Acadia cairns

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If you’ve ever hiked in Acadia, you’ll probably have noticed the many small rock cairns created to help guide you along the trail. A blaze of blue paint will also keep you moving in the right direction, but if that gets too difficult to follow and you get a little wayward, you’ll see one of these little structures designed to keep you on the path. Acadia trails are a masterful, and often subtle, example of how to blend human interaction with the natural environment. Despite the high number of yearly visitors, many of the trails in this little national park appear to be withstanding the wear and tear admirably, and they appear almost as if they are “meant” to be there. Kudos to the National Park Service and the Friends of Acadia for all of the trailwork they do to make this such an amazing place to hike.

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The wind in your hair (fur?)

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Does Oliver have hair or fur? I’m never sure which it is. Either way, he’s a cutie, and when walking on the South Ridge of Cadillac over the weekend, he would often pause to enjoy the blustery conditions. The gently sloping granite ridge is a perfect trail for him, and the view isn’t too bad for us either. The heat from the summer is gone for another year, and as we transition into the cooler temperatures of the fall, our hairy/furry friend seems a lot more comfortable. Here he is getting a big hug from my Lori… Oliver doesn’t seem to mind getting hugs 🙂

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Chesterfield Gap

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From a recent hiking adventure in western Massachussetts… this is the Westfield River just downstream from the impressive Chesterfield Gorge. Maintained by the Trustees of Reservations, this is a pretty spectacular stretch of river offering amazing views of a steep-sided gorge – and then further downstream – a meandering and picturesque riverbed. The gorge part of the hike is quite remarkable, with high cliffs on either side framing fast-moving water that continues to shape the land. The topography flattened out somewhat once we left the roar of the gorge, and the raging water from higher up soon gave way to a peaceful, friendly river. Oliver and I explored the trail while the kids took some time to cool off and enjoy the gently running water. This is a very pretty place that would surely look great in the fall when the leaves begin to change color.

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Portfolio photograph

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Lately I haven’t been making many landscape photographs, and certainly not many I have felt worthy of adding to my portfolio. My portfolio is a collection of photographs that I personally like… and while I enjoy sharing my favorites, I realize that not everyone will like what I like. Anyhoo… here’s the latest addition to my online portfolio. This scene is from the Wonderland Trail in Acadia National Park, Maine. On this particular morning the area was socked in with heavy fog, and I can remember soaking in the cool, wet air on what was a pretty peaceful and tranquil morning. I was drawn to the jagged rocks of all shapes and sizes that had obviously been tossed and broken by the force of the Atlantic Ocean, and although you can’t hear it in this photograph, the fog-muffled sound of the incoming tide breaking just beyond these rocks was quite something.

If you haven’t had a chance to browse my full collection of images from Acadia and beyond, you can do so here: http://www.acadiaandbeyond.com

A walk to remember…

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Jack has been steadily gaining confidence in Oliver’s presence, and as he does so, he has become more and more attached to him. They’re forming a tight bond, and it’s been nice to see them develop a strong relationship as fast friends. Oliver is an absolute dream to walk with, and as we recently strolled along our favorite south ridge of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, it did my heart good to see two of my boys enjoying each other’s company so much.

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In addition to offering spectacularly beautiful and stunning 360 degree views of Acadia, the terrain on this trail just happens to be perfect for walking the dog. Oliver is able to negotiate the rocky granite slope with ease, and the cooler air up high can provide a welcome respite from the summer heat. Soaking in views of the Cranberry Islands while chowing down on a pb&j sandwich and then a banana for dessert… not a bad way to round out a memorable morning walk.

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My all-time favorite Acadia hike

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The south ridge of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park is my all-time favorite hike. It’s about five miles one-way from the ocean at Blackwoods campground to the summit of Cadillac, and as you cover that ground laterally, you’ll also deal with about 1,528 feet of elevation – it truly does seem to rise right out of the ocean making it seem even taller. One of our favorite things to do is park at the Blue Hill Overlook just before the top of the mountain, and then walk back down the gently sloping granite ridge for a mile or so before turning around and hiking back up.

