RAMBLES ON MOUNT DESERT ISLE (page 1)
page 2 3
A ramble in the Great Meadow
I would fill my pockets ’till overflowing if I could only scrape the color from the leaves I find.
A 17 mile loop between Bar Harbor and Gorham Mountain
I had planned on climbing the Beehive today but missed the turnoff in the trail while engaged in looking at heaven knows what. Soon I found myself staring at the silhouette of my intended destination from the southern slope of Champlain Mountain. The views here being more than adequate prevented me from retracing my steps and I set out on a new course to the summit. I would have probably shot twice as much film if I simply stopped more on my way up and turned around.
A loop between Bar Harbor and the Otter Cliffs
With the sun shining overhead I set out for the rocky coast so that I may see it for a change without fog or hidden under evening shadows. While certainly different it was no magic formula for successful photos as one set of problems were just replaced by another. On a lower ledge at Great Head I came across a small brass plaque bolted to the cliffside. It was a memorial to a man swept away from here to his death. It is too easy to complain about the world. I made the effort to see what was inherently beautiful in the day.
A 24 mile loop between Bar Harbor and Seal Harbor via Pemetic Mountain
From the top of Pemetic Mountain I can see forever. Everything is in full autumn color. If it weren’t for the deep blue sky I would think the world was ablaze. The vistas are tremendous and I want to explore the all the rocky ledges in every direction. But as the lack of cover opens up vistas, this bald cap also exposes me to the harshest of winds. I find that I cannot think properly as there is not one second of respite from the incessant howling. Even with my ears aching it is too beautiful rush off and I stay for as long as I can stand it.
A 12 mile loop between Bar Harbor and Dorr Mountain
Fall has truly arrived, the mountains and valleys are alive with color. Past the Tarn beavers have been busy as the ghostly white boneyard of trees flooded out of their forest can testify. There is a certain haunting beauty in this spectacle of death, repulsive and yet attractive at once.
A short ramble about Southwest Harbor
While pleasure boats may dot Southwest Harbor, its water’s are shared by lobstermen and boat builders alike making this place seem all the more real. Perhaps it’s because those things that serve a more essential purpose makes us feel more deeply rooted in who we are.
A loop between Southwest Harbor and Tremont
By the time I reached Tremont it was nearly too dark to shoot. This did not stop me from wandering out on the wide grassy meadows full of deep scarlet and magentas. How I wish I could bottle this and keep it by my side forever.
A 16 mile loop between Southwest Harbor and Ships Harbor
The yellow fans of ferns had not been discrete as they sang from under the forest canopy along the fire road that took me to the coast. Nearer the shore I made my way through red clusters of blueberry bushes mixed with blue green lichen that formed wilder patterns than I ever found on any abstract expressionist canvas. The morning drizzle had grown heavier as I made my way to the costal ledges. Here the stone glowed pink from dampness while the ocean held the deepest of blues. Soon all grew grey then dark under the blackening sky.
A loop between Southwest Harbor and Bass Harbor
No matter how unique we see ourselves we all tend to be suckers for a good sunset. I certainly include myself in this milieu for whenever the sun nears the horizon I find that I put immediate concerns aside and begin looking for advantageous positions to capture it from. Today the lonely floats extending out into the harbor became my position of choice. It offered me a nice clean view but a steady hand is of little consequence when bobbing on water that refuses to still.
A 18 mile walk across Swan Island
I climbed down from the road to walk the shore of a small secluded cove. Across its still waters Blue Hill appeared through a distant gap. From this quiet spot it was hard to imagine the howling wind and whitecaps that dotted the bay with feverish intensity. I only knew of this tumult for my ferry to Swan’s Island was rolling and pitching so badly I could not stand up without holding on. It seemed that if the cars and trucks aboard were not packed so tightly together they would all be sliding about. Now only the clouds racing overhead gave any clue to the unsettled weather. Further along at the side of the road stood an ancient orchard, its trees gnarled and unkept. Unpicked fruit lay sweet in tall grass. It was taking retirement well.
A 10 mile loop between Southwest Harbor and Valley Cove
My ankle was still troubling me but I could walk on it without much pain as long as I stuck to the roads. This did not bode well for an accent up Acadia Mountain, which is where I was headed. Upon reaching Valley Cove the fire road I was on quickly gave way to an uneven trail that wound up and over a large bolder field. Under this excess strain my ankle began to burn until I could not go on any further. I sat for some time in the great cool shadow of the mountain before turning back.
