Yesterday we were lucky enough to have the guide services of Rich MacDonald, a field biologist who owns the Nnatural History Center in Bar Harbor. He took us to Otter Cliffs where we searched the tide pools and learned about the various plants and creatures we found there. On previous trips I had taken the boys tide pooling at Wonderland and Ship Harbor, but those locations weren't on cliffs. They were flat tidal inlets, quite safe for kids to explore. Climbing around on ocean side cliffs with kids was another matter, and I was glad that Rich began the expedition by going over some safety rules and providing some tips for safely navigating the rocks. As we descended the cliffs he described the different tidal zones, identified the specimens that we found, and answered our questions.
When we were done at the tide pools Rich drove us to Jordan Pond where we began a hike up Penobscot Mountain. Hiking is the thing in Acadia and Ben and I had done some nice hiking on past trips, before kids, but Paul isn't much for long walks and we didn't think Tommy had much hiking experience. We figured that having Rich as a hike leader would mean that he'd not only teach us a lot about what we'd see on the hike, but the boys would probably be better behaved with him and we definitely would not get lost, something that I'm always a bit nervous about.
And that's just what happened. It was a glorious day for hiking; blue skies, low humidity, and not too hot. We had a great afternoon doing a challenging hike and learning a lot while we did it. You know all the things you wonder about when you're out hiking? What is that tree? What is that mountain in the view? What was the bird I just heard? How did this hole get into this rock? How did this big rock end up on top of this little rock? Well, Rich can answer all of them! It was like having an encyclopedia hiking along with you, ready to tell you anything you might want to know.
The way up included some areas that were quite steep requiring rock scrambling, and there was a false summit (oh, how I dislike false summits!), but when we reached the top there were amazing views to enjoy.
The way down was harder than the way up since we traveled along a steep stream bed and we had to pick our way through a thick web of tree roots. Navigating them required concentration and hurt my feet. I resolved to buy some decent hiking shoes and that's just what I did when we got to town! The boys and I were all tired out when we reached the last two miles of the hike which were on a carriage road that ran just above and then down to Jordan Pond. There were lots of people out biking, and who should we meet but friends of Rich's who had taken his little daughter out for a ride! Running into them was pretty cool and reinvigorated us for the final mile of the hike.
In the early evening I relaxed out on our balcony enjoying the sights of Bar Harbor after our satisfying day with Rich.