Tag Archives: friends-of-acadia

Acadia National Park navigates new era for iconic lighthouse

Acadia National Park is poised “any day now” to take over the vacant Bass Harbor Head Light Station, setting the stage for a new era for the iconic lighthouse, one of the most popular attractions within the park’s boundaries.

Bass Harbor Lighthouse in Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park will be assuming ownership of Bass Harbor Head Light from the Coast Guard “any day now.” (Photo courtesy of Greg Saulmon)

Ahead of becoming the new owner, Acadia is weighing recommendations in a new study of Bass Harbor Head Light by the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Training Center. The “Bass Harbor Head Light Station Historic Structure Report,” produced with funds donated by the Friends of Acadia, is aimed at guiding future rehabilitation and repair work at the 2.75-acre complex including the original 1858 lighthouse with its cylindrical brick tower, the 1858 keeper’s dwelling, and the 1905 wood-frame garage.

The Coast Guard currently owns the iconic lighthouse and other structures and has been planning to transfer it to Acadia since 2017.

acadia annual pass

So picture-postcard perfect is Bass Harbor Head Light, it graces this year’s $55 Acadia annual pass. (Image courtesy of NPS)

“Apparently, all the paperwork is sitting with the General Services Administration and they need to do sort of the final paperwork to get it to us,” John T. Kelly, management assistant for Acadia National Park, said. “It should have happened a long time ago. It is really any day now but we have been saying any day now for months.”

When it assumes ownership, the National Park Service is hopeful of finding a partner to staff, operate and maintain the lighthouse and other buildings, maybe, for instance, a nonprofit group such as Eastern National, which promotes education of National Parks with books, other products and services, or the Tremont Historical Society, Kelly said.

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Maine virtual race with medals a new way to socially distance

Giving a new meaning to social distancing, the Amazin’ Maine Virtual Race brings far-flung family and friends virtually near, alone together, on a magical virtual tour of Acadia to Katahdin and along the coast from Lubec to Ogunquit.

virtual race with medals

Sign up now and virtually visit special places in Maine. You don’t have to complete the entire course to be a winner, and you can backdate miles to April 16. (Image provided courtesy of Racery)

With Acadia National Park closed until at least June 1 and the cancellation today of what would have been the 20th anniversary of the Friends of Acadia Earth Day Roadside Cleanup, the virtual race with medals helps connect those with a love of the park as they “scale” the 26 peaks of Acadia together, no matter where in the world they’re logging hiking or running miles.

And with many Maine state parks shuttered until at least April 30, and real-life races and festivals cancelled or postponed, the Amazin’ Maine Virtual Race provides a way to experience a virtual Vacationland, show support for Maine organizations, shake off some of the coronavirus cabin-fever blues and stay up on some of the COVID-19 updates.

virtual race with medals

When the new issue of Friends of Acadia Journal lands in your mailbox, you’ll see our announcement about the virtual race.

Sponsored by this blog to help support Friends of Acadia, Millinocket Memorial Library, and a new Robin Emery Prize – named after a Maine Running Hall of Famer and virtual racer who goes by the name of @Fossil, to be awarded to a 5th through 12th-grade girl who runs the Down East Family YMCA’s Main Street Memorial Mile – the Amazin’ Virtual Race runs from now through Aug. 8.

Sign up today and you have the chance to earn a medallion made by the same company that makes the Boston Marathon and MDI Marathon medals, with your choice of Maine-themed ribbon. You can backdate miles to April 16.

The 206.8-mile virtual race course features 10 segments with pop-up Google Street View photos and special red pindrops embedded in the map. Start by climbing all 26 peaks of Acadia, then go near or on some or all of such real-life race routes as Crow Athletics’ Bridge the Gap Race and Millinocket Marathon, and along such scenic coastal hikes as Mowry Beach Preserve in Lubec and Marginal Way in Ogunquit.

