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A Short Walk

After battling a sinus infection for the last ten days, I was finally able to get out for a decent walk today.     A good exercise (the sinus infection) to remind me of the principle that “all things are temporary”.    After too much sitting, laying, Netflix, and reading it felt great to get out into the sunshine today for a decent hike.

My original plan to was to head over to the Jordan Pond area and hike some carriage roads, but they were still a sheet of ice from the  snows, rains, thaws, and refreezes we’ve been having this last month.   (Again, all things are temporary – REMEMBER).   So darn it, I guess I’ll have to hike along the ocean AGAIN (what a wonderful plan “b”, yes)?

In the shot below, I loved how the pattern of the clouds, the rocks, and the reflection of the sun on the water all mirrored one another.     Beautiful symmetry!

Good spot for reflection, or a picnic!

As I was hiking along the trail, I passed the plaque mounted into the granite recognizing John D. Rockefeller Jr. for the land that he donated toward Acadia National Park.   I found the closing line most interesting where is talks about him dedicating this land “for the cultural, physical, and spiritual enrichment of the American people”.       A good thought to ponder for the remainder of my walk.   I know MY spirits certainly are lifted after being in this place.

Nature finds a way

I spotted this small growth of shrub tucked in among the rock ledge facing the ocean.  I continually marvel at the determination of nature in the face of harsh environments and improbable odds.    This isn’t the time for a diatribe on taking care of environment, but I will say this:  If we fail to improve the odds for our planet, we will suffer the consequences – I believe the tilting point is fast approaching.

It is up to us to maintain the stewardship that was created by the establishment of our National Parks; Acadia being one of them.   That stewardship extends far beyond our park system, to our neighborhoods, our counties, our states, our nation, and our world.   There is no back up planet.

 

 

Portrait of a Tree – I

I love trees.   I love the look of them, the smell of them, the way they change with the season, their durability, all the wonderful things you can do with them.    I love the way they provide for so many creatures in so many ways.   They clean the air we breathe, they provide shade from the heat, they provide shelter for birds and other animals, they provide food for insects after they fall.   Nothing is wasted in a tree, it is a complete life cycle; even in death they have a purpose.   And, they are beautiful to look at.

So with those thoughts in mind……….here is my first portrait of:  A tree.

Portrait of a Tree - I

 

 

One more …. (for now) Bridge Picture

I really liked all the texture in this shot.   The textures of nature and the texture of a manmade structure using natural materials.  I also liked the ever so subtle curvature of the bridge into the hillside.

Hemlock Bridge

 

Eagle Lake in black and white

Seeing as the incredibly dismal weather,(snow, rain, then back to snow and a 3o mph gale force wind) kept me inside today; I went back through some photos and found this one of Eagle Lake that I took on Christmas morning.   I shot it in black and white mode because I thought the clouds looked very dramatic.  It is a six-mile hike around the lake, including a mile uphill.    I’ve done it twice…………so far.   And yes, I have seen bald eagles.

Eagle Lake on Christmas Morning 2011

 

Carriage Roads – Part III – Bridges

For my third installment of the series “The Carriage Roads”, I wanted to focus on the bridges that are located throughout the roads system.    There are 16 bridges in all.  Of these 16 bridges, only 3 of them cross over or under automobile roads, the other 13 are tucked away, deep in the woods, like wonders to be discovered in a treasure hunt.

Cobblestone Bridge - Built 1917

The bridge pictured above was the first to be built in 1917.    As with all of the bridges Rockefeller’s ideal was to have them blend into the landscape and “delight the eye”.  Each one was to have their own character and view.   Some were small and intimate in nature, some sweeping and grand.

A humble single arch bridge over Hadlock Brook - 1926

Triple Arch bridge over Duck Brook - 1929

It  took 21 years to complete the 16 bridges.  All of the bridges are made out of Maine granite, and all have (for those architect geeks out there), barrel or modified Gothic arches.     The design of the bridges were inspired by Rockefeller’s trips to Europe and a couple of them were modeled after a favorite bridge in Central Park, in New York City.

The granite was cut “rough-hewn”  to show off the craftsmanship required to cut the stone, but to maintain an informal look.

Close up of stonework

Great example of Archwork on Hemlock Bridge - 1924

The entry and exit on the bridges were equally important with the goal to provide a seamless transistion between the landscape and the bridge.

Entrance and exit on Cobblestone Bridge

Of the sixteen bridges, I have hiked over (or under) eleven.    Five to go!  Part four (and likely final) installment of this series will discuss the Gatehouses on the Carriage Road system.

