We are just getting back from a wonderful celebration of our 23rd wedding anniversary and a whirlwind trip through Maine and New Hampshire. It combined the best of everything…a couple of nice bed and breakfasts along with hearty dinners, camping and day hiking in Acadia National Park on the rocky coast of Maine, and backpacking along the legendary trails of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. I’ll break this one into sections so you can scroll to the areas of interest…
MAINE & ACADIA NATIONAL PARK
The trip started off perfectly on our anniversary…we had a reservation in Camden, Maine (a quaint fishing village) for a night in a bed and breakfast as well as a great dinner at the B&B restaurant. However, on arriving we found a Scottish pub right across the street. My wonderful wife immediately cancelled our dinner reservations to allow me to partake of pretty authentic Scottish fare from my homeland at The Drouthy Bear (it means thirsty)!
We enjoyed an excellent Bacon Butty, an above average Sausage Roll, and the best Fish and Chips I have had in several years, washed down with traditional Scottish (Belhaven Wee Heavy) and local Maine beer (unfortunately I forgot which IPA but it was good!). I finished up with a decent dram of Scotch as well. A perfect evening!
The next day it was off to Acadia National Park for our long awaited visit to this scenic spot. We have learned over the years to maximize our enjoyment of an area by sacrificing convenience and highlights for quieter spots, so while planning the trip we were immediately drawn to the Schoodic Woods portion of the park and the hike-in campsites there.
The area did not disappoint…from the initial drive when we left everyone else turning right to go into Ellsworth and onto Mount Desert Island (main part of Acadia) and enjoyed a quiet drive up through Winter Harbor to Schoodic Woods. Make sure to stop in at the JM Gerrish restaurant for some really good food (and great blueberry pie!) before camp!
The campsite we chose was the furthest walk (only about 5 minutes) from the parking area of those available, on a little knob of a hill. We really enjoyed the peace and quiet, couldn’t see any neighbors, and just occasionally heard someone. For those planning to hike-in camp here, I would recommend sites 2, 5, and 8. Site 2 was booked but had a great view of Mt Desert Island, although it was a 10 minute hike up the hill.
After settling in, we went for a tour around the Schoodic peninsula and enjoyed the cold rocky coast and great views.
After dinner at camp we decided to head back to Schoodic Point and enjoyed sunset there with a few other folks.
Our next two days, we had planned to head over to Mt Desert Island by the ferry, and then go to a local wildlife reserve area for quieter hikes, but those plans changed as we settled into Schoodic.
Falling in love with this area and its peace and quiet, we immediately knew we would be coming back here and therefore didn’t feel the need to discover every corner or face the crowds in the main portion of the National Park in the summer, which we heard was pretty busy and would likely lessen our enjoyment. We look forward to enjoying that in the off-season in the future and opted for a quiet couple of days.
Instead, we thoroughly explored Schoodic peninsula including taking the almost empty shuttle down to Anvil trailhead and hiking back to the camp, through the rocky hills with great views of Mt Desert Island…
and the Maine coast…
from The Anvil and Schoodic Head. We then dropped into the beautiful woods and found bogs…
more hilltop rock outcrops…
and then more bogs with pitcher plants.
After that, we relaxed at camp for lunch and then spent the afternoon exploring the rocky coast areas and investigating the tidal pools.
This area really reminds me of Scotland and England where I spent my first decade…the life in the pools is dramatic and colorful.
We had a wonderful and relaxing day followed by dinner at The Pickled Wrinkle (decent food and a good beer selection) and still don’t regret skipping the main National Park area and saving it for next time.
NEW HAMPSHIRE & WHITE MOUNTAINS
Knowing we would be back freed us up to head out to New Hampshire a little earlier and do some last minute equipment shopping in Conway before heading into the White Mountains. After picking up a couple of supplies and a (discounted) pair of hiking shorts with a mild/hot forecast, we enjoyed another night in a B&B and a hearty dinner and breakfast before heading to the Lincoln Woods trail head.
