were clear of the bad weather, but, as we were leaving a store with supplies for the week the heavens opened again even though the sun was shining. We reached the car a tad wetter than before. As we headed towards our final destination those stray dark clouds followed us all the way.

Gorge Trail – Acadia

A few days after hiking Beech Mountain in Acadia National Park, I found myself heading up to Mount Desert Island once more to make use of the 7 day visitor pass (the park does not issue day passes). I had offered my unexpired visitor pass to a co-worker and she mentioned that we should attempt the Gorge Trail on our next day off.

When I researched this trail, which heads up Cadillac Mountain, I found descriptions such as, “dogs are permitted on this trail though the upper section of the Gorge Trail is too steep and dangerous for many dogs”, or after reaching the top of the gorge there was still “500 feet to rise in only four tenths of a mile” . Huh? At this point I turned to my friend at said, “are you out of your mind!?” She swore that she was not interested in reaching the summit of Cadillac Mountain, she only wanted to reach the top of the stone steps and turn around. Given this assurance I agreed to attempt the hike.

Once at the trail-head, we descended a set of stairs towards Kebo Brook. We paused a few minutes to study the brook and the stone bridge spanning the flowing water. It was here that I realized I had found my new hiking partner; a kindred spirit who also wanted to take the time to meditate on her surroundings and photograph her observations.

After ascending a short series of steps on the opposite side of the brook, we continued on our adventures through a dark forest, crossing a bog bridge along the way. It wasn’t long before the terrain began to take on a rocky appearance and we were climbing alongside a stream. We stopped many times along the way to study the granite walls around us, wondering who lived in the cave-like holes carved in the stone. We also took delight in the numerous waterfalls along the trail. We certainly had amble opportunity to admire those waterfalls since the trail crossed the water many times. Near the top of our climb, we found the most beautiful cascade of our hike. With water rushing over the rocks, stairs ascending nearby and the surrounding greenery, we had truly found the spirit of nature. We certainly spent a bit of time meditating on the view.

At this point I was in the lead and, as a looked ahead I noticed that the trail was becoming more vertical. The flat stones used to pave the path were disappearing. I informed my friend that I had reached the end of the line but she went on for a  short distance before turning around. While I sat on a rock and waited, I noticed some vegetation growing on another boulder nearby. I went over to study the greenery, able to determine that there was definitely some kind of lily in the greenery. I later identified this as a Blue-bead Lily. Once again, two kindred spirits took some time practicing photographing the flowers before heading back down the trail. Our round-trip adventure was a little under 3 hours.