Who says old people don’t know how to have a good time? A sextet of over seventies recently met on Mount Desert Island for several summer days of biking, sea kayaking, and mountain hiking. I call it an outdoor trifecta.
Three couples with multiple agendas, we joined up for some activities and went separate ways with others. Four of us were located in very rustic cottages on the east side of the island while the third couple was camping nearby. Although normally waiting until fall to partake of our favorite Mount Desert Island adventures, our perception was the pandemic would keep the tourists away. The rest of the world didn’t get the memo as the island was a very busy place. Fortunately, appropriate mask usage was pervasive.
On the day of our arrival in the outdoor recreational paradise, my wife Nancy and I drove directly to our favorite bike ride in the State of Maine, the Acadia National Park Carriage Roads. The parking area was full and cars were lined along the side of Route 233 approaching Eagle Lake Trailhead.
The trailhead was very congested but crowds diminished cycling south along picturesque Eagle Lake. The Eagle Lake Loop is a six mile cruise with a nice combination of gradual hills and pleasing scenery. Finishing the loop, Nancy and I went separate ways. She opted for Witch Hole Loop while I elected to complete my preferred Carriage Road ride, Around the Mountain. After pedaling southwesterly past Aunt Betty Pond to Upper Hadlock Pond, Around the Mountain rose steeply for a couple of miles to impressive views of Somes Sound high on the west shoulder of Parkman Mountain. Angling easterly, an overlook provided a sweeping perspective of Eagle Lake with Cadillac Mountain beyond. A rollicking invigorating descent followed.
Rain delayed our plans the following morning. When it subsided, the entire island seemed to come alive. Intent on returning to the Carriage Roads, four of us drove to Bubble Pond Trailhead. Too late, it was full. Traveling south to the Jordan Pond overflow parking lot, we miraculously scored a space when a family left. Discouraged by the crowds, our friends Marian and Allen elected to forego the endeavor. A missed text message resulted in campers Ken and Susan choosing a different biking alternative.
The Jordan and Bubble Ponds Loop was our selection. The teeming throng dwindled soon after departing from the trailhead. Climbing steadily on the west side of Jordan Pond, an elevated open sector offered spectacular views of that exceptional tarn. Joining a southern portion of Eagle Lake Loop for a short distance, our circuit soon turned south and dropped rapidly along scenic Bubble Pond. Arriving at a junction for Day Mountain, Nancy chose to continue to Jordan Pond. This obsessive compulsive geriatric cyclist couldn’t abide by-passing a jaunt circling Day Mountain and climbing to the lofty impressive summit.
On the third day, Marian and Nancy decided to climb Champlain Mountain. Since light winds and gentle seas were forecast, Ken, Allen, and I resolved to launch our sea kayaks. The Mount Desert Island area offers some of the most exceptional sea kayak trips in Maine. We chose one of the best, a circumnavigation of the Porcupine Islands. Embarking from a tiny landing in bustling Bar Harbor, glassy seas were encountered navigating along the north side of the aptly named chain of islands that span much of outer Frenchman Bay. Rounding the eastern terminus of Long Porcupine Island and entering open water, gentle swells and perpetual views of Champlain, Dorr, and Cadillac Mountains provided a stimulating return trip.
There is a good reason why the Parkman and Bald Mountains excursion is featured in my mountain guidebook, Mountains for Mortals – New England. The trek is indeed one of the finest mountain climbs in New England. While Ken and Susan biked with family on the last day, a hike to the majestic summits was the selection for four escapees from the dreary cottages.
Arising early, the last two spaces in the Route 198 parking area were claimed. The engaging trek ascended steadily with some entertaining boulder scrambling. Arriving at exposed Parkman summit, glorious panoramic vistas of the surrounding peaks and Somes Sound were our reward. Distinctive Bald Mountain could be observed slightly south. After negotiating through a deep attenuated col, the barren summit provided more remarkable views of the Cranberry Isles and eastern Penobscot Bay.
Despite the unanticipated crowds, four days of exceptional adventures were enjoyed in perhaps Maine’s premiere recreational area. Think we’ll return in October.
Author of “The Great Mars Hill Bank Robbery” and “Mountains for Mortals – New England,” Ron Chase resides in Topsham. Visit his website at www.ronchaseoutdoors.com or he can be reached at email@example.com