Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Acadia Adventures! (Part 1)

MITOC does it again! As LMF alum Kelly K '15 and many others can confirm, MIT Outing Club is just fantastic. This weekend, MITOC organized a trip for 75 people to Acadia National Park in Maine, which was definitely one of the highlights of my senior spring. The organization is pretty awesome: for a weekend of camping, all you need to do is pay a small fee, find a tent/sleeping bag, and sign up on a spreadsheet with a driver to head to the campground in Bass Harbor. I later found that the campground is conveniently located next to a really neat lighthouse and the beautiful, swimmable Echo Lake.

The drive up there is about 5 hours, so we got to the campground at around midnight on Friday. At the entrance to the campground, there was a sign "<--MIT / HAV'D -->" with arrows pointing in opposite directions. Apparently, they are actually on opposite sides of the campground. Probably a good idea. :)

We still didn't exactly know what we'll be doing, but in the morning we joined MIT alums Ian and Birkan for a morning hike to Acadia and St. Sauveur Mountain. At the trail head, we met up with several others, including Daniela '18, Elise '18, and Kiwi! One-year-old Kiwi is a really enthusiastic MITOC traveler; she was at first wary of the steep inclines and rocks, but now she hops between them fearlessly. She also carries her own hiking gear and water. Here's Birkan and Kiwi:

Kiwi is a pro hiker :) 
The trail was mild in the beginning, with some steep parts, and mostly through wonderful clusters of fir, spruce, and maple trees. The summit provided some beautiful views of where we are heading next:

LMF represent at the summit! :) 
Here's a look at the loop: 

Along the way, there was a path to open water. It was rather cold, but a good stop nevertheless.

Personally I really enjoyed the next stop at St. Sauveur mountain, where the rocks near the cliff edge had just the perfect incline for laying down and sunbathing.

Nice warm rocks at St. Sauveur Summit 
After the hike, we figured we had done enough to indulge in some delicious blueberry ice cream in Bass Harbor, a tiny little village not far from our campground. MITOC member and kayak instructor Rick is awesome at what he does. He showed us patiently how to operate the kayaks in open sea (not as trivial as it might seem - especially in high waves, where it's important to be directly opposite of the waves when going upwind) and the funniest part - putting on "skirts". At first I was quite confused how these blue skirt things are worn and why they're put under the vest, but actually they attach to the boat to keep the water out (see below).

Selfies on open sea kayaks = daredevil? :) 
We kayaked to a little island off the coast and then a bit into the harbor, returning along the coast since the winds and waves were quite strong. 
Water looking really nice here. But it's actually really, really cold!
When we parked our kayaks back at shore, it was too tempting to not miss the opportunity to take a swim (one taken by four brave souls out of our group). For me, the "swim" only lasted about 5 seconds - I may be Russian, but the water really was freezing. Still, very refreshing!

Having gotten a full-body workout from this lovely combination of earth and water activities, we returned to the campground to make things for the potluck. I have to say, bonfire potlucks are THE prime reason I love camping in the wilderness, and especially camping with MITOC. Everyone shares and it's kind of like being back in kindergarden. Really though, that evening I had the best meal - stir fry rice, teriyaki chicken (my home-made contribution), guacomole, pasta salad, risotto, salmon shiitake mushroom stirfry... oh, and bananas in chocolate fondue to start. Needless to say, the next day's triathlon was very much welcome! :)

Look out for the Part 2 report of the Acadia trip which includes super awesome light roadbikes and sunset hikes. ;) 

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