Dan Hikes St. Sauveur Mountain with a Wildcat in Acadia National Park

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.

Sauv Best Western

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.

Sauv SS Map

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.

Bill ready to rock the mountain

Bill ready to rock the mountain

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.

Sauv 1A sign to SS Mt

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.

Sauv1A D on trai

This Ithaca Bomber loves him some mountains along the Atlantic

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!

Somes Sound out to the Atlantic Ocean

Somes Sound out to the Atlantic Ocean

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.

Dan styling with his LL Bean zip off pants

Dan styling with his LL Bean zip-off pants

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.

Out to the Atlantic from Valley Peak

Out to the Atlantic from Valley Peak

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.

Down from the Ledges at Somes Sound

Down from the Ledges at Somes Sound

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.

Two Wildcats make it to the trail's end

Two Wildcats make it to the trail’s end

In less than three hours we hiked five miles of satisfying Acadia trails and will recommend it to our friends (which means you!).

Dan Hikes with his UNH classmate to Acadia Mountain in Acadia National Park

It’s mid-May after the snowiest winter on the coast of Maine in the last 10,000 years.  I am here in Bar Harbor, some 200 miles north of our home in York, for some hiking in Acadia National Park with my University of New Hampshire classmate and full-time Canadian Bill Buggie.

Map of ANPAfter hiking to Sargent Mountain and Penobscot Mountain (To read that blog, go to the categories on the left side of the blog and click on “Maine”) this Monday, Bill and I head into Bar Harbor for dinner. With the glowing recommendation for Geddy’s from Teenia at our Best Western Acadia Park Inn, we drive through a town just rubbing the sleep out of its eyes and ready to wake up for the Memorial Day opening to its brief five-month tourist season.

Geddy's imageGeddy’s, a block from the Bar Harbor harbor, has a Monday night buzz of locals and first-of-the-season tourists. We zero in on the $13.95 Big Burrito; soon we are fiesta-ing on this fantastic wrapped tortilla of chicken.

AC visa credit cardUsing my credit card to pay for the meal, I see the waitress returning with a paper receipt that says decline. I am not totally surprised. On my trip north today, Visa fraud services had called with news that Hannah’s credit card had been used earlier for gas purchases in two separate Florida cities. Once her card was cancelled, Visa said that mine would be fine.  Well, it was not fine. A $600 purchase has shown up on my card with similar fraudulent gas station activity.

I don’t know how they got our card. It wasn’t lost in Florida; we haven’t been there in years. Internet purchases?  Visa offered to send us a new card in 7 to 10 business days by regular mail or send it by Federal Express arriving the next day for free.  Who picks the first option?

AC Best Western APIFortunately Bill loans me a C-note to pay my Best Western motel bill. But what if I had no amigo to bail me out?  What would I do?  Though I keep an extra check in my wallet, I travel with only one credit card.  That is going to change.  I have resolved that this credit card shall not have died in vain and I will always bring a second card for a new birth of financial freedom.  It’s a great lesson.  I do appreciate Visa’s vigilance.

Ah, but the breakfast at the Best Western Acadia Park Inn more than balances out this slight inconvenience. First, a blueberry muffin with some decafe.  It’s followed by a tomato and spinach omelet patty with home fries.  And then the piece de resistance – salsa!  I ladle and ladle some more;  it’s almost heaven West Virginia.

Bill at the steps off route 102 leading to the Acadia Mountain Loop Trail

Bill at the steps off route 102 leading to the Acadia Mountain Loop Trail

With a morning of light mist, we take Eagle Lake Road on to Somesville some 15 miles through Acadia National Park towards Southwest Harbor on the western part of Mount Desert Island.  Since we’ll be hiking in clouds and dampness, we wonder if the rocky climbs will be slick and unplayable: still we decide to challenge 660’ Acadia Mountain with its 500 feet of rocky elevation gain.

On the Sauveur Mountain Trail

On the Sauveur Mountain Trail

Using the $4.95 Acadia National Park Hiking and Biking Trail Map (a must for any hiker at ANP and available to purchase at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center), we find the parking area on route 102 across from the rock steps climbing into the forest.

On the Man o' War Fire Road on the way to Somes Sound

On the Man o’ War Fire Road on the way to Somes Sound

Using the superb trail map which has distances down to a tenth of mile, we enter the forest of pine and spruce.  Turning left on the St. Sauveur Trail, for the next mile we take this loop trail east toward Somes Sound along the Man o’ War Brook Fire Road.

The view from the Somes Sound Outlook

The view from the Somes Sound Outlook

The gravelly fire road allows us to catch a hiking rhythm as we walk side by side through the forest. Large open natural gullies are dug across the fire road to allow the flow of water to the sea; an added benefit is that these cross-wise drainage ditches make it nearly impossible for four wheel vehicles to drive this fire road.

Bill on the amazing granite steps on the way to Acadia Mountain

Bill on the amazing granite steps on the way to Acadia Mountain

A sharp turn on the Acadia Mountain Trail towards the Somes Sound Lookout gives us nothing; a massive cloud remains over all of Mount Desert Island and we can barely see to the water’s edge.  On a clear day we would see the only fjord on the East Coast of the United States.

Soon we rock scramble up the steep stone trail which, for the most part, is dry. Pleased to find granite steps constructed into the mountainside, we find the climb both doable and enjoyable.

AC 3A BB on rocky trail with steps

Rated strenuous, the hiking is never perilous or makes us fearful for our safety.  Bill leads the way as I take in the scene and snap pictures on my iPhone.

Atop Acadia Mountain on a foggy morning in mid-May

Atop Acadia Mountain on a foggy morning in mid-May

Following the blue blazes of this well-marked trail, Bill and I summit and are blown away at the top.  I mean, literally blown away by the howling winds which were nowhere to be seen or felt in the lower elevations of the forest.  We can see for maybe fifty feet.

Bill descending the narrow rocky passageway

Bill descending the narrow rocky passageway

With a mile of descending rocks until we reach the trailhead, we step carefully, slip on our butts a time or two, but return unscathed and satisfied with our choice of hikes.  As we pack up to leave, the sun is burning off the cloud cover that we’ve hiked under for the last two hours. We highly resolve to return in the coming year.

And why the third reference to the Gettysburg Address.  Maybe I am just messing around or maybe it’s the Maine connection to that battle that Lincoln spoke of four score and seven years ago.  It was Mainer Joshua Chamberlain, a Bowdoin College professor, who led the 20th Maine in defending Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg. That man, and his troops may have turned the tide of the Civil War in the favor of the Union. We love our Maine Civil War heroes this morning on the coast of Maine.