Sunday, October 25, 2015

Not Every Day of the Trip is Epic, but...

Early on in this trip, after we had several days that were amazing (whale watching off the north end of Vancouver Island) then we had a string of more typical days. Kathy told the girls, not every day on this trip would be "epic", but then some days would be. After my last post, I figured I should write a more positive post. Enough with the thorns, here's some roses...

Epic Day #1

Climbing the Precipice Trail. The white spot in the background is the camper.
It was our last full day on Mount Desert Island, the island off the coast of Maine that contains Acadia National Park. Our plan was to see as much of the park as possible while driving the park loop road. The first stop was the National Park visitor center, where we watch a 15 minute movie about the park that talked about all the amazing things to do in the park. Midway through the movie, we were introduced to something called the Precipice Trail. It looked like a jungle gym playground for adults on the side of a cliff. After watching this part of the movie I looked over at Siena and shared a 'yah, we gotta do that' look.
Gripping the railing high up on the trail.
Nadia pretending to be terrified (at least I think she's pretending).
Thirty minutes later we were parked at the trailhead for the Precipice Trail. Multiple signs warned of the dangers (serious injury or death), but hey, this is an east coast National Park, we were from the west coast where they have REAL National Parks. So my daughters and I started up the trail with Kathy staying behind. The trail pretty quickly went from steep stairs carved into the granite mountain side, to very steep lumbering over boulders (similar to Aasgard Pass back home), to near vertical up ladders built into the mountain side. Ladders would be followed by very exposed narrow ledges with steel handhold bars secured into the granite rock cliff. The girls and I kept going up, initially I had the idea we'd go up part of the way and then turn down, but we were all having too much fun. After quite a while of hiking (or climbing) we reached the halfway point which offered a turnaround. We opted to continue. At some point, several hundred feet above the parked camper and Kathy, I called on my cellphone down to her to let her know we were all okay and we could see her. She came out and snapped the following picture of us.
Can you find us on the rock wall?
The views from this hike (climb) were incredible, with the October fall colors making it that much more amazing. Several times on the hike up we saw other hikers on the way down. I kept asking, "there is another way down, right?". The only response I ever got was, "I think so". After a series of ladders, and a steep final climb, we reached the top. My daughters and I all on a total adrenalin high. But now we had to go down. The park map suggested the shortest route would be the North Champlain Trail, which we took, but we missed the turn off to get us within a mile of where the truck and Kathy were located. There was a long walk along the park road of maybe two miles before we got back to the car after a 2-1/2 hour hike.
At the summit of Champlain Mountain.

Epic Day #2

Looking towards Penobscot Narrows Bridge from Fort Knox
We were headed out of our campground at Bass Harbor, with the goal of staying near Freeport Maine, a relatively short drive. With a full day to get to our location, we decided to take the scenic route along highway 1 down the coast of Maine (as suggested to us by Clem at Younity Winery). Our primary reason for taking this side route was drive across the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and visit Fort Knox (not the one with the gold). Fort Knox is a fort that was built primarily for the civil war, but also used to defend Maine during the Spanish American War. This was America's first fort built of granite.
The girls exploring Fort Knox
When we arrived at the fort, they were finishing up setting it up for Halloween. I believe the plan was to allow a tour of the fort after hours with all the spooky decorations. The fort reminded me in many way of my home state World War II forts (Fort Casey, Fort Flagler, Fort Worden, etc), but this was of course much older. Plenty of long dark passage ways, with halloween decorations, and few other visitors made for a ton of fun for the whole family. We did take time to learn that the fort was built during the civil war and was used though to the Spanish American War, but that the fort had never seen any real action. However, it was kind of difficult turning this into much of a history lesson as all four of us ran though the mostly empty fort, jumping out and scaring one another.
Siena explores a spiral staircase in the fort
The girls particularly enjoyed running up and down dark passageways and exploring pitch dark rooms. The highlight for Nadia was when she hid in a dark corner only to jump out and nearly give ME a heart attack. We probably could have spent all day at the fort, but we had miles to go still before we reached Freeport so we had to cut our visit short. In the end we felt our $10 family admission fee was well worth it.
Nadia explores one of the long dark hallways.

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