There are even Stephen King-themed virtual stops along the route, and pop-ups with information about local businesses or race postponement news. Finish atop Katahdin, Maine’s highest mountain and the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.

virtual race with medals

Virtually climb Acadia’s 26 peaks, and you may get a 360-degree Google Street View on the Amazin’ Maine Virtual Race route. Watch your race avatar move along the 10 segments of the virtual race, from Acadia to Katahdin, Lubec to Ogunquit. Register now. (Image courtesy of Racery)

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Top 11 Acadia National Park events that defined the decade

Eleven important Acadia National Park events shaped the decade at the Maine national park and left some lasting changes including new records in visits, a generous donation of land and projects in the Schoodic section, the park’s 100th anniversary, a new superintendent, a presidential visit and a heightened awareness of climate change.

Here are some key moments, happenings and trends that dominated Acadia National Park during the 2010s:

Legacy of President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama hikes Acadia National Park

The beauty of Acadia has drawn generations of visitors, most notably President Barack Obama and family in July 2010 (White House photo)

A presidential visit may have been the most memorable  of Acadia National Park events. On the heels of his biggest political victory – passage of a national health insurance plan – Barack Obama became the first sitting president to visit Acadia National Park. The president’s family vacation in July 2010 drew crowds and created a lot of excitement in Bar Harbor and the park. Obama, his wife, Michelle, and daughters Malia and Sasha spent three days in the park including hiking the summit loop on Cadillac Mountain and Ship Harbor and visiting Bass Harbor Head Light. While the short vacation put the national spotlight on Acadia, possibly Obama’s most important legacy in Maine occurred in August 2016 when he used the Antiquities Act to unilaterally approve a new national monument – the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Both Acadia and the new Maine monument were created with private land donations and both overcame political hurdles. Obama also started the Every Kid in a Park initiative in 2015, renewed every year since, in which the National Park Service gives every fourth grader and family free admission to national parks. President Donald J. Trump has affirmed Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, and Every Kid in a Park (although the Trump administration now calls it Every Kid Outdoors).

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On your mark! ‘MegOMoose,’ other virtual racers in Acadia

Ready, set, go! With fun names like “MuddyMom,” “SlowCrawl,” “BunnyButt” and “TheOtherButt,” virtual racers from around Maine and the rest of the country are heading out of the starting gate of the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race today, to help raise funds for charity in Millinocket and Acadia.

virtual race

These may be the only moose you’ll ever see in Acadia. You can start earning one of these classic medals with the raised profile of the Bubbles and Katahdin by signing up for the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race now.

United by a passion for all things Maine or aiming to meet personal running, hiking, walking or charity fund-raising goals, the more than 50 virtual racers signed up so far hail from all corners of the state, from Millinocket to Bar Harbor, Bangor to Bernard, and across the country, from Alabama to Oregon, Missouri to Texas.

Sign up today and you too can join the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race, starting out at the lowest of the 26 peaks of Acadia and heading to the highest mountain in Maine, with the chance to earn a lobster- or moose-themed medal and be entered into giveaways.

acadia to katahdin virtual race

Are you up to the challenge? Virtually climb the 26 Acadia peaks, run the MDI and Millinocket Marathon and scale Katahdin twice? Sign up today.

You have until Dec. 31 to complete the course, and you can backdate miles to Aug. 2. You can log walking, hiking or running miles anywhere in the world, and see your virtual race avatar move across the virtual Maine map, with special pop-up images of all 26 Acadia peaks, Millinocket and Katahdin scenes, and Stephen King-themed sites.

Everyone is a winner, even if you can’t complete all 8 segments of the virtual race route and the full 328.5 miles by the end of the year. That’s because everyone gets a digital race bib, a digital certificate at completion of the race and emailed digital postcards upon finishing even just the first segment of the virtual race route, all 26 peaks of Acadia at 55.2 miles by Dec. 31.

virtual race

A detail of the 2019 Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race map. Click on any of the red pindrops and you might see one of the 26 Acadia peaks or a “Where in Acadia?” question. Sign up and see the interactive map here.

