Sunday, August 18, 2013

2013.08.18 Bar Harbor, Maine - Key Decisions In Life

My posts on this blog are most often only about hiking, in particular in the White Mountains of NH.  In this case however this trip was not solely about hiking and, instead of the White Mountains, we spent our time in beautiful Bar Harbor, Maine.  We worked, biked, hiked and did some whale watching.  I love this place!

We stayed at the new and spectacular West Street Hotel in the center of Bar Harbor.  It is a beautiful but $$$$$$ venue (can I use six dollar signs?). When I return to Bar Harbor I would be hard pressed to stay anywhere else.

Our trip started with two days of business meetings.  Our company's small senior management team (only 3 of us) decided in these meetings that everything was in place and that I could finally make one of the key decisions in my life - to semi-retire.  I had longed for this day.  I had arguably been a workaholic for decades and that was about to change.  YEE HA!

After our meetings we had a few days to relax and take in the beauty of Bar Harbor with our spouses.  We started with a 25 mile bike ride on the carriage roads of Acadia National Park:

We then did a hike to the summit of Cadillac Mountain.  Let me start with just one photo from the top of Cadillac that is a bit special. 

So you might be saying to yourself, "Ray, that's nice but why is this photo so special?"  Well, pay close attention to the island that you can only see a portion of in the distance on the left hand edge of the picture above.  Now carefully look at the very next picture below.

Exactly seven days later my oldest son Addison and his beautiful wife Isabeau stood in nearly the same spot and became man & wife (note the same island in this photo).  Their marriage was a "planned elopement" so we were not actually there but, it is eerie that unbeknownst to us we had stood in nearly the same spot just a few days earlier.  We knew months in advance that they were going to elope.  That is merely how they decided to get married so the focus would be on each other instead of all of the guests.  There was so much less pressure and planning!

So, lets go back to a few photos from our hike of Cadillac Mountain.

The day following this hike we capped off our stay in Bar Harbor with a whale watch.  It was so very cool!  I have three dozen photos but here are just a few of the best.

Look very carefully a this shot.  That is a mother and her calf breaching side by side.  It is very clear in the original but may not be readily apparent in this downsized photo.

A truly fitting end to a beautiful stay.  As we cruised back from our whale watch we watched the sunset over the town of Bar Harbor.  


Thursday, August 1, 2013

2013.08.01 Mt Mansfield (VT) - My Most Embarrassing Blog Post

This post will be my embarrassing ever.  I'll get to the key issue right away.  This is a picture of the critical piece of equipment I needed to accomplish this hike:

Yes, I admit it, I used the gondola at Stowe to cover most of the vertical gain on this hike.

We were hiking with a small group of friends and everyone else hiked to the summit of Mt Mansfield like real men (sorry ladies).  This great group gathers once a year with the long term goal of hiking the highest summit in each State in New England.  I wish we had done Rhode Island this year (Jerimoth Hill @ 812') instead of choosing Vermont (Mt Mansfield @ 4,393').  I was still having some breathing issues and I did not feel fit enough to hike this mountain with a group as I hate being the laggard.

So far our group has accomplished Mt Washington in NH (without me but I did it later), Mt Katahdin in Maine, Mt Mansfield in Vermont and in June 2014 we are planning on hiking Greylock in Massachusetts.

Back to Mt Mansfield. The rest of the group hiked up the Haselton Trail eventually reaching the Long Trail which they used to traverse from the ridge across Mansfield.  I met up with them on the Long Trail after hiking the remaining .4 of a mile from the Gondola up till I intersected the Long Trail.  That short distance was actually challenging and reasonably steep (wimp!).

After meeting up with the group we all finished the rest of the ridge and descended on the Long Trail.  I will say the descent was without a doubt one of the steepest I can recall doing.  Hard for me to imagine people doing the ascent from that direction but they were.  Oh to be young again.  In any case, here are some photos.

The rest of my group hiking up Haselton (Leslie is behind the camera).

 The next few shots are on the climb from the Gondola to the Long Trail intersection.

 Take your pick - under or over.

Yep, you've got to go through here.  The trail designer was a skinny guy.

A look back along the ridge towards the visitors center (near towers in the distance).

Its official - we've reached the summit marker

A summit photo opp for our entire group.

Leslie who was leading in this shot looks over the edge and ponders what to do next.

 We are all having a great laugh coming down this section.

 A short distance but rather steep.

With that belly you would think I could just roll down (me on my butt).  What doesn't show in this shot is the fact that the ledge Russ is standing on (silver haired gent) is very narrow.  Miss it and who knows where you'll stop.

What an adventure!