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A winter hike in Acadia with the neighbors

01/22/2015

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Strap a pair of steel cleats over your boots and take a winter hike in Acadia National Park with us.

Winter is a great time to explore Acadia. A blanket of snow makes the rugged charcoal-colored rocks and evergreen trees pop. The brisk sea air scrubs your lungs clean and the ocean always looks vigorous, unpredictable and ready to entertain; like a pod of whales on the hunt for food.

Last Sunday, we trucked out to Bar Harbor and then Sand Beach for a hike on the Great Head trail with our neighbors Ben, Buck and Kristin. There were only two other cars in the parking lot.

The trail starts on the far end of Sand Beach near a stream that flows into the ocean. Leap across the stream and you’re on the way.

The steep trail weaves its way up through jack pine and birch, over rocky ledges and across the edge of cliffs with stunning ocean views. The Beehive looks down from its perch above the Mount Desert Island forest.

Buck and I scaled a cliff to get closer to huge waves pounding the coast. The cliff was covered with huge, white icicles that looked like somebody spilled a barn full of milk on a subzero day. The waves had a strangely muted sound. It was like watching a car crash with cotton stuffed in your ears.

After hiking almost an hour we made it to the Great Head. A point of rock that commands striking views both up and down the coast.  An old brick and stone building had collapsed in rubble decades ago and provided a reminder of past civilization.

Hiking back down the point I spotted something in the water off Sand Beach. I could make out black silhouettes against the waves. Moving. Floating. We were maybe a quarter-mile away. Were they large sea otters?

Nope.  Three surfers. The air temperature was 40-degrees. It was starting to mist. But, hey, the waves were gnarly.

Maybe on the next winter hike we’ll keep the ice cleats at home and bring a wet suit instead.

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