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Virtual race marks 100th of Acadia peaks, Millinocket library

A century ago, in two very different parts of Maine – the Acadia National Park of today and the once-booming mill town of Millinocket – these distinctly special events occurred:

acadia to katahdin virtual race

Are you up to the challenge? Virtually climb the 26 Acadia peaks, run the MDI and Millinocket Marathon and scale Katahdin twice? Help raise funds for charity and earn 1 or more medals? Sign up now (Image courtesy of Racery)

  • Acadia became the first eastern national park, and its “undistinguished” mountains got renamed as part of the effort, with Green now known as Cadillac and Newport as Champlain, among others
  • Millinocket established a library in memory of the native sons who lost their lives during World War I “for the rescue of human rights”

To mark the 100th anniversary of Acadia’s creation as a national park and the naming of iconic Acadia peaks, as well as to celebrate the Millinocket Memorial Library Centennial, a new Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race begins Aug. 2, to help raise funds for the two regions, and connect fans of these special parts of Maine, no matter where in the world they may live.

Sign up now and you can earn up to 4 different lobster and moose-themed medals for logging your running, hiking or walking miles anywhere in the world. Watch your avatar move on the virtual race map, along the 26 peaks of Acadia and the real-life Mount Desert Island and Millinocket Marathon & Half Marathon routes, and end atop Katahdin, Maine’s highest mountain.

New this year, the virtual race route features 8 specially themed segments, and even if you can’t complete all 328.5 miles by Dec. 31, you will get digital milestone postcards emailed upon finishing each of the following segments:

lobster medal

One of 3 classic virtual race medals featuring raised profiles of Katahdin and the Bubbles. The new 2019 Acadia to Katahdin Finisher Medallion, featuring a raised moose and lobster, will be unveiled soon. Start earning this medal now

  • 26 Acadia peaks (55.2 miles)
  • MDI Marathon & Half Marathon route (26.2 miles)
  • Millinocket Marathon & Half Marathon route, plus the first ascent of Katahdin (57.7 miles)
  • Acadia’s Park Loop Road (25.3 miles)
  • Schoodic National Scenic Byway (28.8 miles)
  • Stephen King-themed segment, from Deer Brook Trail in Acadia to University of Maine, Orono, with special stops in Ellsworth and Bangor (62 miles)
  • Acadia’s carriage road (37.3 miles)
  • Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, plus final ascent of Katahdin (36 miles)

Also new this year: Customized pindrops embedded in the virtual race map with special images and messages, highlighting 26 Acadia peaks and Millinocket, Baxter State Park and Katahdin Woods and Waters sites, and virtual racers’ past achievements – click on one of those red pindrops, and you might find yourself mentioned or pictured!

virtual races with medals

You can start earning a classic virtual race medal with a multiple moose ribbon now.

The pindrops also test your knowledge by asking “Where in Acadia?” and “Where in Millinocket?” and feature fun facts like at what time of year is Cadillac the first place to see the sun rise in the US – not the summer! – and how to avoid the lines by buying a park pass online. (Local businesses along or near the virtual race route can sponsor a customized pindrop with a photo and link to their website by contacting us.)

The virtual race runs from Aug. 2 through Dec. 31, and includes the entire real-life route of MDI Marathon & Half that’s happening Oct. 20, and the Millinocket Marathon & Half that’s happening Dec. 7. You can backdate running, hiking or walking miles to Aug. 2, if you happen to join after the start. And you don’t have to complete all 328.5 miles of the virtual race route to earn a medal.

Co-sponsored by Acadia on My Mind and organizers of the real-life MDI and Millinocket races, the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race is also the virtual edition of the 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.

virtual race

A detail of the 2019 Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race map. Click on any of the red pindrops and you might see one of the 26 Acadia peaks or a “Where in Acadia?” question. Sign up and see the interactive map here. (Image courtesy of Racery)

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Gary Stellpflug leads highly skilled Acadia hiking trails crew

gary stellpflug

A clue in the woods off the Beech Mountain parking lot, that there was once a carriage road here, surmises Acadia trails foreman Gary Stellpflug during a National Trails Day hike.

There are about 155 miles of hiking trails in Acadia National Park and Gary J. Stellpflug is familiar with just about every inch of them. Stellpflug, who is trails foreman at Acadia National Park, began working in the park as a seasonal laborer in the summer of 1974, began work on trails in 1975,and first became foreman of the Acadia hiking trails crew in 1978. He left for a period in the 1990s, but returned as trails foreman and has held the position for more than 30 years. We spoke with Stellpflug in December of 2018 and then again on National Trails Day in June when he led a tour of the Valley Trail, which was extensively rehabilitated in 2017 and 2018. He discussed a broad scope of topics including the effects of the federal government shutdown in January, plans for rehabilitating trails and staying true to their historic character, how work on  trails is funded  and the history of Acadia National Park. For this Q&A, information was also used from Stellpflug’s annual “Acadia Trails Forever” report for 2018. Acadia Trails Forever is the name of a special endowment started in 1999 for the park. The $13 million fund to benefit the trails includes $9 million in private donations raised by the Friends of Acadia and $4 million in federal funds, mostly from the park’s entry fees.

