Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mega Hike

I'd like to apologize for the lack of vacation blogging. I know how very much y'all clamor for it but the WiFi here in the townhouse is...well, lacking would probably be an apt description. Sometimes it has other ideas than I about how much blogging I'll be doing. So that's why this one's a couple of days late.

But it's not always the WiFi. I didn't blog about what we did Monday because we didn't do anything on Monday. It rained and rained a lot so we went out for lunch where our waitress forgot about us and then took the shuttle back to Southwest Harbor (otherwise known as the home of the giant chocolate chip cookies). I was a little hungover, the same kind of hangover I always seem to get whenever I drink whiskey. This hangover makes me a little nauseated and a little mean (woe is the waitress who forgets about us then)... Hmmm... wonder if there's a lesson in there somewhere? Anyway, Monday was overall boring. But Tuesday? Tuesday was far from it because Tuesday was the day of the Mega Hike. To properly pronounce this, one should imagine an announcer at a monster truck rally.

Mega Mega Mega Hike!

MEGA HIKE is the eight mile, six peak excursion I had planned for us before this trip. If you'll remember, it hit a small snag because the peregrine falcons are busy making little peregrine falcons and a couple of the trails integral to MEGA HIKE were ruled out of bounds. But, as I was determined to make MEGA HIKE a reality, I came up with an alternate route that ended up adding just a little bit of mileage to the original plan (all right, maybe two whole miles). I maybe just didn't mention that part of it to Joe. Don't get me wrong, I did attempt to have this conversation with him but he agreed with me. It was just better if he didn't know.

Here's an account from the day:

5:00am: I'm awake. I don't want to be awake but I am, in fact, awake. I wasn't planning on being awake for another hour and now I am sad because I set the alarm on my smarter-than-me phone to serenade me with the theme song to Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog and now I have no good reason to keep the alarm on. Whatever.

6:00am: Shower. Joe's still sleeping. He does not seem to have the same level of excitement for MEGA HIKE that I have.

7:00am: I look outside at the still gray skies and the wet roads and double check the forecast on my smarter-than-me phone. It'll be sunny by 9am which will be nice since that is the proposed start time for MEGA HIKE.

Lower Hadlock Pond's Wall Of Fog

7:15am: Of course, this means I will have to roust Joe from bed first. I tell him that if he's coming along on MEGA HIKE, he'll have to get out of bed since our shuttle departs the Village Green in an hour. He groans something that sounds like "Can't wait!" but could possibly have been "Go to hell!" and then rolls out of bed. I go downstairs to start packing our bags.

7:30am: I'm excited to be using my new ultra light day pack for the first time. I put in my camelpack hydration system, a bag of food (mini bagels and peanut butter, granola bars and carrot sticks), sunscreen, phone, camera, the shuttle bus schedule and the all important map. Interestingly enough, the ultra light day pack is not as light now.

7:45am: Joe comes downstairs and we debate the merit of bringing along rain jackets. I say skip it since the weather channel still says the sun is coming out...but not until 10am.

8:00am: We leave the townhouse and book it down to the grocery store in order to purchase the sports energy drinks we neglected to buy the day before. We then have to book it to the village green to catch our bus on time.

8:15am: The Brown Mountain bus leaves.

8:55am: We arrive at the Brown Mountain Gatehouse. The trail we intend to take is located across the road. We walk up and down route three looking for it.

9:00am: Still looking. This is kind of embarrassing.

9:03am: Will MEGA HIKE be called on account of us not being able to find the damn trailhead? Where the hell are the signs?

A Boy And His Smart Phone

9:05am: Oh hey, look. There it is. At least we think that's it. There still isn't a sign but it kind of looks like a hiking trail. And there is a pond, Lower Hadlock Pond if we're reading the map correctly (which I am almost positive we are). It's enclosed by a serious wall of fog.

9:15am: Oh hey, look! There's a sign, an honest to goodness sign that confirms that we are in fact on the right trail. 1.4 miles to the summit of Norumbega Mountain.

9:40am: We encounter our first group, a woman and her two dogs. They're headed down while we're headed up.

10:00am: We stop for a rest. The sun's starting to break through, just like the weather channel said it would, and we're close enough to the summit so that we're walking on open rock faces. Joe breaks out his smart phone and checks that the GPS knows where we are. It's not entirely wrong.

10:15am: We reach the summit of Norumbega Mountain. Joe breaks out his smart phone to open his compass application and checks that the compass knows our proper elevation. It's not entirely wrong. My phone, on the other hand, is beeping incessantly for no discernible reason. Whatever. After a short rest break, we start down the north side of the mountain, a trail sometimes called the Goat Trail. This trail is a short, steep climb along granite ledges and, you know, walls, for lack of anything better to call them.

View from Norumbega Mountain summit

10:18am: Acadia Fun Fact #1: Rain makes granite wet.

10:18:02am: Acadia Fun Fact #2: Wet granite is slippery.

10:18:04am: Acadia Fun Fact #3: A trail which receives little to no sunlight will not dry.

