“Acadia” – and a hike up Cadillac Mountain…

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A view of Bar Harbor, Maine – in the left distance – from the top of Cadillac Mountain…

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June 5, 2024 – Next post I’ll get back to last September’s (2023) hike on the Stevenson Trail in France. But I just finished another hiking trip – up to Maine. It included Acadia National Park and several long hikes, including a grueling trek up to the tippy-top of Cadillac Mountain:

If Acadia is the king of the New England coast, then Cadillac Mountain is its crown. The highest peak on the Atlantic coast from New England to Florida at 1,530 feet, its summit rewards hikers with panoramic views of the park’s forested hills, mountains, and scattered islands, with the ocean stretching endlessly beyond. 

(See How to Hike Acadia National Park’s Cadillac Mountain.) But first I had to get there.

I live southwest of Atlanta, and my hiking-venture brother lives in Springfield Massachusetts. Tom’s wife Carol signed up for a “hospitality” seminar near Saco, Maine, and they invited me along. The five-day invite-along included a plan for some hiking at or near Acadia National Park, so I said, “Okay!” The kicker – the surprising or ironic twist – was that I had to be there no later than Monday, May 27, and my great-niece graduated high school on Friday, May 24.

Plus the proud parents were having a graduation party not slated to start until 1:00 Saturday afternoon. That meant instead of a relaxing three-day drive up, it would be more like two days. (From mid-afternoon Saturday to near the same time Monday.) And that was over Memorial Day weekend, so aside from expected heavy interstate traffic, I had to take the precaution of booking rooms for that Saturday and Sunday way ahead of time. But it worked out. Mostly…

I had to shuck and jive around the Atlanta Beltway. (“Notorious for heavy traffic and congestion.”) But once past the US-78 exit to Clarkston, the driving smoothed out. I’d booked a room in Lincolnton, NC, mostly because I always take US 321 instead of going by way of Charlotte. (I find that city’s traffic almost as bad as Atlanta’s.) From there up I-77 to I-81, through Virginia’s beautiful Blue Ridge mountain area, to the Hershey PA exit just past Harrisburg.

There’s an Arooga’s Grille House & Sports Bar at 7025 Allentown Boulevard. I’ve been there before, and it’s a nice place to relax after a long day’s drive. From there – on Monday – it was just a hoot and a holler‘s drive up to Springfield, and the chance to ride in someone else’s car. We three left the next morning (Tuesday, May 28) and ended up – 360 miles and nine hours later – at Bar Harbor Cottages. Actually in Salisbury Cove, six miles from downtown Bar Harbor.

Next morning we toured Acadia, looking for a place to start the hike up Cadillac Mountain.

Which brings up the difference between walking and “sauntering,” which I do. I’d heard that John Muir came up with the term, but recently found an earlier version, from Thoreau‘s book Walking. (First published as an essay in the Atlantic Monthly after his death in 1862.)

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who … had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going à la Sainte Terre,” to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a ‘Sainte-Terrer,’” a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander… [But] the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.

We definitely didn’t “saunter” up Cadillac, but here I feel a need to clarify terms. (Voltaire said, “If you wish to converse with me, first define your terms.”) Aside from Thoreau, most other people define sauntering as walking “in a slow, relaxed manner, without hurry or effort,” but that isn’t right either. At least not for me, and not as we trekked up Cadillac Mountain.

Back at home my normal walking pace is a mile in 24 minutes. But according to Dr. Cooper, that doesn’t earn me any aerobic credit at all. To make up for that I normally hike with at least two sets of ankle weights. (Ten pounds total.) Which is what I wore on the trek up Cadillac Mountain. Along with a ten-pound pack, with necessaries including but not limited to water, sunscreen, and a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich for energy.

But that’s enough about my weird exercise system. Back to this latest hiking adventure.

For Cadillac Mountain, we took the North Ridge Trail, starting at a small pull-off with “extremely limited” parking. I didn’t note the time we started, as I usually do on Camino hikes. (A reminder for next September.) But I wrote that it took three hours actual hiking time – keeping track of those almost-aerobic points – not counting rest breaks and a lot of standing stops on the way up. I also wrote that it was a “LONG, steep and rocky hike.” (With those 10 pounds of ankle weights and 10 pound pack.) And by the way, for training hikes in July and August I use the ankle weights plus a 20-pound weight vest. (Or pack.) Then on the Camino I ditch the ankle weights, and without them I feel like I’m “walking on air.” (Relatively speaking anyway.)

Anyway, the view once we got to the top was beautiful, but next day we took it a bit easier.

On Thursday, May 30, we visited Deer Isle – “mysterious, evocative and easy to get lost in” – and its main harbor, Stonington. I’d read about the “isle” – not island – in Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley. At first we were a bit disappointed, but eventually the day turned out well.

