Postcards from Acadia

I’ll go ahead and state the obvious–I’ve had a great summer and traveled to beautiful places, some for work, others for fun. And I have had several great adventure runs along the way. Lucky me!

We’d been in Maine for a few days (a trip we’ve meant to take since before our kids–now 9 and 12–were born), and I’d put off my well-intentioned plans to run. Not that we’d been idle on our family vacation.

My previous weekend’s long run was replaced by an 11 mile hike to the summit of Mt. Katahdin, a hike that ascended 4000 ft., the final northbound miles of the Appalachian Trail. Some of my favorite hikes are on the AT, so it was a thrill to glimpse the end of many a through-hiker’s journey.

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Up the Abol Slide to Mt. Katahdin: I’ll go ahead and declare this “not-runnable.” My calves were sore for 2 days after this adventure.

I had two purposes for my long run—the equivalent of 12 road miles, and time to commemorate what would have been my friend Suzie’s 41st birthday. The route I wanted to run would take me up to the highest point in Acadia, Cadillac Mountain, as well as the Oceanside Trail that follows the eastern cliffs above the booming waves of the North Atlantic. Connecting the dots would take me farther than needed, but there’s an island shuttle I figured I could catch when I was done.

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Started my run on the Kebo Brook Trail to the north ridge ascent of Cadillac. Sadly, my camera battery died mid-run, so my photos are sparse and not very good.

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The ascent to Cadillac Mtn was rocky and steep, and often went over jumbled rocks. For me, this meant a lot of walking.

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Higher up, the trail leveled out and had sections with these big slabs of bare rock, with the Porcupine Islands and ocean lying in my view below. Lots of eye candy to keep my mind off my oxygen deficit!

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Just below the summit of Cadillac, which was completely closed in with fog and mist (it was wet, windy, and about 50 degrees, so I didn’t linger). I loved following the stone cairns  marking the trail along the ridge.

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Descending on the South Ridge Trail from Cadillac over these smooth rock faces, I felt as though I was flying from cairn to cairn, with the ocean spread out below me. It was incredible.

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Quiet pond I passed below treeline on my descent. Even in crowded Acadia in August, I only saw a handful of bikers at the summit and just two groups of hikers on my descent.

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Even the road was beautiful. This is on the causeway near Otter Point.

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Stunning path along the ocean that was supremely runnable. Rolling hills along the cliffs above the North Atlantic. It was divine, until the sheets of rain started. I bailed out at Sand Beach, the end of the trail, and caught the park shuttle back to the hotel.

For those of you who know Acadia and are interested in my route, I started on the park entrance road at the Kebo Brook Trail for a short stretch, climbed to Cadillac (1530 ft.) on the North Ridge Trail, then continued down the backside on the South Ridge Trail (detour around Eagle’s Crag, because who doesn’t want to check out Eagle’s Crag?) and through the Blackwoods Campground (where I wandered around a bit to find my way to the road). Then I cut through to the park loop road, which I ran across the Otter Point Causeway before picking up the Oceanside Trail, running north to Sand Beach. It might have been 12 miles or so. The only really tough section was the North Ridge Trail to the summit of Cadillac Mountain.

It just might have been one of the best runs I’ve ever had–the perfect combination of my favorite elements: adventure, exploring, reflection, beauty, and hard effort.

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