Tag Archives: friends-of-acadia

Maine Strong! Virtual race with medal aids MDI, Millinocket

With businesses and non-profits hurt and tourism down from Mount Desert Island to Millinocket as this summer ends, a new Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race links people from around the world in support of the regions, behind the rallying cry of Maine Strong!

virtual race with medals

Made by the same company that makes the MDI and Boston Marathon medals, this virtual race medal features a sparkly red border and heart and glittery white ribbon. Sign up now to earn the right to this Maine Strong medal. (Image courtesy of Ashworth Awards)

Featuring fundraising for area charities, a special “Maine Strong” award with sparkly ribbon, and support of local businesses, the new virtual race with medal is also a special way to mark Maine’s 200th anniversary for those who can’t visit Vacationland in real-life this pandemic year:

Embedded in the 240.1-mile virtual race route are pop-up photos of Acadia’s 26 peaks and Schoodic and Isle au Haut sections; some of Maine’s iconic lighthouses; stops along a virtual Stephen King tour; the Paul Bunyan statue in Bangor; the Liberty Ship Memorial in South Portland; and hair-raising views from Knife Edge on the way up to the finish atop Katahdin.

Sign up today. As the virtual edition of the 2020 Sea to Summit Series, co-sponsored by Acadia on My Mind and runmdi.org – organizers of the real-life MDI Marathon & Half (originally scheduled for Oct. 18, but now cancelled) and Millinocket Marathon & Half (still slated to be run Dec. 5 as of this writing) – this virtual race with medal also includes the entire real-life routes of those events.

And as a show of unity with another real-life race cancelled this year, the virtual race takes a special detour to include the Boston Marathon route. Although the virtual race is not connected with the Boston 26.2-miler, Crow Athletics, the sponsoring club for the real-life MDI and Millinocket races, also hosts a Boston New Years Run, with the 17th edition scheduled for Jan. 1, 2021 – Maine Strong! Boston Strong!

virtual race with medals

You can backdate miles to Aug. 9, no matter where in the world you log them, and see your avatar move along the virtual race map. Register here. (Image courtesy of Racery)

Since 2017 the virtual race has raised more than $1,800 for charity, with hundreds of participants from around the world, ages 10 to 70+, logging a total of more than 190,000 miles on the virtual race maps, by running, walking or hiking anywhere in the world. And to broaden the appeal for more participants, the 2020 Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race includes for the first time an activity conversion calculator for bicycling, swimming, yoga, calisthenics, tai chi, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing (as the virtual race goes through Dec. 31).

This year’s charities: Friends of Acadia, Millinocket Memorial Library, Our Katahdin and Mount Desert Island Marathon. At least 5% of gross proceeds from the virtual race with medals will go to these 501(c)(3) charities.

And because Maine Strong! is the rallying cry, and local businesses from Acadia to Katahdin are hurting from the pandemic, we invite area restaurants, lodging operators and retailers to let virtual racers and readers of this blog know how they can be supported, by commenting at the bottom of this blog post with links to their business.

With the cancellation of the real-life MDI Marathon & Half in October, and even if the real-life Millinocket Marathon & Half, slated for Dec. 5, can’t go on, perhaps some of the runners and spectators who would have come for those events can still keep their reservations, following pandemic safety protocols, or buy gift certificates to be used when they attend a future race.

In fact, that’s what we intend to do, and we invite you to do the same – Maine Strong!

virtual race with medals

Detail of the Maine Strong glittery ribbon. (Image courtesy of Ashworth Awards)

virtual race with medals

No matter where in the world you log your running, walking or hiking miles, your virtual race avatar starts on the top of Cadillac, then advances over the remaining peaks of Acadia, before jumping to the MDI Marathon course, during the first 2 of 10 segments in the Acadia to Katahdin Virtual Race. Register here. (Image courtesy of Racery)

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Rash of Acadia National Park vandalism: Illegal blazes, painted rocks

Acadia National Park has been hit by a recent rash of vandalism by someone who has used spray paint to damage about five miles of trails on Bald Peak, Huguenot Head and Champlain Mountain with unsightly, off-color blazes.

