Spring in Acadia: Mud time closes carriage roads, aid blooms

In an early sign of spring in Acadia National Park, officials closed the carriage roads on Friday for mud season, and fundraisers to benefit the park are popping up like snowdrops.

Before you know it, the peregrine falcons will be returning to nest, usually closing the Precipice Trail and other cliff climbs by late March; the Cadillac Summit Road and Hulls Cove Visitor Center will be opening in mid-April; and the rhodora will be ablaze.

acadia carriage roads

Mud season has closed Acadia’s carriage roads until further notice.

But perhaps unlike other recent springtimes in Acadia, the park seems to face more challenges than typical in getting ready for the busy season.

This winter’s unusual freeze-thaw damage to Sieur de Monts’s Nature Center and Wild Gardens of Acadia – which were alternatively encased in ice, then flooded – is still being assessed. The Trump administration has proposed a 7 percent cut in the National Park Service’s overall fiscal 2019 budget. Record-setting visitation reached 3.5 million in Acadia last year, while the park’s deferred maintenance backlog is at $59 million as of the end of fiscal 2017.

While fundraisers to benefit the park don’t replace the need for adequate federal funding, every little bit helps. And in the spirit of renewal that spring in Acadia represents, here are some ways to help raise funds via the park’s main nonprofit partner, Friends of Acadia, and otherwise do your part to give back to the park that gives so much to so many, in all seasons:

virtual race with medals

If you join the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run between now and March 9, we’ll double the percentage of registration fees going to benefit Friends of Acadia, as part of the charity’s Spring E-Challenge. (Image courtesy of Friends of Acadia)

  • Make a special donation to the Friends of Acadia between now and March 9 during its 2018 Spring E-Challenge, to help secure up to $15,000 in matching funds, offered by a small group of park supporters. Last year, the charity featured a spring membership challenge that resulted in 127 donors, including 20 new members.
  • Join the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run, which we’re co-sponsoring with Crow Athletics, Mount Desert Island Marathon and Millinocket Marathon & Half, between now and March 9, and we will double the percentage of registration fees that will go to the Friends of Acadia, as part of our contribution to the nonprofit’s Spring E-Challenge. We’re announcing today that the race is being extended to June 30, thanks to racery.com, to give participants more time to log their miles anywhere in the world, and watch their race avatar move along the 200-mile virtual route from Cadillac to Katahdin. Not only will you help raise funds for Friends of Acadia and other nonprofits, you’ll also get a special medal in the shape of Maine, featuring a raised lobster claw and pine tree, and a buffalo-plaid ribbon. Read more about the race here. Register now.
  • Sign up for the Friends of Acadia’s annual Earth Day roadside clean-up, happening on the last Saturday of every April (April 28 this year), or any of the charity’s other events throughout the year.
    virtual race

    Announce your participation in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run by sharing this graphic. Register now, race ends June 30. (Image by racery.com)

    virtual races with medals

    This is the buffalo-plaid-beribboned Cadillac to Katahdin Medallion you can earn for signing up for the virtual race to help benefit Friends of Acadia and other charities.

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Virtual Winter Olympics helps benefit Acadia and Millinocket

Just as real-life Olympians are going for the gold in PyeongChang, participants from across the USA are engaged in a virtual Winter Olympics of sorts, to earn a special medal and help raise funds for Acadia and Millinocket – and to make winter go by a little faster.

But instead of official Winter Olympics events like the biathlon (cross-country skiing and rifle shooting), one racer in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run came up with a virtual Winter Olympics competition he calls the Winter Duathlon, where any 2 sports back-to-back counts.

winter olympics

Thomas Zotti, a.k.a. @TomZot, goes for the gold with this open water swim as part of his Winter Duathlon for the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run. (Photo courtesy of Thomas Zotti)

“There really are no rules,” said Thomas Zotti, who goes by the virtual race name of @TomZot, in an e-mail. “It’s just something I made up a few winters ago when the weather forced me onto the treadmill at the gym and I stayed to do some lifting. My thought at the time was just to go from the mill to lifting. I have also snowshoed and then lifted.”

Zotti, of Wolfeboro, NH, even included a recent open water swim, part of a fire-rescue training exercise, as one of his 2 sports, although that’s “not necessarily representative of what I typically do as part of the duathlon.”

As a virtual Winter Olympics of sorts, anything goes for the more than 150 racers from around the USA signed up so far in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run, and everyone’s a winner.

That’s because at least 5% of gross proceeds from race registrations go to support the nonprofit Friends of Acadia, Our Katahdin and Millinocket Memorial Library. And because everyone gets a medal (or two) upon the end of the race, whether they complete the virtual 200-mile route from Cadillac to Katahdin or not, by hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, running or engaging in any other sport anywhere in the USA.

virtual races with medals

Whether you’re part of team #hipster or #lumberjack, this is the buffalo-plaid-beribboned version of the Cadillac to Katahdin Medallion that you can earn. Made by Ashworth Awards, the same firm that makes the Boston and MDI Marathon medals, it’s been described as “Olympic quality” by one witness to a medal ceremony.

The virtual race ends April 10, and registrants can backdate miles as far back as Aug. 15, 2017, the original start of the race. And as we announced last month, only miles logged between Jan. 1 and April 10 (the first 100 days of 2018) will count toward a team #hipster vs. #lumberjack competition.

While there is no fierce rivalry between different nation-states in this virtual Winter Olympics, there is a friendly #hipster vs. #lumberjack showdown. And why these 2 team names? Because the limited-edition Maine-shaped medal featuring a raised lobster claw and pine tree, available as part of new registrations and as an add-on for original racers, comes with a special buffalo-plaid ribbon. And both hipsters and lumberjacks look good in buffalo plaid.

