Acadia National Park: Blackwoods

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Leftover pizza for breakfast. People always ask how we keep our food cold. Well we have a small cooler, but it becomes a hassle always finding ice for it. It’s a bit too small for a regular bag of ice so we just fill up two Nalgenes with ice at a gas station if there’s one around. And if there’s not, we put food on the dashboard and hope it gets cold enough at night to keep it out of the danger zone. We hurried over to Blackwoods campground after breakfast to hopefully get a site for two more nights. I was told at Seawall we could call ahead and reserve a site if we were 48 hrs out so I tried that as soon as we checked in at Seawall but Blackwoods told me I was outside that timeframe. When we checked in at Blackwoods we were told there were three sites left and our chances of getting one were “slim” but we’d have to check back at noon to make sure no one had extended their stay. I asked if we could wait at the office but they told us we needed to go elsewhere. We left and organized the van and packed our bags for the day and waited until 11:30 to go back and get in line to try for a site. Where we were the only car before, there were now close to ten, and parked exactly where we were told we couldn’t. I was on the verge of going insane. Competitive camping: I go nuts. We drove past all the parked cars and whipped around and got in the gatehouse line instead, bypassing all the walk-ups and somehow lucked out with an RV site for two nights. After finding our huge site I went back to the office and told the rangers we’d be happy to share with someone and to please let anyone looking for a campsite know. The ranger was like “Yeah, okay. Sounds great. Will do.” I told him our campsite number and said to just send someone our way, that we’d be gone for the day and didn’t need the tent pad. “Yeah, great. Sounds awesome.” So… basically he didn’t listen to a word I said and by the time we left for the day the camp was already full and when we got back there was no one at our site. What can you do?

We headed for Jordan Pond, undoubtedly the most popular of Acadia’s ponds, where naturally the parking lots were overflowing and we drove and drove and drove in circles to find a spot. There was a park service employee issuing tickets to those parked illegally along the road or in oversized spots. Competitive parking: I go nuts. I know, I know, sounds like we should stay out of the national parks in summer. We took our bikes for a ride along the carriage roads, which were much hillier than either of us expected, but it was a gorgeous bluebird day and my skin smelled of sunshine and we picnicked along a lake and watched a loon with babies on her back and heard her call for her mate when an osprey got too close for comfort. The carriage roads are in great condition and a real joy to ride, especially when all the uphills pay off and became long, fast downhills, and the wind blows in your face and you feel like a human again. They’re just magical. After nearly 26 miles I didn’t have the heart to ride up another hill so we went back to camp for a meal by campfire and agreed wherever we lived one day there should be trees and water and a couple of loons to keep us company.

Our last day in the park we went into Bar Harbor for groceries, gas, and ice. Front page of the local paper featured a huge spread of the Northern Lights over Bar Harbor Monday night. I was equally excited and super pissed at the rangers for not posting an announcement or a forecast at the campgrounds. Those flashes of light from the van! I was sick about it! The paper said the chances to see it that night should be decent as well, so we made plans to head up Cadillac Mtn after dark to try our luck. That’s when I downloaded the AuroraNotifier app to bing me when the Kp-index goes above a 5. The Kp-index is a Northern Light indicator- levels 0-3 are considered calm, 4-5 are active, and above 5 is a geomagnetic storm. The night on the newspaper was an 8. If you live in the North Country, or are visiting (especially around the equinoxes), I suggest a download. The Northern Lights are indescribable, and I’d suggest going out of your way for a potential viewing to anyone with a pulse.

We stopped at the library for free wifi and to check the weather forecast for Baxter State Park, home of Maine’s tallest mountain, Katahdin, and the northern terminus of the famed Appalachian Trail. On the way in I mentioned to Greg I’d like to get a hotel on our way to Baxter, as we hadn’t showered in nearly a week, had a van full of dirty laundry, and a blog that hadn’t gotten any attention in days. Greg promptly replied that he’d find me a campground with a shower, and that I could work on the blog at a laundromat with wifi, and suggested I could take that gorgeous, sunshiney day to “get caught up on all my stuff”. I asked what he planned on doing. “I’m going hiking.”

So, like any normal adult woman would do, I cried a lil’ bit. Bar Harbor Public Library: CHECK. Why do I cry? I obviously went into this marriage both eyes wide open. I knew he would tell me ‘no’ because A. If it’s not his idea he has to argue it and B. Trying to get him to spend money on lodging is like pulling teeth unless it’s his idea in the first place. I would ask all the strong, stable (more emphasis on stable) women in my life to send me their passive, indifferent vibes so that I may ignore these flare ups and discreetly make my ideas seem his own.

We got the Baxter forecast (one nice day in a sea of rainy ones) and went out to the van to talk the crying out. I’m putting all this mildly, it was probably the worst day of our trip so far. As you probably already imagined, my ‘lil’ was actually a ‘lot’. But we talked it out and made up and learned from it and moved on, and that’s all anyone can really do. Greg agreed it was time for a hotel and because of the weather up north I agreed to wait to get one until after Katahdin.

Nothing gets us into our right mindset and back in burning love like a walk in the woods so we drove up to the Beehive for a hike and a picnic. The famous Precipice Trail was closed due to peregrine nesting but the Beehive was a really fun, really burly alternative. It was definitely a four-points-of-contact hike and we quickly came upon a family trying to climb up with bottles of water in their hands. I offered to take them all up in my backpack so they could use their hands too. They were so happy and thankful! And alive at the top!

We didn’t get to do everything we wanted in Acadia due to the Katahdin weather but we’ve already talked about going back for the Precipice Trail and to hike Cadillac Mountain for sunrise, and to hopefully get a shot at the Northern Lights again. Mt. Desert Island is covered in a lush, dreamy deciduous forest- the kind they make posters of- and we’re sure it’d be just stunning in the fall. Only one way to find out!

See our other Acadia post: Seawall


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