Gary Stellpflug, foreman of the Acadia trails crew, said he is asking the public to provide possible information on the vandal, who has not been apprehended. “We’re reaching out to the public for information,” Stellpflug said.

acadia national park vandalism

Off-color turquoise spray-painted blaze, left, next to the park’s official sky-blue blaze, marred the scenery along Champlain North Ridge Trail in July. Volunteers spent hours cleaning up the approximately 50 illegal blazes on this trail by August.

The rogue blazes, mainly on boulders and rocks, were removed from Bald Peak last fall and from Huguenot Head and Champlain Mountain in August, Stellpflug said.

The illegal spray-painted blazes, including about 50 on the Champlain North Ridge Trail, come amid ongoing efforts by the park to prevent other types of Acadia National Park vandalism or rule breaking, including the knocking down of historic-style cairns , the leaving of painted rocks, which the park considers to be litter along with paper and other waste, and the stacking of rocks.

About five of the vandal’s illegal paint blazes, also turquoise and of various sizes, were spotted during a hike on Sept. 1 on trails near the Schoodic Head overlook in Acadia. Stellpflug said he is aware of the illegal blazes at Schoodic and plans to have them removed.

In early August, two volunteers spent about 10 hours using an organic solution to wash off about 50 of the spray-painted blazes on the Champlain North Ridge Trail.

During a hike in July, about a month before the Acadia National Park vandalism was cleaned, reporters found that the vandal left misshapen and greenish-blue marks on Champlain’s granite slabs and rocks. They often were sprayed, sometimes in long streaks, near the park’s rectangular, 4-inch-long official sky-blue blaze.

Stellpflug said he is hoping the Acadia National Park vandalism will stop. Stellpflug said he assumes it is the same person who is responsible for all the blazes spray painted on trails.

acadia national park vandalism

The painted rock with the words “You can do it!” (see close-up photo of rock below) was found on a large boulder on Beachcroft Path – the very same boulder that George B. Dorr, the father of Acadia, was standing by in a well-known historic photo, taken around 1940. Such painted rocks are considered vandalism by the park, and offenders could be subject to fines or prison terms.

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Stone stairs hug a giant cliff along the Valley Cove Trail in Acadia National Park

Acadia hiking boosted by new rock steps, innovation, lights

The Valley Cove Trail is set to soon reopen for a summer Acadia hiking season for the first time in five years, following an extensive rehabilitation that gives new life to the historically important trail along Somes Sound.

Somes Sound in Acadia National Park

Hikers can get this view of Somes Sound from the Valley Cove Trail, opening after a major rehabilitation by the Acadia trails crew.

Gary J. Stellpflug, foreman of the Acadia trails crew, which did the work, summed up the completion of the complex and lengthy project, which included resetting or adding more than 300 stone steps along the trail.

“Valley Cove Trail finally opened!” exclaimed Stellpflug in his annual report for “Acadia Trails Forever,” a special endowment fund for trail maintenance and restoration at Acadia National Park started in 2000 by the Friends of Acadia and the park.

The Valley Cove Trail was finished and opened on Nov. 1, but to protect nesting peregrine falcons, it closed in March, as it does each year along with several other trails, including the Precipice and Jordan Cliffs Trail. The trails usually open in early August after chicks fly.

The improvements on the Valley Cove Trail, originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the mid-1930s, top a list of Acadia hiking trails rehabbed in 2019 and open for hikers in 2020 including Seaside Path, Bass Harbor Head Light and Kurt Diederich’s Climb.

Acadia hiking trails, totaling about 155 miles, remained open during the pandemic and use picked up after the Park Loop Road opened on June 1.  More hikers hit the park trails after Maine exempted tourists from five states, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, from requirements to quarantine or test negative for the virus, according to reports on the Acadia National Park Hiking Facebook group.

Seaside Path in Acadia National Park

Hikers take a Sunday stroll during the pandemic on a newly-improved section of the Seaside Path in Acadia National Park. The wooded 19th-century path connects the Jordan Pond area to a beach at Seal Harbor.

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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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