Register here, and see more details about registration at the bottom of this post.

acadia in winter

Snowshoers on the way to the Featherbed, along the Cadillac South Ridge Trail, as part of the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run, a virtual Winter Olympics of sorts.

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Scenes of Acadia in winter like a picture-perfect postcard

With a recent foot of snow, and possibly more on the way, Acadia National Park should be ideal for snowshoeing, hiking and cross-country skiing this weekend.

Snow shoeing in Acadia National Park

With islands looming in the background, snowshoeing is tops on the Cadillac South Ridge Trail.

Recent rains also mean there is likely plenty of thick ice under the fresh snow to possibly make winter hiking risky in spots, even with MICROspikes(R) or snowshoes. It could also be that there is enough snow to protect winter hikers and skiers from the ice underneath. Conditions can vary so much in Acadia in winter.

A couple of weeks ago, after the park received seven inches of snow, we strapped on snowshoes and hiked a good part of the Cadillac South Ridge Trail with friends, and then to the peak of South Bubble the next day with Kahtoola MICROspikes(R). It was often tricky to negotiate ice under the snow and we slipped or fell several times over the weekend.  At the time, we believed a foot of snow would be near perfect. (NOTE: Please see sidebar about Amazon.com links)

The National Park Service  plows the lots at Jordan Pond and snowmobiles may groom tracks on closed sections of the Park Loop Road in the area, providing access to South and North Bubbles and other trails.

acadia in winter

Blue skies over the Bubbles, and snow blankets the pink granite shore of Jordan Pond.

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Retirement of Acadia National Park leader signals end of era

The Acadia National Park superintendent and more than 100 other people marked the passing of an era at an event to honor the work of longtime Acadia Ranger Charlie Jacobi.

charlie jacobi

Charlie Jacobi holds one of the many gifts he received at his retirement party: A customized arrowhead-shaped plaque that includes his years of service to the National Park Service, and the nickname “Visitor Use Guy.”

Jacobi, who started at Acadia in 1984 and retired at the end of last year, was recognized for his innovative work in analyzing and collecting statistics on the effects of visitors on Acadia’s environment and implementing the first entrance fees at the park. Jacobi also was a leader in a pioneering effort in 2001 to restore special Bates cairns on Acadia trails and took on the Ridge Runner and Leave No Trace(R) programs at Acadia to help maintain trails.

Jacobi leaves federal service as the Trump administration proposes reorganizing the National Park Service, and cutting the NPS budget by 13 percent and about 1,200 full-time jobs, according to National Parks Traveler. Since 2001, national parks have lost the ability to hire more than 1,400 employees as a result of annual appropriations failing to keep up with costs and inflation, according to Congressional testimony last month by The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, a nonprofit based in Arizona.

At the Acadia retirement party, Kevin Schneider, superintendent of Acadia National Park and St. Croix Island International Historic Site, told the crowd Jacobi epitomizes the commitment of a ranger and what it means to care for Acadia National Park.

charlie jacobi

One of 2 cakes with a thank-you message for Charlie Jacobi, who retired from Acadia National Park as natural resource specialist.

Schneider, who began working for the NPS in 1996, said he realized that Jacobi was “one of a kind” when he first visited Acadia in 1999. He said Jacobi was a trailblazer in studying how visitors affect the park and has been key to developing a new transportation plan.

“In 1999, there were no other Charlie Jacobis in the National Park Service,” Schneider said.

He presented Jacobi with a customized arrowhead-shaped plaque that noted Jacobi’s years in the park service — April 18, 1982 to Dec. 31, 2017 including two years at Great Smoky Mountains National Park before his start at Acadia.

The arrowhead is the shape of the official emblem of the park service and is extensively used on signs, brochures and web sites. Continue reading

Maine virtual run helps make new year resolutions, friends

Starting 2018 new year resolutions with a bang, nearly 200 runners, hikers and walkers with a connection to Maine have committed to log at least 1 mile for 100 days in a row, or virtually race 200 miles from Cadillac to Katahdin, wherever they are in the world.

virtual race with medals

Log 1 mile a day on foot for 100 days in a row and you, too, could join the ranks of the “streakers.” Members of Crow Athletics who are in the 2018 Streak-100 can add on the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run for a limited-edition medal with buffalo-plaid ribbon.

Whatever their reason – to train for a marathon; recover from cancer treatment; earn a limited-edition medal in the shape of Maine; raise funds for charity; or do something fun to get through winter – they’re united by some link to either the Acadia or Millinocket regions.

For example, the runners who’ve committed to log at least 1 mile for 100 days in a row – 2018 Streak-100 as the effort is called – belong to Crow Athletics Club, the Mount Desert Island-based group that sponsors the MDI Marathon & Half and Millinocket Marathon & Half, as well as the Boston New Years Run (which follows the Boston Marathon route), the Robert Burns 10K in Westbrook, ME, on Jan. 28, and other races.

And participants in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run might have run MDI or Millinocket last year, fallen in love with Acadia National Park at first sight, thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in Maine, or grown up in the old mill town that now serves as a gateway to both Baxter State Park and Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.

To deepen the connections even more between people and place, real-life marathoners and virtual racers, fun competitions and charities, we’re announcing a virtual edition of Streak-100, co-sponsored with Crow Athletics. Streakers can add on the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run and log their daily entries on the virtual route, and earn a limited-edition Maine-shaped medal featuring a raised lobster claw and pine tree, and a special buffalo-plaid ribbon.

virtual races with medals

Whether you’re part of team #hipster or #lumberjack, this is the buffalo-plaid-beribboned version of the Cadillac to Katahdin Medallion you can earn, while helping to raise funds for Acadia and Katahdin-area charities, and keeping those new year resolutions.

