Thus concludes four lovely days in Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, Maine. In my recent posts I have shared stories and photos from my hikes and other activities. But not everything fit, so let me share a final photo gallery – distinct from photos in the other galleries, it is a mixed bag of scenery, activity, and food :-). I especially like the video of Boulder Beach where, if you listen carefully, you can hear the boulders rolling in the surf as it recedes.
Acadia is well-known for sunrise and sunset views. Indeed, many people vie for reservations to drive up Cadillac Mountain for sunrise, purportedly one of the earliest sunrise views in the U.S. because of its elevation and far-eastern position in the timezone. But for the same reason, sunrise here is remarkably early: every day this week it has been between 4:50am and 4:57am, and that is later than it was on the summer solstice a few weeks ago. I am not interested in sunrise from the peak – indeed, I find it far more interesting to photograph scenery illuminated by the golden rays of the sun than to photograph the sun itself. After some reading, I learned that Boulder Beach, on the eastern shore, is a great location. It’s also only 10 minutes drive from my hotel in Bar Harbor.
I’m an early riser. Still, when the alarm went off at 4:00am this morning, it was tough to drag myself out of bed and prepare for the day. Out in the parking lot I fired up my JetBoil camp stove to boil water for tea – no place is open this early! – and headed south in the growing twilight toward Otter Cliffs. I parked at a nearby picnic area and walked over to the beach, with 15 minutes to spare before sunrise, only to find three other tripod-rigged photographers already on scene. It was none other than John Putnam, of JK Photography, whom I’d met a couple of days ago in his gallery over in Southwest Harbor. He was out here with two clients, sharing his wisdom and tips for sunrise photography. I’d seen his photograph of sunrise at this spot, back in the gallery, and it is awe-inspiring.
I explored a few different shot locations and exposures. The sun rose through some clouds, so the cliffs illuminated a bit late, and the clouds behind them never quite lit up. But it was a fine morning and I’m pleased with the result. Wish I could try again and again. See the photo gallery for more.
After the sunrise had faded, I walked closer to the cliffs to find a seal swimming toward me, curious; it bobbed for a moment, then dove away to find its breakfast.
Ok, now it’s 6:00am. It’s starting to rain. What else will the day bring?
Two loop hikes separated by a popover and ice cream!
Thursday I had a full day with no real itinerary, so I decided to head to Jordan Pond and climb some of the peaks beside this lovely, deep, clear lake. Arriving at 8am was the trick – although filling fast, the parking lot still had a few spots. I strapped on my trusty pack and headed out for the first of two long loop hikes – with a sweet lunch stop in between. Read on.
By now I had come to understand that I was not the only one reading the blogs and guidebooks, and thus not the only one who knew that Thunder Hole is best visited in the one or two hours before high tide. And, of course, there is usually only one high tide during daylight/waking hours… so it’s gonna be crowded. Indeed, every parking area up and down the coastal trail was nearly full – but I snagged a lucky spot and walked a kilometer along the trail to join the throngs at the famous Thunder Hole.
My goal for Wednesday afternoon was to climb another one of Acadia’s ‘major’ peaks, Champlain Mountain, and finish in time to roll around the island to Thunder Hole before high tide. So, after a quick lunch in Bar Harbor – lobster & Brie cheese panini (gosh, they put lobster in everything here) I drove out in hopes of a parking spot. Amazingly, this trailhead seems little visited, and I was soon striding along the rocky ridgeline toward this eastern-most peak. It was a relatively easy hike – unlike some of the brutally steep trails I’d encounter elsewhere in the park – and the views were broad and luscious.
It was raining gently when I woke on Wednesday morning in Bar Harbor, so I took my laptop to a cozy café for a couple of hours of catching up with my photo editing. Two cups of chai later I was heading back out with my camera, thinking today would be a good time to trek over to Bar Island – which is only accessible at low tide, by walking across the wide sandbar that connects it to the shore in the town of Bar Harbor. (This sandbar gives Bar Harbor, and the town, its name.) Somehow I thought I was being clever in picking this walk on this gloomy day, but several hundred other people had the same idea.
For Tuesday’s hike I aimed at the main attraction – Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak in Acadia National Park (and the highest peak on the east coast!) [NPS] [Wikipedia]. Even though we were now clear of the July 4th holiday weekend, the park was still extremely crowded – every trailhead and parking area was packed to overflowing. I drove the park’s one-way Loop Road past several full parking areas, and looped back around to make another pass. Ahah! I lucked into one freshly opened spot in a parking area designed for four cars – as a bonus, my spot was in the shade. Read on for the full story and check out the photo gallery.
I chose to spend the week of July 4th in Acadia National Park in part because I thought it would be fun to be in Bar Harbor for Independence Day. Indeed, they hosted a fantastic fireworks display, down at the harbor. The weather was absolutely perfect – clear skies, light breeze, warm temps.
I started the evening on the rooftop deck of the Bar Harbor Beerworks, which has an extensive collection of local brews along with decent pub-style food. As the evening progressed, they started charging $$extra to remain on deck –presumably because it had a great view of the sky over the harbor, and there is surely some appeal to watching the display from a beer deck. Instead, I checked out and headed down to the waterfront. Although I arrived an hour early, the crowds had already staking out the best spaces on the grassy harborside park. I squeezed into a nice patch of grass between two families and close to the harbor’s edge. Eventually there were many hundreds of happy people here.
I set up my tripod but then realized I’d forgotten the tripod plate — required to attach the camera to the tripod! So I nested the camera in the soft camera bag, pointing roughly in the right direction, and waited.
The fireworks were spectacular, and lasted what seemed like a half hour. Sitting this close, I could feel the concussive boom of each burst.
I took nearly 300 shots, and whittled them down to five for the gallery. Not too shabby for a first try!
Canon R5, ISO 200, f/10, 2-2.5s exposure. Shutter triggered remotely via Bluetooth from Canon’s iPhone app. Post-processed with Lightroom, mostly Auto settings.
I pulled onto Mount Desert Island for the first time in nearly 30 years, eager to return to Acadia National Park. When we visited before, the weather was cold, cloudy, and drizzly. This week looks to be sunny and warm nearly every day, and I plan to make the most of it – hiking, exploring, and learning to use my new Canon R5 camera. For my first outing, I headed toward the western half of the island – as the NPS guide rightly advised me, the popular eastern side would be extremely crowded on this sunny national holiday.
I realized some time ago that my Tesla Model Y might offer new opportunities (and challenges) for car camping. So I was determined to give it a go! I camped one night at the Lobster Buoy Campsites (described in the prior post) and, overall, it was a worthwhile experience – and I learned some lessons for the future. Read on.