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Foliage and Fungus at Acadia National Park

Into the WoodsLast summer I made my first visit to Acadia National Park to attend a photography workshop in the town of Bar Harbor, Maine.  It was one of those random places I’d never really thought about visiting, but afterward couldn’t get out of my head.  It was just the tonic I needed during a difficult year, and now that things have settled down, I wanted to go back with fresh eyes.  And if possible, check out the legendary fall foliage.

So I recruited my mom to join me on an October excursion, and we spent several days hiking through forests, ascending mountains, and traversing rocky trails.  (Also eating lots and lots of delicious Downeast Maine cuisine, but that’s a subject for a food blog, and a girl can only have so many blogs.  I’ve probably already exceeded my lifetime limit, let’s be honest.)  We found the promised foliage to be as breathtaking as described, and we also found a LOT of interesting mushrooms on the forest floor.  So many, in fact, that I picked up a field guide before sitting down to write this post.  I then flipped through it, briefly cross-referenced it with a Maine mycology survey, and made the executive decision that this post has too many photos to worry about ID.  Maybe it’s okay if today I don’t know a russula from a mycena.  (I do, however, now REALLY want to encounter a pretzel slime.)

We arrived on a gloomy Saturday afternoon and had just enough time for a quick visit before the fog set in and the storms began.  We spent those few minutes admiring the trees around the Bubble Pond.

Bubble Pond at Acadia National Park

The next morning was much brighter, and we headed first for Jordan Pond and its view of The Bubbles.  We saw some lovely wildflowers and an intrepid woodpecker (?), and we walked halfway around the pond on the narrow boardwalk trail before deciding to turn back rather than make the full circuit.  (We were told there might be some very mild rock ascending–in retrospect, I’ll just say it, we kinda wussed out.)  Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park

I had to jump down from the boardwalk a few times to photograph the fungus.  I’ve seen the one on the bottom right before, and I have always referred to it as the Cheeto fungus.  Hey, if pretzel slime is an honest-to-God thing, why can’t Cheeto fungus be?
Fungus at Acadia National Park

I loved seeing how many colors and shapes the mushrooms took, and the variety of places they grew.
Fungus at Acadia National ParkFungus at Acadia National Park

After lunch at the Jordan Pond House, we came across the Great Meadow and stopped to explore a bit.  There’s no signage indicating that’s what this area is called, so we spent some time the next day contemplating whether to hike there from the Bar Harbor Village Green, as suggested in the tourist guide.  Eventually we decided to try to drive it first to see whether the meadow was even visible from the car, only to discover it was a lengthy hike to a place we’d already been.  Dodged THAT bullet.  Take that, physical fitness!Great Meadow at Acadia National Park

The gulls don’t seem too shy.  I took this photo while basically pressed against the front of a bus full of retired tourists, so maybe I’m not too shy either.
Gull at Acadia National Park

Last summer when I visited the Wild Gardens of Acadia and Sieur de Monts Spring, it was pouring rain, but I knew it was my only chance to visit.  This time, the conditions were much nicer.  OK…so you know how I am.  Even though it was October, and thus very late in the season to be spotting dragonflies this far north, I had looked at my handy dragonfly field guide before the trip and determined that there was at least a possibility of adding to my species sighting list.  (Sigh…enormous nerd alert, obviously.)  I finally spotted one in the Wild Gardens and chased it with the camera for a decent length of time, but as darners do, it flew continuously and I never got a clear shot at close range.  So I call the top image Silhouette of Frustration.  I saw a few more of the same type, but never up close.The Wild Gardens of Acadia at Sieur de Monts

A morning trip to the summit of Cadillac Mountain yielded lovely views and a wind so punishing I stuck out most of the visit from the passenger seat of the car.  Did I mention I had gotten a cold by this point?  Maine and Tennessee have yet to sync up temperature-wise.Cadillac Mountain at Acadia National Park

After the mountain, we made an attempt to find the Great Meadow (having yet to be enlightened) by hiking to it from Sieur de Monts.  We didn’t get too far before we reached something else: The Tarn, a large bog surrounded by huge rocks.  There were very few other people on the trail, and the weather was beautiful.  Such a peaceful spot.  The Tarn at Acadia National Park

Best of all, The Tarn housed a healthy population of autumn meadowhawks (Sympetrum vicinum), most of which were sunning themselves on the rocks.  This is the most-spotted dragonfly in this part of Maine at this time of year, as its name might suggest.  So…mission accomplished.  It’s probably silly how happy this made me, but what are you going to do.Autumn meadowhawk dragonfly at Acadia National Park

And that concludes my Maine photo recap.  I highly recommend a visit to Acadia National Park…in the summer, in the fall, whenever you can make it there.  It’s a beautiful place, on an island full of local treats and friendly people.  I continually feel lucky that it was brought to my attention, and that I’ve been able to experience it in multiple seasons.Fall leaves at Acadia National Park

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