Did the federal government shutdown have an effect on the Acadia hiking trails crew?

Gary Stellpflug: The trails crew this year is comparatively small, so we needed to scale back on what we wanted to accomplish. For the past couple of years, we have had 15 to 20 seasonal workers. We could have hired 25 this year. I have that much money. But we have only 10. It was entirely due to the shutdown. It pushed hiring back six weeks or more and it made hiring so late for us that nearly everybody on my list of applicants had taken other jobs. For some reason, the Western and Southeast regions started hiring three weeks before I could and the pool of applicants dwindled. I’m not sure what other social factors are involved. One could be that park service wages are not keeping up with the private sector right now, at least in Bar Harbor, Maine. We rarely get local applicants and they used to be the mainstay of the crew. I want to work on that and see what I can do. I did have two additional new seasonal people, but one was in a car accident and could not work and the other had housing issues. We do have two new permanent workers. It took four years to hire them because of the federal government hiring process. They will be furloughed. They won’t work year-round but they do have permanent jobs. That gives us eight permanent workers.

gary stellpflug

Acadia trails crew foreman Gary Stellpflug shares a laugh with participants in a National Trails Day hike, before he leads them out on the Valley Trail.

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Cadillac Mountain crowds root of problem for Acadia plants

The ferns, flowers, shrubs and grasses of Cadillac Mountain have a tough enough time surviving the elements, but the biggest threat of all may be the pounding of constant foot traffic on Acadia National Park’s busiest and highest summit.

plants of acadia national park

Acadia National Park consulting botanist Jill E. Weber scans the horizon atop Cadillac, checking on research plots marked off by sandbags and rope, as part of an effort to better understand how to bring back the summit’s fragile vegetation.

During a recent morning atop 1,530-foot Cadillac, Jill E. Weber, a botanist who consults for the park, surveyed areas close to the summit where she and other researchers are attempting to restore and protect common Acadia plants and some rare species such as mountain firmoss, Nantucket shadbush and boreal blueberries.

“We have a lot of years with a lot of feet,” Weber said. “There is no ill intent. There just has not been the maintenance of the vegetation. A lot of it is gone and we are trying to figure out if we can bring some of it back.”

On Cadillac, which receives about 700,000 visits by people a year, the Acadia plants are as fragile as those along the well-known Alpine Garden Trail of the much higher Mount Washington in New Hampshire.

Botanists, park leaders and others are now close to completing a multi-year project to understand, protect and revive Cadillac’s fragile vegetation.

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Federal government shutdown slows Acadia in winter

UPDATE 1/28/2019:  David MacDonald, president of Friends of Acadia, issued a statement that was added to this story.

An agreement to end the partial federal government shutdown came just in time for visitors and year-round staff at Acadia National Park in Maine.

Winter visitor center for Acadia Natioal Park

The end of the partial federal shutdown means the winter visitor center for Acadia National Park at the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce office will be staffed again by rangers.

While the park was kept open during the 35-day-long shutdown and the closure came at the slowest time of year for the park and had little economic effect on surrounding communities, almost all of the park’s 80-90 full-time staff, including Superintendent Kevin Schneider, were put on furlough. Additionally, the shutdown during Acadia in winter delayed work on a critical transportation plan years in the making.

David MacDonald, president and CEO of the Friends of Acadia, a nonprofit organization that works closely with the National Park Service to protect and improve the park for public use, said the shutdown created “a terrible situation” for park staff. It resulted in “a very significant operations backlog” at Acadia, the country’s eighth-most visited national park, and basically left a small number of law enforcement rangers to run the park and work without pay over the holidays, he said.

“I think it’s been devastating for park staff,” MacDonald said in an article that was first published in the National Parks Traveler. “There are a lot of important professionals in various departments across the park that have been kept on the sidelines at a very important time of year for planning for Acadia.”

