Thursday, May 31, 2012

like a lighthouse

at Pemaquid Point on the Maine coast

This shot was really a stroke of luck. On my way back to western Massachusetts from a visit to family on Mount Desert Island, I decide to take the slow road -- U.S. Rte. 1 from Belfast to Brunswick. On a whim, I veered south on rough and curvy Rte. 32 at Waldoboro, heading down towards Pemaquid Point and one of the most photographed lighthouses pretty much ever. Despite growing up on the coast of Maine, I'd never been here before because you really need to set aside a good chunk of time to turn off and explore any of the mid-coast peninsulas, and that just never happened.

When I arrived, it was about 5PM and the sky was mostly overcast with some hazy clouds. The seabreeze and the land breeze were duking it out, though, and the sun occasionally poked through. Once I found this reflection, I waited for that one moment where the sun was out, the wind abated, and no kids were playing in the field of view. It was cloudy and windy and there were a lot of kids, but patience finally paid off (briefly). All three of those factors occurred simultaneously for a total of about one second and I got this shot. I was pretty psyched at the time, and I'm so happy with the result now.

the smartphone version (not bad for a beat-up old Droid!):

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

the magic spot

When I was a senior in high school I finished a quest to hike every mapped trail in Acadia National Park. One of the final links involved a loop on Bernard Mountain (a.k.a. Western Mtn.). I climbed up on the Sluiceway Trail to Little Notch, then took a left and headed to the top. After enjoying the limited views from the summit, I started looping back down via the South Face Trail. About a quarter mile along, I suddenly found myself briefly walking through a forest unlike any other I'd ever seen on the island. I remember there being a staggering greenness, with an incredibly lush understory of mosses on the forest floor. I wasn't expecting it at all, and it instantly etched into my memory as the magic spot, a place I felt incredibly lucky and honored to have discovered for myself.

Last week I finally went back. And it was just as spectacular as I'd remembered. I waited until a drizzly, overcast afternoon so the light would be diffuse (curse the dapple!) and good for longer exposure photos. Ultimately, I got even better weather than I'd wished for. The sun had started to break out down below, but the upper few hundred feet or so of the mountain was totally socked in the clouds, which produced this hushed, almost ethereal feel at the magic spot. Anyway, this is the conifer needle covered trail as it passes through.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Around Mountain

The carriage trails in Acadia National Park make for some of the sweetest running terrain you'll ever find anywhere. Got sore knees? Body feeling pummeled by pavement? Like gentle grades, soft surfaces, natural scenery, incredible stone bridges, and impressively crafted wooden trail signs? If yes, a run in Acadia's the thing for you.

I love the whole network, but the Around Mountain Trail is particularly special. The upper route traces a 12-mile loop around a bunch of the island's interior mountains. Much of it passes through forest, though there are frequent views out over lakes. The really neat part, I think, is the section that pokes partially above treeline on the north side of Sargent Mountain. The climb is exhausting, but the scenery is always sweeping and dramatic, and the smell of spruce, fir, birch, blueberries, and granite... so fine.  

This curve is where the trail swoops towards Sargent around the north side of Parkman Mountain, 
just past a long, scenic stretch overlooking Somes Sound.

the view to the west

on the side of Parkman Mountain

over on the Jordan Pond side

Sunday, May 20, 2012

live treasure

My first ever personal encounter with Arethusa bulbosa. This tiny plant is uncommon to rare across its entire range in northeastern North America, and I feel very lucky to have finally been able to see one.

Moment of earnestness: I love this stuff. Rare wildflower hunting. I swear, every time I have an experience like this, down on the ground amongst the ticks, sweating in the mid-day heat, futzing with my lens trying to get the focus just right while being as careful and respectful as I can be of the surrounding habitat, I'm that much more certain that I like this world better with these treasures in it. And I get that much more passionate about biodiversity conservation. Anyway, yeah... this is me at my most evangelistic. Please get involved!

Friday, May 18, 2012

WMA Mother's Day Half-Marathon 2012

Just a quick race report from the WMA Mother's Day half-marathon in Whately last weekend. It's hard to imagine better weather conditions and a nicer course.

After a too-fast start (sub-7's up the hill in that first mile... fool!) and getting passed by some smarter racers in the second mile (I'll get you someday, Sri...), I settled into 15th place and stayed there for the whole race, except for a brief loss due to an entirely necessary mile-4 pee break (I may never learn) and some back-and-forth with Sue Dean in the middle there. After hearing several tales of headwinds past, it was a pleasure to head north up River Road into no-wind-whatsoever. There was great water station help, more crowd support in the rural areas than I'd have expected, and a fun finish-area atmosphere. Despite my slightly disappointing finish time (1:37:21), I loved this run. 

Ultimately, this was one of those races. Mentally I had been treating it as an "A race," but I just didn't do that well. I'm not sure what the variable was (sleep? nutrition? training? beer?), but I ended up doing worse than the Westfield half back in February, which I think was technically hillier. The course here was extremely fair (see map) and the weather was great and I don't think I went out TOO too fast, but I just didn't have enough gas in the tank to do it.

hey, my legs at the starting line! (photos from the race website)

pre-race clown fail (you get what I was going for here)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Seven Sisters Trail Race

Photo shoot: After taking pictures of the pack as it headed up the rocky talus slope near the start of the 2012 Seven Sisters Trail Race, I drove around and parked at the turnaround point and hiked about half a mile up the ridge to catch the lead runners. It was a good spot, especially looking downwards, and I stayed there until those same lead runners came back up. After a good pulse had come through, I started back down and caught shots of people in various settings along the way, including dense woods, scenic ledges, and the open powerline corridor. Then I drove back around to the finish and took shots along the very last downhill stretch, just below the talus section. I didn't make any attempt to photograph everyone, but still ended up catching most, I think. Anyway, I stopped when my D300's batteries ran out.