In addition, we’re announcing the continuation of the virtual run beyond its original end date, to April 10, 2018, to make it easier for existing Cadillac to Katahdin virtual racers to keep new year resolutions, whether they log a mile a day for 100 consecutive days as the Streak-100 participants are aiming for, or have some other fitness goal in mind. The virtual race, which first began Aug. 15, includes nearly 150 participants from across the country – many of whom have become virtual friends and cheerleaders for each other.

The virtual race raised  $750 by the end of 2017 for the nonprofit Friends of Acadia, Our Katahdin and Millinocket Memorial Library, and with the race’s continuation, even more funds can be raised in 2018. At least 5% of gross proceeds from race registrations and medallions go to support charity.

New for 2018, to make winter more bearable, and the virtual race more fun – and to play off the buffalo-plaid-ribbon theme first launched in October 2017 with the MDI Marathon & Half medals – we’re creating two Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run teams, effective Jan. 1:

#hipster

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Last-minute Katahdin and Acadia gift ideas for the holidays

Whether it’s a gift certificate to a Mount Desert Island business or a selection of Millinocket-made herbal soap, there’s no shortage of special Katahdin and Acadia gift ideas for the holidays for park lovers on your shopping list.

acadia gifts

Just in time for the holidays, a new partnership with Gift MDI, an online source for gift certificates, featuring more than 100 businesses and organizations in the Acadia region. Use coupon code ACADIAONMYMIND to get 10% off. Gift certificates can be mailed, or picked up locally. See Gift MDI Web site for details about shipping and handling, and bottom of this blog post for some of the certificates available. (Image courtesy of Gift MDI)

And just in time for the holidays, we’re announcing a new partnership with Gift MDI, an online source of gift certificates to more than 100 Mount Desert Island businesses and organizations, from lodging establishments to restaurants, gift shops to local services.

You can even get an annual Acadia park pass. By using the coupon code ACADIAONMYMIND while making your purchase through Gift MDI, you get 10% off. See bottom of this blog post for complete listing of certificates available as of this writing. (PLEASE NOTE: See sidebar about affiliated partner links)

And for those of you who are also fans of Millinocket and the Katahdin region –  which we were even before our co-sponsorship of the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run this year with Mount Desert and Millinocket Marathon & Half – we’ve connected with Tricia Cyr, one of the “2 Broke Moms” who run Moose Drop In, a local gift shop that was a central gathering place during the Dec. 9 Millinocket Marathon & Half, to bring you the following gift ideas:

acadia gift ideas

A limited supply of this specially roasted Millinocket Blend coffee is available from Moose Drop In. (Photo courtesy of Quality Hill Coffee)

  • A special Millinocket Blend medium roast coffee, either the beans or pre-ground, made by Chris Lowe of Quality Hill Coffee, husband of Valerie Silensky-Lowe, a real-life Millinocket racer and one of the Cadillac to Katahdin virtual runners, going by the name of @Mamaof7Dogs. (More coffee is on order, as the first shipment is just about sold out.)
  • Boogah Monster Soap, Millinocket-made herbal soap and lotion; custom T-shirts and hoodies; and other unique gifts available through Moose Drop In’s Web site. Cyr says it’s best to call to place your order this time of year, (207) 723-4442, with the latest US Priority Mail shipment date of Dec. 20 in time for Christmas. Also, as Moose Drop In’s Web site says, “Advice 5 cents.”

For fitness fans on your holiday shopping list who love both the Acadia and Katahdin regions, how about signing them up for the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run, which lets them log running, hiking or walking miles anywhere in the world; see their race avatar move along the virtual race map, including the real-life routes of the MDI and Millinocket Marathon & Half and the summits of Cadillac and Katahdin; and earn the special Cadillac to Katahdin Medallion? They can backdate miles to Aug. 15, and log through at least 11:59PM EST on Jan. 1, 2018 (we’ve asked for an extension until 11:59PM EST on April 10, 2018, 100 days into the new year). Contact us at the bottom of this blog post no later than 10 p.m. EST on Dec. 19, if you have questions about the virtual race and mailing of medallions in time for Christmas.

virtual race with medals

The 3″ Cadillac to Katahdin Medallion in the shape of Maine features a raised lobster claw and pine tree. (Photo courtesy of Ashworth Awards)

virtual races with medals

The Cadillac to Katahdin Medallion goes to all who sign up for the virtual race to help benefit Friends of Acadia, Our Katahdin and Millinocket Memorial Library. It’s made by Ashworth Awards, the same company that makes medals for Boston and MDI Marathons.

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Favorite Acadia winter hiking trails, from easy to moderate

ask acadia on my mind

Ask Acadia on My Mind!

Another in a series of “Ask Acadia on My Mind!” Q&As

If you have a question about Acadia National Park on your mind, whether you’re a first-time visitor or long-time fan, leave a comment below, or contact us through the About us page. We may not be able to answer every question, or respond right away, but we’ll do our best. See our page linking in one place all the Q&As.

I am coming to Acadia next week and would like some advice on hiking trails. It will be me, my wife and 18-year-old son. I watched videos of the Beehive Trail and it looks nice but how would I get back to my car after hiking up? What trails would you recommend in December? There is no ice or snow forecast for when I’m going but the island hopper bus is not running either. Thanks, Steve

Dear Steve,

Good to hear you’re doing some research in advance of your off-season trip to Acadia, and checking the weather. And you’re right to ask about how to get off the Beehive, as it’s not recommended to go back down the same way, as the cliff face is best hiked up, not down.

