September 26, 2007

Acadia - West Coast Paddle

We couldn't wait to hit the beautiful waters and bays of Acadia. The Western side of the Island ( known as the quiet side) was chosen for it's scenic beauty, and reduced boat traffic. We had received a tip that seals had been seen in the Seal Cove and Pretty Marsh areas, so off we headed.

The forcast for winds had been moderate, so we decided to launch at Pretty Marsh Harbor. However once in the open waters of the Great Cove between Acadia and Bartlett Island the wind & waves picked up. Bob & Joy seemed quite comfortable in their new Necky Manitou 13's.

We headed North going with the flow, and decided not to circum-paddle Bartlett. We explored Mill Cove and Goose marsh, and found only commorants within.

As we headed further North, hugging the main shore, we opted for lunch at Green Island, only to find posted signs when arriving. But just to the South side of Green was a small rock island that looked ideal for a rest and quick snack. I pulled into the main bunch of rocks, while Kim, Joy & Bob opted for a smaller outcropping next door.

The structure was loaded with signs of seals feeding, littered with broken shells, and dry urchins. We did spot a lone seal for a few seconds, just long enough for it to stick it's nose up in curiosity, and quickly move on northward, no pose for the camera though!

Looking across the brilliant blue bay, we notice a distant group of kayakers, which was the signal for Kim & Joy to be first back into the water.

I watched patiently for the seal to reappear, then explored my side of the Island, discovering a small rock "fort" at it's highest point along with more evidence of feeding on the opposite side.

Even with the help of a falling tide, the padde back against a 15 knot wind and choppy waters was a long one. As I stopped to wait for the group, I snapped this underwater shot of some of the aquatic creatures just below the surface.

All in all, it was a great day on the water, a little disappointing on the single seal sighting, but a nice lunch on on the rocks to make up for it.

September 25, 2007

Acadia - Biking, Hiking, Birding

One can't help but notice immediately within the Park, the striking diversity of the surroundings. Within the first days drive to explore the island we were greeted with visual treats at every turn in the road.

Perhaps the most striking sights were the postcard views of the many small harbors and marinas. Clear blue waters dotted with lobster boats, dinghies, sailcraft and powerboats, against backdrops of quaint fishing villages.

We even spent an afternoon placing our orders for new boats at the home of the rich & famous yacthbuilers: Hinkley....Bob managed to snap this shot of his new "Day Sailor" prior to launch!

(oh well, maybe in his dreams!)

The shorelines varied from flat tidal pools to large rocky cliffs, ending in either sandy beach or rocky pools with seaweed waving elegantly with the rolling tides.
Just outside of each bay, lobster boats carefully worked their traps, hoping today's catch would bring a large reward at the nearby wharf.

Lobster traps line the wharfs, and reminders of the past fishing days are scattered throughout the villages.
Inland, the eye is greeted by endless stretches of lakes & marsh, laid against subtle mountains, just starting to show an array of fall colors. Perhaps our timing was a bit early, the locals saying that they would not peak for another two weeks. We were a bit surprised at the mild temperatues, with a touch of that Louisiana-like humidity.

No trip to Acadia would be complete without a bike ride on one of the many "carriage roads" that were the brainchild of Rockefeller.

We sampled two loops one quite strenuous, climbing and circling Cadillac Mountain, and the other, a gentle flat peddle around Eagle Lake.
As we climbed higher, more views of the surrounding mountains & islands met us at every switchback.

But the true beauty of the area can only be appreciated on a climb to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the Park's highest peak. Since the peak was only 1532 ft and the climb roughly half, we elected to take the "moderate to difficult route up "The Ladder" trail.

It didn't take long for us to find "the ladder", but perhaps "boulder stairs" would have fit better.
The trail was fun and interesting, just challenging enough to feel like "mountain climbing", yet nice rest ponts & views of Bar Harbor along the way, including a surprise....a large cruise ship at anchor between the islands near the Harbor.

Joy was anxious to reach the top, the day was beautiful, and we wanted to join in on the hawk watching which takes place daily on Cadillac.

As we paused for a view of the crest, Joy gets that "are you sure?" look on her face as she realizes that we have only reached the top of Dorr Ridge and to go down through a valley and back up before we get there!
I must say that the hike was worth it. We were greeted by a group of birders that included "expert rangers" that helped identify each species, along with a narrative on their behavior and migration habits. We were lucky enough to take part in breaking a Park record for Harrier sightings, 23 for the day, along with numerous Kestrel, Merlin, Goshawk, Sharp Shinned, Eagle and a few Vultures.

Bob & I left the ladies to the birding, and hiked down via the "South Ridge Trail" and through "Cannon Brook". The going was much easier and our first glimpse over the western part of the summit showed the many, many small islands that Maine is known for. As we rounded the intersection at the Brook Trail, we got a final view of Bar Harbor.

On the way "home" (Seawall Campground), a look across Southwest Bay at sunset brought a beautiful view of a lone lobster boat heading in under the rising moon. We stayed on the shore 'til dark, Joy & Kim exploring the moonlit tidal pools (handheld in darkness, pardon the shake), and Bob & I photographing the awesome light above (Panasonic FZ-30 @ 420mm braced on truckbed!).

September 23, 2007

Acadia - Lobster Nite

Wow, we are finally at the highlight destination - Acadia National Park, MN! This is the northernmost point of this year's journey, timed to match up with the spectacular fall color display the Park is noted for.

Our late-eve arrival at Seawall campground couldn't have been timed better to sample the one thing we'd all been waiting for "THE BIG CRAWFISH"! Yep, those super tasting Maine lobster.

Thurman's wharf was the recommended site for this "tasteful" adventure, and we weren't dissappointed. The dock was straight out of the picture books, as we settled on a table overlooking the harbor.

Joy was first in line to grab one of those big rascals, I thought she was gonna' eat it raw! While Joy, Kim & Bob opted for "the meal deal" I decided that no tastebud effort, or belly space could dare be wasted on corn, potatoes or chowder - no - not when that 3-1/4 lb chunk of savory perfection was there!

We watched the moon rise as Joy & I broke open each and every piece of shell to retrieve even the tinyest morsel before calling it a night. What a great way to enjoy our first few hours at Acadia!