Gorham Mountain Trail, Acadia NP

Standard

With Sam newly installed at college, his absence was causing a slight air of melancholy around the house as the weekend developed. Nothing serious, but we were definitely feeling the adjustment to him not being around. We all miss him immensely, though it is obviously something that we will become accustomed to. We are fortunate to have the beauty of Acadia National Park in our backyard, so what better way to lift the spirits than spending some time in one of our favorite places. On most of our recent trips down to the park we have spent time either on the quiet side of the island, or on one of the many magnificent mountain ridge hiking trails. Feeling like we all needed a “fix” of ocean views this time though, we turned to an old favorite of ours and decided to hike the Gorham Mountain Trail.

Gorham Mountain Trail offers several options for making your hike interesting and different, allowing you to go up one way and down another. On this occasion we decided to start at the parking lot trailhead just past Thunder Hole, and rather than going all the way to the summit of the mountain and then descending to where the trail meets the Ocean Path and Loop Road near Sand Beach, we followed the rocky but relatively easy path upward through the forest until we reached the intersection of the Cadillac Cliffs Trail. At this point the paths diverge and then meet up again maybe half a mile further up the slope, but the terrain on each of these trails is quite different. The Cadillac Cliffs trail takes a lower, more adventurous route which is a little bit more challenging than the more familiar and traditional route of the Gorham Mountain Trail. Huge granite cliffs tower over you as you navigate several opportunities to scramble over and around an array of rocks and ledges, and on this day the cooler temperatures and shade provided by the cliffs was much appreciated, as was all of the wonderful restoration and development work that has been done on this trail. It always amazes me how impressive the trail work in Acadia is… much work has been done on many of these trails to make them more accessible, and in most cases this work is quite subtle, to the point where it looks very natural.

After making the ascent up from the Cadillac Cliffs Trail via a series of steep granite steps to rejoin the Gorham Mountain Trail, we continued a little further to the first real opportunity to view Newport Cove and the Atlantic Ocean. This little clearing with wide open views has always been one of our favorite spots in Acadia, and is probably the first place we really hiked to with Sam, and now with Jack. The Gorham Mountain Trail is a fun trail, one that in terms of difficulty is quite kid-friendly, yet the payoff in terms of scenery is absolutely spectacular. We spent a while here just chilling and reminiscing… soaking in the cool ocean breeze and views of Otter Cliffs and Sand Beach before wandering back down the mountain, this time skipping the Cadillac Cliffs Trail and following the Gorham Mountain Trail all the way to the parking lot. Even though it was only late August, the leaves on many of the little birch trees that are scattered all over the mountainside had already started to change color, showing off beautiful shades of yellow that seemed to be on fire when backlit by the late afternoon sun. Our summer in Maine has been a spectacularly sunny and pleasant one, and I wonder what impact that might have on either the timing or the intensity of this year’s fall foliage season? Methinks we will be back on this trail to enjoy the fall colors… maybe we can bring Sam with us on fall break?

Wonderland

Standard

Wonderland is probably one of the most accessible and easy to navigate trails in Acadia National Park. Located on the quiet side of Mount Desert Island, this short hike offers great value in terms of scenery as it gently slopes down along a beautiful forest path toward the ocean shore. If interested in a more peaceful time, and if you feel like leaving the crowds from the Loop Road behind, then this might be the trail for you. Neighboring the similarly picturesque Ship Harbor Trail, the Wonderland Trail parking lot has room for maybe a dozen cars, though in the unlikely event that you get there and it is full, there is room to park along the road.

The trailhead starts out wandering through some typical Maine coastal woodland, though as you emerge from the early forested part of the trail, you quickly get a glimpse of the rugged granite rocks and deep blue ocean. Meandering along the circular loop, there are many opportunities to leave the trail and explore the classically Maine rocky shoreline. Low tide opens a whole new world, with views of the mountains of Acadia to the east and tide pools galore exposed – a true wonderland of nature to enjoy.

Race for the Cure, 2010

Standard

The 2010 Bangor version of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure will be held on Sunday, September 19th starting at the Bangor waterfront at 10:00am. The 5K run or 3K walk will probably attract somewhere in the region of 4,000+ runners and walkers, all there to do their part to support the fight against a terrible disease.

As coach of the Boys Soccer team at Bangor HS, and I am extremely proud of the fact that just about every member of the team ran in the race last year. This year we are hoping to again have the entire varsity team involved, along with our junior varsity and freshman teams. With all players and coaches from the program participating, we should be able to add more than 70 runners to the event.

What makes this even more special is that even though participation is absolutely optional, I know we will have an impressive turn out from the boys for what is a very worthy cause. I believe it is important that they get an opportunity to be a part of something relevant – something that isn’t necessarily about them – and what could be more important than supporting the fight against breast cancer. It is gratifying to know that they have once again taken it upon themselves to organize the group’s participation in the race, and as a coach and educator, to know that you have such leadership and social responsibility within your team is heartwarming to say the least.

If interested in donating to the cause, please support the event and the efforts of our program by visiting our team page. Thanks, and Go Rams!

They grow up so fast, don’t they?

Standard

I haven’t been able to spend much time on the blog lately. Between taking care of work obligations, preseason soccer practices, and Sam getting ready to go to college, you can imagine that things have been pretty hectic around here.

