Sunday, June 5, 2011

Acadia National Park - Day 3

The third day got off to a somewhat earlier start, and after our 6.5 mi excursion the day before we decided to take an easier hike today and head toward the shore.  We were going to hike a trail called Great Head Trail, which went around the beach and had some light scrambling over rocks.  When we showed up to the site, we looked extremely New York with our coffee cups and we were all looking forward to a relaxing hike along the beach.  Well at some point, which I do not remember, we decided to take a different trail that one of our friends said was even better than Great Head and would be a lot of fun.  What he forgot to mention was that this trail was called Precipice Trail, and for a very good reason.

Crossing the metal bridge
The first sign of danger should have been the tiny metal bridge we had to cross.  It made me extremely uncomfortable because of the gaps between the rungs and the fact that it was still damp out, making the metal a little slippery.  We continued to scramble up rocks and cross ledges that were about a foot wide, and every time I turned around I was greeted by a beautiful view and a straight shot to the bottom.  All of a sudden, we got to a sheer rock face with metal rungs welded into the rock.  And I thought the scramble yesterday was ridiculous, now I had to climb ladders?  I again tried to think of this as rock climbing and used the metal railings and crevices in the rock to hoist myself up the ladders, trying not to think of how slippery the rungs were.  But, at least when I was rock climbing I was wearing a harness, here there was nothing.

Shimmying across ledges.
When I thought this trail couldn't get any more dangerous, we had stopped to let some hikers pass and I was aghast at the way they had come.  They were wearing Columbia pants, camelbacks, and teva sandals, so I assumed they had taken the more difficult route across a 1 foot wide ledge and there must be another group of rocks we could scramble up.  Well I was mistaken, and I found myself clutching to the rock, trying to dig my tiny fingers into any crevice I could find, and shimmying across this ledge.  I tried to reassure myself by remembering that below me was a 2 or 3 foot wide path and it should catch my fall if I slip.  No one slipped though, and once I had crossed that ledge I had lost my feeling of apprehension, for the most part.  I climbed the rest of the ladders and the rocks with excitement and had forgotten what lay below me.

What lay below the trails:
a straight shot to the bottom
We stopped at a quick overlook and then reached the top of the mountain, which was extremely anti-climatic considering the climb we made.  We sat there for about 45 minutes, taking pictures and chatting.  The fog cleared for a brief moment and we were able to catch a view of the beach and a ferry carrying passengers to one of Acadia's small islands.  Unfortunately, my camera's battery had died by then and I was unable to get a shot.  When we started to head back down, most of us were relieved to hear that the other side of the mountain was not as treacherous.  Too bad I had already gulped down my coffee and didn't have anything for the walk on the beach.

Down the street from our campsite was a building that advertised coin operated showers, which of course we had to use before our trip into Bar Harbor, where we had an amazing lobster dinner followed by Maine blueberry pie - something that is now on my list to make once we go back to Maine in August.

By the time we got back to the site it was already midnight, but since it was our last night in Acadia we had no intention of going to bed.  We attempted to start a fire, but because everything was still damp it took about 45 minutes to actually get the fire started.  I didn't understand the science behind building a fire until this weekend.  I always thought it was as simple as throwing a match on a pile of wood, which if the wood was dry then maybe it would have been.  Apparently, there are two ways to build a fire: log cabin and pyramid.  The log cabin is good for cooking because it covers a large area with a relatively even amount of heat, where the pyramid is good for bonfires.  Also, you can't just light up a large log, you have to light up some tinder and smaller wood chips and branches first.  Some tinder that worked great were pieces of rope and surprisingly, cotton balls in vaseline.  When we went to buy supplies for our camping trip I scoffed at the hatchet and thought "why would I need that?"  Well we ended up borrowing our friend's often in order to cut up some wood chips and smaller logs to help get the fire started.  So, here's how we did it: we started with a small pyramid of wood chips with tinder underneath and then got that burning.  As it was burning, we added slightly larger and larger wood chips until we were adding small and medium sized logs.  Finally, we would take the big logs and stack them in a log cabin (box) around the flame or place them over the flame like a teepee.  The hardest part was getting the little stuff to burn, but once it did and we were able to add the larger stuff the fire burned for hours (we actually had trouble putting it out).

We decided to walk down to the beach but flashes of lightening and the rain made us turn back.  I loved falling asleep to the sound of rain hitting the tarps, but I did not love getting woken up by the booming thunder and the lightening that illuminated the entire forest.  It was terrifying.  The rain was coming down in buckets - putting up the tarp was definitely one of the best decisions of the weekend.  Luckily, the rain stopped by the time we woke up and we were greeted by a sunny, 80 degree day for our drive home.

I hope you enjoyed reading my posts about my first camping trip and for those of you who have never gone before/haven't been in a while, I hope you found these posts at least somewhat informative.  I'll definitely be referring back to them especially when we start packing for our next trip...

Note:  The name of the trail was actually Beehive, not Precipice.  Both are very similar in their difficulty and description so when I was looking up pictures I got the two mixed up.  Thank you, Chris, for pointing this out and thus proving me wrong.  You were right. 

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