Experiencing Acadia on Snowshoes

by Joe Zentner

Eerie calm and cheery cold. Two winter trademarks of Acadia National Park. Recently my wife and I experienced the snowy white peaks of Maine illuminated by pink dawns and golden sunsets. We tramped on snowshoes where the only tracks in evidence were those of an occasional moose.

During wintertime, Acadia National Park attracts hardy visitors to come to cross country ski and snowshoe on Mount Desert Island. The winds whip mightily around pines, firs and birches. The French name “Isles des Monts Desert” means “island of barren mountains.”

As man has provided Mount Desert Island with a romanticized history, so nature has created a unique island of extraordinary wilderness beauty. Here one finds mountains, lakes, sea and estuaries, all within tramping distance of one another.

Cadillac Mountain is well worth exploring on snowshoes. We stood on the summit of Cadillac, alone, in a world of penetrating silence, set with brilliant winter white. The softly moving vapor clouds of our own breath made the only motion. The view from the summit looking toward the Atlantic Ocean is one of the most beautiful to be found in any national park.

In the purity of their cold truths, winters here are a reaffirmation of life; they do not still it, provided you’re in good physical condition. In cold, there is a keen realization that blood flows if you keep moving; the heart beats and sinews stretch. True, there is some risk involved in cross-country hiking when it’s bitter cold, but such risk celebrates an awareness of the miracle of life.


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