Archive for October, 2011

October 31, 2011

Thinking of Hiking Cadillac or Champlain Mountains in Acadia? Go in the Fall.

Compare these two pictures of me on Cadillac Mountain’s South Ridge Trail this October and last.

Gauging the weather and what to pack is a key challenge for hiking in Acadia National Park in the fall, but the rest is bliss.

One reason is that during autumn the mountains on Mount Desert Island’s eastern side – in the areas of Bar Harbor, Ocean Drive, and Jordan Pond – are much less crowded.  We chose two of the most popular, Cadillac and Champlain, to hike this fall.

The West Face of Cadillac, according to Tom St. Germain, is the shortest, but most difficult, of the eight ways to hike to the top of Acadia’s tallest mountain.  During a mile of hiking, the elevation changes 1100 feet.  The granite face often seems to be at 45-degrees – not an angle of repose for a hiker.  We used crevices in the rock to be able to move across it. 

After rigorous stretches, we’d stop and look back over Bubble Pond. 

West Face Cadillac overlooking Bubble Pond

West Face Trail then intersects with South Ridge Trail to reach the top of Cadillac Mountain at 1532 feet.

For the descent we hiked down the South Ridge of Cadillac all the way to The Featherbed, a small glacial pond filled with rushes, the inspiration for its name. 

View of Featherbed from Cadillac Mountain

This 5.2-mile hike compensates you for all of its challenges by ending with a long stroll on a carriage road beside Bubble Pond.

Carriage road along Bubble Pond

For our hike to the top of Champlain Mountain, another popular peak, this year we chose an old trail that was new to us.  Beachcroft Path was built in 1915 as part of the Memorial Paths program created by George Dorr and was reinforced twenty years later by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Depression.  This history gave us a lot to think about as we climbed the stone stairs in switchbacks up the western face of Huguenot Head.

Beachcroft Path to Huguenot Head

 Beachcroft Trail has great views of the Tarn, as well as Otter Creek and the Atlantic beyond. 

The Tarn from Beachcroft Path

Huguenot Head then connects to Champlain Mountain, where you ascend first on more stairs, then across a sheer, steep west face marked by cairns.

West face of Champlain

The spectacular top of Champlain, overlooking Frenchman Bay at an elevation of 1058 feet, is the same reward hikers get when they climb the Precipice

Top of Champlain Mountain Acadia

With late afternoon sun spotlighting the Porcupines, we descended along the north ridge of Champlain on Bear Brook Trail. 

Porcupine Islands

The walk back along the road past Beaver Dam Pond was a bonus.

Beaver Dam Pond

To help you plan your itinerary for Acadia National Park, including the best restaurants in Bar Harbor and other nearby villages, visit OUR ACADIA.

October 22, 2011

Acadia Photo Workshop – Seeing Maine’s Rugged Coastline Through An Expert’s Eyes

Bob Thayer PhotographySteal a shower cap from your motel to cover your camera in the rain.

This was one of the first photography tips we got as eight of us clustered around Ranger Bob Thayer, who would lead the three-hour program “Focus on Acadia,” an offering of the National Park Service at Acadia National Park in Maine. 

From mid-May to mid-October visitors to Mount Desert Island join park rangers on walks, campfire programs, hikes, and boat cruises to learn more about Acadia and build knowledge as naturalists.  Ranger-led programs range from tidepool school to birding for beginners.

This rainy October morning was the last time this season Ranger Thayer would be teaching his photography workshop, but neither that fact nor the drizzle that would turn to steady rain before we left the Sieur de Monts Nature Center impaired his enthusiasm.

Our group included a retired couple with tripods in tow, a point-and-shoot mom accompanying her daughters who were definitely “off auto,” and another park ranger who admired Thayer’s skills.  Fred and I were the novices.

The photography lesson began.  Think about light and composition.  You must know your equipment.  Anticipating the format in which you will present your photographs is an important first step.

Starting our field work, the park ranger helped us think through our first shot, as he set up his own camera on a tripod.  We were on Jesup Trail where a “cathedral” of golden foliage covered a new boardwalk. 

Jesup Path Sieur de Monts Nature Center

Then we looked through his viewfinder and realized this wasn’t any ordinary park ranger walking us through some canned curriculum.  We were in the company of someone genuinely talented. 

Bob Thayer, it turns out, is a naturalist, photographer, and author of three books, including Acadia’s Carriage Roads, which I had bought years ago. And here we were, taking it all in, courtesy of our National Park Service.

The instruction continued.  Walking alongside the Wild Gardens of Acadia,  Bob Thayer pointed out potentially interesting shots and convinced us that, despite the many “must see” spots to photograph in Acadia National Park, some of the best are the simplest.

Then we jumped into our respective autos and the caravan moved to our next destination.  The rain thwarted the customary stop at Sand Beach, which was an acceptable trade-off because this bad weather was giving us terrific light that made the foliage pop.  Our next stop was Monument Cove, where Fred took these shots.

Monument Cove Acadia National Park MaineAfter another stop along the coastline, we concluded at Jordan Pond, where we learned a “painterly” technique created by moving the camera on a slow shutter speed. 

Jordan Pond Foliage

In three hours each of us had received individual instruction and encouragement.  The “lecture” was informative for participants at every level.  I had even discovered parts of the park I’d never seen, despite my explorations during the last eight years.  

We said our thanks and goodbyes.  As some headed to the Jordan Pond House for popovers, Fred and I walked back to the parking lot with Bob Thayer.  I told him about my Web site to help people plan trips to Acadia, a hobby; I do marketing for a living.

That reminded me that the most powerful word in the marketing dictionary also applied to this workshop, which had been substantive, customized, and inspiring.

It was also  free.

 

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