Walking on high…


As regular readers of this blog might already know, the South Ridge of Cadillac Mountain has been one of my favorite trails in Acadia for a long time. It’s about five miles from Route 3 and Blackwoods Campground to the 1,530 ft summit of Cadillac, the highest mountain on the eastern seaboard, and even though I’ve been on this slope many times, it never gets boring to me. Most of the trail follows a wide ridge of glacial boulder-strewn mountaintop terrain where the 360 degree views are absolutely spectacular, and as you can see from the photograph above I found an old friend willing to pose for me in the evening light. If you look closely, evidence of these beauties having been dragged across the landscape by immense amounts of ice some 10,000 years ago can be seen with tracks literally etched into the mountain reminding me of the paths the moving stones have made at the Racetrack playa in Death Valley… though I doubt if the wind and ice of a modern-day Maine winter are going to be moving these monsters any time soon.

On this particular evening, we drove toward the top of Cadillac and parked in the less-crowded Blue Hill Overlook parking lot – from there, we crossed the road and easily joined up with the Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail at a point about one quarter of a mile from the summit. Rather than going up toward the gathering crowds on Cadillac who were waiting for sunset, we decided to head down the mountain toward a small glacial pond about a mile away, and even in early August, we had the place just about all to ourselves.

Standing tall on the upper slopes of Cadillac, the wind must have been blowing at least 40 mph, making it relatively difficult to stand up straight, and it also did a number on Jack’s summer long and uncut Justin Bieber-like hairstyle. The views in the distance toward the Blue Hill Bay and offshore islands were dramatic, and leaning into the wind allowing it to hold you upright was incredibly refreshing.

Our destination was The Featherbed, a small glacial pond located in a saddle of granite about a mile and a half down from the summit. We arrived as the sun was getting lower in the sky, and even though the pond wasn’t much more than a mud puddle, it and the surrounding landscape was still a gorgeous sight. While we paused here, Jack inspected the scattered footprints in the mud and imagined all sorts of creatures – likely and unlikely visitors – who might use this pond as a watering hole, and we eagerly sampled some of the freshest wild blueberries you are ever going to find. Since the sun was already dipping down low below part of the ridge placing one side of it in shadow, we reluctantly decided to start our hike back up.

There were some hazy clouds off to the west that were part of an approaching front which would bring a couple of days of rain, but we still had some nice warm light as we made the ascent back toward the car. I find it amazing to think that a trail as remarkable as this in one of the most visited national parks in the country would be deserted in the middle of the summer – don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, but it definitely boggles the mind. Anyway, the views going up were just as nice as the views coming down, and as I mentioned earlier… this is still one of my favorite Acadia hikes 🙂

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