Sunday, October 13, 2013

Day 154 - Mount Desert Rock/The Bowl

I have never been to Mount Desert Rock, and I have never seen The Bowl in Acadia National Park. On our last full day in Maine, Rachael and I decided to tackle both of these new experiences, the first of which required a 23 mile journey out to sea this morning. As a result, Rachael and I threw together a day worth of supplies and headed to the Bar Harbor docks this morning to board our ship for the journey to the remote, rocky island that serves as the home of the furthest offshore lighthouse in the United States. The day would prove full of many more new experiences packed into what little time remained in our first trip to Maine.

Our ride

Leaving port

After making our way down to the docks, Rachael and I boarded the massive catamaran ship that would guide us out to see. Although the trip was intended to be a whale watching excursion, we were informed the dramatically cooler weather that had settled in over night made it unlikely we would encounter an of the animals on our trip. To make the trip worth while, the crew advised us our trip would take us to many other locations in an effort to find whales, but that our trip would take us past known location for porpoises, seals, and, of course, Mount Desert Rock. More than happy to gain of any the experiences, Rachael and I settled in as the boat barreled out to sea, leaving the familiar sights of Bar Harbor on a distant horizon.

One last view of land before heading out to sea

Over the next hour we broke through rolling waves as we continued out into the endless blue of the Atlantic. We kept our eyes peeled for wildlife as we traveled, which resulted in us spotting a few pods of porpoises and a few bobbing seals breaking the water's surface above the ocean depths. Eventually, a small dot appeared on the horizon, which slowly became the outline of a grey rock disc jutting above the ocean waves. As we moved closer to the island, the unmistakeable profile of a lighthouse became visible near the center of the barren land. Realizing it was Mount Desert Rock, I moved to find a good viewing position on the boat and we crept ever closer to the lonely island far from the shores of Maine. Our path eventually took us close to Mount Desert Rock's shores. With seagulls and seals occupying nearly ever square inch of the island, the sight was something to behold, even more so when we learned very few people get the chance to journey so close to the rocky outcrop nearly two dozen miles out to sea.

Approaching Desert Rock

The lighthouse... recently damaged by a hurricane in 2009

A nearby fisherman 

We spent some time circling Mount Desert Rock before heading back out to sea in search of more sea life. Although the effort proved fruitless, our journey took us over 110 miles of ocean, which was a unique experience in and of itself. With land only a subtle, hazy line on the horizon, the feeling of the boat breaking the ocean waves provided a unique sense of adventure. Rachael and I spent as much of the journey on the deck of the boat's bow as we could, but the cold sea air eventually drove us inside the cabin. Unfortunately, the handful of ocean-goers struggling with sea sickness were also in the cabin, which made for an uncomfortable (and unpleasantly smelly) ride back to port. That stated, the trek was still worth it; if only to gain the experience of seeing Mount Desert Rock for the first time.

When we arrived back at the dock, a quick check of the clock revealed we had little more than one hour before sunset. Determined to make the most of our lat night in Maine, Rachael and I immediately hopped in the car and drove as close to the still closed Acadia National Park for one last hike among the park's autumnal beauty. A brief review of our map helped us pinpoint a perfect hike to make with the remaining sunlight we had, which led us a mile into the woods to a clear water pond referred to as The Bowl.

The Bowl

After the extensive hikes we had taken on in previous days, Rachael and I made short work of the hike, which wound between two mountains and down to the water's edge. In the evening light our first view of The Bowl was one of wonderfully illuminated autumn trees reflected in the still water of the pond. The stillness of the moment caused us to stop briefly when we arrived. It was just us, nature, and the fading sunlight, and, to me, that was the perfect way to end another busy day. Ready to watch the day fade to dusk, Rachael and I took a brief walk down The Bowl's shore until we found a rocky outcrop suitable for sitting. There we sat watching the sun fade behind the mountainous horizon and reflecting on our experiences over the last few days.

The Bowl as a mirror

Fading light

Our last sunset in Maine... for now

As the sky turned a deep shade of blue and white clouds slowly transitioned to a light pink, I thought about how lucky we were to have so many amazing new experiences during our trip to Maine. Although the trip wasn't quite over, we had squeezed in enough adventures to fill two trips, yet it still felt like we had only scraped the surface of what this amazing place has to offer. There is no doubt I will miss this place when we head back home tomorrow, but I guess that just gives us reason to make another journey out here in the coming years. Until then, I know Acadia will call me back from time to time; that I can guarantee.

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