Today was a big day. This was the day we drove Sam to Brunswick so he could begin his academic career at Bowdoin College. All sorts of emotions were flowing freely throughout the day, with moments of excitement and anticipation of what lies ahead for him intertwined with profound moments of sadness as we realized that he will no longer be a part of our every day. We had become accustomed to him getting up “early” at 9am in the summer months and wandering downstairs looking for breakfast, and at some point during each day we could always rely on seeing all 6’4″ of him sprawled out on the living room floor playing Playmobil with Jack. We already miss hearing his bedroom door creak open late at night as he would come wandering downstairs for a snack, and who’s now going to mow the grass?

He will always will be our baby, but we have watched him grow into a strong and confident young man whom we are very proud of. He is an amazing big brother, and even though each of us already misses him terribly, we are all genuinely excited about what is the beginning of a new and wonderful adventure for him. Cliche I know, but it seems like only yesterday that we were carrying him in a backpack, pushing him in a stroller, and laughing at how he would almost immediately fall asleep when we put his oversized helmet on and strapped him in to his bike seat.

With all of his most treasured belongings deposited in the new dorm room, hugs and kisses were generously shared, and then it was time for him to join all of the other freshmen eager to begin their first year experience. As he walked away, his little brother Jack (6) sighed, turned to Lori and with wisdom beyond his years said… “They grow up so fast, don’t they?”

Popham Beach State Park

Standard

Probably the coolest beach in Maine, Popham Beach State Park isn’t your standard sand and surf spot. With over 500 acres of salt marshes, forest, sand dunes and tidal flats, this is an absolutely spectacular section of Maine’s coastline. Part of what makes this particular shoreline so special is how at low tide a broad, expansive beach with pools of warm swimming water is revealed. Timed right, a visit to Popham exposes an ever-shifting sandbar that provides exciting access to explore and enjoy the distant and rocky Fox Island. The views all around from the beach are exceptional, with Seguin Island and its 53ft high granite lighthouse serving as a wonderful backdrop to the scene.

Jack took to the water like a fish, and the temperatures were perfect. He was experimenting with his boogie board, and with the gentle rolling waves the setting could not have been more kid-friendly. Everyone probably got a little too much sun, but what a way to spend a late summer Saturday in Maine! The peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were awesome, and after lunch we wandered back to Brunswick for some ice cream and to get another peek at Bowdoin College with Sam. We have just over a week now until he reports as a freshman, so the plans for moving in and making living arrangements with room mates are in full swing. I am sure that we will be visiting him often, so perhaps there will be a few boogie boarding side trips to Popham in the works too!

Eagle Lake Morning

Standard

After spending some quality time watching the dawn break over Otter Cliffs, I made my way to Eagle Lake where the still early morning sun had yet to reach into the valley. Even at the height of summer, there are very few people around at 6:00am, so the views from this popular spot were quite peaceful, and walking the trails provided some quiet moments. Normally in the summer it is hard to even get close to Eagle Lake, with the parking lot often spilling over onto Route 233. Looking south from the carriage road and just right of the boat launch area, I was drawn to the reflections and classic shapes that had yet to become illuminated by the morning sun.

Flying High Above Acadia

Standard

I am not the daredevil type. I rarely order anything off the menu that I haven’t had before, I do not do well with heights anywhere above one story tall, and I rode the ferris wheel at the fair for only the first time in my life this year. Jack, on the other hand, is fearless.

My Christmas present from two years ago was a gift certificate to fly in the Acadia Air Tours glider that lives along the Bar Harbor Road just before the airport in Trenton. “Wouldn’t that be cool?” in response to the pretty colored sign as we drove by every so often was interpreted as me wanting to take my life in my hands and go flying high above Acadia – all without an engine! Notice I have been sitting on the present for almost two years now… Lori and Sam were starting to wonder if I was ever going to use it.

Today was the day. Rather than placing my life in the hands of the wind powered glider though, I decided to trade up to a much “safer” ride in the spiffy and cool 1950′s biplane with an engine. For a few bucks more, I could take along another passenger, and as soon as this was mentioned, Jack was all in. The kid is fast becoming our little adventurer, showing no fear about trying new and exciting things.

Pilot Dave – the real pilot – was very reassuring as we buckled up and learned the ropes, and I cannot speak highly enough about how professional and friendly everyone was. Jack was eager to get up in the air, so as the propellor was fired up and we roared down the runway, he had a huge smile on his face. Any concerns I had about heights, falling and dying were masked by the exuberance and enthusiasm displayed by the six year old whooping it up in the cramped cockpit beside me – and as you can see, he was digging the headphones we wore to communicate.

What an experience! Flying high above Acadia offers a truly different perspective of a landscape that we feel we know so well. The weather was spectacular, and the views from high above Frenchman Bay, Cadillac Mountain, Schoodic Penninsula, Newport Cove, the Cranberry Islands and Somes Sound were all breathtaking.

Unfortunately though, the 45 minute flight was over in what seemed like the blink of an eye, and just like that we were banking hard left and preparing to land back in Trenton. I learned today that it’s OK to be nervous and careful about certain situations, but it shouldn’t stop you from getting outside of your comfort zone and doing exciting things. This was an exhilarating and unique experience… one that Jack nor I will likely forget for a long time.