The nineteenth of November 2009 was a perfect day in the mid-coast area for hiking – cold but not too cold, clear, no wind – in a word pristine. So Santiago and I put on three layers of clothes (we are city slickers after all), packed a lunch, grabbed some hiking sticks, and headed out to conquer Mt. Cadillac in Acadia National Park. Okay, it is only about 1000 feet above sea level, no Everest to be sure, but the sun’s rays in the morning hit Mt. Cadillac before anything else in North America. Now that is a pretty cool fact.We arrived at the trail head at 11:30 AM; you should always listen to that voice of reason which from time to time speaks forth. On this day, I did not, and put on a winter jacket over those three layers of clothes. By the first half mile, I was burning – whipped off my hat, gloves and coat and crammed them in Santiago’s back pack. Lesson one: dress appropriately, and listen to that inner voice.
The guidebook stated we had four miles to the top with non-stop panoramic views once we cleared the forest. The book did not mention that the first long haul up to a peak did not put intrepid hikers at the top. Once we achieved this first peak, the views were spectacular and, indeed, panoramic, but there loomed clearly before us another hill. So down the side and up the other side, and the views were more stunning; alas, this was not the tippy-top either!! One more ascent faced us. As we scrabbled up rocky faces, muscles aquiver, huffing and some puffing, I kept thinking of the banality of panoramic views, apologies to Hannah Arendt. Lesson two: the first ascent is never the final one.
At 2 PM we gained the top of Mt Cadillac; we had the world to ourselves. It was quite amazing and to celebrate we took our our turkey “sammie” (Rich-speak for sandwich) and quietly munched as we watched the sun descend in the sky. At 2:15, the sun was hurtling to the horizon; at this point we remembered that we faced at least a two hour descent. Soon we were hurtling down the mountain side, barely reaching the parking lot in the final whimper of twilight. Lesson three: start early in the day and do not play chicken with the sun.
Happy Thanksgiving to All