As I made the early morning drive to Acadia, I couldn’t help but be excited about the potential for some nice light. Weather was definitely rolling in, but the forecast didn’t call for rain until later in the day. On the road between Bangor and Ellsworth the pre-dawn skies had clouds scattered everywhere, but I could still see some stars peeking out… partially clear skies with some nice clouds to have the early morning light reflect off… things were looking good!
My initial destination on this particular morning was Cadillac Mountain. Lately I have been especially drawn to getting back there to see the wonderful red ground cover that blankets parts of the summit of Cadillac every fall. So my plan was to head there first, and then embrace the incoming weather and cloud cover to explore a couple of streams I hoped might have some nice fall colors dotted along them. The overcast skies would reduce highlights and glare on the water, making it easier to get a decent exposure on the streams.
Not for the first time though, as I approached Acadia and Mount Desert Island, the clouds and fog started to thicken considerably. By the time I was on the Loop Road I realized that there was a VERY good chance my sunrise plans atop Cadillac might very well be skunked, but as I was always told… stick to the plan and things will likely work out for the better.
There were about four cars in the Cadillac parking lot when I arrived about half an hour before the sun was scheduled to rise, and as I looked out of my car window I noticed that everyone was bundled up pretty well. I eagerly loaded up my gear, and headed off to explore the south face of the mountain where I hoped there might be some compositions to enjoy.
All in all I spent about an hour on top of Cadillac, and in that time I never did see the sun. The clouds were moving pretty fast across the summit, and the winds must have been gusting to at least 40 mph. I had to physically hold onto my tripod to make sure it remained still… this was especially important since some of my exposures were relatively long, and I obviously wanted to record images that were as sharp as possible.
Anyway… there is something magical and almost mysterious about being on any mountain in Acadia National Park when the fog rolls in, but Cadillac is pretty special. The huge swathes of granite seem to both absorb and reflect the light at the same time, producing colors that are both subtle and remarkable. I found my patches of red ground cover all right, and the fog that was determined to hang around created a wonderful atmosphere of soft, diffused light. Every now and then I would catch a glimpse of the ocean and islands off in the distance, but usually within seconds the fog had raced up the mountainside again and staked its claim.
As I made my way back toward the car, I realized that the conditions (and lack of a classic sunrise) must have driven those who I had originally been sharing the mountain with away… there wasn’t one other car in the parking lot… and I couldn’t help but feel almost privileged that the mountain had been all mine… at least for a little while.