Friday, August 7, 2015

2005 Acadia National Park - Hiking, Biking, and Sea Kayaking

This Elderhostel program was based in Bar Harbor, Maine, and most of our activities took place in Acadia National Park, the first national park east of the Mississippi River. It is located mainly on Mount Desert Island and contains over 47,000 acres along the rugged and picturesque coast of Maine.

It is the only national park completely comprised of donated land. In 1901, Harvard University president Charles Eliot spearheaded efforts to protect the island from the portable sawmill and enlisted local resident George Dorr who tirelessly devoted the last 43 years of his life and his entire fortune to the protection, creation, and expansion of the park. Philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. was the largest landowner and contributor, giving over 10,000 acres and his beloved carriage roads.  
I'm pausing in the photo below to enjoy the views on this section of the forty-five plus miles of carriage roads of Acadia National Park, all of which were designed and constructed by Rockefeller from 1913 to 1940 as a way to limit motor cars on the island, and later during the Depression, as a vehicle to employ local residents who were without other job opportunities. The carriage roads are now reserved for bikers, hikers, and equestrians. The blocks of granite which serve as guard rails (coping stones) are called "Rockefeller's Teeth." Cedar signposts at every intersection provide directions, and these crushed gravel trails are kept in excellent condition thanks to $200,000 annual endowment from The Friends of Acadia and funds from the park's entrance fee. We biked twice during the week, once on these trails and once along Soames Sound. This program was hosted by Coastal Kayak and Acadia Bike.

Sixteen granite bridges, all unique from one another, were built by skilled craftsmen with the overall plan approved by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.

This hike on Ocean Edge Trail presented magnificent vistas around every bend as it wound through forest and over granite rock surfaces. Crashing waves and expansive views, elaborate rock retaining walls, waterfowl, and ships in the ocean captivated each hiker's attention. We hiked three times during this Elderhostel program, twice along the ocean and once on the still-privately owned segment of carriage roads.

After two poor weather days, the rain and wind subsided and we kayaked 9 miles on Frenchman's Bay, circumnavigating Bar, Sheep Porcupine, Burnt Porcupine, and Long Porcupine Islands, and enjoying a bag lunch on Hop Island. On the lee sides of the islands, paddling was flat and calm as seen here, but foot-high swells and moderate winds welcomed us on the southeast leg, providing more realistic sea kayaking conditions. Our second kayak expedition took us around Bald Porcupine Island, the only privately owned island in the bay, and then back along the coast.

Dave and Bob exemplify the tranquility and serenity experienced during a quiet paddle in a magnificent locale, with blue waves lapping the boat as one's eyes and soul feast upon beauty and silence, as porpoises and birds entertain, as distant sailing vessels and cruise ships dot the horizon, and as the ubiquitous lobster boats attend to their lobster pots.

On afternoon we had a talk by a professional lobsterman about lobsters and a demonstration of how they catch them. We then walked to a local restaurant to partake of lobster, and it was fresh and wonderful! 

The entire group taking a photo break as we biked along Somes Sound:

Front row on ground (l to r): Dawn and Red 
Row 2: Patti (our leader), Joan, Nan, Eileen, Barb B., Eileen Z., Barb K. and Chuck M.
Row 3: Linda, Chuck F., Dave, Bill, Bob S., Bob M, Mike, and Jim
standing: Bob B.

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