10:18:06am: Welcome to the Acadia Water Slides. Make sure you pack your ass padding 'cuz you're gonna need it!

10:20am: Joe, being the gentleman that he is, lets me go down first. I think it's so he'll know where not to step because while I slip and slide on my ass quite often, he doesn't.

The very end of the Goat Trail

11:00am: We make it to the bottom of the Goat Trail in one piece. My palms are scraped red from all the slipping and sliding and I've already sweated completely through my tank top which used to be an extra small but is now large enough to be used as a tent. I stop to change, grateful I had a second shirt in the ultra light day pack.

11:05am: We reach the start of the Bald Peak (elev. 974 feet) trail. Joe has now seen the map and realized just how mega MEGA HIKE is. This annoys me because I did try to show him my intended route on more than one occasion before now. He decides the key to making it through the hike is the promise of dinner. Dinner, he decides, will consist of tacos and beer. Not necessarily in that order.

11:40am: Joe starts talking about how we should hike the Appalachian Trail. I find this hysterical for a man who was reluctant to climb one 974 foot mountain. Plus, I tell him, I do not pee in the woods. Six months is a really long time to hold it.

11:55am: We reach the summit of Bald Peak. This trail was much easier than the masochistic Goat Trail as it had been exposed to more sun. From here, you can see the fog rolling in off the water. You can also see our next three intended summits (Parkman, Gilmore and Sargent). We sit down for an extended lunch break. While we're lunching, a family comprised of two adults and five children (toddler to teen) arrive. They don't stay for lunch.

12:00pm: I try to update my Facebook status with my smarter-than-me phone but the phone can't decide if I have four bars or zero bars so eventually it gives up and tells me to update my status later. Instead I email my brother and tell him I'm writing an email from atop a mountain, albeit a small one.

The view from Bald Peak

12:20pm: We head out toward Parkman Mountain. It's a very short walk between Bald Peak and Parkman Mountain (only .3 miles). My phone won't stop beeping again. Stupid smart phone.

12:35pm: We summit Parkman Mountain. We would have been there sooner if not for my dumb ass phone. I turn all sounds off. Haha! Take take, so-called smart phone. Let's hear you beep now! I HAVE THE POWER!

12:40pm: We head down Parkman on the Grandgent trail. The Grandgent trail is described as "hard-to-reach and strenuous." It also doesn't receive a hell of a lot of sun. It's dryer than the Goat Trail but not by much. Joe's mantra has become "tacosandbeertacosandbeertacosandbeer" muttered under his breath over and over again. My mantra is "three down, three to go!"

1:05pm: We reach our fourth summit: Gilmore Peak. There's another family group up here with lots of screaming kids running around the summit. Always seems like a bad idea to be running toward the edge of a mountain but I'm not a parent so what do I know, right? Joe and I don't stick around for very long before we head off on the Grandgent Trail again.

1:45pm: Summit #5: Sargent Mountain, elevation 1,373 feet. The family with the five kids is already here. I'm damn impressed that the little ones have stuck it out this far. I take a family picture for them by the summit sign but one of the kids refuses to be in it. It's probably not because I'm wearing my Red Sox hat. This, for anyone who doesn't know, is a reference to our visit last year when a mother asked me to take a picture of her entire family together but her youngest son (an obvious Yankees fan) refused to let me touch the camera because I'm a Red Sox fan. Punk.

Sargent Mountain Summit, views to the south

1:50pm: Another family group, a mother and daughter and their little toy poodle, Aspen, arrive. Aspen, who is off leash, barks at and charges everyone. Joe finds this annoying. Not that the dog is barking or that the dog is off leash (which, by the way, is not allowed in ANP but whatever...) but that it seems to be all right because it's just a toy poodle doing it. Big wouldn't do anything to anyone either but it would be less okay if a 130 pound German shepherd charged you. At least he'd eat the toy poodle.

2:00pm: We leave Sargent Mountain, headed down the Sargent Mountain South Ridge trail toward Sargent Mountain Pond (.8 miles away). The trail here is very open and remotely flat (and dry) and we're able to cover ground quickly.

2:08pm: I managed to stumble and stub the little toe on my left foot. It is very angry. I am forced to stop and wait for it to become slightly less angry.

2:10pm: We walk through a whole mess of dragonflies.

2:30pm: We reach Sargent Mountain Pond. I am so hot and sweaty by now that I have to resist the urge to just dive in head first.

Penobscot Mountain- and not a peregrine in sight

2:45pm: Summit #6: Penobscot Mountain (elevation 1,194). Our only company up here is a seagull. This is the part of the hike where the peregrine falcons come in. Originally, I'd planned for us to take the Penobscot Mountain trail back down to the Jordan Pond House (our ending point) which would have been just over a mile and a half. But because of the falcons, we're forced to return to the Sargent Mountain South Ridge Trail. This makes Joe really, really happy. Buck up, I tell him. It's all down hill from here!

3:00pm: Except for this very brief uphill section.

3:11pm: And this one too.

3:15pm: Joe states that he's starting to get tired.

