MindFire Press

Acadian Adventure #2

Maine Hiker's Journal

Season 2 (2014) 

Chapter 10: Acadian Adventure #2

 

After my breakthrough hike on Cadillac Mountain in the previous (my first) season of hiking, I was determined to return to Acadia as soon as possible in the new season. So, on a gorgeous spring day in May, I found myself on the road to another adventure in my favorite national park fork hiking, Acadia. This time I chose to hike the Sargent South Ridge Trail the 1.3 miles to the top of Cedar Swamp Mountain (elevation = 950 feet, elevation gain = 550 feet) and from there the remaining 1.3 miles to the summit of Sargent Mountain (elevation = 1, 379 feet).

The first part of this hike began with a gentle uphill stroll on one of Acadia’s fabled carriage roads for 0.7 mile to the trailhead. At the trailhead, the real hike began with a relatively short but steep climb over what the Maine Mountain Guide calls a “wooded shoulder” of the mountain, followed by another beautiful and serene (as I was alone on the trail at this point) section of ridge walking that reminded me of my hike the previous year on the Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail. After 2 miles of hiking on the carriage road and the trail, I had reached the spur trail to the summit of Cedar Swamp Mountain. A short walk to the summit treated me to another spectacular Acadian panoramic vista, as the pictures of the hike show.

Invigorated by my hike to this point, I was eager to regain the South Ridge Trail and head north to Sargent Mountain. Unfortunately for me, at this point I discovered that the trail dropped precipitously into a deep saddle before rising equally steeply on the other side to resume the presumably gentle ridge walk to Sargent Mountain summit. The prospect of expending a great deal of my remaining energy negotiating this unexpectedly deep and steep obstacle caused me to turn around half-way down the saddle and return to Cedar Swamp Mountain to consider my next move.

It was early in the season (and I was still getting used to hiking up and down mountain trails rather than on the flat trails of Florida), and I had set out to hike a gradually increasing ridge trail (after an initial short, albeit steep, section) as my first spring hike. Furthermore, it was such a beautiful day and the view from the summit of Cedar Swamp Mountain was so delightful So, I decided that I would be better off if I spent some more time relaxing on the summit and then retraced my steps to the trailhead to complete a perfect 4 mile hike.

Reflecting on this decision on the ride home, I knew I had made the right decision. I might have been able to make it the summit of Sargent Mountain that day, but it would have come at a great cost to me physically because of the need to descend and ascend that steep saddle twice. And, if I had failed, the high I felt from my glorious walk up to Cedar Swamp Mountain would have faded, replaced by the memory of an aborted hike and the subsequent struggle to return to the trailhead with my energy reserves nearly depleted. As I had begun to learn from my adventures and demonstrated on this day, for me being sensible on the trail is essential to safety and for retaining a strong desire to hike. [Check out the photos in the slideshow below from this challenging, 4 mile round trip hike. To move from one slide to the next, just click the directional arrow on the side of the picture.]

Although Mount Agamenticus is my favorite local mountain in southern Maine to hike, it is not the only place I hike. In the next chapter of Maine Hiker’s Journal, I discuss the Rachel Carson Trail, noted for its wide, extremely well-maintained, and level bridle path, as well as its beautiful views of the Maine woods, the saltwater marshes, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Click Rachel Carson Trail to read the next chapter.

Click Maine Hiker's Journal to return to the home page of the journal.



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