Acadia National Park Sand Beach Beehive wilderness

The Beehive as seen from the Great Head Trail, during March in a light snow year.

The Beehive is one of Acadia’s toughest climbs, featuring iron rungs and ladders. It’s not recommended for people who are afraid of heights, out of shape or unprepared, but we know that many people make it a tradition to climb it, especially in the summer.

For example, Martha Stewart has blogged about climbing Beehive with family or friends, most recently this past August. She includes a couple of videos on her Web site of her and Charlie Jacobi, Acadia natural resource and visitor use specialist, hiking the Beehive together a number of years ago. (She owns a home in Seal Harbor, and is a big supporter of Friends of Acadia and other area charities.)

But you wouldn’t want to do the Beehive in bad weather, whether during Acadia winter hiking or summer seasons.

We happened to be in touch last week with Gary Stellpflug, Acadia trails foreman, and asked him about the trail conditions. While there is some snow or ice, he wrote us in an e-mail, the trails are “still quite passable.”

To see if there might be any visible snow, check out the live Acadia air pollution monitoring webcam that overlooks Frenchman Bay, or a series of Bar Harbor area webcams. The park Web site features a winter activities page with links to local weather and other useful information.

If you, your wife and son are experienced and well-equipped hikers, then the Beehive can certainly be a fun family challenge, especially since there’s little or no snow or ice so far this December, and it won’t be an ice-climbing expedition. But if it’s beyond your comfort level, there are plenty of other Acadia winter hiking trails to consider, from easy to more difficult.

cadillac in winter

To get this view from Cadillac in winter, you can hike the summit road or trails, but be sure to be properly equipped for snow, ice and cold. (NPS photo)

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Real-life, virtual runners – and toy moose – aid Maine library

Chalk it up to Maine humor, or truth being stranger than fiction: When as many as 2,000 real-life racers come to town next month, and thousands of miles get logged in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run, to help raise money for the Millinocket library, a star fundraiser will be a stuffed toy moose.

virtual runners

Maxwell the Millinocket Marathon Moose is hitching a ride on a human marathoner, to raise funds for the local library. (Photo courtesy Millinocket Memorial Library)

Maxwell the Millinocket Marathon Moose, who will be hitching a ride on a human marathoner on Dec. 9, has already raised more than $300 in pledges, according to the Millinocket Memorial Library, which is trying to get up to $250,000 in matching funds from the Next Generation Foundation of Maine, for a major library renovation, with a “Sponsor a mile” campaign.

On the brink of closing its doors forever in 2015, with the old mill city’s financial woes, the library got a new lease on life when the community rallied to raise $30,000 – including $10,000 from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation – and volunteered to keep the doors open. The current fundraising effort is just the latest chapter in the struggling institution’s revival.

Racers – real, virtual or stuffed – who raise $500 or more during the “Sponsor a mile to save Millinocket Library” campaign will get their name on a plaque at the library.

If “Maxwell Moose” is in the running for a real-life plaque for helping the library, as well as participants in the Millinocket Marathon & Half who raise at least $500, we thought, why not “Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Runner”?

virtual races

First a one-room library when it opened on Nov. 11, 1919, the Millinocket Memorial Library is now in this building, dedicated on Dec. 11, 1963. But it’s in need of a major overhaul, and the “Sponsor a mile” campaign is going 100% to help reach the $1M “Future Library Project” goal. (Photo courtesy of Millinocket Memorial Library)

With this blog post, we’re announcing the extension of the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run to Jan. 1, 2018, to allow more participants to sign up and existing racers to log more miles, so that the collective “Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Runner” can help raise more funds for charity. The race was originally slated to end on Dec. 9, the same day as the running of the Millinocket Marathon & Half, but racery.com, the host of the virtual race, approached us with the Jan. 1 extension so that it could promote the race to others interested in joining a challenge before the end of the year.

virtual runners

Print out this form to sponsor “Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Runner” and help raise $500 to get a real-life plaque in the library acknowledging the contribution. (Image courtesy Millinocket Memorial Library)

Since Aug. 15, more than 130 participants in the virtual race have cumulatively logged more than 27,000 miles from Bar Harbor to Millinocket, from Florence, Italy, to Baltimore, MD, and elsewhere around the world. The virtual race route, from Cadillac to Katahdin, is 200 miles, and some runners are already onto their 2nd, 3rd or even 4th lap.

That means our pledge, made in our last blog post, of a penny per virtual mile, puts the amount raised so far at more than $270 – more than half way to a real-life plaque for “Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Runner”!

You can help put “Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Runner” over the top by signing up for the virtual race (register as late as Dec. 31 and backdate miles to Aug. 15); logging more miles if you’re already enrolled; or printing out and sending in the pictured pledge form with your contribution, specifying “Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Runner” as the runner you’re sponsoring.

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A new page: Real-life, virtual race miles aid Millinocket library

In a new chapter to keep the Millinocket Memorial Library open, a “Sponsor a Mile” campaign is aiming to raise as much as $500,000 for a major library renovation, when as many as 2,500 racers from around the world come next month to run 26.2 or 13.1 miles in the Millinocket Marathon & Half, to help the old mill city.

virtual races

First a one-room library when it opened on Nov. 11, 1919, the Millinocket Memorial Library is now in this building, dedicated on Dec. 11, 1963. But it’s in need of a major overhaul, and the “Sponsor a Mile” campaign is going to help reach the $1M “Future Library Project” goal. (Photo courtesy Millinocket Memorial Library)

“The ‘Sponsor a Mile’ fundraiser came about because we realized we have all the pieces in front of us to make something magic happen: 2,500 runners visiting our town to help give us a boost, a generous partner that would match our fundraising efforts, and an amazing story of perseverance, generosity, and community,” said Matt DeLaney, library director, in an e-mail.

