We woke up at 6:00 this morning. I guess we went to be too early last night, but we did want to get an earlier start today for our day of visiting Cadillac Mountain and hiking the Great Head Loop. We were ready to leave at 8:15 and drove the Park Loop Road through the park. We could use our park pass again today that hangs from our rear view mirror, which helps us pass quickly through the park gatehouses. We chose to make the drive up to the summit of Cadillac Mountain first, which is on the west side of the park.
This is the highest point on the Atlantic coast and the views from the top are spectacular. The road to the summit is narrow, winding, and very steep in places. We started the drive around 8:30. Traffic on the road was light at this time of the morning and we were glad we decided to come early. Sometimes they have to close the summit due to congestion and we wanted to avoid that. The road going up had beautiful views of the surrounding area with lakes of azure blue.
Some of the switchbacks took us very close to the edge which was hair-raising at times. There weren't many places to pull off and look at the views because the road was so narrow.
Once we got to the top, there was a lot of parking. There were no worries about congestion at this hour. There are many walking paths at the summit taking you in all directions so you can get a 360 degree view.
Bob waited for me while I walked on a path that took me a little closer to the cliff's edge. I asked a kind gentleman to take my picture. I also took one for them.
By the time we finished exploring, it was around 9:30 and the parking lot was filling up. The ride down was just as breathtaking, but there were a few more safe opportunities for us to pull off of the road and check out the view. Believe it or not, there were a lot of bikers coming up to the summit this morning. How crazy is that?
If you look real close, you can see the road below us that we saw as we descended the mountain.
Next, we were off to hike the Great Head Loop which is on the east side of the park and leaves from the Sand Beach area. To get there, we had to take the one-lane park road to Sand Beach.
Sand Beach is always a popular place, but we were hoping that the crowds had not arrived yet. We were wrong! As we neared the area, cars were starting to park on the side of the road before the Sand Beach parking lot. This was a warning, but we kept going. We checked out the main parking lot and the side lot, but there was nothing. We decided to leave the parking lots and go up the road to find a parking space along the side of the road after the beach. We looked and kept going farther away from the beach…farther and farther. We went about a mile or two from the beach, before we decided we had to do something else. One option was to go back to the campground and take the shuttle bus to the beach, but that would take some time. We couldn't turn around and make a second sweep of the area in the hopes of getting lucky and finding a parking spot because we were on a one-way road. We would have to go all the way around again. Unless… we could find a road that cut through the park, bypassing the one-way road. We studied the map and found such a road. Option two was Bob's idea. We could go a little further on the Park Loop Road and take the road that cuts through, We would come around again and could park on the side of the road BEFORE Sand Beach. This was where there were less cars lined up. What a plan! That's just what we did! It took us 10 minutes to execute our plan and park. The walk from the truck to the beach took us 5 minutes.
After a quick stop at the restroom, we walked down to the beach.
It was a sunny day with a temp of 72 degrees, but there was a strong cool breeze over the 45 degree water, so there weren't many people at the beach and even fewer in the water. The water never gets much over 50 degrees in the summer because the Labrador Current runs through here and it's cold.
A wooden signpost marked the trailhead at the east end of the beach.
The hike description said the path would lead us to the stone steps with a slight incline for the first part of the trail and then it would level off. The hike was rated as easy– 3 miles round trip. The path was wide and mostly stony, but was easy walking. We came across some planks that were laid across a boggy area so we could keep our feet dry.
About 1/3 of the way up, we took a side path that took us to the rocky shoreline.
At high tide, these rocks would be covered by water, but the tide was still low enough for us to climb out onto the rocks and explore some of the tidal pools forming there with the incoming tide.
There are 12 hours and 25 minutes between 2 high tides, so we had some time, as the high tide today was at 3:58. We checked out the tidal pools and found lot of snails.
I read that this creature that looks like a yellow straw sunhat is called a limpet. If there were other creatures living in the tidal pools, they were hiding from us.
We continued on our hike to the 145 foot summit .
From the top, we could see up Frenchman's Bay and across to the Schoodic Peninsula. I also got another look at that cool lighthouse and the rugged coastline.
We asked a friendly couple to take our picture at the top. They were kind enough to do it.
We sat on the rocks enjoying the view for awhile as we watched this sailboat and some lobstermen cruise by in their boats.
We saw some cool things on our walk down. There were daffodils growing along the side of the trail. We thought someone must have planted them there.
We discovered some deer prints and wild blueberry bushes growing all over. The blueberries were not very big, but they were sweet.
This wreath of lichens growing around this rock caught my eye. Nature's artwork!
The hike down from the summit and the towering cliffs was easy and took us less time. Why is that?
Amazingly, there were no mosquitoes or black flies to bother us on the entire hike. We didn't even have to put on any bug spray. When we got back to the beach, there were a few more people enjoying the sand, but still very few brave souls in the water.
This poor lifeguard was all bundled up due to the cool breeze.
From the beach, we could see other hikers attempting this climb on the wall of the Beehive Trail. Zooming in, I could see lots of hikers attempting this steep hike walking on the switchbacks. There were a lot of people already at the top.
We took a slow walk back to the truck and now there was a long line of cars parked behind us…very long.
By now it was noon, so we stopped at a picnic area to eat our lunch. From there, we took Highway 3 back through downtown Bar Harbor. It was a crazy busy place!
It gave us a sneak peek at what we would see in town tomorrow via the free campground shuttle. There were cool shops and restaurants, lots of motels and B & B's, and I did get to see a moose on the way out of town. We are looking forward to our trip to town.
We stopped for some milk at the "General Store"and a slice of homemade blueberry pie from the local lobster pound before heading back to camp.
When we got back, the pool was empty, so I went to take a dip. The water was very cool (not heated), so I didn't swim long. We sat outside with Auggie for the rest of the afternoon. He did his usual thing of being on the lookout for other critters before taking his afternoon nap in the sun.
Bob did some prep work for our lobster dinner tonight. We had purchased two whole, cooked lobsters from one of the nearby lobster pounds yesterday, so his plan was to extract all the meat from the shells and reheat it.
We didn't have a pot big enough to boil them ourselves. He put on his apron, grabbed his hammer, and he was ready!
We would eat them with drawn butter, french fries, and corn. Dessert would be the slice of homemade blueberry pie. There was enough for 2 dinners and a little lobster meat left over for some lobster rolls.
We had a relaxing evening after our walk. As the evening cooled off, we still enjoyed having the doors and windows open for awhile. We'll turn on the fireplace while we sleep tonight to keep the chill out of the air.. We'll both sleep well after all the exercise and fresh air we've had today.