Postscript: My problem with walking was an injured Achilles tendon. I would have rested more had I known my activities could have led to a much more serious injury.
An loop between Southwest Harbor and Manset
I had tried resting my injured ankle today; only my idea of rest is substituting a long walk for a short one. Manset had seemed like a good destination as the distance could be covered by roads that would require less strain than a mountain path. I do not know if it was the harsh light or my injury but I was unable to summon what was needed for a good day’s shooting. The only thing accomplished was to aggravate my pain even more.
A loop between Southwest Harbor and Beach Mountain
I find myself climbing another steep mountainside when I know I should be resting my aching ankle. The pull of the mountains proved just too great now that they were in the full color of autumn that I had so long awaited. The afternoon light was harsh and sky nearly cloudless but the dark mountain shadows that crept towards the sparkling light of the lakes provided me with much to work with. As always I wanted to go further than what’s prudent, only today pain kept my dreams at bay.
A 12 mile loop between Southwest Harbor and the Western Mountains
The trails I covered today, or lack of them could not have varied any more than they did as I crossed a series of peaks. The trail up Mansell Mountain with its hundreds of stone steps was a wonder; only when I turned and saw the lake from where I started from far down below did I realize the vertical distance I had covered. At the top a narrow ledge awaited, opening to reveal a grand panorama made more spectacular by an overly active sky. As I continued on to Bernard Mountain I lost my way in a hollow covered with a carpet of fresh fallen leaves. While I eventually regained the trail at the summit all the bushwhacking had aggravated my stressed ankle and left it aching. Luckily the deeply rutted trail descending the far mountainside side wound down through a dense pine forest where the needles had piled up so thickly I could have been walking on foam rubber.
A 15 mile walk from Northeast Harbor to Southwest Harbor
I had tried to get ferried across Sommes Sound but with few resources left this time of year I was left with no alternative but to walk around it. The day turned much too hot for such an undertaking, and with a full pack the route grew endless. The sun was high and bright when I reached the head of the sound. When I found some interesting subjects to shoot my burden lifted as my heart lightened. When engrossed in a place, heat, exhaustion, and thirst all but disappear.
A 14 mile loop from Northeast Harbor to Sargent Mountain via Little Long Pond
I started out early retracing yesterday’s steps to Little Long Pond with a now dry camera. The strange misty aura of the day before was replaced by the golden light of the low morning sun. Beautiful as it was I felt cheated by missing so much the day before. On the open ledges of Penobscot Mountain my regrets soon faded as I became entranced with the views opening up below me. The bright red leaves of blueberry that I passed on my climb up Sargent Mountain were glowing with an intensity I have rarely seen. Fall had finally arrived. It was a great climb but my decent was dampened by a much worn trail with tenuous footings. Once back in the forest the cascading waters of a falling brook provided good companionship.
A nine mile loop between Northeast Harbor and Little Long Pond
By the time I reached the far side of Northeast Harbor I found myself walking in the densest fog I have ever seen. If it were possible for humidity to be over 100 percent today was that day. I had to snap my photos as fast as possible for my lens would immediately begin to fog up as soon as its cap was removed. After awhile I noticed I could no longer clean the moisture from my lens; to my horror it had filled with condensation. I continued onwards in hope that the lens would clear up but to no avail. This was the most beautiful day I had ever seen out here and it left me nearly pictureless. I became so depressed I ended my walk mid-afternoon.
A ramble in Northeast Harbor
I awoke to the patter of rain dripping off my eves. The torrents of the day before had subsided but had not completely let up. The glistening wet tarmac of the town’s roads added some mood to the dark afternoon but after awhile I felt I could be walking anywhere. Fortunately at the edge of town where the homes began to spread out a more personal landscape began to emerge. The transient greens of summer were fading fast. The weedy fields in their newborn tints of ochre and brown stood defiant to their fate.
A short ramble on Little Cranberry Island
I did not get far past the landing at Islesford when the sky turned from dark to ominous. I continued plodding ahead even as the first rain drops began to fall but within a few moments I was engulfed in a downpour. Even with little chance of taking more shots I headed back for the boat with much reluctance. I’ve been out on rough water before but never in such small craft. I was the only one on deck as we pitched and rolled under waves of salty spray. When I finally retreated below everyone turned their heads to glare at me as if I were crazy.