Ocean Drive in January

Many people have asked me WHY I chose to move to Maine at the beginning of winter (this was after they asked me why I was moving to Maine at all).   Well, for one thing it just worked out that way with the sale of my home.   For another, I wanted to experience all of the four seasons of Acadia.   The following picture speaks for itself: (click to view full size)

Ocean Drive after a fresh snow

I woke to a steady snow this morning.     I resigned myself to a cloudy day spent reading, and internet browsing.   Much to my surprise and delight, around 10:00 a.m. I saw the first signs of blue sky out my window.   I set my book aside, packed a lunch, cleaned off my car, grabbed my camera, and by 11:00 a.m. I was headed out of town.   The roads were still snow packed, but the sun was bright and the temperature was rising.   I had a sense that “this” was what I had been waiting for (photography wise).

Even the entrance signs look great in the snow!

While the colors of Acadia are always striking on a clear day,  the brilliance of today was memorable.   The white of the snow, bare birch trees and the breakers; the blue of sky and the water, and the green of the pine trees peaking through the snow, combined with the bright sunshine was truly breathtaking.   I wish that blogs has “sensorama”, because the smell of the day was equally unparalleled.     If I could bottle that combination of pine, fresh snow, and salt spray I would be a millionaire.   I certainly felt rich as I walked along the shore line and took in the magnificent scenery.

Looking North toward the "Beehive"

Even “Thunder Hole” was alive today.    “Thunder Hole” is a location along Ocean Drive that with the right combination of tide and surf,  a very loud booming “thunder” like noise occurs and the splash consumes a large chunk of real estate.   Frankly, this rarely happens.   It wasn’t exactly “thundering” today, but it was at least having  a good “rumble”.

"Thunder Hole" with a bit of rumble

I am getting spoiled, I realize, having this place to myself  (yesterday, I spent an hour at Sand Beach and did not see one other person).     I had to chuckle when I caught myself thinking it was getting “busy” today, when I counted all of eight other vehicles during my two hours in the park.    Come “high season” in July and August, there will be more than a million people enjoying Acadia.

But today, it was (almost) all mine.   A fellow photographer and park enthusiast that I met along the road today made the comment:  “I have been here sixteen years, and the first real snowfall is always magical”.  Magical indeed.  I could not agree more.

A peaceful park loop road

 

 

 

100 Miles and Counting!

Today, I passed the 100 mile mark in hiking Acadia trails and carriage roads.   I’ve been here 46 days, so you do the math – that’s not too bad!!  I also have reached the half way point in hiking the carriage roads (there’s 57 miles of those), or 28.5 miles.

Carriage road on the way to Aunt Betty Pond

Today’s hike was six miles along the carriage road that took me past Aunt Betty Pond and finished along Eagle Lake.    Not the most inspiring stretch of roads I’ve walked so far but a pleasant walk nevertheless.   Good for thinking about the ways of the universe (and whether or not six miles would earn me a piece of cheesecake).    There was quite a bit of uphill hiking on this bit of the road, so I was glad that I had carried my lunch (lentil and mushroom soup) with me.   I found a delightfully sunny spot about three miles into the hike, and although the temperature was only 20 degrees (fh), the cushion of pine needles was warm, the tree trunk provided nice support for my back, and I was even able take off my winter coat!

Lunch Break - I loved the pattern of colors over the marsh and pond

I feel great about my accomplishments so far, and grateful for how much hiking I’ve been able to do thanks to the small amount off snow we’ve had so far this winter.   While the trails are off-limits (due to the ice), the carriage roads have been virtually clear of ice and snow since New Year’s.    And, yes, I decided six miles DID earn me a piece of cheesecake today!   Reward threshold is 5+ miles (for one hike).

On a clear day..............

Possibly the most rewarding thing from today’s hike (aside from the cheesecake), was the view of Mt. Katahdin.   The picture above shows one of the tallest mountain peaks in Maine – about 50 miles from where I stood and rising to a height of nearly 5000 feet.

And while it is bothersome to have to put on three or four layers of clothing to hike, the rewards of hiking Acadia in winter are many – no bugs, no sweating,  no people, just a marvelous silence, abundent fresh air, and communion with nature.

 

 

 

 

Witch Hole Pond and Paradise Cove Hikes

A hike last Thursday took me on another section of the carriage road system, called Witch Hole Pond.   I have not to date been able to find out WHY it is called Witch Hole Pond, because it wasn’t terribly scary looking.   But in my quest to hike all 57 miles of the Carriage Roads, I wanted to get this look accomplished.