And to mark the 98th anniversary of the library’s opening on Nov. 11, 1919, we’re announcing today that miles logged in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run can also be part of the effort to raise matching funds for the major building renovation.

For each dollar raised per mile in the real or virtual races, the Next Generation Foundation of Maine is matching, dollar for dollar, up to $250,000, to go 100% toward a $1M “Future Library Project,” which DeLaney calls a “state-of-the-art community center / digital learning lab / youth hangout / learning hub / imagination lab in Millinocket!” He added, “If we have 2,500 marathon runners and each of them finds just 4 people to donate $1 / mile for 26 miles, that will result in $260,000 towards the Future Library Project! When you add in the matching funds, that is over $500,000!”

The library was on the brink of closing forever in 2015, with the old mill city’s financial troubles. But a campaign to raise $30,000, including $10,000 from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, helped keep the library doors open, as a starting step. And the last 2 years, runners in the Millinocket Marathon & Half have helped raise funds online for the library, with the campaign cumulatively raising more than $9,000 so far.

stephen king

Margie King, who goes by the Cadillac to Katahdin virtual race name of @mak321, shelves a Stephen King novel as a volunteer at the Millinocket Memorial Library. There is a real-life connection between the novelist and the library, as the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation donated $10,000 to the Friends of Millinocket Memorial Library to help keep the doors open. (Photo courtesy Margie King)

“Next Generation is supporting us because we told them our story about losing almost all funding due to an economic crisis in the region, and then having the community rally together and reopen the library on an almost completely volunteer basis,” said DeLaney. “We have told our story to many partners and have experienced profound generosity from our community and from around the state.”

In announcing the up to $250,000 dollar-for-dollar matching grant under the headline, “Sponsor a mile to save the Millinocket Library,” the library suggests a $1 to $10 pledge per mile for the 13.1-mile or 26.2-mile real-life races. But DeLaney said that isn’t set in stone. If a virtual racer completes the 200-mile Cadillac to Katahdin route and finds a sponsor for 10 cents a mile for $20, for example, that can qualify for the Next Generation Foundation of Maine match as well, he said.

“There is no minimum or maximum. If they can find sponsors for 200 miles, that’s even better! The goal is to raise as much money as possible and leave no matching funds on the table,” DeLaney said. And if you want to sponsor virtual racers but don’t know their real names, that’s not a problem, either.

More than 130 participants have been logging miles from around the world on the virtual Cadillac to Katahdin route, to help raise funds for the nonprofit Friends of AcadiaOur Katahdin and Millinocket Memorial Library. Racers can sign up for the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run through Dec. 9, the date of the real-life Millinocket races, and they can backdate their running, hiking or walking miles anywhere in the world, to Aug. 15. Participants or volunteers in the real-life MDI or Millinocket events get special pricing for the virtual race.

So far, the virtual racers have logged more than 25,000 cumulative miles. Today, we pledge at least 1 cent per mile for all miles logged on the virtual race route by Dec. 9, 11:59 p.m. EST, as part of our Millinocket Memorial Library donation. That means anyone who is already in the race will be helping to raise funds for the match, even if they’ve already finished the 200-mile route and are onto the second lap. And that means anyone new signing up will add to the pennies per mile commitment as well.

And if you’re a virtual racer who wants to pledge so much per mile that you’ve run or walked, or you want to sponsor a virtual racer whose real name you don’t know, you can do so by printing out this form. While the Millinocket Memorial Library has an online pledge form, it’s more designed for sponsorship of real-life Millinocket Marathon & Half Marathon racers, as the drop-down menu for number of miles is capped at 26.2 miles, even though, as DeLaney said, there is no minimum or maximum pledge per mile, or number of miles.

virtual races

The line of virtual racers stretching from Cadillac to Katahdin on Nov. 11, 2017, on the 98th anniversary of the Millinocket Memorial Library’s opening. You have until Dec. 9 to sign up, and can backdate miles to Aug. 15. (Image courtesy racery.com)

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Grand loop up Sargent tops hikes in Acadia National Park

One in a series about Acadia National Park hiking trails

A terrific aspect of hikes in Acadia National Park is that people can almost always get back to the start without retracing steps.

hikes in acadia national park

Brilliant foliage frames Jordan Pond, as seen from the Jordan Cliffs Trail, part of a grand loop up Sargent Mountain that is best done in late summer and fall.

Acadia’s tight, carefully designed network of 150 miles of trails allow hikers to create a  nearly countless number of loop trips.

There are many circular hikes in Acadia National Park, but perhaps none more spectacular than the “grand loop” from Jordan Cliffs to Sargent Mountain, the park’s second highest peak behind Cadillac, and then up Penobscot Mountain, the fifth highest summit, back to the Jordan Pond parking lot with a stop at lovely Sargent Mountain Pond along the way.

This 5-mile loop capped another banner hiking season for us in Acadia.

We walked it on a warm sunny day in October with the park displaying some astonishing autumn yellow, red and orange. Unlike the often-hectic summer, when parking is tight, we quickly found a space at the lot outside the Jordan Pond House, the park’s only restaurant.

