Friday, August 19, 2011

Acadia National Park!

I took the BEST trip EVER this summer to Acadia National Park here in Maine.  I have been hiking there before, but never with a horse, and I have always wanted to ride the gorgeous carriage trails.  Last year, my friend Shelly and I decided we would make the trip there in 2011.  We had to book our reservations back in January and it felt like the weekend of July 22-24 would never arrive!  We both own Standardbreds who are 20 this year, so we wanted it to be our own special trip on our 20 year olds!  :-)  Our horses, my Dreamy and her McKeever, get along very well.  

We left on Friday morning and arrived at the stables mid afternoon.  We settled the horses in and took a ride later on that night, just an easy 2.7 mile ride around Day Mountain.  It was super hot, but it did cool down for a nice ride.

We stayed at Wildwood.  Great facility!
Shelly and McKeever are on the left, Dreamy and I are on the right.  This was before our last ride on Sunday.
Pretending to be a cowgirl!  ;-)  There were three barns and they were super nice!  Fully matted stalls, airy and safe!  That weird rectangle thing is my iPhone....LOL!!
Headed out on the Access Road on our first ride that Friday night - 2.7 mile loop around Day Mountain
Yay!  We are in Acadia!

Best view ever.  :-)
On Saturday, we woke up early to ride in the morning.  I think we headed out by 8AM and rode until almost noon time.  This time we did a big loop up around Jordan Pond and Bubble Pond, which was 8.3 miles total.  It was overcast and a bit misty, but it was a welcome change from the intense heat of the week before.  We met a ton of hikers and bikers, but they were all polite and interested in the horses.  Many of them took photos of us, or even asked us to stop for a photo, which completely cracked me up.  I told Shelly I felt like a movie star, and in the next group of bikers to come up behind me, one of the women said, "Hi movie stars!"  LOL!  Made me laugh!  I am sure our small brush with paparazzi was quite enough to last me for the rest of forever.  :-D
 

This cracks me up!  I am taking a pic with my iPhone.  Ah, technology...

Admiring the gorgeous view of Jordan Pond.  This place was magnificent! 

Posing near Bubble Pond...
This trail along Bubble Pond was the most narrow of all the carriage trails.


Bubble Pond was gorgeous as well.  The color of the water was really neat!  

After our Saturday morning ride, we decided to let the horses chill in their stalls while we got cleaned up and had lunch.  It was beginning to clear and becoming sunny and HOT again.  The horses were happy to relax and eat hay in their stalls throughout the middle of the day.  Since we were staying in a tent at the stables, and there was only a toilet and sink at the barn, I really wanted a shower.  I had washed my hair with the hose on Friday night, but it was time to actually get clean!  LOL!  I am not that tough to go without being clean.  We found a place just down the road that had showers for $2, and it was clean and comfortable.   After much needed showers, Shelly and I decided to wander around downtown Bar Harbor for a while.  It was crazy busy with tourists, and in hindsight we will never drive down there again but take the bus from the stable (plus it is free to ride the bus!)!  We found an expensive but yummy restaurant for lunch and wandered around in the many shops.  I bought two small Acadia National Park sew-on patches (I have one from a trip back in college that I put on a backpack...same patch from the same shop...LOL!) and I plan to put them on a saddle pad for Dreamy!  :-)  We bought ice cream and fudge and had a nice walk around pretending to be tourists with too much money to spend.  ;-)  We bought steaks and corn-on-the-cob for our dinner at Hannafords and headed back to the camp/stable.


I was exhausted, as we had stayed up way too late the night before.  I want to say it was 2AM before we fell asleep.  We met some nice people and stayed up chatting and laughing at the communal fire pit.  I desperately needed to rest if we were going to ride again that day.  I slept for almost two hours, and then we fed horses and got ready for a sunset ride.  We decided to go up Day Mountain, which was an easy trail and we knew we would be OK if it got a little dark on the ride back.  It was 5.7 miles total, which included the summit.


   
Almost to the summit!
We made it!  It was soooooo incredibly gorgeous up there!  You could see everything and the sunset was perfect.  It was hard to capture on film.
The colors were stunning...

...and they kept changing.

Dreamy was hard to photograph as the light kept changing and well, it is only an iPhone 4 camera!  LOL!
Unbelievable  :-)
As much as we were admiring the view, it suddenly dawned on us that we still had to ride down the mountain (1.5 miles) and back around the base to the stable (1.2 miles).  Whoops!  So of course, you can just see where this is going.  It was pretty dark when we got back down into the trees and pitch black by the time we got onto the base trail.  It is amazing how the eyes can adjust to the darkness and we did just fine.  The trail is such a light colored gravel that it was not difficult to stay on the trail.  And our horses were rock stars.  They stayed happy and content, if a bit mystified, about riding in the dark.  I just prayed no wild animal would jump out of the woods!  LOL!  I can't remember what made me decide to put on my iPod in my phone, but we sung "Mean" by Taylor Swift which was kind of fun.  LOL!  Now whenever I hear that song, it brings me back to the very dark forest, riding along on my wonderful mare with my BFF and her horse.  :-)  What a neat feeling to ride in the dark and feel so safe and comfortable with your horse.  That is not something I will ever forget.

We still had to cook our dinner when we got back, so after taking care of our horses and getting them settled for the night, we ate and relaxed around the fire.  It was such a good time.  I am not a big fan of sleeping in a tent, but I would do it in Acadia again in a heartbeat.  



Another pic...I loved the signage everywhere!
The next day we rode early, and thankfully no one was coming into the stables so while we would normally have to leave by 10AM, they said we could stay as late in the day up until 5PM as we wanted.  We did end up leaving by 11AM because we both wanted to get home at a reasonable hour in the afternoon, but we had a very nice last ride.

We went down into the private carriage roads along Jordan Stream, and we rode about 6 miles.  Bikers are prohibited from the private roads, so we never saw anyone through those trails.  We went over some beautiful stone bridges and wooden bridges too.  What amazes me is that the trails and bridges were all built just after the turn of the century from 1915-33 by JD Rockefeller.  Everything is meticulously maintained, the trails are dragged and watered, and even the horse manure is picked up!

Here is one of the gatehouses/gate lodges.  Gorgeous!
At the gatehouses was the only spot we had to cross a paved road.  Motorists were polite to us.
You can see we are going around the gate, to the right.  McKeever's ears are green.  ;-)
We even found a natural XC JUMP out in the private carriage roads!  WHOOO!
Overall, this trip was absolutely perfect and so much fun.  We rode 22 miles over the three days.  I wish we could have stayed longer!  But I know for sure that we will go back.  We are already taking about "next year's trip" and hopefully we will bring friends along with us this time.  If any of you ever get the chance to ride your horse in Acadia, DO IT!  If I had something like that to ride in every day, I am pretty sure I would never enter a ring or do dressage again!  Well, OK, maybe not ever...LOL!  

More pics are here in my FaceBook album.

4 comments:

  1. That looks amazing; the sunset pics are stunning! I haven't been on a "real" (over a 1/2 h) trail ride all summer :(

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  2. What a neat place to ride! That must have been so much fun. Glad to hear that you got out for a few days with your good friend. Love all of the pics!

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  3. That looks incredible! I would love to do something like that with my horse someday!

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