Friday, June 22, 2012

Fish Creek Pond Loop: 3 Days, 6 Portages & 8 Ponds

We unloaded our boats at the launching area just as the sun was beginning to set. A cool breeze swept toward us across the lake and a chorus of loons, singing in harmony marked the passing of the day. This trip was gonna be something. We could just feel it.
We paddled down the lake, tying to find a secluded spot amidst what we were surprised actually had four other groups of people. Just a small yellow marker and a fire ring of stones designates the wildeerness camping site, with just enough reflective to blind you. But we settled in fairly quickly, on the adirondack standard: a bed of pine needles with the occassional tree root if you weren't paying close enough attention when picking your spot.
The next day was a little heavy on the portages - especially since we had willingly left the wheels at home. Totally do-able, but extremely exhausting especially with the temperatures rising into the eighties. But we paddled on, even walking an extra canoe carry just to check out the lake for another time :) These ponds were lined with old pine trees, reaching as high as mother nature will allow, with bog laurel everywhere on the shoreline. It was captivating and I will have to remember to come back to this paddle when the laurels are full bloom pink.
On one of the canoe carrys - we did six in three days, so they all kinda blur together - we almost stepped on a lunar moth. It's been one of those wierd summers where everyone has seen one. I don't remember this happening in a while. But we continued along, passing through the murky Middle Pond and finally finding a place to settle for the night on Polliwog, in a small alleyway behind a larger island. A perfect beachy area, apparently frequented by an aggressive family of ducks.
While our first night in the woods is usally rushed because we are pure and simply exhausted, the second is much more relaxed. We had opted to deal with the weight of the cast iron skillet, so cooking became more fun, creative and delicious. And finally remembering to bring a sharp knife didn't hurt so bad either :)We ended up having Teriyaki chicken meatballs, diced yellow pepper and red & white quinoa blend. The difference in using the can iron skillet over the backpacking ones...priceless.
The next morning began one of the wierdest and most diverse days of paddling ai have ever expereinced. Our first water passageway we ended up fording upstream after passing two kayakers quickly floating along in the current. The byway was so tight, you could barely fit my fourteen foot canoe through some of the low canopy sections. It was like a water park ride...if we had been going the other direction.
But we saw so many interesting things. Either that or I was going a ittle crazy because the batteries on our SteriPen went out and we made the rookie mistake of not having backups. Seriously though - FOUR AA batteries? That is rediculous. Anyway, in between jumping out for necessary cool offs repeatdly throughout the day, I was spooked several times by wildlife: a 50 member tree frog attack as I was paddling through the lily pads and was gonna end up in my boat, a woman following behind her two dogs (where she came from I have no idea), a deer eating berries on the shorelline...oh yeah...the swimming chipmunk!!
The next few ponds would lead us through a public campground, past a water skier, under two road bridges and through a marshy, meandering snake like river lined with tall, tall grasses. Some of the ponds were quiet, where it felt that no one had been there for centuries. And then you would round the corner and a flotilla of kayaks would be coming at you from the other direction or there would be two old ladies jeut chatting away on an rock island. You would meet up with people twice - it felt like you were going in circles.
Finally, six hours and one last tunnel later, led by Vespi we wound up popping out of a culvert directly the the right of where we had launch only two and a half days earlier. Exhausted, but super stoked...we hustled up and headed down to Tale o'the Pup from what we ahd been dreaming about the whole trip: BBQ and a pitcher of strawberry margharitas :)
May You Find the Spirit of the Mountains Within You,
FemaleSkiBum & Vespi
Our Route :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Acadia National Park: Paddling Mt. Desert Island, Acadian Style

Everyone deserves a vacation.

Even those of us who live in a vacationland.
Ten years ago, the boyfriend took me to Acadia National Park.
It was our first hiking trip together.
Now we are vacationing here again.
Mount Desert Island and the Atlantic Ocean are still the same as they were when Rockefeller finished all of his amazing feats of trail engineering.
A journey back in time, if you will, when the joy of exploring the mountains was new and exciting and something that ladies did in high heels.
We did it barefoot
Barefoot amongst Blueberries.

now that i wrote that down, it sounds really dorky.
oh well.
Small ponds and large lakes lay nestled just off shore of the mighty ocean, picking up the coastal winds and knocking my little canoe around with ease. Our first paddle on Long Lake (the bigger one) ended up being a hardcore battle with whitecapped waters. I got spun around more than a few times on our way back to the boat launch. A very different experience than the jovial strolls to the summits of Precipice and Beehive that we had done just the day before. By the time we got to the turm around point, Vespi was fried. While we laid in the sun on the classic Acadia rock, she passed out in the shade of the pine trees.
Rain dominated the next day.
a calming rain, one that sounds fantastic when it hits the fly of your tent but chills you to the bone when you're in it. So we went and paddled the pond that ironically appeared on the cover of the L.L.Bean catalogue this month, the crown jewel of Acadia:
Jordan Pond.
With the fog sitting low, it was like we had gone even further back on that time machine, to a time when dinosaurs ruled the earth.
but as we approached the traditional family fishing spot, the clouds lifted just enough to expose the top of the Bubbles and that precariously perched infamous rock itself. Left atop the mountain by glaciers, it stands immovable - and don't worry, millions of tourists have tried. Even I have attempts to relocate this wonderous feat of nature.
Yet the Bubble remains.
A true testament of time that not even Rockefeller could have created.
Next day, it was on to Eagle Lake, which rests not so quietly between Cadillac and Sargeant Mountains. This valley creates a one way highway for the winds coming in off the ocean...I have never paddled so hard yet gone so not anymore before in my life. The bow of my canoe was dropping down almost into the waves - and at one point one did splash across the bow of the tiny canoe - but we made it back. Exhausted yet satisfied in what a trait of the original Acadian People: You wait until the conditons could be the absolute worst - wind, rain, cold - and then you do it!!
But let us not forget...we are at the ocean.
You can't help but enjoy all the wonderful things that has to offer :)
The final day, Vespi and I broke out the five fingers and went for a run. From Blackwoods Campground to the Summit of Cadillac Mountain via the South Ridge Trail. In less than five miles, you can run from sea level into mountain top desert, and experiencing all the different fauna in between.
It starts in all pine,
the tall black pine in which we were camping. The trail is littered with round white rocks and you feel like you could be in the Adirondacks. Then the rocks dissapear, only to be replaced by the rootiest trail system ever. Ten years ago, I was fascinated by these root staircases - even to take the cheezy self portrait while on them. Then, the solid rock begins to creep in underfoot. Gradually at first, oftentimes hidden beneath pine needles, but more and mroe frequent, until the once majestic pines have been reduced to overgrown bonzai trees by the mighty ocean winds. We are approaching the desert of Acadia.
But immediatly before we take that final step...a small pond lies safely hidden amongst the trees. One last glance at the forest, and we begin our journey with a few hand over foot moves and begin the final mile toward the summit.
But nature survives herer as well. Some of the same plants we find on the shores of lakes all through the Adirondacks, are also fond here. They are little - but they survive, almost flourish in the many cracks in the rock. They are survivors, Acadians, only doing anything when the adventur will be at its outmost difficulty.
May You Find the Spirit of the Mountains Within You,
FemaleSkiBum & Vespi