3:18pm: I manage to stumble again. Now more toes are angry.

3:20pm: Joe asks if I'm limping. I tell him, "Only a little...but it's all downhill from here!"

3:23pm: I have got to stop saying that.

3:30pm: My phone is beeping again. This time it is beeping to inform me that all its previous beeping has caused my battery to die. Best. Phone. Ever.

3:47pm: Joe worries that we are on some never ending trail that leads to nowhere. I assure him that we have to be getting closer. You can hear cars now so that means we're definitely getting closer. I am almost convinced of this myself.

3:50pm: I think my toes are now planning to murder me in my sleep. And I will sleep tonight so I will never see it coming.

4:00pm: We reach the bottom of the Sargent Mountain South Ridge Trail only to find a sign telling us that the Jordan Pond House, home of the bathroom and the shuttle home, is another two miles away on the Asticou Trail. Let's just say that Joe's reaction wasn't exactly "tacos and beer." At least the Asticou Trail is a relatively flat trail.

4:13pm: Except for this brief uphill section, of course.

4:15pm: I stumble. I then upgrade my toes from "angry" to "really frakking pissed."

4:23pm: We both get excited when we think we see some sort of rare, interesting wildlife in the forest. Turns out it's a stump. Oh yeah, we should totally be hiking the Appalachian trail.

Bridge to Civilization

4:30pm: We come across a quaint little bridge crossing a quaint little brook. I manage to drop my hat into it. I say some not nice words and Joe fishes my hat out of the brook. On the plus side, when I put the soggy hat on my head, it does feel good. I think about just lying down in the brook for a moment but my eagerness to get to a toilet trumps everything else. It's been a very long day and I've had a lot to drink.

4:46pm: I comment on how I think the Asticou Trail would make a good trail running trail. Joe tells me to go ahead. My angry toes tell him to do something else.

4:53pm: We're approaching the carriage roads now which means we're thisclose to indoor plumbing being finished with MEGA HIKE.

4:55pm: Our first sight of indoor plumbing the Jordan Pond House. "Civilization!" Joe cries. "You're dead!" my toes cackle. I go to the ladies' room and wait in line. While I wait, I listen to a three year old sing some nonsense bit of song at the top of her lungs. When her mother finally tells her she's being too loud, the toddler replies, "Oh." And then keeps on singing. I resist the urge to scream "WOULD YOU HURRY UP? SOME OF US HAVE BEEN WAITING TO PEE FOR EIGHT FREAKING HOURS NOW!" It's the polite thing to do. Or so I'm told.

5:07pm: Me and my really frakking pissed off toes make it to the shuttle bus line. There's quite a group of people waiting for the same bus for which we're waiting. This means we're likely going to have to stand all the way back to the village. We can't decide if this is a good thing or not. As much as we'd like to sit down, we can't be sure we'd be able to get back up again.

5:15pm: The bus arrives. Joe and I stand in the back until a pair of sisters squeeze together to offer me a seat. I apologize for my extreme smelliness. The little old lady sitting in front of us wrinkles her nose and opens a window and mutters something rude to her husband sitting next to her. I think it's cute she thinks I can't hear her.

5:45pm: We arrive back at the Village Green. I am pleased to find that my legs still remember their function. My toes, however, seem to be more angry than ever. If I had to rank their anger on a hurricane category level scale, they'd be a six.

6:07pm: We manage to limp our way back to the townhouse. We should be embarrassed that it's taken us this long to walk so little but hell, we summitted six mountains and walked ten freaking miles in eight hours and didn't break any bones while doing it. Joe's tired and my toes are planning a coup d'etat. No room for embarrassment there.

6:07:01pm: Shit. Why did we have to rent a unit with stairs?

6:07:05pm: What the hell do you mean there are more stairs? Do you think they'll bring the tacos and beer to us?

6:08pm: We make it to the bedroom.

6:10pm: Is that a blister? Oh, screw it. Bring on the margaritas! Just as soon as I can get back down stairs.

6:11pm: It's all downhill from here...tacosandbeertacosandbeertacosandbeertacosandbeer...


  1. Now that this is all over, I hope you see the humor...because I was laughing sooo hard by the time I finished reading.

  2. crap. I forgot my comment in the 2/3 of a second it took the comment screen to come up.

  3. I'm inspored about the picturte of the hawk (or is it a falcon). Wifey and I were watch hawks (or were they falcons) through binnochulers today (I know I spelled that wrong). Beautiful creatures as they soar then attack their prey. It was awesome to watch them in action.

  4. Helen- Oh yeah, I can totally see the humor...especially now that I am able to look at a flight of stairs without breaking out my very best curses.

    Matryoshka- Thanks for playing. =)

    Stephen- It's a peregrine falcon but also, as I understand it, a member of the hawk family so either name works. I always love to watch hawks of any type. Our last trip to ANP, we walked a trail that provided us with some really fantastic opportunity for hawk watching. I was a little disappointed we didn't see more this trip but I guess they were busy taking care of the babies.