Monday, September 15, 2014


As I write this post, my husband, Rob, and I are enjoying a week in Maine.  This morning, we successfully completed a journey that we had begun over two years ago...a hike up one of the "Bubbles," a pair of rounded hills that sit side by side at one end of Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park.

This is the story of our first attempt to climb the Bubble...and with it, my Travel Lesson #2:  You can't do anything about the weather, so just relax and enjoy whatever Mother Nature blows your way!


We really could not have timed it worse if we had tried.  Rob and I were on the last few days of our drive up the Maine coast and had finally reached Mount Desert Island, home to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.  The guidebooks for the region included vivid photographs of trees glowing red and golden under the autumn sun, cerulean ponds shimmering under sapphire skies, rocky islands dotting the many bays and inlets along this glacier-gouged coast.  As we drove into town, the anticipated vibrant colors were considerably muted by the grey drizzle that had followed us up the coast, but we held out high hopes for the following day.

We woke early, filled with anticipation for our drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain, which sits inside Acadia National Park just behind Bar Harbor.  At 1,532 feet, the mountain is the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard, and the summit is the first place in the United State to catch the rays of the rising sun.  Somewhat to our dismay, the rays of the rising sun were totally absent, still hidden by thick grey clouds.  Ever the optimists, we drove into the park and wound our way slowly up the mountain.

As Rob drove, I took the role of perky minute-by-minute weathergirl.

“Oh, look, honey, I can see a little light shining through a little break in the clouds! -  I think I see a little blue over there! - I’m sure it will burn through any minute!”

The "view" from the top of Cadillac Mountain
We reached the parking lot near the top and walked up the trail to the very summit for the guidebook’s promised glorious views of the coastline.  We saw an ocean all right…an ocean of grey fog swirling around us, obscuring even the other tourists peering into the gloom.  We hiked around the trail for a half hour or so, vainly searching for a glimpse of the coast below, but finally admitted defeat and headed back down the mountain.

Determined to salvage the day, I dove into my Acadia National Park guide.

“Here’s another great hike, honey.  We can walk to the back of Jordan Pond and hike up the South Bubble.  It’s also supposed to have some great views, and I’m sure the weather will clear up by the time we get there!”

The Bubbles
And, in fact, the weather did appear more promising as we reached the trailhead at Jordan Pond, a lovely tree-lined lake.  At the far end of the pond sit “The Bubbles,” a pair of rounded mounds that rise to about 800 feet.  The walk along the very edge of the lake was a pleasant stroll along a well-maintained trail.  The frequent rains of the past few days had caused a number of little rivulets to flow over the path here and there, but I carefully hopped over them, keeping my new walking shoes warm and dry all the way to the fork in the trail that would take us up to the top of the South Bubble.

My husband has a very cute rear end.  I know this because the minute we start an uphill hike, that is the view I get as he charges effortlessly ahead while I huff and puff my way up the trail.  I quickly came to terms with the fact that I will never get to walk with him on the up hills but I get the advantage of the nice view, and he has slowly come to terms with the fact that he has a hopelessly out-of-shape wife but he gets the advantage of a nice rest when he reaches the top and waits for me.

We started up the South Bubble trail and, as usual, Rob forged ahead so quickly that I soon found myself walking alone.  I didn’t mind the solitude.  The forest was dark and cool and quiet and I was quite happy to amble slowly along enjoying the beauty of the surroundings.

About ten minutes into the climb, it started to sprinkle.  The leaves above me were so thick that I barely felt the drops but I could hear them tapping out a little rhythm.  I joined them with the little ditty from Disney’s Bambi.

“Drip drip drop, little April showers,
Beating a tune as you fall all around.
Drip drip drop, little April showers,
What can compare with your beautiful sound?”

About twenty minutes into the climb, it started to rain.  I sped up a little…trying to catch up to Rob.  The trail was no longer a nice tidy dirt path but had become a steep minefield of granite boulders and tree roots.

About twenty-five minutes into the hike, it started to pour.  I met a man coming rapidly down the trail and asked hopefully, “Am I almost to the top?”  He laughed and shook his head, “No, you’re about halfway.”

I cursed Rob under my breath for being so fit as I had to keep fighting my way up the trail to find him, but a few minutes later, he came down to me.

“Joan, we have to turn around. This is getting too dangerous.”

Soaked through!
I didn't know if I was mad for making it this far and just missing the target or happy that this torture was about to end, but Rob was right – it was pointless to go on.  We turned around to start our descent and gasped in dismay.   The heavy rain was being funneled right down the steep trail, which had become a raging waterfall.  We carefully picked our way along the edge of the boulder-strewn trail, grasping tree limbs to keep our balance.  The dirt on the boulders had turned into a treacherous slick surface that threatened to send us tumbling down the mountain.  Slowly, slowly, we made our way down to the flat trail back around Jordan Pond.  We looked at each other and burst out laughing.  Hair and clothing completely soaked through, we might as well have jumped in the lake and swum back.

Our search for gorgeous views that day was a failure, but the return hike held one consolation.  I did not have to jump over the rivulets that criss-crossed the path…I just marched right on through!


  1. Wow! Sounds like you got more than you bargained for with that hike. Glad you got back safely. Even though you can't control the weather, at least you did find the positive - the view of your husband backside.

  2. I have been to that very park, and in the rain, too. So much rain we didn't even venture a hike, but opted for a nice lunch at a park Jordan Pond House.

    Great descriptive writing, Joan. "The heavy rain was being funneled right down the steep trail, which had become a raging waterfall. We carefully picked our way along the edge of the boulder-strewn trail, grasping tree limbs to keep our balance. The dirt on the boulders had turned into a treacherous slick surface that threatened to send us tumbling down the mountain."

    Thank you. xoA

    1. Thank you, Annis. After we successfully conquered the Bubble this time (in GORGEOUS weather!), we ended our hike with soup and popovers at the Jordan Pond House! Yum!

  3. Have no fear, I typed my post on my phone while I was traveling. It was wonder, beautifully descriptive.

    1. It's amazing how we can be so in touch even when we are traveling! (But I do find it a lot easier to sit here at my computer. I'm not good at tiny little keyboards!)

  4. I enjoyed the descriptive setting too, Joan. And what an adventure. It sounds like you and Annis have a lot in common, braving the weather. She wrote this week about rained out motorcycle treks in soaked clothes and boots. You two are braver than I am. I'd have looked for a nice hotel and a hot cup of tea.

    1. Annis amazes me with her adventurous spirit! I'm not quite up to her level, but we do love hiking!

  5. I read blog posts from adventurous people like you and think. ..I should do that! Then I realize...hey, I can read the blog and stay dry! Loved your upbeat attitude here...despite the rains!

    1. Haha! Yes, there are advantages to staying dry! (I was able to post photos once I got home...and you will see that we were pretty soaked!) But it makes for a more memorable experience!

  6. congrats on accomplishing that. I am not an outdoor person so I love to hear story like these. I can live through in that regard. Oh and my husband has a nice rear end too. lol