Just yesterday I was driving around in Acadia Nat’l Park in Maine with Sasha ( @sbachier, right ), Ashley ( @ambraquet, center ) and Margie, never having been to Maine let alone the park. Since the first day of the internship (a long three weeks ago), everyone in the office has been abuzz about Acadia and I was eager to see what all the hype was about. After sleeping through most of the 6 hour car drive, we arrived in Hulls Cove on a rainy Sunday evening. Despite the weather and the setting sun, we still went on a short drive into the park, getting a new sense of my surroundings. Even through the fog and heavy clouds, I could already see the appeal. The views and terrain were gorgeous, towering pines and birches, waves crashing against cliffs…that was the initial impression.
My first photo of the trip: Monuments Cove.
Our task was not only to learn about Acadia and the trail system but also help our fellow interns from SUNY ESF with their project, which was to inventory each trail as it is today. With the help of the extensive and revered trails crew of Acadia, we learned how to identify key built features that we would encounter as we hiked up and down our respective trails. The type of features I knew the best was drainage, such as water dips, culverts and water bars, so Margie thought is best for me to go with the team inventorying the Great Head Trail. Best. Recommendation. Ever.
A snippet of the view from one of the many ledges on the Great Head trail.
As a newcomer to Acadia, the Great Head Trail was the best impression. High ledges with beautiful ocean views, near Sand Beach…my kind of hike! I got to know Sara and Jessey, both grad students who just finished the first year of their MLA program at SUNY ESF. Together we inventoried a large portion of the trail, but of course there was still much left to do before they moved on to their next trail assignment. Great Head had excellent examples of traditional trail drainage structures, e.g. pipe culverts, open culverts and all the water dips your heart could desire. There aren’t too many built features once you get to the largest section on top of all the ledges, so we just measured and marveled at the sights and good weather.
When I wasn’t out in the field with my crew, we all as a group were meeting key Trails crew personnel and getting great tours. We got real familiar with the Trails shop and Brad, who hand makes all the Park’s signs. We received a tour from Gary and his colleagues, Heather, Gail and Chris on the Asticou trail near Jordan Pond. I even got to hike an ‘abandoned’ trail called the Seaside trail, its upkeep the current responsibility of a local Village Improvement Society (VIS) and it’s possible rehabilitation project for the Park. It is somewhat surreal to walk the tread that millions of people have walked for hundreds of years.
I’ve been back in Boston only for a few hours and I have to say I am honored I got the chance to visit Acadia. Part of me wishes I could have stayed and worked with the SUNY ESF team. In the short time I was there I was eager to see the projects through, walk other trails, learn more about the Acadia approach to trail maintenance and historical preservation. Every crew member we met, even if only for a brief moment, was so happy to be working at Acadia. They too have hiked the trails that they monitor and maintain. To them, Acadia is more than just an experience, it’s a lifestyle, a life’s work. Everyone who works there is passionate about insuring that visitors enjoy the park the same way that they do, and passion is infectious. It was also fascinating to be introduced to new issues, particularly the balancing act between contemporary needs and historic fidelity. It’s a never-ending job to provide an authentic and enriching outdoor experience while keeping people’s safety a number one priority.
In between we got a sample of local cuisine and get to know each other better (did I mention it was only week 3/10?). Despite the spiders in the shower, unusually cold nights with slow working heaters, sweaty and strenuous hikes and the awkwardness of making new friends, I loved it. One of the most invaluable things this internship has given me so far is the chance to meet people, young and old, who care about the natural world around them in the same way that I do, and see parts of the country I may not have otherwise.
Top: View of Sand Beach from Great Head trail, Bottom: View from Cadillac Mountain at sunset
Top: Wednesday night dinner with all the interns @nmshanno