Acadia - a week before Labor day weekend in '99
Raccoons are common in Acadia. Arriving in the dark after a six hour drive, we somehow forgot to close a door on the car. We slept in ignorance, lulled to sleep by the ocean breakers easily audible from the Blackwoods Campground. Needless to say, most of our food supplies had been 'redistributed' by the morning.
The weather turned out beautiful on the first day of our stay, and cooperated fully with our plans. Knowing that I would race tomorrow, I decided to whip out the camera and the climbing gear, and maximize the use of the said equipment. Otter Cliffs provided interesting routes and beautiful scenery for the photos. The ocean at high tide washes the bases of these cliff, allowing for interesting last-minute escapes from pounding waves.
So this was actually the real reason for coming to Acadia in the first place, aside from the fact that I missed the trip a year before and all my friends who were about to leave MIT were going to it. Call it the bandwagon effect, a will to compete, a willingness to drive for extended periods of time, or simply the desire to be in a place quite beautiful with a crowd of both friends and happy people I barely knew.
The race was on the second day of our stay at Acadia. Rusty was gracious enough to lay out a course a few days before, risking life and limb while he navigated the treacherous course by himself, in bad weather, with only a map and compass as a guide. Those of us who raced faced mych fewer obstacles. Not only was it sunny with the temps in the 70s, but also the course had pretty much dried out in the previous few days. Christine, Andre and I started along with everyone else, and soon held up everyone else as Andre wiped out on his bike while going full speed down a hill (ouch). Despite a cracked helmet and scraped body parts, he insisted that we should go on. So after some basic first aid we did, trailing everyone else. The three of us were well matched, and we biked happily through a bunch of way points to a lake where a canoe was waiting for us. In the process it had become obvious that Christine's navigation skills were much superior to mine (Andre was smart enough to keep quiet), returning us back onto the race course time after time. Andre proved to be an excellent paddler, propelling the canoe with a single paddle directly across the lake. I tried paddling to relieve him, but after circling the canoe several times I declared that the canoe did not like me and turned the paddle back over into Andre's care. At the other side of the lake a half mile portage and an excursion to a nearby mountain top allowed us to retrieve the other paddle and return back to our bikes at a much better pace. At this point the lead group directly ahead of us took the wrong turn. Suddenly in the lead, we dreaded that they would catch up to us, and redoubled our efforts at opening the gap. Soon we were hiking up the steep and slabby side of Mt. Cadillac. While climbing up the slippery and steep rock slabs, I thought about how much 'fun' Rusty must have had hiking this treacherous slope in the rain. The trail followed the gradient to ridge of Mt. Cadillac. Since basic calculus tells us that a gradient is the quickest way to ascend to a local maximum, our trio in expeditiously reached the ridge of the mountain. From there we could actually see across the tree-less expanse all the way back to the ocean - and our finish line. Afraid of imminent pursuit and a race to the finish line, we decided to run. Consequently the four mile descent took us little time, especially after Christine found yet another short cut to the finish. And as for the imminent pursuit... well, we waited for over two hours before the next group arrived.
The lack of photos of this race can be simply explained by the fact that I chose not to carry my heavy Nikon on this excursion, and was not smart enough to buy a disposable in advance. C'est a la vie.
The day following the race greeted us with fog that made sea-side climbing at Otter Cliffs and Ingraham Point pretty much impossible. Slick and dark, the rock bore little resemblance to the inviting brown sea-side faces of just two days before. The weather coupled with the late start that morning put me in a rather foul mood. A note from Steve and Cathy, directing us to the Precipice cliffs, would change that.
Away from the shore and nestled in a valley on the side of Champlain Mountain, the precipice stood above the sea fog in beautiful sunny weather. The solid pink granite full of features and beautiful cracks left little to be desired. My bad mood disappeared without a trace as I climbed one route after another.
Christine exploring the old town crack.
Julie climbing my favorite climb, the runout Chicken by the Sea. A well positioned ramp made this climb a spectators delight.
Although temperature precluded swim-suits for sun-bathing, Christine took advantage of the warm rock to take a nap and work on her tan.
In the mid-afternoon the fog over the ocean began to lift, exposing the until now hidden islands and the light house on Egg Rock.
At the end of our last day in Acadia, we paid a token visit to Sandy Beach - the only beach in Maine, and took a hike in the nearby birch forest to check out the forbidding cliffs at at Great Head.