With her new ULA Ohm pack loaded up, my wife was ready for the trail!
An easy hike along the river on an old rail bed (Lincoln Woods Trail) was followed by a beautiful hike up the Franconia Brook Trail, past ponds and views of the hills we would be climbing. Our route led us to the 13 Falls and its tent site, which was an option for night one.
There were several groups at the campsite already. As mentioned earlier, we are folks who like peace and quiet, so the idea of camping with a bunch of other hikers was not really ideal. We gathered up water for the evening and headed up the Twin Brook Trail to look for a campsite off the trail in what looked like some flat areas on the topographic map.
After much searching to get a legal site (below tree line and 200 ft from trail or stream), we settled on a flat area a little elevated from a relatively spongy saddle. While initially I was worried about the amount of bugs in the area, it turned out to be a nice little site that we left relatively untouched except for the usual dry patch of ground after some overnight rainfall.
We enjoyed a dinner of chicken and dumplings then a good night’s rest knowing that we had already shaved a bit of the next day’s climb from the itinerary. The bugs weren’t bad and respectfully retired at sunset.
Day two in the Whites found us climbing for an hour to the Galehead Hut…
in time to buy a piece of fresh baked Mocha Cake that fueled my wife for the climb up to South Twin.
The trail lived up to expectations – a straight line rocky hop…
that led to some wonderful views…
Since this was our first experience in the Whites and my wife, while in great shape, was not as used to mountain trails like this, we decided to skip the out and back hike to North Twin and make for the Guyot campsite early enough to get a good spot. We passed through some more great views on Guyot…
and a pretty fern forest…
before reaching the newly rearranged campsite (the site numbers below don’t match the wooden camp signs and several new platforms seem to have been built).
This turned out to be a great plan as we were the first to arrive as rain started coming down. As usual, we chose the tent platform furthest from everyone and holed up there for the next 15 hours as the rain pretty much fell continuously. We socialized a bit in the cooking area with a late afternoon snack, but generally kept to our private platform while the camp filled up with tired hikers.
The camp host came by and recognized the Trailspace logo on my hat. I think this bought us instant trail-cred and she OK’d us LNT cooking at the platform in the rainstorm (no crumbs – just boiling water for tea and coffee and a boil in the bag meal) since we had a bear canister along for the wild camp nights.
An evening in a tent in the rain talking and playing cards with your best friend is hard to beat! (No photos of camp as it rained consistently from mid-afternoon to the next morning.)
Our last day, we got a decent start and had a few views on the climb to Mount Bond…
although the mosquito squadrons were out in force well up to the heights…
and the top of Mount Bond was shrouded in mist. My wife is pretty convinced that I wasn’t the first person to come up with “Bond, Mount Bond” upon reaching the peak, but I am going with that theory until proven otherwise!
I really enjoy walking through the clouds and fog, but we also wanted to take in some views. Luckily the wind picked up and we got the best of both worlds along the Bondcliff Trail with periods of white out…
followed by breaks with incredible views. I would put this section of trail up against any other for scenery and pure enjoyment of the terrain. Walking along Bondcliff with the clouds rolling in and out added to the atmosphere…
and even the valley views were impressive. I didn’t have the camera out enough for the peak views but we got a good share of those as well.
Bondcliff itself was shrouded most of the time with occasional views of Franconia Ridge, but we had little company as we traversed this incredibly striking rocky terrain.
Then we began to meet the weekend crowds as we descended along Bond Brook down to the valley below.
After a steep (knee aching) drop down Bondcliff to the Wilderness and Lincoln Woods trails, we hiked out with a couple of snack breaks.
The trip totaled 25.5 miles with some decent climbs, and my wonderful better half handled it all and really enjoyed the trip. We dried out in a hotel in Concord before heading back into the warm south.
Like I said earlier, we will be back in the off-season some time to spend about 5 days in Acadia, and I know I will be back in the shoulder seasons to really explore the White Mountains in more depth, but we couldn’t have asked for a better anniversary celebration!