Birds Eye View
Today I attempted my most challenging hike since arriving – Champlain Mountain. Leaving from the Sand Beach area (at sea level), I was wearing my still new hiking boots and carrying my new backpack for the first time. Throughout the winter months I had left the backpack at home, because it just didn’t work too well with a bulky winter jacket.
The hike was about five miles round trip. The afternoon brought intermittent clouds, and decent temperatures of 45 – 50 degrees depending on where I was on the mountain.
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The first section of the hike is a series of dirt and stone steps carved into the mountainside – hats off to the trail crew at Acadia, an amazing job of making this section of the trail accessible. About three quarters of a mile up the mountain, I was treated to “The Bowl”, a pond carved into the mountain tens of thousands of years ago by glacial ice. Let me tell you, it felt great to take my shoes off and stick my feet into that icy cold water on the way back down the mountain. The picture below is a view taken a few hundred feet higher elevation past the pond.
Having passed “The Bowl”, the terrain turned quickly into upward boulder scrambling. Thankfully, there were breaks with more gradual uphill walking in between the rock to rock climbing. There were plenty of photo ops on the way up, so I didn’t hesitate to use picture-taking as an excuse to give myself a break from climbing!
Champlain mountain, like most of the peaks in this mountain range are deceptive. Rather than a definitive “peak”, the mountaintops are “ranges” that stretch on containing a series of peaks. Just when you think you see the “top”, you climb up to it and behold: another “peak” is just ahead. You know you’ve reached top when you find the elevation marker.
As I’m trekking along and looking at the magnificent views all around me, I’m beginning to get a sense of how the birds must feel flying these mountain ranges and the way they see this land. Just as I’m having these thoughts, a seagull flies effortlessly over me, and I have a pang of jealously as by now I’m definitely “feeling the burn” in my legs. Ah, to be that free and unfettered.
After an hour and forty-five minutes of climbing and resting (no land speed records set by this girl), I find my marker. I DID IT!!
Now writing this a few hours later, with a new blister or two, a little windburn and some tired knees I feel really good about what I accomplished today. If someone had told me a year ago that I would be climbing mountains in Acadia, I would not have believed it. Life can change in hurry, sometimes you just have to get out of the way and let it happen.