Monday, August 13, 2012

Adventures with my Best Friend

I found myself in Maine again, almost a month later, This time with the love of my life. We were camping. Nostalgia really, a combination of an anniversary trip that couldn't happen and a chance to do some of the things we had always wanted to do but couldn't (when the kids were young). We headed to Acadia National Park. We started our week off with an incredible concert, Jackson Browne at the Beacon. Tent, bikes, and hiking gear loaded, we hit the road the next morning at 8AM. On the way, we stopped in Portland for lunch at this funky little place called Po" Boys & Pickles. It was as if we couldn't cross that border without indulging in seafood. Our first order of business after setting up camp and renewing our National Park Pass? We toured some of the carriage roads from the Hulls Cove visitor center. It was an easy 1.5 hour ride, done by lunch (though we did eat that on the trail). We headed to Sand Beach after that for a quick dip in the icy water before relaxing the rest of the day, contemplating the lecture about the precipice trail we received that morning. Climbing that was on Kenny's bucket list. Mine, not so much. The ranger managed to freak me out with tales of this girls death from missing a wrung on one of the ladders. She made sure to tell me how young and FIT she was, a college athlete even. to get an idea of what this trail is like check this out I am coupling it with a review from trip advisor which sums it up: “Terrifying but Exhilarating!” Reviewed September 8, 2009 4 people found this review helpful This is a straight vertical climb up a granite face of a mountain. Spectacular views from the top and worth every second. I'm in very good physical shape and used to frequent hiking, but I found this challenging due to the fear factor (I also have a healthy fear of heights - well, not of the heights - but of falling off of them!). There are ladder rungs where you literally have a 15 inch ledge 20 feet down and then nothing but a 200 foot fall below you. The Park Ranger told us they usually have at least one death a year from this trail - but generally due to people being unprepared, not watching the weather or hurrying rather than thinking through their next moves. We watched a lot of foolish people attempting this (one in flip flops carrying a purse), and a few with children who were absolutely petrified with fear. We encountered two people crying inconsolably along the route with ther climbing partners trying to calm them down. With proper footwear (good gripping soles), agility, and good physical fitness, this is a terrific trail - but be warned that there is some level of rock climbing involved (actually finding handholds and scrambling yourself up 8-10 foot sections of unlevel granite). We descended down Beachcroft (beautiful views of the other side - but pretty steep - not recommended for kids or those out of shape) and caught the bus back to the parking area for Precipice. Bear Brook is supposedly the easiest route down. We got back to the parking lot midday to discover that Precipice is a spectator sport - there were throngs of people with picnic lunches and binoculars just spectating and watching people attempting. We dissuaded a few folks who were thinking of climbing the trail with young children (like 4 year olds....), and talked to a few people who got 1/4 of the way up and turned around. We loved it - but it's not for the faint of heart. Kenny read my face right, the woman absolutely, unequivocally, scared the shit out of me. Which I tried all week to get over. I so wanted to hike this trail so Kenny could check it off his list. The next morning we were off and climbing, Acadia Mtn. followed by a short bike and swim that afternoon. Acadia was one of those hikes that we had been advised not to take our kids on when they were little. It was super steep with LOTS of tall stairs. We went up and over, planning on climbing St Saveur with it but then this couple told us it wasn't a bald and not worth the effort. We skipped it, and planned on lengthening our hike by walking the cliff edge to Flying Mtn. Figures, the woman sent us down a closed trail (peregrine nesting sight). Instead we looped back and chose to fill the rest of the day with a short ride and swim. The next day we headed out for an extended trip by bike. We climbed about 3 miles and descended 1.5 only to have Kenny announce he had a flat and despite having tubes for my 29er, I had nothing that would fit the 26" wheel that was in distress. It was a slime tire and did however have a patch kit, so I wasn't exactly worried about a flat, besides who gets a flat on a MTN bike on a carriage road? I pull over and hear the hiss, I see all this slime leaking out of the where the tire and rim meet and I think it was the valve stem that went and it must be a gaping hole that cannot heal itself. I pull the wheel off, get the tube out just as it stops leaking (of course). I decide to give it a once over since I do have it OFF the bike and I see what looks like debris sticking out of the tire so I pull on it. It was this white, thread like thing and as I pulled it out of the tire I am realizing that I just unplugged the slime patch (it figures). So I pull out the patch kit only to find the glue dried up. We were apparently batting a thousand at this point. I managed to force more slime out of the tire it wouldn't plug things up anymore but maybe it would help me hold the patch on, or at the very least it would help the duct tape I was about to use? We filled the tire with 35 lbs and headed back the way we came, stopping every mile to refill the air which would drop to 20lbs. We had so many people stop and ask if they could help, funny, not one had any patches, not one had a spare tube much less one I could throw money at. One guy even stopped and told us he had air (a CO2 pump in fact). I asked if he had a patch or a tube, he said no, all he had was a pump. I have a question for him, what would he have done if he was in our position? It was like we were the only ones who were semi- prepared for this outing. On the way back we stopped for lunch. When we got back to the car we headed into Bar Harbor bought some patches and tubes then headed back out for a 10 mile ride on a different loop. Here the biggest challenge was dealing with all those people who do stupid things on bikes, like park perpendicular on a bridge that is at the bottom of a steep hill or ride taking up the whole trail, forcing you to dodge and weave around them on a blind corner. There was this guy walking up a significant climb in the middle of the trail near a blind spot. When I came up on him and politely told him I would like to pass him he asked me what was stopping me. I told him the blind corner up ahead would put me in danger of being hit from someone descending. To which he saye, I'm watching so its safe. I asked him to move right, to which his companion says I have been telling him that all day. He told both of us where to go... people can be such fools. After that we headed into town for a beer and some steamers. Why this detail? We met two of the coolest people (Becky and Liz) who just happened to be our camping neighbors, literally. It made the rest of the week really nice as we kept bumping into them. Our final day of activity sadly was Thursday, when we attempted to climb the west ridge of Cadillac Mtn. We heard it was such a great climb and one that was very challenging. It would be a consolation for not climbing Precipice. We couldn't find parking anywhere near the trailhead. We chose the GORGE path instead. This was a hike up a riverbed with steep walls, large steps, and multiple river crossings. If there had been more water it would have been a terror. About .5 miles from the top the trail starts its non-technical climb that in places felt like a little slip would have you hurling down a cliff at breakneck speed. There was one place where I dug in both my fingernails into the tiniest of hand holds and my feet into an even smaller foothold. Oh I was so happy I was wearing barefooters, a pair of hiking boots or sneakers would not have allowed me to feel the pressure I needed to not slip. We ended our week with a lazy day and dinner at this crazy place called Nemos where we were entertained by the local crowd and disheartened by a lobsterman who seemed so gracious until some guy ordered a 4 lb lobster at 10/lb when he can't even get 2. He immediately looked forlorn and soon got up and left. My thoughts are with the lobsterman who cannot make ends meet this year. Lobster prices are so low due to many different factors. We spent our last night in a tent with 2 inches of water in it. Packed up our gear, ate breakfast out and picked up 10 of our own clawed hitchhikers. Yesterday we had a feast fit for kings with our closest friends. My only hope is that we bought them from a lobsterman rather than a distributor. Sometimes that line is hard to understand, especially when it comes to packing them to ship a long distance. Summer is over in a few days, things will get crazy busy again. I only hope that this trip stays with me enough to ease that transition.

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