The loop begins and ends near the southern end of Jordan Pond and launches from the historic 1.3-mile Spring Trail, which fully opened around 1917 after being built by Thomas McIntire, who used to own and operate the Jordan Pond House. The early hiking-book author, Benjamin F. DeCosta, described part of the Spring Trail in 1871 when he walked from Sargent Mountain to Jordan Pond, according to “Pathmakers,” a National Park Service book.

hikes in acadia national park

Sargent East Cliffs Trail aflame with the red of blueberry bushes in fall, on the loop up from Jordan Cliffs to the second highest peak in Acadia.

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Real and virtual races with medals converge on MDI

The virtual met reality last week, as more than 1,300 racers from around the world came to run the real-life Mount Desert Island Marathon, Half & Relay, with some of them also logging miles in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run to help benefit charity.

mdi marathon

Rebeccah Geib, a.k.a. @DreadedRunner, proudly displays her Cadillac to Katahdin Medallion, as she stands by the Acadia Inn sign that welcomes real-life runners to MDI.

At the same time, the real and virtual races with medals deepened community ties between the Acadia and Katahdin regions, as visitors with Millinocket ties volunteered at the MDI races on Oct. 15, just as MDI residents will be volunteering at the Millinocket Marathon & Half on Dec. 9, and as charities from both regions will benefit from funds raised by the races, real and virtual.

And to cap it all off, real-life and virtual racers and volunteers who might never have met crossed paths last week, whether during the MDI races, at the post-race party at Side Street Café, on the trails of Acadia National Park, or along the byways of Bar Harbor.

“I feel like a celebrity,” said Rebeccah Geib, who won the virtual race and came in 1st in the female age 20-29 division of the MDI Marathon, 1st female MDI resident and 6th female overall, as she was presented with her Cadillac to Katahdin Medallion last week while at work at the Acadia Inn, the day after finishing the real-life MDI race.

Going by the virtual race name of @DreadedRunner, Geib has also been basking in the glow of meeting one of her real-life running heroes, Leah Frost, who won the MDI Marathon (women’s division) for the fourth time last week, and also received an honorary Cadillac to Katahdin Medallion at the post-race party at Side Street.

mdi marathon

Leah Frost, right, won the MDI Marathon (women’s) and received an honorary Cadillac to Katahdin Medallion at the post-MDI race party at Side Street Cafe. On the left is Melissa Relyea Ossanna, who came in as 2nd female MDI resident, and goes by the virtual race name of @RosaPup.

More than 130 participants have been logging miles from around the world on the virtual 200-mile Cadillac to Katahdin route, to help raise funds for the nonprofit Friends of Acadia, Our Katahdin and Millinocket Memorial Library. Racers can sign up for the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run until Dec. 9, and they can backdate their running, hiking or walking miles anywhere in the world, to Aug. 15. Participants or volunteers in the real-life MDI or Millinocket events get special pricing for the virtual race.

What are virtual races with medals, you ask? They let people from anywhere in the world sign up to run, hike, walk or log other forms of miles, whether to raise funds for charity, earn a finisher’s medallion or just set a fitness goal. Races can include technology-driven virtual routes that allow participants to see their progress, get a Google photo of their virtual location and check out the competition online, such as in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run. Or it can be as simple as allowing people to record their mileage via the honor system in order to get a medal in the mail. There are different themes for virtual races with medals, and even Disney runs them. Check out what a Cadillac to Katahdin virtual racer experience can be like in this short video by racery.com, which hosts the race on its online platform.

virtual races with medals

The Cadillac to Katahdin Medallion goes to all who sign up for the virtual race to help benefit charity.

Co-sponsored by Acadia on My Mind and organizers of the real-life MDI Marathon & Half and Millinocket Marathon & Half, the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run is also the virtual edition of the first-ever Sea to Summit Series, where runners who participate in both the real-life MDI and Millinocket races can earn a special Sea to Summit finisher’s medallion.

Gary Allen, director of the real-life MDI and Millinocket races, and Sea to Summit Series, likens the impact of the races he’s launched as “a pebble tossed into still water,” with ever-widening rings of positive influence and inspiration. The rings have spread so far and wide, especially with his starting the free Millinocket Marathon & Half in December 2015 to provide an economic boost to the old mill town, that Allen has been profiled in Runner’s World, Down East Magazine and elsewhere. He recently received Bangor television station WLBZ’s 2 Those Who Care Award, for the boost his races have given to communities like Millinocket.

virtual races with medals

More than 130 racers are participating in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run to help raise funds for charity. Sign up now. Race ends Dec. 9, you can backdate miles to Aug. 15. (Image courtesy of racery.com)

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Maine virtual race with medals connects long-lost friends

As Gregory Emerson of Topsham strolled through a local ArtWalk this summer, logging miles for a virtual race to benefit Acadia and Katahdin area charities, he struck up a conversation with an artisan whose wood carvings of freshwater fish he particularly admired.

virtual race with medals

Gregory Emerson, left, encountered a long-lost college buddy, Ray Chase, while logging miles for the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run. (Photo courtesy of Gregory Emerson)

“I quickly realized it was a college buddy, Ray Chase, from Rumford, Maine,” said Emerson in an e-mail, in recalling the surprise real-life connection he made as he participated in the Cadillac to Katahdin virtual race with medals that’s going on until Dec. 9. “Ray and I hadn’t seen each other for at least 20 years.”

As Julie Grindle of Hancock undergoes cancer treatment, she’s been walking as part of her recovery, entering her miles online and getting encouragement from others in the Maine virtual race with medals, even though she’s never met most of the participants. “This virtual race has been a motivator and a bright spot thanks to you guys!!” she wrote online to those who’ve been cheering her on. “Thanks for all of the support virtual race friends!!”