The loop itself is about 3.5 miles with another mile in and back.   I learned as I reached the start of loop that there is a public road that takes you to the “start” of the loop.    In the emminent words of Homer Simpson “DOH”!   So, I ended up adding two miles two my hike that wasn’t necessary, but it WAS a good workout!  I went back on Sunday and did the shorter loop, taking  MORE pictures, because the day was sublime (for January weather and picture-taking).

A partially frozen Witch Hole Pond

From looking at the map, I was anticipating a rather average hike in terms of views.  Well, I was wrong.   When I talked about how Mr. Rockefeller (Carriage Roads – Part I) designed these roads with views in mind; this road was a perfect example.

As I turned the corner of the section of road that began the Witch Hole Pond Loop, I was greeted by the sight of the largest of the bridges in the carriage road system – Duck Brook Bridge.   Three glorious arches, spanning the ravine through which Duck Brook cascades.

Duck Brook Bridge, built 1929

Looking at the rushing water flowing beneath the bridge, I knew that I found another great spot for a picnic!

 

Duck Brook viewed from the bridge

So this was at the beginning of the loop!  Yes that Mr. Rockefeller knew what he was doing!    On Sunday, I added the “Paradise Cove” loop to my hike andwas rewarded with some stunning views of Frenchman’s Bay and some of the “porcupine islands”.

Frenchman's Bay from Witch Hole Pond Carriage Road

The road continued to delight and surprise with views of marshes, beaver dams, small ponds and mountains and small feeder streams with icy waterfalls.   This particular spot kept me busy with my camera for 15 – 20 minutes.

Actually preferred shooting this in B&W (see other post)!

After 3 days of clouds, it was fantastic to get back out on this same stretch of road.  Beautiful hikes!

Sea and Sky

One of my recent favorites, the clouds were amazing.    Click on to view full size.

From Schooner Head Overlook

The Carriage Roads – Part One

One of Acadia’s most unique features is the 57 miles of “carriage roads”, roads that wander throughout the park and are designated to be used only by hikers, bicyclists, horses, and in the winter cross-country skiers.

These roads were designed and built by John D. Rockefeller Jr., who also donated over 11,000 acres of his private property to help form the National Park.   The roads were built between 1913 and 1940.   At the time of their construction, many miles of the road were on his private land which was later donated to the park.

A typical look at one of Carriage Roads

I personally find it interesting that a man whose family made their fortune from oil (the Rockefellers owned Standard Oil Company),  was so passionate about developing a system of roads prohibiting automobiles, roads that would enhance nature and afford easier enjoyment of the beauty of this place without the noise of the machine powered by gasoline.

Mr. Rockefeller’s approach was to reveal beauty, not make a beautiful arrangement.  His granddaughter describes it as follows in her book ” Mr. Rockefeller’s Roads” :

“the grade of each segment, the degree of curvature, and the line of the road had to carry viewers so smoothly from one spot to another that they would not be aware of the transitions.  The elements, bridges, gate houses, culverts, and the roadbeds themselves are appropriate to their particular function, each designed for its place.  The reforestation and extensive roadside plantings were designed to let the roads blend back into the landscape.”

The entry way to one of the bridges

The views were of utmost importance in the design of the roads.   For example, today I hiked a five-mile loop of the carriage roads known as “Sargent Mountain Road”.  As I approached the crest of the hill, I could hear water, but could not see it.    The crest of the road curved up and away to my left.   When I reached the crest I was rewarded with a view of one of the beautiful bridges (man-made art) on my left and a beautiful 40 foot waterfall (natural art) on my right.

Hadlock Brook Waterfall

Bridge over Hadlock Brook on Sargent Mountain Road

Some of the roads offer grand vistas overlooking mountains, lakes, and ocean.   Others are more subtle, moving the hiker through woods and near streams and small ponds.  Some combine both grand and humble elements.

Today, my hike took me over three bridges.   The first pictures above was a large structure (note the size of the hiker in the yellow shirt for perspective).  The last bridge I crossed was tiny by comparison, but equally impressive not for its grandeur but for its charm.

Small bridge of Hadlock Brook

Today the roads and bridges are maintained by the park service as well as various volunteer organizations, including the one where I am volunteering, Friends of Acadia (see link).

In part two of my discussion of the carriage roads, I will discuss the materials and manpower needed to achieve this unique element in Acadia National Park.

I should add that my walk today was enhanced by temperatures of 45 degrees, sunshine, blue sky and puffy white clouds, and the sighting of a hawk, most likely a redtail.

Upper Hadlock Pond

Source:  “Mr Rockefeller’s Roads.   The untold story of Acadia’s Carriage roads and their creator”.  by Ann Rockefeller Roberts.  Published by Down East Books, copyright, 1990.