We took a day trip to Acadia National Park from our wilderness campsite in northern Maine. As you might suspect, it was not the best experience moving from the green solitude into a blue madhouse of activity, but not all was lost.
We decided to go because we hadn’t been there in 28 years. We were now within striking distance of the park. It was August, sure, but at midweek maybe the crowds wouldn’t be so bad. Not as bad, certainly, as the August crowds discovered at Yosemite some years ago. The coastal waters would refresh us; sometimes things change for the better… Well, not here, not now.
Unlike many other national parks we’ve visited, Acadia ushers in the newly arrived and puts them on a pedestal. That is, visitors must first climb to a Welcome Center high up on the rocks (nothing wrong with that). There, on this day, a long line of people waited patiently (or not) to buy their passes. Staff and organization seemed in short supply. Oh well.
But let’s give this oldest national park east of the Mississippi River (established 1919) some due credit. It’s a beautiful place on the eastern coast of Maine. It’s definitely worth a visit, but if you can get there any time other than in the standard tourist season, go for it, and be thankful that it isn’t August.
Leighanne and I enjoyed some quiet walks, and a picnic lunch on the rocks overlooking the punchy Atlantic. It wasn’t easy getting off to someplace where we didn’t have to look at thousands of other transients like ourselves. I don’t know why, but it seemed more fun tossing sandwich crumbs to an adoring gull than it was dodging bored nature lovers taking pictures of themselves against the waves of an indifferent ocean.
I had even come to the park prepared to do some casting into the surf with big Clouser flies, but just didn’t feel inspired. It seemed better to reminisce about our first trip to the park long ago, in mid-September…
When we camped under the rain-drenched firs and a thrush hopped in toward our table where it dined on crumbs of our zucchinni bread… Where two year-old Brent had recently compared a dome house to a turtle… Where the vast, alluring ocean called out to the rocks and forest of Acadia, named by the French explorers for the ancient lands of Greek Arcadia… Where the boulder-headed continent fell to its knees and supplicated the sea…
Where Otter Point eventually inspired this short poem: From a cliff I stare/ into dusk and whitecaps/ rushing from across/ the world. Songs of/ fog and mist and surf/ nearly take my being/ till the herring gull,/ staring from its cliff,/ emerges without moving.
We remembered the Dorr Mountain hike from seaside goldenrod habitat upward through bogs with pitcher plant, bearberry, cranberry, and bunchberry towns, through the fern and moss and rock to the summit views of the Porcupine Islands. And over there was Cadillac Mountain– and a young Japanese woman strolling around with eyes glued to something like a small TV (today’s technology makes the climb, as well, except that it’s more… sophisticated).
We remembered Thunder Hole at high tide when the water slammed a pocket of air and made a startling noise… And anemones at the tidepool of Anemone Cave… My walk along the ledge, the incoming wave that knocked me on my keister and tossed my sunglasses to the cool Atlantic… Oh, and I remembered my upper leg, badly scraped and forcing a limp that lasted for days….