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On this particular visit, Lori and I had Oliver in tow – Jack was resting back at the house with Granny and Grandpa. We figured the openness of the granite ledge near the top would suit Oliver really well, and we knew that there wouldn’t be anything too tricky for him to handle. He was extremely nimble as he scampered along the rocky trail, though we still had to make sure he was aware of the sometimes deep and wide cracks in the ice-shaped granite slabs. As we stepped onto the trail, we could see an off-shore storm blowing our direction, and although we didn’t have any desire to get soaked, we decided to forge ahead anyway… we had been itching to get out onto this trail, and we figured what the hey… if it started raining too hard, we could easily be back at the car within a few minutes.

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As the storm blew through, it kinda brushed us off to the left, and in behind it came some wild and dramatic light. As the sun dipped lower toward the horizon, it streaked across the overhead sky, painting the breaking clouds on the edge of the storm with some amazing light… and I loved how it made the mountain landscape come alive. We experienced some turbulent atmospherics on this hike, with clouds, wind and sunshine all seemingly wrestling to prevail. Their battle played out to our advantage, providing an evening of pretty special weather, and I was especially pleased to share my all-time favorite hike in these conditions with Oliver (and Lori).

Take a walk with Oliver…

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From a few weeks back… here’s a little glimpse of the walk Oliver and I make every morning. Using the Nike app on my iPhone, I’m able to track – among other things – where and how far we walked, how long we walked for, and how many calories I burned – trust me, Oliver burns waaaaaay more calories than I do as he cavorts all across the golf course in search of good things to sniff and chew. The little red patches on our trail are where we slowed down – to leash and un-leash – and also probably where I stopped to make these photographs. We got a later than usual start on this particular morning – normally we’re out the door by 5:30am – but we still had the course all to ourselves.

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We’re only about a quarter of a mile from the golf course, and when we make a hard right turn to enter the property, we walk through what is probably one of my favorite parts. A winding path covered in tree roots and pine needles meanders through a stand of tall, majestic trees that remind me of the black oaks out west in Yosemite, and when we come out on the other side, we’re greeted by the pretty scene below. Not a bad way to start the morning…

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We’ll walk up and down the fairways, sometimes looping back around to re-explore particularly interesting areas of longer grass, and as you might imagine, like most dogs, Oliver loves to chase the tennis ball. I’ll throw it, he’ll chase it, and no matter how fast he’s traveling, he’ll always – almost comically – roll over as he snags the ball. He gets a treat, and we do it all again… and again… and again. This of course gets him soaking wet from rolling in the morning dew, though during the summer months with warmer temperatures, that isn’t such a bad thing since he gets to cool off.

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There’s a sweet little overgrown cut-through between a couple of holes on the back nine that Oliver and I like to think no-one else uses but us. It’s our secret path, and since he’s a creature of habit, he always runs ahead of me to lead the way. He’s 10 months old today, and just recently he learned how to do some things that the big dogs do. It’s been funny to watch as he experiments with lifting his back leg… as he teeters precariously on three legs, I’m surprised he hasn’t completely fallen over yet! I bet there aren’t many blogs with photographs of their dogs pee-ing, eh?

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I know I’m biased, but isn’t he a handsome dog? He seems to have lost a little bit of the puppiness to his shape, and he looks leaner now than he did maybe even a month ago. About two thirds of the way into our walk, he starts to slow down, and instead of chasing up and down and back and forth across the fairways, he sticks closer to my side, usually breathing pretty heavily. By now we’ll have been walking (running for him) for about 45 minutes, so he likes to take what I consider to be a well-deserved rest. Throughout our walk, we’ll stop off at the water coolers located at every third or fourth tee box to enjoy a drink, so he stays well hydrated. By the time we get back home and up onto the front porch, he’ll be pretty much out of gas. Gassed… but very happy.

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