If we thought we had gotten an early start on Sunday morning, Monday morning was much earlier, in fact an hour earlier than we had planned! Here's why: we had planned to get up early enough to drive to Cadillac Mountain to experience the sunrise--the first place the sunrise hits the US each day--so we set the alarm on my phone for 5:00 AM. Well, the alarm went off, we got up and started getting dressed and then I looked at my watch and realized that the alarm had gone off at 4:00 and not 5:00!! Can't figure out how the alarm did that, but anyway, we were up so we just headed on to the top of Cadillac.
When we arrived there were only 3 other vehicles there, but more and more kept coming, and by the time of the actual sunrise at 6:30, the parking lot was full. We sat in the RV for a while as it was still dark, drinking some hot tea to warm up before getting out and heading up to the summit in the cold to find a spot as the crowds began to arrive. It was pretty chilly and the wind was whipping around to add to that, but we were able to find a spot where we could be a little sheltered behind a sign. So we sat down on the rocks to await the first sightings of this new day in America, and boy was it a sight to behold!! As the first little bits of light began to appear in the darkness, you could see the spotlights on several lobster boats as they fanned out over Frenchman Bay to check on their traps--created quite an ethereal effect. Then the colors started coming, and there were a lot of cloud layers, which always add to the remarkable shades and hues that make sunrises so wonderful. At first there didn't appear to be much, if any, fog/mist out over the water, but as the sunrise progressed, more seemed to rise from the water. As it kept getting lighter, you could make out more and more people scattered all over the top of the mountain, waiting and watching. This was a remarkable experience, very spiritual in so many ways, and something of a sense of shared community among all these people, almost all of them strangers, seemed to pervade the place as we all gathered to individually, yet inextricably communally, share this time, place and experience. In some ways it reminded us of when we had been in Lalibella, Ethiopia on Christmas morning a couple of years ago, awaiting the dawn with a mountainside full of pilgrims, all anxiously awaiting the coming of a new beginning. Even there, when we were separated by the barrier of language, there was an overwhelming sense of shared community you could see plainly in the faces of the people as you looked into each other's eyes and just knew we were all part of an interconnected whole that had been going on since the beginning of time. Some of that same sense came over us as we watched in silence as yet another day began in America--the awe that you can't help but feel as you see the incredibly changing and absolutely beautiful patterns of light emerge, reaffirming once again that a new beginning is here. Just an overwhelming feeling, if you stop and just take it in, without worrying about all the things you have to do that day, but just let yourself fall into the wonder of how this universe is so vast, so immense, so beautiful and so amazingly constant; to let yourself be humbled by the realization that, in this vast expansive universe, each of us is in some ways no more than a bit player in a huge drama; yet in other ways how blessed and fortunate each of us is to be a part of something that happens all over this world, every single day--just mind blowing. Started to say "when you think about it," but it's so much better when you don't really "think" about it, but rather just experience it with all of your senses--here the cold, fresh air, the fading darkness, the growing light, the changing shades of brilliant colors, the pungent smell of fir trees, the sounds of silence, the pink rocks, the water, the mountains, the people. Just awesome! Then we could see the fiery ball of the sun breaking the horizon, having been presaged by the rays reflecting off the clouds before the ball appeared, and wham--it was once again up in the sky. No matter who you are, no matter what your life experience has been, seems to me that this experience is powerful reassurance of the majesty and continuity of creation and existence, giving strength to face whatever comes along.
After the sunrise, most folks left the mountain, but we stayed to walk around the summit path that we had avoided earlier when we hiked up the mountain, due to all the crowds. We could see more and more fall colors coming out and it was really gorgeous. We just love the pink granite that abounds here, with contrasting colors of green and gray lichen making intricate patterns on the rocks.
We left Cadillac Mountain and headed to Sand Beach, where we hiked the Ocean Path that follows the shoreline from Sand Beach to Thunder Hole and then on to Otter Cliffs. It was a great hike with lots of wonderful views of the water, the rocks, the cliffs, the birds, the sound of the buoy bells, and we were so glad we did this hike before leaving the park. It was fun to stop at Thunder Hole, where the water rushing back up into the caves, hollowed out by millions of years of waves, creats this booming sound. We recalled our visit here 30 years ago and how much Todd enjoyed it. He was such a happy little child and always got into things like this. He would hang over the railings and love it when the waves would splash up onto the walkway--while we would try to avoid getting wet, he would try harder to get right into the spray! This day the waves were pretty calm, but still produced some wonderful sounds.
After this hike, we stopped back in Bar Harbor to run some errands and then drove back to the campground for our last night in Acadia. We built a campfire and our new friends Thane and Carol joined us as we shared our pictures from the sunrise and they shared their pictures from all the events of the Night Sky Festival where Thane had been a volunteer on one of the telescopes, explaining to folks what they were seeing as they looked through. A wonderful way to end our last night in this incredible park!
Sunrise at Cadillac
Lots of people along the rocks, all watching the sunrise
Some shots as we walked around the summit loop path, after most everyone else had left
Can't get enough of these pink rocks!
Another nature cruise boat coming along to show the folks Thunder Hole; as we were hiking back past Thunder Hole from Otter Cliffs