In reply, Bryan O’Keefe of Billerica, Mass., wrote, “Keep doing what you are doing! You are doing an awesome job!”

virtual race with medals

The Cadillac to Katahdin Medallion is made by Ashworth Awards, the same company that makes the medals for the Mount Desert Island and Boston marathons. Registrants for the virtual race also have the option of adding a collector’s edition of the Acadia Centennial Medallion. (Photo courtesy of Ashworth Awards)

United by some connection to Acadia or Millinocket, or the real-life Mount Desert Island and Millinocket Marathons and Half Marathons, more than 120 participants have been logging miles from around the world on a virtual 200-mile Cadillac to Katahdin route, to help raise funds for the nonprofit Friends of Acadia, Our Katahdin and Millinocket Memorial Library.

Although many of them have never met, they’ve made connections online, watching each other’s race avatars make progress on the virtual map with each day’s mileage entry, from Cadillac to Katahdin, and including the real-life routes for the MDI and Millinocket races. They offer words of encouragement and advice, sharing their training regimens if they’re competitive runners, weather reports from wherever in the world they may be, trip updates to the Acadia or Katahdin regions, real-life race results, and photos of their travels.

As the Cadillac to Katahdin virtual race with medals approaches its halfway point, and as the real-life MDI Marathon and Half is set to run on Oct. 15, the connections between virtual and real life are converging, and the links between racers and community are deepening.

Racers can sign up for the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run until Dec. 9, and they can backdate their running, hiking or walking miles anywhere in the world, to Aug. 15. While the real-life MDI Half is at capacity, the MDI Marathon is still open for registration as of this writing, and volunteers are welcome too. Participants or volunteers in the real-life events get special pricing for the virtual race with medals.

virtual race with medals

Race avatars for more than 120 participants in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run stretch along the virtual 200-mile route, from Cadillac to Katahdin. Sign up now. Race goes until Dec. 9, and you can backdate mileage to Aug. 15. (Image courtesy of racery.com)

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Volunteers keep eagle eye on hawk count in Acadia

As he peers through binoculars, Jim Zeman spots a couple of raptors soaring on the horizon between two islands off Cadillac Mountain at Acadia National Park.

Jim and Kathy Zeman, volunteers at Hawk Watch in Acadia National Park

Jim Zeman, left, and his wife, Kathy Zeman, peering through binoculars, are longtime volunteers at the hawk count on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park.

Zeman quickly shares the hawk count with the others on the mountain top on a sunny early September afternoon.

“Over the water, I see them,” Zeman says. “They are crisscrossing each other – two Broad-wings.”

Zeman and his wife, Kathy, both of Bucksport, are longtime volunteers in the Hawk Watch program on the Cadillac Mountain summit in Acadia National Park. The annual hawk count is conducted partly by volunteers like the Zemans and Carol Thompson, who logs the daily numbers from Cadillac on an internet site maintained by the Hawk Migration Association of North America.

September is peak season for the hawk count. On Sept. 11, for example, volunteers counted 579 birds of prey in flight including 289 Broad-winged Hawks, 129 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 108 American Kestrels, along with others such as 14 Osprey and five Bald Eagles.

hawk watch

At Hawk Watch atop Cadillac, you may not even need binoculars when a Sharp-shinned Hawk swoops close by, as photographed by one frequent volunteer in an earlier season. (Photo courtesy of William Lawless)

Using their binoculars or spotting scopes, volunteers identify the birds on the fly.

During a visit on a sunny early September day, Thompson pointed to a red-tailed bird diving on the horizon over Sheep Island, one of the Porcupine Islands.

“He’s a little kestrel,”  responded Zeman, a retired AT & T manager. “An American Kestrel. He has like pointy wings. Look at the tail. He flies around like a butterfly.”

Thompson, who is from Bath, N.H. and volunteers at the park, clearly enjoys the hawk count. “I love seeing the birds, being able to talk to people and families and tell them what’s happening with the wildlife,” she said, adding that her husband, Russell, is a driver for the Island Explorer.

The hawk count is open to the public each day, depending on the weather, and is located off the Cadillac North Ridge Trail, which starts off the parking lot at the top of 1,530-foot Cadillac Mountain. This week is a good one for watching because it is International Hawk Migration Week. People should bring binoculars, though the birds can be seen with the naked eye.

The best conditions are when the winds are coming from the north or northwest, allowing the birds to fly south and glide on thermals and drafts. With a southerly wind, people likely will not see many birds.

Raptors follow migrating songbirds, Jim Zeman said. “They will stop and take a songbird for a meal if they can,” he said. Continue reading

Traffic shuts Cadillac Mountain summit road 49 times so far

The road to the Cadillac Mountain summit in Acadia National Park was closed 49 times this summer because of traffic congestion, emphazing the need for more visitors to use the park’s shuttle bus system and providing key data for a new transportation plan, according to a park spokeswoman.

Traffic congestion on Cadillac Mountain

Motorists during July 4 weekend back up on the peak of Cadillac Mountain to obtain a parking space.

Christie Anastasia, public affairs specialist for Acadia, released statistics of the temporary closures to incoming motor vehicles on the Cadillac Mountain summit road that occurred between June 28 and Sept. 4.

The statistics show that 11 of the closures occurred during sunrise and 15 likely during sunset. She said the Cadillac Mountain summit was temporarily shut to incoming traffic seven times during the Labor Day weekend. When the road is shut, the entrance at the base of the mountain is blocked and rangers are stationed there.

