Acadia National Park, Maine

September 19-30, 2009

Views from the top of Gohram Mountain

Acadia National park does not have a lot of climbing to offer, but the mellow biking along the carriage roads, the great scenery, the whales and the lobsters just make up for it. Great place for a family vacation. We spent a week there with Lucie's Mom, Odile, who was visiting from France for a few days.

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Camping at Acadia National Park (Blackwoods campground).
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Bar Harbor.
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Top-roping with a view at Otter Cliff.
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Lucie biking one of the many carriage roads.
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Lucie and her Mom doing the tourist thing in downtown Bar Harbor.

The park has lot of hiking trails and numerous carriage roads (closed to motor vehicles) where one can bike. Gohram and Beech mountains are two of the best short and easy hikes we've done, with very scenic views of the coast. The carriage road to the top of Day Mountain was our favorite bike ride. We did it twice in a week (you can also hop on a horse carriage if you're lazy or do not have a bike...). Cadillac Mountain and Bass Harbor Head win the prize for best sunsets.

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Downtown Bar Harbor.
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Taking a break from biking at the Gatehouse.
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Bar Harbor Bay. This tall ship is one of the biggest tourist attractions.
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Odile getting ready for another chilly but...
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...spectacular sunset on top of Cadillac Mountain.

Whale Watching is another thing to do. The three of us (along with another hundred people or so) got on a big motor boat and sailed 20 miles off shore before spotting our first two Humpback whales. The boat stopped so we could watch them for a while. They were logging and diving. The boat crew spotted two more on the horizon, doing all sorts of tricks including breaches. The boat captain rushed in their direction and we got to watch them for a long time doing tricks. Most of the humpbacks in the bay return season after season and are given names by the local marine biologists. We got to observe Siphon (female) and Flyer (male). Flipper flapping galore and a few breaches. Great! On our way back, someone spotted another smaller whale (Sonogram) some distance away. The boat drifted over there to watch her. It turned out to be a great diversion - despite the other hundred whale watchers. We saw seven Humpback whales in all. Syphon and Flyer were definitely the highlight.

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Going whale watching for the afternoon.
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Lucky enough to see seven humpback whales.
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Siphon doing her thing (click for movie)
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Can't leave Maine wihtout tasting them!
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Yes, it's about time!

We could not leave Maine without tasting its lobsters. Odile invited us to a restaurant since trying them in the bus would probably have resulted in a big mess... We had a feast: clam chowder, lobster bisque, crab cakes, and one whole boiled hard shell lobster each.

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Enjoying another beautiful sunset...
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...at Bass Harbor Head.
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The presidential race is going on strong.
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Still a bit early for Halloween, but Odile had never carved a pumpkin before...
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Top-roping at Otter Cliff.

We did not climb much while Lucie's Mom was there (we were too busy with the hiking, biking, and spectacular sunsets). Odile did however accompany us to the Otter Cliff for a quick top-roping session. The climbing did not really stand out, the views - on the other hand - did. We warmed up on "Wonder Wall" (5.7), then climbed , "Outer Face - Direct" (5.10), "Chockstone Chimney", an easy (5.6) but very scenic chimney, and finished with "A Dare by the Sea" (5.10d).

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Having a big dinner in the bus before Odile leaves for France.
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Eric leading "Emigrant Crack" (5.10a) at the Precipice.
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Lucie following the pitch.
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Enjoying ocean views from high on The Precipice.
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The well restored Criterium Theatre in Bar Harbor.

After Odile flew back to France on September 26, we spent a few more days in the park biking and climbing at the Precipice. We found the ratings really stiff, especially on "Gunklandia". We climbed "Old Town" (5.7) to "Return to Forever" (5.9), then climbed "Gunklandia" (5.7) to "Emigrant Crack" (5.10a). From the top of "Emigrant Crack", we rapped halfway back down to climb "Birch Ade" (5.8). Overall, the climbing at the Precipice is very good quality, on pretty, pink granite, but the cliff unfortunately lacks striking, continuous lines. You can't beat the views from the top though...