Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Asticou Trail Expedition

Hi everyone!

I'm very excited to share the story of a long run I did Sunday. Over 6 hours of running, I explored, discovered, enjoyed, and reflected. Here we go:

I woke up Sunday sore from lifeguard training the day before. The instructor and I practiced rescues of submerged drowning victims. Diving deep, pulling victims to the surface - phew, it's tough stuff. And I'm glad I'm learning more about how to save people from drowning. It's a real life skill. 

I hadn't committed to doing a long run on Sunday, but it was the general plan. When I actually made the decision and started packing my camelbak full of snacks and water, I was exhilarated in my anticipation of the run. My mind surged with the warm memories of the Katahdin 100 mile Sacred Run last September, the Around-the Island run this time last Spring, and many other adventures. Some of the strongest emotions and energies I've ever felt have been before, during, or after these amazing experiences on foot. 

The private carriage trails by Seal Cove were my original destination. Apparently, you can't bike on these carriage trails but you can let your dog run without a leash. Northeast Harbor became a good spot to break for lunch. The best part of this run is that I never ran to the private carriage trails, because there was so much to explore on my way there and so much anticipation for running the Shore Path (on the Eastern shore of MDI) on my return. 

Sunday, for those of you who don't remember, was gorgeous on MDI. Sunny, not cold, and a little breezy. Unbeatable weather. 

I ran from Bar Harbor to Eagle Lake, and soaked in the beauty of the carriage trails there. I heard many thrushes singing. I wanted to find the North Bubble Trail but I must have passed it, and found myself running past Bubble Pond. I stopped at the Triad trailhead, ran past, then slowly changed my mind and ran back. Originally, I wanted to train for the 24 hour Witch Hole run by training over similar flat terrain but this was too enticing to give up. So I adventured up the Triad, which turned out to be a large rocky hill trail with a spot to look out from above. I passed a woman walking the trail, and she said, "You're obviously more fit than I am." Later, I thought to myself a response. "The real contest is to see who can enjoy the day more." I found myself at Jordan Pond and then at the Jordan Pond House. I dodged the stream of aged tourists and headed down Asticou trail.

Asticou was my favorite part of the run. I liked the exciting downhill twists and turns of the Asticou trail. I liked the smooth and mossy Asticou terraces, designed by Joseph Curtis a century ago, looking out over Northeast Harbor. I liked the protected little community on the side of Eliot Mountain, with hidden treasures like the Thuya Lodge and Thuya Garden. Having only passed by these places, I have almost no idea what Asticou means or what the community's history is, but I thoroughly enjoyed discovering them.

I got so hot running on the road on my return voyage. Thankfully, my friend Dan recently showed me a great swimming hole along Otter Creek that was perfect for cooling off.

My return trip resembled the last leg of the Round-MDI run last spring. From Northeast Harbor, I ran route 3 towards Bar Harbor, then hopped down to the park loop road and ran up the east shore of the island, known as the Shore Path. Running long-distance over the same ground, I found memories in my mind of last year's run that I never knew existed. I even remembered thoughts that I had one year ago. It was heart-warming to feel so strong and alive and in full contact with the contours of this island again.

What I realized most on Sunday was that Mount Desert Island is so vast and lush and varied and I want to explore each part as much as I can before I leave in June. And I leave a standing invitation to anyone else to join me in the exploration.
Take care everyone.

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