It’s late September and I’ve come 200+ miles north from our home in York, Maine to hike the trails and bike the Carriage Roads of Acadia National Park with my University of New Hampshire amigo, Bill Buggie from Fredericton, New Brunswick.
Arriving around noon this fall Friday, we find a jewel of a seasonal motel, Best Western Acadia Park Inn, some three miles south of Bar Harbor. We arrive to temperatures in the 60s for our afternoon bike ride on the Carriage Roads. (Click on the Maine category to the left of the blog to read this Carriage Road biking blog.)
Today (Saturday) we look to hike on the west side of Mount Desert Island here in Acadia National Park. In preparation for our summiting, the Acadia Park Inn provides the most satisfying fuel. Get this! At 630A I can get a cup of coffee and a bran muffin to take back to my room as I watch Sports Center while Bill saws logs in his room. And then I can do it again before we breakfast. Mounds of home fries with egg patties drenched in salsa without end Amen deliver the goods and has me in breakfast nirvana a la salsa. I am a simple man with simple needs.
Over our $4.95 map of the hiking trails of Acadia National Park (an indispensable purchase for hikers that you can get at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center), we plan for our hike up St. Sauveur Mountain on the west side of Mount Desert Island. We opt for a less frequented part of the park since today is National Hiking Day. On this day (Sept 26, 2015), the Park Service closes the Loop Road to all vehicles from midnight til noon, other than the LL Bean Park Buses.
Today we start without a cloud in the sky from the St. Sauveur trailhead, across the highway from a parking area for 15 cars with a serviceable rest room. At the end of our hike around noon, we will see cars lined up and down Route 102 for this popular trail.
Climbing on steps into the forest, we climb over a gently upward sloping rock face to the St. Sauveur Trail. We soon turn right onto the summit trail for our first mile of hiking. Climbing steadily on rocky trails at a leisurely pace, I soon remove my sweatshirt for my Ithaca College tee shirt as the 50s become 60s. The trail is what I would call easy peezy, though it gives us a modest workout.
Then calamity strikes. My picture-taking iPhone6 freezes up. I am at a loss, searching for answers and even briefly wondering about the meaning of life. I press the buttons and then press them harder. (Always a winning strategy akin to speaking louder to someone whose first language is not English.) I can’t swipe and turn off my phone. I am disconsolate. I try it again. Fortunately Bill has his smart phone and steps into the breech taking the rest of the pictures for the blog. A little iPhone tip that I learned later that day at the Verizon Store. If your phone freezes up, just reboot it by pressing the upper right side button and the lower center button until the Apple symbol appears. Ta da!
The St. Sauveur mountain top is a disappointing mini-bald with minimal views to the Atlantic Ocean and Somes Sound. But we are dismayed and press on for soon we’ll be hiking along the coastline and get all the water views we want. This trail is the gateway to better things to come. (That’s known in the writing game as a literate tease.
Through the forest, it’s another four- tenths of a mile to Valley Peak, with its equally modest views to the water below. Modest or not, Bill and I are no whiners and indeed two fortunate dudes to be hiking on a mountain in Maine as fall begins. Descending carefully but not perilously down to the Valley Cove Road (a gravelly fire road), we see other hikers on this Saturday morning.
As we come down the mountain, we chat up two athletic female hikers. They seem surprised that we are going to take the Valley Cove Trail with its rock slides along the ledges of Somes Sound. Cautioning us, they add doubt to our decision to take this trail for they say we will be literally at the cliff’s edge high above the water.
The Valley Cove Fire Road is a fine four tenths of a mile level passageway to the coastline that allows us to catch a hiking rhythm of conversation. Bearing left along the rocky coast, we soon see the rock slides that require us to do some scrambling.
Never does it seem perilous or risky; it is a challenging and satisfying half mile up and down the rocky slopes of Acadia with the water never so threatening that our heart rates spike. This section of the trail takes the St. Sauveur Loop Trail from “oh, it’s fine” to “very cool, my man.” On this blue sky day we have views north and south up and down the Somes Sound.
Once completing the half mile of hiking on the ledges, we take another half mile trail through the forest with modest up and downs in elevation. Then it’s onto the Man O’ War Brook Fire Road where we are freewheeling side by side in conversation back to the trailhead a mile away.
In less than three hours we hiked five miles of satisfying Acadia trails and will recommend it to our friends (which means you!).