When my old pal, Jeremy, and I get together for a hike, the results are usually incredibly stupid, yet wonderfully fun. Yesterday was no exception.
The plan was to leave one car at the trailhead for the Precipice Trail, the steepest and most difficult trail in Acadia National Park. This trail is usually not recommended even in the summer, due to the sheer cliffs and certain-death-falls along its length. That was exactly the kind of idiocy we like to get into. The other car was to be left near Sieur de Monts Spring so we could ascend Dorr Mountain next.
The morning arrived with crystal clear skies, blustery wind, and bitter cold air. The temperature was not much higher than zero when we hit the trail, running to keep the warmth from leaving our limbs.
Once we got to the Precipice, we almost immediately ran into steep boulder fields, followed by iced-over ledges, rebar ladders, and views unlike any that you can find in the summer in Maine. The humidity and haze in warmer months usually obscures the distances into the ocean and inland, but yesterday we could see for miles. Snow covered mountains inland, whitecaps drifting lazily in the ocean, austere cliffs on the islands in Frenchman Bay– it was difficult to keep our minds on the treacherous trail.
At the top of Champlain Mountain, the wind blasted us for the few seconds that we could stand it. We quickly snapped some pictures and dropped down the other side to Hugeunot Head, trying to avoid the massive ice patches in the trail. The cliffs of Dorr Mountain loomed ahead of us, giving us a good view of what we were about to tackle.
Going up the Precipice, we gained almost 1000 feet in elevation over the course of approximately half a mile. In another mile, we dropped almost down to our starting elevation, then regained all that and more in the next climb of close to one mile. In other words: wicked steep.
Near the top of Dorr Mountain we lost the trail and decided to just bushwhack to the top. Not a difficult proposition, since that high on the mountains of Acadia there’s not a ton of vegetation to slow us down, and there was just enough snow to keep our feet off the moss. As we approached the summit, we saw a couple of hikers on the trail, the only two people we saw all day.
That’s about all there is to tell. Our trip to the bottom of Dorr was easy as pie, although by the time we got down we were about to fall asleep standing up. Winter hiking is insanely more tiring than Summer, but a cup of hot cocoa tastes a lot better at the end of the day.