John D. Rockefeller donated 11,000 acres on Mt. Desert Island in Maine to augment the land holdings of what we know as Acadia National Park. He also funded a unique system of transportation within the park–a network of crushed gravel roads that branches out through the park like spokes. From 1915-1930, were you a visitor on foot heading to Eagle Lake, horses and carriages could be heard coming up behind you with a rhythmic four-hoof clip-clop crunch of gravel, followed by the wooden wheels of the carriage rolling the rocks like mill wheels.
Rockefeller had seventeen stone bridges designed and built to complement the 45 miles of carriage roads.
The only wheels we heard on our hike around Eagle Lake were the rubber tires of mountain bikes, commandeered by the young and the old, the fit and the unfit. Instead of the nostril-blow of Hackney ponies or Standardbreds, the groans and grunts of bicyclists from around the world made us happy to be on foot. Why is it that so many bicyclists look and sound like they are in pain and not enjoying themselves?
We thought of hiking up to Cadillac Mountain, the highest vantage point on the Northeastern seaboard at 1530 feet and the place you want to be if you are the type of person that enjoys “firsts.” From early October to early March, up on the summit of Cadillac Mountain, you will be the first person to see the sunrise over North America. That thought evaporated when we saw a a steady caravan of cars, including Cadillacs, heading up there. We Californians are tired of traffic jams! To the carriage roads we go.
Eagle Lake is the public water source for Bar Harbor, Maine, so no swimming is allowed! I had forgotten my water bottle but took heart in the fact that should I need hydration, the water source was right there in a prodigious and hypnotic way.
At about 1.5 miles into the hike, I did become thirsty and hungry but could not see the soothing water. The Maine forests are dense ( as I was, not taking water or snack). I looked symbolically at that little dead tree. Despite my desire to become fit, inside and out, it was time to walk back.
We approached lake’s edge. Only one little drink. No one will see.
I decided against dunking my face into Eagle Lake.
When back from the hike, with a large and cool glass of Eagle Lake water, I gazed at the bubbles and stir sticks that appeared in it. Was I dreaming? Or just dehydrated?