A walk across Great Cranberry Island and Back
From the landing on Great Cranberry I watched the distant mountains fade in and out between swirls of rolling storm clouds. Some great cataclysm seemed to be imbedded within this unfolding drama but the powerful force unleashed before me was little more than typical weather for this place. Though it remained dark the color was good and the day’s somber mood provided the shots I most wanted. As I reached the far side of the Island my film jammed in my camera and I could not take any new shots without destroying the old. As I walked back down the long road each missed photo opportunity made my heart sink a little deeper.
A walk on the carriage roads to Jordan Pond and back from Northeast Harbor
The carriage roads designed for comfort and beauty provided me with more than a pleasant walk but I found myself unable to compose anything more than ordinary from them. Faced with a green landscape refusing to turn color at the speed I so desired was a key to my disappointment. I had just about given up when at one turn in the road a single tree stood out in red, greeting me as if it had been waiting for my arrival for some time. Though it sat in the shadow of the mountain its presence could not have been brighter.
An 11 mile loop between Northeast Harbor and Cedar Swamp Mountain
Once I found my way past the maze of back roads I spent most of the day at higher altitudes alternating between trails and carriage roads. Atop Norumbega Mountain the scattered pines made it difficult for me to compose despite my dramatic height over the Sound. It took awhile to get into there rhythm and eventually my best work made good use of them.
A 17 mile walk from Bar Harbor to Northeast Harbor
Since I was loaded with a heavy pack today I planed my route over the more easily walkable highways and carriage roads wherever I could. Though never a fan of bearing weighted burdens, I’m finding myself increasingly unable to concentrate on photography while doing so. By days end to no surprise I had taken a handful of decent shots at best.
A 16 mile loop between Bar Harbor and Thunder Hole
It was a dim morning. By the time I reached Great Head a light rain began to fall creating rolling bands of mist across the Bay. At times it held just offshore forming a white wall at the edge of the deep dark sea. At other moments it would rush in so close that the shore would nearly disappear. As the hours passed the mist slowly transformed into a heavy fog turning the scattered asters with their blooms into a presence more dominant than the sea. It was all very fleeting for my arrival at Thunder Hole was met with heavy rain.
An 11 Mile loop between Bar Harbor and Champlain Mountain
With my canteen, walking stick, camera, and tripod all strung across my back I was over equipped to climb up the Precipice Trail. Every time I approached a precarious spot that required two hands to advance, my accouterments would slide around endangering my careful balance. Someone had died here just two weeks earlier; a short fall but a hard landing. There were plenty of places where a much longer fall was a constant possibility. At times the trail seemed to end in midair but the ledge inches wide along a great drop was indeed my course as there was nowhere else to go. I desperately wanted to capture the difficult nature of this walk on film, but in two dimensions illusionary clues are essential and there were too few to be found on this Cliffside, only abstractions.
A ramble on Bar Island
From a hillock on the island across from Bar Harbor there is a panoramic view of the town with the mountains beyond made famous by many a painter and photographer. But with the old Victorians lost to fire and the proliferation of large box hotels I found this view did little for me than enhance the town’s most egregious flaws. Luckily there was a quiet side to be found.
A walk under the slopes of Dorr Mountain
While not providing the grandest of viewpoints to be found here, I became intrigued with the meadow and marsh. On the Jessup Path however subtlety gave way to a odd form of geometry as a long wooden walkway of split logs swaggered through stands of birch.
A walk on Newport Bay
The day was ending much too quickly. Sunset was not yet near but the mountains to the west were casting their shadows so long I could no longer walk out from under them. I scrambled down to a narrow beach but the going was difficult. The scouring surf had drained it of all pebbles to the last grain of sand. Only a huge pile of polished cobbles remained.
A 22 mile loop between Bar Harbor and Otter point via Cadillac Mountain
As I headed up Cadillac Mountain by the long but easy North Ridge I found myself taking shoots at every open vantage point I came to. After a while I realized that if I did not calm down I would soon have to start rationing my film and I began slowing my pace. The early views I encountered paled when compared to the panoramas that awaited me closer to the summit. These open granite slopes were a constant temptation to wander off and it took more control than I knew I had to stay on course.
A 10 mile loop between Bar Harbor and Hulls Cove
If the glare off the tarmac from the late afternoon sun was not troublesome enough, the lack of color in the foliage certainly was. On my arrival at Duck Creek I found the expected cascades to be nonexistent with the stream dried up to a mere trickle. It seemed that this would be a disappointing trip until I crossed paths with some ponds where I spied some beaver lodges. At that moment I realized I was truly outside my usual realm.
Copyright 2009 Alan Petrulis All Rights Reserved