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Down the Road

A walk worth remembering this new year
By Milton M. Gross
Jan 10, 2016 - 12:52:42 AM

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I've taken a lot of walks over the years, and I plan to do a lot more walking. (Especially after my operated-on leg from a recent hip replacement heals.)

As 2016 begins, one walk I'll never forget was several years ago up the east side of the Bubble in Acadia National Park, down the south end where I got my boot caught, up along the trail that borders Jordan Pond's east shore, and back up the west side of the Bubble before dropping back down the east side.

The whole walk couldn't have been much longer than three miles, but what a three miles. Up the east side was easy, accompanied by total strangers from who knew where, bound for that not-very-high Bubble. (Some carried heavy backpacks they'd bought along the way at L.L. Bean's. I never was sure why you needed such a pack for a mile or so walk up and back down. Maybe so you can show the pictures of you and the pack to friends back home.) The fact that the trail across the Bubble passed near Bubble Rock didn't impress me that much, since I'd been there and done that a fair number of times.

Many tourists stop along Acadia National Park's tourism road to admire this view of Cadillac and Dorr Mountains, just a bit in from that rest area. But not as many are aware that farther down to the right is the Bubble, a low -- around 600-feet high -- mountain that attracts many tourists and grabbed my boot one day as I was climbing down the lesser traveled south end. Milt Gross photo.

Bubble Rock, a ten-foot-high-and-wide boulder rests near the edge of a cliff. If the rock ever dropped, it would come crashing down on tourists walking below. I had heard that it had already traveled about 30 miles to get to its current resting spot -- from the Bucksport area. (Boulders traveled in those days -- so they say.)

But the trail south along the Bubble stays some distance from that rock, and suddenly brings you to the brink of quite a cliff. It's not a straight cliff, but straight enough. I started down, the pond in plain site and the ocean a few miles to the south. I was admiring all that scenery when.....

My boot heel got caught between two boulders. Kind of an interesting situation, way up above the pond and not far north of the ocean, and I couldn't move. I've tripped on the north side of Baldpate, dropped a blowdown log with sharp branches on my leg west of Long Pond, had a hanging six-inch branch bang me on the head pretty far up on the AT in western Maine, slipped and fell on the ice in the Birds' Acre woods in Ellsworth, and a not enjoyed few more down times I hadn't been expecting.

But none of them came to mind. What came -- and stayed -- into my mind was that my boot heel was caught high up on a cliff. Very few tourists pass that section of the Bubble trail -- none that day. So I stayed, quiet, for awhile figuring out how to free my heel. I must have succeeded, because I'm not still up there.

Then, nervously stepping with a tad of jumping, I climbed down the south end of the Bubble and came out -- thankfully -- on the trail bordering the pond. That pond never had looked so good, and, thankfully, so close. Right next ti the trail. That next part of that trail was level, along the edge of the pond with a few "big steps" at some tougher places.

Next I faced the uphill clamber on the Bubble's west side. From the top or from the distance, it doesn't look like much. But that day it became steep and with lots of good-sized rocks and boulders to negotiate. I tackled it, and eventually stood atop South Bubble, nor far from where the original trail had led me to the summit.

After some thankful puffing, I strode down the now-very-easy east side and back to the car. This was one of several times when the car appearing across the parking lot looked pretty good.

On other occasions, I'd headed north along the Bubble and in about three miles came to a carriage road. I think I followed the carriage road east and then up a trail to the south through thick woods that brought me back out to the car.

Always good to find the car.

Now days the Island Explorer bus traverses the park, so you can do some longer hiking and come out at a different spot to find a bus soon heading your way. But in those days it was always good to find the car.

There are, I believe, some 140 miles of trails in Acadia National Park most of which I've walked or climbed. Over the years, volunteers have cleaned them up so it's fairly easy to hike them.

But that up, down, past, up, and down the Bubble that day a number of years ago was before the wonders of buses and volunteers.

I was glad to find the car.


Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at lesstraveledway@roadrunner.com.

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2015


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