A Brand New Journey: Famagogo Visits Acadia National Park
Dec 19, 2018 | By: Kathy Holcombe
Almost a year and a half ago, Peter, Abby and I set out on the adventure of a lifetime. We sold our home, moved into an RV and hit the road intent on exploring the best places North America had to offer. We had originally planned to travel for a year and then settle back into a more traditional lifestyle in the small town of Buena Vista, Colorado. Now, 17 months later, we can't even imagine ending this incredible journey, and are thrilled to announce that we are continuing our nomadic lifestyle for at least another year in what we call the Famagogo: Family Adventure Tour. This time we have charted a course across the continent that includes kayaking, climbing, biking and hiking in over thirty National Parks throughout 2016 in celebration of the centennial of the National Park Service. We hope that our journey inspires you to get outside, go on your own adventure and explore a park near you.
The first stop on our tour was Acadia National Park. Our original plan included a five mile paddle out to Isle au Haut, one of the more remote areas of the park, for a few days of kayaking and backcountry camping. Unfortunately, I fractured my hand the day before we were scheduled to leave for Acadia which prevented us from kayaking during our time in the park. However, after some online research, we quickly regrouped and discovered that Acadia has many wonderful opportunities for one-handed adventures.
We arrived before breakfast, and headed straight for the campground in hopes of securing a last minute campsite. We were told they were full, but to check back at 11 AM for any last minute availability. With a few hours to kill, we headed to nearby Sand Beach. We loaded up our mugs with hot chocolate and coffee and headed down the well marked trail through the coniferous forrest, and within minutes found ourselves on a pristine, foggy, vacant stretch of sand spanning between us and the crashing waves of the Atlantic. The beach was flanked on either side by sea cliffs stretching up from the sapphire colored water. The tide was slowly engulfing the beach, but we had just enough time to explore a few tidal pools in the exposed rocks before they were swallowed up by the sea. Running around and exploring the craggy beach was just what the doctor ordered after the long drive from Canada the day before.
Apparently the stars were aligned in our favor, because when we checked back in at the campground, they had exactly one spot left for us. After securing a campsite we set out to explore the southern area of the park, specifically the cliffs near Otter Point. There is a small trail just across the road from the parking area that leads to one of the most dramatic viewpoints in the park. Here the cliffs soar almost 80 feet above the crashing waves below, and are the perfect playground for an adventurous family such as ourselves. We scanned the edge of the precipice and found a slot, about three feet across, splitting the cliff band and forming a dark, damp cavern perfect for an afternoon adventure. We removed our packs, donned our climbing shoes and harnesses and rigged an anchor at the top of the cliff. Peter tied into the rope, and I threaded my belay device. After a quick double check that everything was secure, I lowered Peter into the bowels of the sea cliff (with my good hand of course). When Peter reached the bottom, I heard his reverberating call announcing that he was ready to start climbing, and within minutes was scrambling over the lip of the climb with a big smile. Next it was Abby's turn. I decided I wasn't up for a one handed ascent, so we packed up and headed to the local lobster pound for take out - Maine style.
The next morning, we headed out to explore a more mainstream activity in the park - the Carriage Roads. There are over 40 miles of "broken stone" paths that wind through the wild areas of the park and are ideal for a bicycle adventure. I decided that because of the smooth nature of the Carriage Roads, that I could probably ride a short distance, to the best waterfall in the park - Hadlock Brook waterfall. We parked at the Upper Hadlock Lake parking area (plenty of room to accommodate Winnie the View and our 12 foot trailer) and rode the Hadlock carriage road loop. In total, we rode less than three miles over smooth, hilly terrain through beautiful coniferous forests. The falls turned out to be a 100 foot cascade that was certainly a worthwhile destination. The return ride was fast and furious as we sailed down the mountainside with the wind nipping at our faces bringing tears to our eyes with it's crisp, cool sting - a brilliant finale to the inaugural stop in our National Park tour.
And what could be a more fitting closing ceremonies to our adventures in Maine than one last trip to the lobster pound just outside of the park. Our time in Maine was brief, but we are looking forward to returning to Acadia National Park and paddling out to Isle au Haute and exploring the more remote areas of the park. Until next time...