July 20, 2012 – On Friday night we headed north towards Bar Harbor, Maine. Our lodging for the weekend was the basic but more-than-adequate Robbins Motel.
July 21, 2012 – Saturday morning we headed into Acadia National Park. Our main hike for the day was the Sargent and Penobscot Mountain trail, near Jordan Pond House. They reconfigured the parking lot since we’d last been there; now the parking spots near the Pond House are just for the Pond House, and what was once the overflow lot is available for long-term parking (i.e., hikers). We got there early so there was no danger of not getting a spot, and set out towards the trailhead. The new parking lot location gave us a chance to walk along part of the Jordan Pond shoreline before entering the woods.
As always, the trail is a pleasure to hike. It passes through woods, over a carriage path, then up a steep, rocky, more technical section (we recommend you have your hands free for this part, and watch your camera on the rocks). The steep climb is rewarded with great views of Jordan Pond, as well as a nice natural rock bench. We continued up the trail, reaching Penobscot, then down to the bottomless lake which was calm and clear (and had frogs sitting on logs – Louisa tried to pick it up, when it didn’t move she gently poked it instead and it jumped into the water), then up to Sargent’s summit. There were hardly any bugs along the trail, and there was a breeze most of the hike, which was good since it was also fairly warm and humid for Maine.
We got picnic supplies at IGA, including lunch meat and sharp white cheddar cheese, croissants, and spicy BBQ ruffles (which were fantastic). We headed back towards the picnic grounds by Seawall Campground and got a table right by the ocean. After enjoying our lunch and staring down an inquisitive seagull who appeared just about ready to jump up on the picnic table, we tried to find a bog by the campground. There was a bog/marsh type, and there was a trail headed through the woods towards Seawall. A few hundred feet in and the trail was overgrown, so we headed back to the car and towards Bass Harbor Lighthouse.
Bass Harbor Lighthouse is still a functioning lighthouse and Coast Guard station; you can’t go inside the house, but you can walk on the grounds and along an oceanside trail. The trail is similar to the walk near Sand Beach in Acadia National Park, but slightly less crowded (partly due to the very small parking lot near the lighthouse).
Time for one final mini hike of the day; our selection was Beech Mountain since we were already on that side of the island. We weren’t feeling like doing the entire hike, so we drove to the parking lot at the top. Then we set off down the wrong trail toward Canada cliffs. The woods were pretty, but the mosquitoes were brutal. Louisa got bitten by… something… that made the top of her knee swell up like half a baseball (we got Benadryl cream later on from the Hannaford’s in Bar Harbor; that seemed to help quite a bit).
Once we were finally on the correct trail, we realized there was still quite a bit of climbing to do. Which prompted Tony to wonder if he was the only one who thought the parking lot at the top would be, well, at the top (he wasn’t). On the way up the rocks we got some great views, and heard the “danger” cry from two peregrine falcons. We also spotted one zipping overhead, riding the wind current over and down the mountain.
Beech Mountain is topped with a mostly unused fire tower; we weren’t quite sure how stable it was so we didn’t climb up it. (It was actually closed at the top, so we wouldn’t have gotten very far.) Besides, there were plenty of nice scenic vistas from the solid rock we were already standing on. The trail back afforded some excellent views of Long Pond. Although we could see some of the pond from the Perpendicular Trail that we climbed a few weeks ago, the views from Beech Mountain showed us how the pond got its name.
Our last adventure of the evening was to find parking in town (which we eventually did successfully) and get dinner at Side Street Cafe. We didn’t have reservations, but it was late enough (after 7:00pm) that we were seated immediately. The appetizer special of that night was a pound of mussels, cooked in butter, wine, garlic, and a bit of chorizo. We’d never had mussels before, and these were quite good – very tender, mild, and buttery. As good as they were, we both agreed that 1/2 pound was about as much as each of us would want to eat. The rest of dinner was also good, Tony had the lobster mac ‘n cheese (always a favorite), while Louisa had a great BLT with avocado (called a BLAT – pronounced “blat”) on focaccia with house made chips. The focaccia also made the perfect dipping bread for the leftover butter from the mussels.