Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tales From The Island, Day Five

Here's what happened Tuesday:

The Line Nazi may be stalking us (Of course, she may think we're stalking her.). Joe spied her walking away from our hotel and crossing the street and then disappearing behind the gas station on the corner. I've made a mental note to check the car for anything suspicious before we drive it again.

Anyway, Joe and I (again) got up too late for the continental breakfast so we went to a deli off Main Street and ordered breakfast sandwiches and bagels. We ate them down at the park by the pier where we watched people take pictures of each other next to one of those cigarette disposal thingies. I don't think they knew the cigarette thingy was there. They were more focused on the lobster boats and the ocean. The cruise ship Caribbean Princess (or something like that) was in port so there were tons of tourists crawling around.

A group of them were on the Sand Beach bus. Joe and I were on the bus, intending to climb the Beehive (a 520 foot nearly vertical climb) and then take the Bowl trail to the Bowl (a picturesque mountain pond), and from there take the Bear Brook trail to the summit of Mount Champlain and then take the Beechcroft trail back down to the Sieur du Mont bus stop. All told, it's a four mile hike, covering some fairly rugged terrain. The tourists were pondering a hike from Sand Beach to Thunder Hole, about a quarter mile.

Also on the bus with us was a real life Acadia Park ranger. I forget her name but it was like Carol Ann or something. She was sweet. She and her husband used to live in Maryland but came to Bar Harbor one summer for vacation and fell in love with the area so much, they sold their house and moved here. She was taking the bus on her way to work and ended up starting work early as she answered each and every question the cruise ship people had (and they had a lot.). Then she stood up and was acting as tour guide as the bus went along (Where was she on Sunday, right?). When she finished, she sat down (right across from Joe and I) and turned her attention to us.

"Are you on the cruise ship too?" she asked.

I told her we'd been in town since Friday and had a couple days left to go. She took in our appearance and deduced we were planning a hike so she asked us where we were planning to go. I told her our route. She nodded.

"And you brought sandwiches or snacks or something, right?" she asked. "That's a long hike."

I assured her we had brought snacks. Plus, we'd just had a very late breakfast. We talked then about other hikes we'd done in the past. She kept trying to push a nice easy, forty five minute walk on us. Maybe next time.

We started the Beehive about 11:30. Just ahead of us was a man whose wife had absolutely refused to accompany him on that trail so she was going to take the Bowl trail and meet him on the other side. He was from Scarborough, not too far from where Joe grew up. Eventually, he got ahead of us though and we didn't see him again. I'm assuming he made it all right. We also passed a couple who is getting married tomorrow out on the Otter Cliffs. Fantastic location. Absolutely gorgeous. I wish them all the best.

Now, I mentioned earlier that the Beehive is a nearly vertical climb with exposed cliffs (some just wide enough for one person) and iron rungs riveted to the rocks to help you up or down (going up is much, much easier than going down.). Joe doesn't particularly enjoy these hikes. I, on the other hand, seem to love the challenge. I went first so I could tell him where to step and where to climb and so on and so forth and he kept looking up to see me jumping off a ledge or scrambling up a steep part and wondered what the hell I was doing exactly. Then he worried about being afraid of heights and how he knows it's an irrational fear.

"You're talking to the woman who is afraid of eggs," I said. "Heights is a much more rational fear than eggs."

Especially if you fell on the Beehive, it wouldn't exactly be a short or painless fall. Yikes.

Anyway, we finally made it to the top and had to stop to rest because it was so damn hot. We started down the Bowl Trail and came across a couple who also had to stop and rest because it was so damn hot.

"Does this trail go to Sand Beach?" the man asked.

"Eventually," I said.

Then I took it upon myself to tell them that should they be afraid of heights, to skip the Beehive and take the Bowl Trail back down to Sand Beach. It's just easier that way.

We reached the Bowl around 12:30 and stopped to have a snack on the rocks. I dropped from granola bar crumbs on the rocks and threw them in the water for the minnows. I know it's bad to feed the wildlife but I didn't want to waste the crumbs either. Don't know if that was good enough reason but something was going to come along and eat those crumbs so it might as well been the minnows.

They went nuts over them. They were fighting over it and stealing the crumbs from each other which was kind of funny to watch, I have to admit.

It was about quarter to one when we started the Bear Brook Trail portion of our hike. It's a 1.6 mile trip to the summit of Mount Champlain. Mount Champlain is also the home of the Precipice Trail, another rugged, iron rung and exposed cliff trail. Joe and I did that one on our very first trip to Acadia. Joe picked it, obviously not realizing what he was signing on for, and we took the back half of the Bear Brook Trail back down Champlain so he wouldn't have to go back down the Precipice.

It took about an hour to reach Champlain's summit. The falcons were out and about, flying overhead. It was really a great sight to see. The closest I'd ever come to a Peregrine (besides the Ren Faire anyway) was the summer one dive bombed the car I was riding in. My brother almost got the ultimate souvenir: a Peregrine shaped hole in his windshield. Super fun!

By 2pm, we were on the Beechcroft Trail (1.2 miles one way). There are some nice open rock faces on this trail that were a little challenging. If you ever decide to take this trail, make sure the trail is dry because even if it's a little wet, it'll be damn near impossible to climb. This one also had some exposed cliffs and narrow cliff edge paths that thrilled Joe to no end. A half hour later, we heard some people coming up the trail. We heard them mostly because they came across a garter snake and the woman yelped. Then they asked us how far they were to the top. I stumbled across the snake on the way down and yelped myself. That was before I slipped and twisted my ankle. No harm, no foul.

We got to the Tarn (just .3 miles) and found part of it blocked off so bridge repair. On the other route, we came across two rangers doing actual bridge construction. For a moment, Joe was worried we'd have to backtrack and add even more mileage to our hike, but we were able to ford the stream and make it back just in time to catch the bus.

We had dinner at Testa's because I saw the double chocolate cake they had on the dessert menu (so, so good, by the way.). There was a very happy, drunk and rowdy group sitting at the bar, composed of both locals and tourists. One of the tourists was especially drunk and especially boisterous. He started ragging on two women at the bar for being from New Hampshire because New Hampshire's apparently too liberal and New Hampshire's ruined a bunch of stuff for the country by being liberal. The two women said they weren't liberals. I thought about interjecting that I was a New Hampshire liberal but ultimately kept my mouth shut. Then the boisterous drunk started using some language that the bartender deemed inappropriate and offensive and cut the guy off and asked him to leave. That turned into a twenty minute argument over whether the guy really had to leave. The previously rowdy bar was deathly silent then. Finally the guy gave up and left which was too bad because it was the best floor show we'd seen all week.

So after dinner, we looked at the harbor for a while and then limped back to the hotel. We had to pack everything up because tomorrow we're changing rooms. We're moving from the second floor to the third floor. Not sure what to expect. But at long as Line Nazi is elsewhere, I think we can make it work.

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