Jean Claude Van Damme I'm sore.
I decided to take yesterday and drive the 2hours up to Acadia National Park. I wanted to make sure that I got up there before it got too cold (read: there was too much snow), and a beautiful fall day, with the added bonus of being on fall break, made it the perfect time to go.
I paid my entrance fee of $20 [Turns out I only needed to pay $5. Helping the park service, I suppose.] and hopped on the shuttle around the Park Loop. I was sitting near a couple from Germany and having a brief discussion about Oktoberfest, which was apparently happening in Bar Harbor that weekend. Got it, time to scrap my "dinner in Bar Harbor" plans. I was not in the mood for crowds.
The first shuttle stop was for Ridge Trail, which would take you up to Cadillac Mountain, the highest mountain in the park, and on the East Coast for that matter. The German couple also got off and we started our journey to the top [independently, I could tell they wanted to be left alone]. Now, I'd been told by a park ranger that I had to get to the top of the mountain. There were 2routes: by foot, by car. The car option just seemed obnoxious, and the trail was described as only "moderate" so I figured I'd do it by foot.
Moderate my ass. To be fair, I'm also an out of shape fool. There was very little trail in terms of "dirt and trees," but tons of rock.
|EXAMPLE. Though one of the prettier, less extreme parts.|
It's a 2.2mile hike to the top, and let me tell you, I felt every inch of that. At least along the way there were some beautiful views.
The final 3rd of the hike was ridiculous. The tree cover was gone and, obviously, you're pretty high up (the peak is 1530ft), so the wind was rather intense. You're cold when it cuts through you, yet otherwise sweating. Plus wind and relatively steep, smooth rocks to climb isn't the most ideal of situations.
I finally made it to the top, after maybe almost 2hours, and did the quick .3mile easy trail around the top of the summit.
Then the tough decision came... how to get down the mountain. I briefly entertained the thought of asking some strangers if they could drive me down the mountain, but that's just giving up. I hiked up here and I was going to hike down! So now the options were to: a) go down the way I came or b) find a new route. The alternative route would allow me to see more of the park, but required a stint on a "difficult" trail. Decision made. I was suffering from the "moderate" trail, there was no way I was attempting a difficult one in this condition. So back down the Ridge Trail I went. Obviously, this went much faster, but doing down of course has its own issues... my poor knees.
Trail stats: ~4.8miles, ~3hours
I got on the shuttle, and at the next stop the German couple rejoined me. We shared a quick hello and then I baffled at the idea that they went down the other way. On the difficult trail. They're my heros.
A couple of stops later I got off to go to Sand Beach. So did the German couple. Laughter. It was a nice beach. Cold and windy. But nice. I was in no shape to do any of the trails at this point, but it was nice to see.
After the beach, which looks like a great place to swim when it's not 55degrees, I got back on the shuttle and finished the Park Loop. I was in the park for about 6hours. And there's so much more to see! Horse rides! The Sieur de Monts springs! Guess I'm going back in the spring.
My 2hour drive home was pretty miserable, as was the rest of the day. My legs hurt so much. I got home and immediately took a bath to soak them, and then sleeping was practically nonexistent due to the pain. Popping a couple of ibuprofen helped, and today it's just residual soreness. I no longer feel that I need a knee transplant.
I'm really glad I went up there and got to see it all. It really is beautiful. Breathtaking. And at times I even thought it would be nice to live there. If not for the remoteness. Or the tourists. Or the cruise ships. But otherwise, idyllic.
Plus, I went up there to see "fall" and was greeted with a bit of "spring/summer" hanging on... and up here, that's a miracle.
[More information on some of the places mentioned.]