Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Acadia in Winter

Way back when, when we were just two crazy kids with a dream, D and I went to Acadia one winter. Specifically, it was March of 1997, our senior year of college. We have no idea how we ended up there, who recommended it, how we found out about it, or what the heck we were doing. We skied and snowshoed, and pretty much had no clue what we were doing. We had a blast.
Our trip 11 years later really wasn't any different. We may know a little more now, but really we're just goofing around playing in the snow.
Actually, it's the snow that's the key. We've been waiting those 11 years for the stars to align and give us the right combination of days off and snow cover to make a trip to Acadia worthwhile. Last Sunday and Monday, it all worked out.
We left Sunday morning for the 3-hour drive. Usually when I say a drive is 3 hours, you can count on at least 3.5, but it's really only 3 to Bar Harbor from Topsham. In July, it's probably 3 months, but in January it's 3 hours. We arrived, we checked in to the perfectly cromulent Aurora Inn, changed up and headed to the Carriage Roads for some cross country skiing. Thanks to your tax dollars, the Carriage Roads are groomed for cross country skiing. It's well worth it.

The roads are perfect for skiing. We skied for about 2.5 hours. I thought we could do at least 3 hours, but D's feet were a little sore, so we called it a day. That being said, it was an awesome ski. Certainly rivaled some of the great tours we've done at Mont Saint Anne. Really, really good stuff. Just a perfect ski.
A perfect ski can lead to only one thing: food and beer. Very few restaurants were still open in the winter ghost town of Bar Harbor, but we managed to sutff ourselves with nachos, pizza and beer at Geddy's on Main St. It's a fairly cheesy tourist trap, but on a Sunday in January, it was quiet and the food was tasty.
Against rational thought, we started off the next day with a greasy breakfast at a gas station. It was exactly what you would expect, and the perfect start to the day.
The plan for Monday was to skin up Cadillac Mountain and ski back down. Via the Park Loop Road and the Cadillac Summit Road, the trip was probably 8 miles round trip. We had our beefy telemark gear with skins, and shuffle along on a really warm—41 degree—morning. Skinning is a fairly slow means of travel, and that's exactly what it was on this day. The gear is too heavy to really move quickly, but the kick is guaranteed. So we trudged along, and really D was just indulging me. She would have been much happier on her snowshoes or back on the Carriage Roads, but she knew that I'd wanted to ski the Road since I first knew it was there. She didn't mind when the sun was out, but as we traveled up the road, the clouds rolled in and the wind picked up. About 10 minutes from the summit, she told me "I'm not having fun anymore." This is never a good sign. We made it to the summit with further incident and took a break for lunch. We didn't see a sole on the way up, and only a lone snowshoer at the summit who had followed us up the road.
After a Clif bar and some cheese & crackers, we began the thrilling descent down the road. And by thrilling, I mean not thrilling at all. I was so disappointed. First off, the road isn't as steep as I had remembered from driving it. It's downright flat. Secondly, the warm temperatures had softened the snow and made it miserably slow. We would have needed some high-end pure flouronated wax to get nay speed at all. Bummer. I had built it up so much, and it flat out sucked. I pouted most of the way down. Well, I pouted when I wasn't double poling. We did cut one corner, one of the switchbacks, and I was able to make a couple turns. That was really it, though. Down low, where the trees had kept the morning sun off the snow, it was a bit firmer, but not steep enough to get any speed. So instead of a day of extreme action adventure shredding the gnar, it was a slog to the top and a really slow ride to the bottom. All in all, though it was a good excursion. I'd definitely do it again, but most likely on skinny skis. Our trip ended with tasty falafels in Bar Harbor and then the 3 hours home.
Overall, it was an amazing trip. These trips never go exactly as you plan them, which is all part of the adventure. Hopefully, we be able to get back there any season.
Here are the rest of our photos.

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