This was the day of Dad’s arrival. We weren’t sure just when he would appear but last night we went ahead and made reservations at Red Sky anyway, expecting/hoping that he would be here in time for supper. The morning was cool and cloudy to misty. We woke up to find that it had rained at some point overnight.
Breakfast and goat cheese from the farmers’ market
We considered going back to the Black Friar for breakfast, but decided to save it for tomorrow, when Dad could enjoy it with us, and head to Two Cats instead. It was still early, so we were easily able to get a table. I’ve been craving their granola all year so my choice was already made for me. Rich got the summer scramble: fluffy eggs with dill, tomatoes and green onions. I helped him with that as well as with his perfectly cooked (for once) bacon and home fries. Service was overly friendly (no, it’s not “awesome” that we want a refill on our coffee) but pretty efficient, and the food arrived quickly. Before leaving, we bought mom the t-shirt she had requested.
It was still early, so we decided to stop at the farmers’ market that is held each Sunday throughout the summer. We walked the long way around to the field near the YMCA and the first thing Rich spotted, from a distance, was the Sunset Acres Farm truck! We were still hoping that they would have brought a few goats to the market, but the girl at the stand looked at us like we were crazy when we mentioned it. The first few vendors were selling gorgeous melons and vegetables. We had a hard time passing by the smoked meats of the Smith Family Farm and smoked bones from the Brown Family Farm. But we loaded up on goat cheese from Sunset Acres and also tried a new goat cheese (fig and kalamata olive) from Yellow Birch Farm in Deer Isle.
Locating Rudolph Brunnow’s Hanging Steps
Following yesterday’s successful search for the Great Cave, we decided to return to the Precipice area today to look for the “hanging staircase” or “hanging steps.” These are a set of stone steps built by pathmaker Rudolph Brunnow along his Orange & Black path—the north end of which is still in use as an official park trail, and the southernmost part of which is in unofficial use as a trail climbers take to access the best climbing routes on the Precipice wall.
As we did yesterday, we took the Sand Beach bus to the Precipice and then began to walk along the Climbers’ Path. This unofficial path parallels the loop road for a short distance before heading into the woods, where it soon begins to climb. We knew from our online research that we were to look for an overhanging birch tree, which we found very easily and maneuvered around slightly less easily (remember, legs are still tired from the bolder climbs—and descents—yesterday!).
Once we passed the tree and turned up and to the right to go around and then on top of a huge boulder, we were nearly at our goal. We began to notice steps carefully, intentionally placed into the side of the cliff, and then more and more. It really was a “trail of steps!” And then a few steps more and we could see, towering above us in the distance, the unmistakable sight of the hanging steps, with a double iron rung above and to the right of them (these rungs once lined a lookout spot). The steps really did appear to be hanging in midair, and at no time so much as when you’re actually climbing and descending them! Wow, that was a bit intimidating descending those narrow steps with nothing visible below or on either side, especially since they were still slick from the morning’s mist and drizzle.
I was curious to see whether any more of the old abandoned section of the Orange & Black path could be followed from the top of the steps. There is a clear path and it goes in the right direction, but I walked it north a short distance and didn’t see any definitive signs of trailbuilding, like carved or placed steps. The trail is obviously still in use by climbers, and it’s likely that it is at least partly the path of the old Orange & Black simply because if a trail is there, climbers are going to use it rather than create a new one. I only went as far as a broad ledge and then turned around to go meet Rich back at the hanging steps.
The way back down felt much quicker because we knew where we were going and what we were looking for. We took some photos and recorded some waypoints along the way, as always. At one point near the overhanging birch tree, Rich’s pole slipped out of his hand and of course, slid right into the lowest possible place in the cavity beneath a pile of boulders. At least we didn’t hear it going “bing … bing … bing …” all the way down, so we knew it hadn’t gone too far, but could we reach it? Turns out I was able to work my way in there (stiff, sore legs!) and grab the pole, and all was well again.
Dad’s arrival and dinner at Red Sky
After we emerged from the woods we took a few minutes to figure out what we wanted to do next. We were expecting dad pretty much anytime, so we didn’t want to be away from town for too long. We started walking south along the loop road, figuring we’d catch a bus and just go sit at Thunder Hole for a while, and then catch another bus back to the village green. No buses came until we had just gone through the pay station (fortunately Rich had our park pass with him) but then the bus came through immediately after us, and we flagged it down. We sat at Thunder Hole for about half an hour, as planned, and then rode back to the village green. Along the way we heard from Dad that he had arrived. We stopped by to see him and made our plans for supper.
Red Sky was as awesome as ever! We all ordered beer (Bug Lager for dad, Real Ale for Rich and Big Wicked IPA for me), salmon mousse with crackers, and bread. Rich and I shared the spicy lamb taco appetizer and dad had his favorite crispy polenta with mushrooms and kale. Rich and I both had the cheese and multi-veggie (butternut squash, peppers, etc.) lasagna, and dad again had his favorite roast chicken from Sunset Acre Farms. Dessert was what they called blueberry extravaganza (blueberry butter cake on top of blueberry crème anglais, served with whipped cream, homemade blueberry ice cream, and topped with more wild blueberries). I called it the Blueberry Blowout!