When you talk to someone about Acadia National Park they naturally think of the park on Mt. Desert Island near Bar Harbor, Maine. We’d be going there next. On our first drive out to Stonington we learned that part of Isle Au Haut (pronounced like Isle A Hoe) was also Acadia NP. In 1978 land was donated to the National Park Service. Residents of the island were not pleased and feared their piece of paradise would be ruined by “Coney Island types”. The NPS worked with the islanders and a compromise was reached. This area covers about half of the island and is kept as a wilderness park. No Visitors Center, no ranger led activities just pit toilets and a 5 site lean-to campground are all the facilities you’ll find. There are trails and a dirt road circling the island. You can reach the park by taking the Stonington ferry for five miles to either the town landing or Duck Cove. Compared to the three million people who visit Acadia on MDI, Isle Au Haut has an annual visitation of about 7,000.
We had to get up early for the two hour drive out there to catch the 10 AM ferry. (Opal) This would be a record day in bladder control for me. I was alone for twelve hours. I hope they don’t do that very often! We’d decided to take our bikes with us. This meant that we had to get off at the town landing. The entrance to the park is about a half mile away. They don’t allow bikes or boats to come off the ferry at Duck Cove in order to preserve the wilderness setting. You can pedal and paddle in the park. The road was paved until the park boundary. Then it was a dirt road – so far so good. Gradually it became rocky until it was more than our street bikes could handle. Along the way we spotted an old truck just begging for a photo. I’ve done a few artistic post processing pictures. Which one do you like best? We did stop and take two short hikes. The mosquitos were biting and we’d forgotten to bring bug spray. We sat and took in the beauty as we (and the mosquitos) had lunch. Spending the day in such a pristine environment was terrific even if we didn’t get that far. Next time we’ll forego the bikes and take the ferry to the park landing and just do the trails.
On our way back to the ferry we saw a deer on the road. It was in the same area as one we’d seen earlier in a field. The bikes didn’t scare her. She just looked at us, grazed, came closer and grazed until she was less than 50 feet away. Off she went. There was something so touching about being that close wildlife, being accepted by them and just enjoying the moment. Of course I’d put my camera in my backpack!
Once back in “town”, a collection of eight or so businesses, we stopped at a small gift shop. The owner, a fourth generation islander, opened the shop two years ago. It features items made on the island or in other areas of Maine. I’d been looking for a new compact wallet and found a pretty quilted one there. The other thing that attracted me was some jewelry made from gold wire and white birch bark. Very different. I resisted as I’m not wearing much jewelry these days. But when I come back … We spent about twenty minutes talking with the owner about life on the island. There are 30-40 year round residents but that swells to 300+ in the summer. She said if she were ever stranded somewhere she’d want to be with an islander. She said they are very resourceful folks, like “little Mc Guyvers” (hope you remember the TV show). We took the 4:30pm ferry back then drove straight home stopping only to snap a picture of the old Mobil station cum Lobster Co-op.
We have such a beautiful world. Let’s all try to be good stewards wherever our travels take us.