Today we spent another GREAT day on Great Hill! When we woke up this morning Rich was feeling a little better, although he was still unsure how much he would feel like doing today. We started out with breakfast at the Black Friar. It was delicious as always, but some things have changed. We were disappointed to find that the Friar Fries are no more! Now they’re just like regular home fries—very tasty but not the same as the original Friar Fries, which were thin slices of potato cooked with cheese and onion. We registered our complaint!
From the waitress, Tara, we found out that Johnny is no longer cooking at the Friar, but Jennie (a waitress) and Tom (the owner of the inn) are still there as before. One of the new cooks is Sheila, and Tom is cooking as well.
I had the breakfast combo: one scrambled egg, one wild blueberry pancake filled with blueberries, sausage, (fake) Friar Fries, and fruit. Rich had two fried eggs, extra-crispy bacon, (fake) Friar Fries and fruit. To drink, I had my usual pineapple juice and Earl Grey and Rich had coffee. After hanging around for a little while and talking with Tara, we stepped out into the sunshine.
Rich suggested revisiting Great Hill because it’s easy to get to on the bus, would give us a little hike and a nice place to rest in the sun, and would give me a chance to look for a few more abandoned trails if I felt like moving around. It occurred to me that it would also be a great spot for a picnic! We stopped at the Hannaford for a few supplies: wine in a mini Bota Box and Beemster Goat Gouda. We already had some crackers to go along with the cheese.
Our plan involved taking the Jordan Pond bus to the visitors center and continuing on from there to Great Hill, or rather the overlook just across the road from the trailhead, where we asked to be let off. That worked out fine, just like last year. We followed the trail up to Great Hill’s first summit where we sat on the ledges, took some photos and looked around for a while. Then we had our little picnic! The wine and cheese tasted even better in the sunshine, and we had so much fun! Storm clouds were building in the distance but they were moving slowly and not toward us, so we weren’t concerned.
Half drunk hiking is always fun. While Rich basked in the sunshine, I decided to take a walk over to the second summit and attempt to find one of the trails that leaves from it. The second summit is easy to find: just walk down into the wooded area south of the first summit and then climb up again. There is a trail, although it probably isn’t strictly necessary to find it to get up onto the ledges of the second summit. A large cairn tells you that you’re there.
The second summit has a great view of the mountains and even Eagle Lake. While I was taking a photo of the view of Cadillac, I happened to spot a cairn to the east. So exciting! This is usually a sign of a trail, and I just had to see where it went. As I descended the hillside I found more cairns here and there, not as many as I’ve seen on other abandoned trails but enough to keep me feeling confident I was onto something.
After descending the ledges I found myself down deep in the blueberry and wintergreen with no real idea where to go. I kept walking in the general direction I thought seemed right and eventually spotted an indistinct trail in a clearing. The trail was so faint it might have just been a game trail, but it eventually led to an intersection with another trail that was clearly a well-used footpath. The footpath led in two directions.
At first I followed the path to the right but soon ran into heavy overgrowth. Having looked at the map later, now I know I should’ve just pushed through, and I would have continued on the Bracken Path out to Duck Brook Road. But as it was, I wanted to see if I could get back out to the park loop road, and going in the other direction should accomplish that, I thought.
I was right. Just a few minutes later I popped out on the road right behind the sign at the intersection of the loop road and the Cadillac Mountain entrance road. So cool! I just walked back along the road, finding what Matt Marchon calls the “Roadside Cave” along the way. I climbed the Great Hill trail again to surprise Rich at the summit. Thrilling!
And even better, Rich was curious enough about what I had found that he wanted to take that route back to the road! We did, and I think were were both surprised and maybe a little impressed that I’d been able to follow the trail the first time, since the cairns are really few and far between and the footpath, at least the part descending the hill, is tough to follow. We later discovered that the descending trail was called the Great Hill Trail and the well-used footpath was, as I said, the Bracken Path.
We caught the bus (we had the same driver as this morning) and rode back to the visitors center, where we browsed for a while and eventually bought a set of Acadia quarters, found out when the Baker Island cruise will next run (Thursday), and chatted with friendly salesladies about Organ Pipe, Scranton and text-speak.
The rain began as we walked back to our room from the Village Green. The rain got heavier and continued for much of the evening. Supper was at the Black Friar, which was warm and cozy as always. We started with beer, Gritty’s seasonal and IPA, and super-hot rolls right from the oven. Rich chose the steak with asparagus and crabmeat and I couldn’t resist the potato-crusted halibut with a fantastically earthy mushroom risotto. Veggies of the evening were sauteed onions and zucchini. Yum! We ended with wild blueberry cobbler with fresh whipped cream made by our waitress. It was a great dessert, light and flavorful and not too sweet. The rain was gone by the time we were ready to walk back to our room.