Sunday, October 17, 2010

Maine! (New England Part 2)

Flash back!  This should have gone into an earlier blog.  This is what one sees in between Chicago and Burlington VT.  Toll Roads.
This morning finds us once again enjoying the quaint hamlet of North Conway, Starbuck's wicked fast free internet, and alluring blue skies; which is a nice reminder that a certain classic on Cathredral Ledge awaits us if I can get my act together.  But, back to where I left off...

As I recall we had just survived a busy weekend at Rumney!  With the iphone map application locked onto Maine we drove East, passing countryside farms, white picket fences, and the Maine Border where we were greeted with Maine's Border epithet "Maine, how life was meant to be lived". This might not be accurate word for word, but you get the jist.  We had just crossed from the "live free or die" state and were now in calmer waters.

By noon we were in Portland and within sight of the Atlantic.  The last time Ben saw the Atlantic was on Cape Cod around 81'.  He was 5 and doesn't recall too much.  We thought Portland was real cute; and reminded us of a much younger Seattle.  Soon we were finishing off a hefty load of laundry and rolling up the coast, passing the ubiquitous "lobster shacks".  Yep, quickly,  all we could think about was Lobster mania.  This red crustacean bobbed in our minds as shack after shack passed us by.  We stopped at some of these to research the cost.  For around 20 bucks one can eat a cooked Lobster meal.  But, having eaten recently we postponed our growing craving.  I'll admit, we only survived due to Trader Joe's mini peanut butter pretzels.  

270 miles after leaving Rumney (and approaching our days end), we arrived at Acadia National Park.  This hodgepodge of islands and mainland, comprised of both public and private property, is the most visited National Park in America.  Millions come here annually (mostly East Coasters I think) to take in the park.  There are lavish resort harbors like Bar Harbor, cruise ships, and lots of people.  Despite our arriving off season and on mid week, our fellow tourists were out in force.  Our first stop upon entering the park was Cadillac Mountain.  This is the highest point on Desert Island (1300 or so feet) and commanding an expansive 360 degree view of the islands slopes, lakes, and adjacent waterways.   

Feeling the need for some exercise the following day (after spending so much time jammed in the rig), we were soon exploring some of the 45 miles of carriage roads that lace Desert Island.  Nearly 100 years ago, one of the famous Rockefeller's poured millions into these roads which would serve as a buffer against the encroaching thunder of the automobile.  We enjoyed a nice 20 mile loop passing picturesque lakes, ponds, creeks, and hillsides laden with autumnal color. We also found a much appreciated escape from the crowds.  Really, this was the highlight of our time in Acadaia, though we thought the one way loop road along the SE coastline also memorable. 

We discovered many nice hangout spot along the SE coastline.  There are beaches, cliffs, and many pullouts.  As evening wore on, we made a concerted effort to arrive at the SW side of the island (the location of an iconic lighthouse...forget the name) for sunset.  
This gull was really struttin' his stuff.  Later on I attempted to give him a hug.

Here little birdie, birdie...
Line up here boys!

We arrive just in time to witness a majestic sunset.  The photogs were en force!  Tripods, slr's, tilt shift lens's, filters; yeah, they were going to TOWN!  There must be some gravitational force associated with postcard type lighthouses.  


Lobster mainia!
We both agreed it sure was Purdy!  After getting our fill, we wandered into Bass Harbor (located on the West side of the island), and found ourselves some LOBSTER!  We both agreed it was well worth the cost of admission.  Maine lobster... check!
  
Tiffers taking in the harbor the morning after Lobsterville.
Shagg Crag.
The next morning we packed it up and blasted off for the hills of Western Maine.  There is a hollowed place called Shagg Crag on the border of the White Mountains.  Steep overhanging granite like clip ups adorn the base of Bald Mountain.  Granite for the most part doesn't yield itself to features when the rock gets steep.  But, at Shagg one can find incut flakes, crimps, and jugs littering its precipice.  
The foliage in this region was really beginning to pop.  To get to the crag requires 30 minutes of moderate hiking.  The only downside was that our falcon guide (the only guide showing descriptions for the area) wasn't really accurate.  To our delight and chagrin, there weren't any of those 'locals' around to point the way (we guessed they were all at Rumney).  Blatant misinformation combined with a bit of sandbaggery on the moderate routes left Tiff with little options.  That said, she had mercy on Ben's curiosity, and provided some much needed belay action.


Ben was psyched to clip the anchors of nearly every route first try (five routes 12a - 12d).  There was one 12c/d that threw him one of those expansive 'jump over to that hold' cause you ain't reaching that hold sucka moves.  It required hanging onto some marginal crimps on a slightly overhung section with no feet and jumping left a few feet.  My left hand managed to connect with this hold 3rd go as my body swung wildly in retaliation against my lateral journey.  
Thanks again goes to my Tiffers for letting me sample the mighty Shagg crag.  I'd recommend this place to anyone with a penchant for steeps, granite, and beautiful views.  The top of cliff (bald mountain) lies a few minutes from the climber trail cutoff and provides excellent vistas.  In many ways Shagg reminded me of the Blues Cliff at Index...only steeper.  Shagg is a jewel.   With our curiosity quenched, we once again pulled anchor, and moved on...I could say more, but the sun is out, and so are we!


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