We did two hikes early, the first one out to Lookout Rock. (It’s technically near Brooksville, on another of the many islands clustering around “Deer.”) Then a second hike at Scott’s Landing Preserve, near the eastern end of the bridge to Deer Isle. Later that afternoon we spent a pleasant couple of hours at the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries, on Atlantic Avenue jutting out into the harbor. (Aka, “Discovery Wharf.”) I’d call it highly recommended, with a lot of detail on Maine’s lobster industry. (Apparently troubled, something I didn’t know.*)

And now a word about our lodging. In Salisbury Cove we stayed at Bar Harbor Cottages and Suites. Then in Saco, officially Old Orchard Beach, Tom and I stayed at Elmwood Motor Court. This was after dropping Carol off Friday afternoon at 4:00, for her two-day Camino “hospitality” seminar. (Where you learn how to manage an albergue in Spain, the equivalent of auberges in France, “small hotels or public houses especially in villages or the countryside.”)

You see a lot of those tiny. two-room cabin-cottages in the area we visited. Cute, but a bit cheek by jowl for three “seniors.” (One bathroom.) The one in Salisbury Cove was “rustic,” with a screened in porch, complete with a wooden rocking chair. And the paint-work was a bit slap-dash. The “Elmwood” was perfect for two, though no porch rocking chair. On the other hand it was right across Saco Avenue from Birdies Grill & Tavern.

On Saturday Tom and I did two hikes, the first a “catch as catch can” on the Eastern Trail starting in Saco. But we found out early on that it wasn’t completed yet, so we turned to a second hike on the Scarborough Marsh Nature Trail. (Two hours and eight minutes of actual hiking time, not counting breaks including one for another PB&J lunch.)

Another note. The weather alternated between hot during the day and a lot chillier at night than what a 72-year-old from Georgia is used to. (In late May and early June.)

And finally, on Sunday before picking up Carol at 4:00, Tom and I visited the Portland Museum of Art. One nice thing? You can spend an hour or two inside, then go out for lunch and come back. I especially enjoyed the number of Impressionist paintings.

From that point a short walk with Carol on “her” nearby but fenced-off beach, then a long drive back to Massachusetts. (Punctuated by a late dinner at a Cracker Barrel.) Those were the highlights, but next post it’s time to get back to that hike on the Stevenson Trail in France. We’d just enjoyed our first day off, no hiking, at a cute hamlet east of Langogne, and were ready to head out again. For a short – mere seven miles – hike to Cheylard-l’Évêque. But the first of six straight days hiking, with a 20 pound pack – but no ankle weights! Stay tuned…

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The upper image is courtesy of Cadillac Mountain Acadia National Park – Image Results. As for “Acadia” being in quotes, the name comes from Greek, with “the extended meanings of ‘refuge’ or ‘idyllic place.'” See Acadia – Wikipedia, adding the name – with an “r” added – comes from the Arcadia district in Greece. “Explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano is credited for originating the designation Acadia on his 16th-century map, where he applied the ancient Greek name “Arcadia” to the entire Atlantic coast north of Virginia.” The article also noted the Acadian diaspora to southern Louisiana, when French inhabitants were forcibly relocated: “People living in Acadia are called Acadians, which in Louisiana changed to Cajuns, the more common, rural American, name of Acadians.”

Re: Shucking and jiving. A term I learned more about doing this post. According to Urban Dictionary, it originally referred to “intentionally misleading words and actions that African-Americans would employ in order to deceive” the White Folk in power. In use by the 1920s if not earlier, it was a “tactic of both survival and resistance. A slave, for instance, could say eagerly, ‘Oh, yes, Master,’ and have no real intention to obey.” (And here I am, a retired old white man using the term to illustrate driving around the ATL.) According to Wikipedia it can refer to “joking and acting evasively in the presence of an authoritative figure,” and can involve “clever lies and impromptu storytelling, to one-up an opponent or avoid punishment.” All of which may be useful skills in the future, depending on the outcome of 2024’s presidential election. But my point here? “I love going down those ‘rabbit trails!'”

Re: Cooper’s definition of aerobics. In his system, to earn a single aerobic point you need to walk a mile in no more than 20 minutes. Being a self-described Sainte-Terrer,” I rely more on the World Health Organization’s definition. See Physical activity – World Health Organization (WHO), which says a man my age should do a maximum of 300 minutes of medium-intensity aerobic activity or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobics. At home I do the maximum and the “at least.” (180%.) The week of the Cadillac hike I had 740 minutes credit for medium aerobics, mostly hiking, adding in extra credit for the ankle weights. (It’s complicated, worked out through years of trial and error.)

Re: Maine’s troubled lobster industry. See for example, The Uncertain Future of Lobstering in Maine – Modern Farmer, and The Live Market: Maine’s lobster industry is at a turning point.

The lower image is courtesy of Robert Louis Stevenson Trail – Walking in France.

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