President Donald Trump on Friday agreed to a measure that would fund the government for three weeks and clear employees in Interior and dozens of other agencies to again work, with no provisions to pay for the wall he wants to build on the border with Mexico. Trump left open the possibility the government could shut again as of Feb. 15.

Ice covers the granite cliffs on Cadillac. summit road.

Huge sheets of Ice cover the granite cliffs along the summit road to Cadillac Mountain during Acadia in winter.

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Maine virtual race helps make friends, new year resolutions

Starting 2019 with a bang, nearly 100 walkers and runners from Bar Harbor to Millinocket, Florida to Oregon, are virtually logging miles from Cadillac to Katahdin, and even going by Stephen King sites along the way – to do good, stay fit, and keep up with old friends and make new ones.

maine virtual race

The 5-star version of the 2019 edition of the Acadia to Katahdin Medal, if you log at least 1 mile a day for 100 days in a row. Only did 20 days in a row? That’s OK, you get one small star for each 20-day streak, and the large sequined star for the fifth consecutive 20-day streak. Took the first few days of 2019 off? That’s OK, too, since we can extend the virtual race, so you can still get in 100 days if you start this weekend.

And if over the first 100 days of the new year, participants in the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race get a streak going, they earn the right to a custom medal, featuring a star for each 20-day streak, plus a large sequined star for logging at least 1 mile daily all 100 days, for a maximum 5 stars. Register for the Maine virtual race now.

Launched last year with Mount Desert Island Marathon & Half and Millinocket Marathon & Half as the virtual edition of the Sea to Summit Series, the virtual race has so far raised $375 for charity, on top of the $800 raised in an earlier edition of the race.

But perhaps as meaningful as benefiting charity, the virtual race has led one participant to lose 21 pounds (@LRM); helped a couple of racers keep a more than year-long streak going (@Shellperry and @KDW); allowed fans of the Acadia and Katahdin regions to see photos of the places they love in the race course’s Google Street Views; and let family and friends stay in touch, no matter where in the world they log their miles.

In 2018, we learned who among the virtual racers are Stephen King fans, thanks to @Ghost, who challenged other racers to dedicate a 10+ mile entry to an SK story. We met virtual racers, some for the first time, on the day of the real-life MDI and Millinocket races and throughout the year, logging some miles together on a small remote island or sharing a cup of good cheer at the Sawmill Restaurant in Millinocket.

virtual race with medal

The Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race has been extended through at least April 10, 2019, the 100th day of the new year, to help you meet new year resolutions. Sign up now. (Image courtesy of racery.com)

And we had fun with a Team #lobster vs. Team #moose challenge, along with custom #lobstrosity and #MonsterMoose medals for those who logged 10 or more miles in one day; playing mini-golf at a Millinocket Memorial Library fundraiser that featured Stephen King books lining the “fairway”; and giving away gift certificates from SK-Tours, Moose Drop In, Gift MDI and L.L. Bean. (See sidebar for coupon code for 10% off Gift MDI, one of our affiliated partners)

For 2019, may the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race help you keep your new year resolutions, whether it’s to train for a marathon or a trip to hike Acadia National Park or Baxter State Park, lose weight, get fit, or stay in touch with family and friends, no matter where in the world they are. Even if you don’t make a 20-day streak for a star, and even if you haven’t completed the 337.8-mile virtual race course, everyone is a winner, as medals will ship after April 10.

The continuation into the first 100 days of the new year makes this the virtual edition of 2019 Streak-100, co-sponsored with Crow Athletics, with special pricing for Crow members signing up for the first time, as well as for those who participated in the real-life MDI or Millinocket races.  Sign up here.

maine virtual race

Members of Crow Athletics can join Streak-100 and add on at a special price the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race, featuring a 2019 medal with up to 5 stars for each 20-day streak of walking or running at least 1 mile a day. (Image courtesy of crowathletics.com)

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Virtual runs from Acadia to Katahdin mark amazing journeys

In memory of her husband Michael, who died in a kayak accident off the coast of Maine in 2016, Jennifer Popper journeys north from New Jersey to Maine, raising more than $15,000 for charity, and logging her miles on a virtual race route from Acadia National Park to Katahdin along the way.

