Trail of history, tales of adventures in Acadia run thru Orono

ORONO, Me. – Carrying a map of Maine’s Ice Age Trail that he helped create, Harold W. Borns, Jr., shared some incredible stories about Acadia National Park geology during a recent Centennial event at the Dirigo Pines Retirement Community.

adventures in acadia

Joan Netland and Harold W. Borns., Jr., shared stories of their adventures in Acadia during an Acadia Centennial event at Dirigo Pines Retirement Community in Orono.

His friend Joan Netland brought some amazing memories from decades ago, of adventures in Acadia when she was a young woman.

She talked about a summer hike around Eagle Lake with a friend when they became desperate and dehydrated on the then-more-wild carriage roads and were forced to stop strangers for a drink of water or a ride on a bike. She also told a harrowing story about becoming disoriented and hiking down the wrong side of Beech Mountain after visiting the fire tower during the days it was staffed by lookouts.

During a presentation that was part of an official Acadia Centennial event, some of the about two dozen Dirigo Pines residents in the audience told stories about being among the first Friends of Acadia members, while others shared tales of knowing some of the early architects of the park.

adventures in acadia

Amanda Smith, life enrichment director at Dirigo Pines, helped coordinate the Acadia Centennial event, “Adventures in Acadia.”

We were there to share our adventures in Acadia, as co-authors of Falcon hiking guides to the national park and writers of this blog, during the free event at the retirement community. Amanda Smith, life enrichment director of Dirigo Pines, invited us to speak after reading our blog in the Bangor Daily News.

But little did we know that the audience would have even more interesting adventures in Acadia to share with us, than we with them.

Founding of Friends of Acadia, memories of Beatrix Farrand recalled

Centennial logo for Acadia National Park

“Adventures in Acadia” a Centennial event

Anna Buck talked about her years as a member of the Downeast Outing Club, which volunteered to do trail work in the 1980s in the wake of federal budget cuts that she said resulted in staff reductions at Acadia.

Buck recalled Marianne Edwards, who founded the Friends of Acadia in 1986 and was also a member of the Downeast Outing Club. Buck said she remembers Edwards saying, “Why don’t we become friends of Acadia?” following the budget cuts.

And so began the Bar Harbor-based nonprofit that, along with Acadia National Park, established the Acadia Trails Forever campaign, which has raised $9 million in private donations and $4 million from national park fees to maintain and restore hiking trails.

Buck was at the July 8 annual meeting of the Friends of Acadia, timed to be on the exact day as the 100th anniversary of the park’s creation as a national monument.

She was there to hear the news, of the launch of a Friends of Acadia $25 million Second Century Campaign, to raise funds to meet the park’s still unmet needs. And she was there to see the Marianne Edwards Award go to Acadia Centennial Task Force co-chairs Jack Russell and Cookie Horner.

adventures in acadia

The Penobscot Media Room at the Dirigo Pines Inn was the setting for “Adventures in Acadia,” an official Acadia Centennial event. (Photo courtesy of Dirigo Pines)

Two other Dirigo Pines residents, Margery and Dave Matlack, also shared some of their history with us during the “Adventures in Acadia” presentation. Dave Matlack, a retired health care administrator, said he and his wife began vacationing in Southwest Harbor in 1952 and moved to the community year-round in 1979. The Matlacks were also active in the Downeast Outing Club and Margery Matlack was on the first board of the Friends of Acadia with Marianne Edwards.

Another retirement community resident, Lois Templeton, who used to spend summers at Hancock Point, told of getting heather for a bouquet from Beatrix Farrand. One of the nation’s most recognized landscape architects, Farrand helped design Acadia’s carriage roads and many of the estates on Mount Desert Island.

Templeton wondered if we knew who was helping to carry on Farrand’s work and care for her plants, aside from the Asticou Azalea Garden.

The online Acadia Centennial calendar answered her question, by turning up a July 26 presentation about Farrand’s contributions to Acadia, sponsored by The Beatrix Farrand Society, at Garland Farm, Farrand’s last home and garden.

Adventures in Acadia can include a self-guided Ice Age Trail

Of all the Dirigo Pines residents, perhaps Borns, professor emeritus and founder of the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute and School of Earth and Climate Sciences, shared the most profound history about the park.

Bubble Rock in Acadia National Park helped prove the Ice Age

This glacial erratic on South Bubble was transported from as far away as Lucerne.

Co-author of “The Geology of Mount Desert Island: A Visitor’s Guide to the Geology of Acadia National Park,” published by the Maine Geological Survey in 1988, Borns also helped develop the Ice Age Trail, detailed in a 2007 map.

The 46-stop self-guided trail starts on Cadillac and hits such significant highlights as the glacial moraine that Jordan Pond House sits on and the glacial erratic known as Bubble Rock, before heading further Down East to Lubec.

The true summit of Cadillac, hidden behind the summit gift shop, may have been the first part of Maine to have been exposed by the last receding ice sheet, Borns shared during the “Adventures in Acadia” presentation.

The Ice Age Trail map, supported by funds from the National Science Foundation and University of Maine, is available for purchase from bookstores on Mount Desert Island, and can also be downloaded as an iPad app or viewed online. There is also an interactive map, see below, where you can learn about each of the stops.

While today’s concerns about climate change focus on global warming, Borns says there’s still much to be learned from the last Ice Age that helped shape so much of Mount Desert Island and other parts of the world.

“Humans are a product of the Ice Age.  We are most probably still in the Ice Age with global warming suppressing the natural cooling trend following the warming peak in our present interglacial cycle. This man-made warming may be the trigger for the next glacial climate,” said Borns in a follow-up e-mail after the Dirigo Pines presentation.

Perhaps the Ice Age record, as seen in the rocks of Mount Desert Island, the Cranberry Isles and elsewhere in Maine, can help predict what can happen, he said. “It also helps to understand abrupt climate…changes that could destroy civilization as we know it.”

Little did we know when we traveled to Orono, how long and deep the trail of history, and tales of adventures in Acadia, would run.

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