While the fare-free Island Explorer does not stop at the top of Cadillac, the tie-ups on the mountain are a sign of the heavy use of motor vehicles inside the park, along with tight parking throughout the park during busy times. The large parking lot at Jordan Pond, for example, was also closed temporarily on Labor Day, causing many motorists to drive around looking for spots or to park illegally.

acadia traffic

Would a vehicle registration system for driving up Cadillac help ease congestion like this? (NPS photo)

“I do think It underscores the importance of the Island Explorer,” Anastasia said. “You don’t have to worry about parking your car. You get on a bus. Someone else drives. You can look out the window and enjoy the scenery.”

The statistics also help in the completion of a new transportation plan. By the end of this year, the park might release a draft Environmental Impact Statement on the plan and then launch a new round of public comments. The park is considering preliminary ideas such as a reservation system for motor vehicles to park at Jordan Pond and to drive up Cadillac, the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast with spectacular views of the Porcupine Islands and Frenchman Bay.

“The fact that we are collecting the data on the closures helps us understand parking management strategies as part of that transportation planning process,” Anastasia said. The park’s dispatch office is tracking the closures in a spreadsheet, she said. Continue reading

Cadillac to Katahdin virtual national park race boosts charity

When Millinocket Memorial Library was on the brink of being closed forever in 2015, with the old mill city’s financial troubles, Margie King and others stepped up to raise $30,000 and volunteer to keep the doors open.

stephen king

Margie King, who goes by the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run name of @mak321, shelves a Stephen King novel. There is a real-life connection between the novelist and the library, as the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation donated $10,000 to the Friends of Millinocket Memorial Library to help keep the doors open. (Photo courtesy Margie King)

Now, King’s still stepping up – literally and virtually – to benefit her beloved community institution. In between volunteer shifts at the library, helping to shelve books and staff the front desk, she’s walking around Millinocket to log miles in the first-ever Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run, to help raise funds for the library and 2 other nonprofits, Our Katahdin and Friends of Acadia.

“I became interested in the race when I heard about the charitable giving aspect and it sounded like fun to follow my progress on a map, from one beautiful place to another. The medal is pretty cool too,” said King, in an email.

More than 100 participants have signed up for the virtual national park race so far, including:

  • King’s daughter, Tracy King Daniell of Orono
  • Holly Todd, a beekeeper, massage therapist and Maine Guide in Millinocket
  • Rebeccah Geib, a long-distance runner from Bar Harbor and member of Crow Athletics, who was the first to finish the 200-mile virtual route, in 15 days
  • Maine Running Hall of Famer Robin Emery, who has a trophy named after her, awarded to the top female finisher in the Bangor Labor Day 5-mile race
  • Acadia National Park Ranger Maureen Fournier
  • Tim Henderson of Castine, one of the Acadia National Park volunteers known as Waldron’s Warrior, helping to maintain the Bates cairns
  • Jim Linnane of Bar Harbor, who’s been logging some of his miles for the race while volunteering on Acadia’s trails for the Friends of Acadia

We’ve also invited Chris Popper of WDEA AM 1370 to join, and hope to develop a Dream Team of celebrity virtual racers with Popper as the first to be drafted.

virtual race

The 3″ Cadillac to Katahdin Medallion features a raised lobster claw and raised pine tree. You don’t need to finish all 200 miles by Dec. 9 to earn your medal. (Image by Ashworth Awards)

What’s a virtual national park race, you ask? It lets people from anywhere in the world sign up to run, hike, walk or log other forms of miles, whether to raise funds for charity, earn a finisher’s medallion or just set a fitness goal. Races can include technology-driven virtual routes that allow participants to see their progress, get a Google photo of their virtual location and check out the competition online, such as in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run. Or it can be as simple as allowing people to record their mileage via the honor system in order to get a medal in the mail. There are different themes for virtual races, and even Disney runs them. Check out what a Cadillac to Katahdin virtual racer experience can be like in this short video by Racery.com, which hosts the race on its online platform.

Co-sponsored by Acadia on My Mind and organizers of the real-life Mount Desert Island Marathon & Half and Millinocket Marathon & Half, the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run continues until Dec. 9, and participants can register at any time and backdate daily miles to Aug. 15, the start of the race. It is also the virtual edition of the first-ever Sea to Summit Series, where runners who participate in both the real-life MDI and Millinocket races can earn a special Sea to Summit finisher’s medallion.

Gary Allen, director of the real-life MDI and Millinocket races, and Sea to Summit Series, likens the impact of the races he’s launched as “a pebble tossed into still water,” with ever-widening rings of positive influence and inspiration. The rings have spread so far and wide, especially with his starting the free Millinocket Marathon & Half in December 2015 to provide an economic boost to the old mill town, that Allen has been profiled in Runner’s World, Down East Magazine and elsewhere.

Just as the real-life MDI Marathon & Half have extended the Acadia area’s season beyond Columbus Day, and the Millinocket Marathon & Half have brought a boost just before the holidays to what has been an economically challenged Katahdin region, we hope this virtual race can be like another one of Allen’s pebbles tossed in still water, to help bring more funds and recognition to these two very special parts of Maine.

And just as more real-life visitors to Acadia are heading inland as part of their vacation, with the addition of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument last year, may our blogging about the new Cadillac to Katahdin virtual national park race spur people to learn more about both regions, whether they’ve ever set foot in Vacationland or not.

And may our blogging, and the virtual national park race, help deepen the connections between the Acadia and Katahdin regions, the people and the place.

cadillac to katahdin

The more than 100 participants so far in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run stretch along the 200-mile route. Join us! (Image courtesy Racery.com)

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