jennifer popper

A surprise welcome party greeted Jennifer Popper, second from the right, in Boston last week. On the far right is her friend Rachel Hanks, carrying the handmade sign. And from the far left, Jennifer Petruccelli, Tim Hillier and Larry Kelley, who all worked with Michael Popper at CDM Smith (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Popper)

As she arrived in Boston last week, more than halfway through her 800-mile walk, she was surprised and overjoyed to be greeted by an old friend with a handmade sign, three former co-workers of her husband’s, and two fellow virtual racers she’d never met before. “It’s overwhelmingly awesome,” Popper said.

Like so many of the participants in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run and other virtual runs, Popper has found meaning and camaraderie in logging walking, running or hiking miles. Popper, who goes by the virtual race name @jennsjourney, has appreciated comments on the race message board from fellow virtual racers, especially @Keefa and @FL2ME.

“I don’t know who Keefa is, or Flamethrower,” Popper said, but the support has meant a lot as she’s on her trek to raise funds for the two nonprofits that have meant a lot to her and her husband, the East Coast Greenway Alliance and FreeWalkers.

Since last August, the more than 150 participants from around the country in the Cadillac to Katahdin race have helped raise $800 for three official charities benefiting from the race: Friends of Acadia, Millinocket Memorial Library and Our Katahdin. At the same time, they have collectively logged more than 59,000 miles on the virtual race route, back and forth between Cadillac and Katahdin; made real and virtual friends along the way; and accomplished other personally meaningful goals, whether raising funds for other causes or meeting a health and fitness goal.

virtual runs

The more than 150 participants in the Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run have collectively logged more than 59,000 miles. You can still sign up through July 16 to try out a virtual race, backdate miles to August 15, 2017, and get the collector’s edition medal featuring buffalo-plaid ribbon. At least 5% of gross proceeds go to benefit Acadia and Millinocket-area charities. (Image courtesy of racery.com)

The Cadillac to Katahdin Virtual Run is winding down this month, and to mark Acadia’s 102nd birthday on July 8, we’re announcing a new race, the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race, that will include the 26 peaks of Acadia, the Schoodic section of the park, parts of the Down East Sunrise Trail, and other new features.

We’re proud to once again co-sponsor the race with Mount Desert Island Marathon & Half and Millinocket Marathon & Half, as the virtual edition of the 2018 Maine Sea to Summit Series, to help benefit charities in the Acadia and Katahdin regions. Details of the new race and registration information will be available here later this month, as the finishing touches are put on the new virtual race route, and the new finisher’s medals.

Even if participants in the virtual runs never meet, they are bound by some connection to the Acadia or Katahdin regions or the Mount Desert Island and Millinocket Marathons & Half Marathons, or by a charitable impulse or interest in health and fitness.

Among the virtual racers and some of their stories: Continue reading

Valley Cove project tops backlog of work on Acadia trails

One in a series about the nearly $60 million maintenance backlog in Acadia National Park

Inside a cramped, old trailer that serves as his federal office, Gary Stellpflug, trails foreman at Acadia National Park, points to a wall pinned with note cards that spell out a backlog of maintenance projects for Acadia trails.

Gary Stellpflug

Gary Stellpflug (NPS photo)

The projects to improve Acadia National Park trails, including many that still require funding, stretch out to 2022. “We won’t run out of work, even at the present rate,” said Stellpflug.

Of the nearly $12 billion of backlogged maintenance in national parks across the country, Acadia weighs in with nearly $60 million including more than $9 million on hiking trails alone.

This year, the Acadia trails crew is involved in a major effort to reduce the maintenance backup, topped by a current overhaul of the Valley Cove Trail, which is located on the east side of St. Sauveur Mountain and runs along the west shore of Somes Sound, a 5-mile-long inlet that carves into Mount Desert Island.

Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression 80 years ago, the Valley Cove Trail was championed by park founder George B. Dorr as a way to access what he described as “an unusually beautiful shoreline” along the fjord-like Somes.

acadia national park hiking

Anyone trying to hike the Valley Cove Trail the last two years would have been greeted by trail closure signs warning of hazardous conditions, not just of peregrine falcon nesting.

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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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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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