hiking it up: day 2

Started today on the southeast shore of the island. I hiked the Sea Walk from Sand Beach to the Gorham Mountain Trailhead. Gorham, at 525 ft, was vanilla. But I was still sore from yesterday, so I needed the warm up. Six weeks of bicycling prepares the heart for this stuff, but not the joints. Waking this morning I questioned whether I could do another day, but my dreams had been full of beautiful rocky climbs and the lingering sense of freedom was too strong to resist. There will be time to recover on the way to Virginia. (Our campground there, by the way, is only about ten miles from the Appalachian Trail.)

From Gorham’s peak, I descended to The Bowl, then approached Champlain Mountain, the long way, from the south. If Disney were to design a mountain climb, it would be Champlain Mountain from the south. And I don’t mean that to be derogatory. The folks at Disney are smart and capable, and they know how to put on a good show. This was an epic climb, not strenuous, but with enough varied terrain to keep you on your toes. A beautiful thing about climbing a mountain in the fog is that it can present itself as a series of scene shifts, hemmed in as you are from any distracting views of the ground below, or the peak ahead. I suppose that’s what prompted the Disney analogy. In any case, I’d guess the southern face of Champlain would have broad appeal in mountain climbing terms. It certainly wasn’t as ruggedly dramatic as yesterday’s climbs, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

From Champlain’s peak, I took the Sieur de Monts descent, which was an entirely different matter. A much steeper gradient to start out, with jagged edges to shimmy down. It plateaued just briefly after that initial drama, and I found myself climbing a little again out of the swampy grove there, until I was on a pink granite ledge with nothing but thick fog and the sound of traffic rising up to it. I followed the ledge and started to discern the tops of trees at differing levels below me. Finally, the trail turned into a beautiful series of ramps and stairways built from granite blocks. At first, these were nestled in rocks piled high against the cliff face, like the remnants of a great rock slide left helter skelter in the precarious balance they found after falling all together there. And I wondered how often the parks people tested the stability of that haphazard structure, but I figured it had been reinforced somehow, and anway what’s the likelihood after all this time that those rocks would continue their downward slide at this very moment, so I let that thought pass.

I made it down unscathed. In fact, my only injury in all this time hiking came as I was walking on the side of the road back into Bar Harbor. I mistepped on the curb and twisted my ankle a bit. I ended the day’s journey at the bar of a Bar Harbor pub, with a plate of fish n chips in front of me.

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One Response to “hiking it up: day 2”

  1. Kady Says:

    Those photos are beautiful!

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