Alright, I know I said I’d see you soon with part 2 of our month in review recap of July.
I didn’t realize how hard good internet was going to be to find for the last few weeks! Better late than never, lets pick up where we left off as we were leaving Pennsylvania!
We quickly skirted though New York and New Jersey. To be totally honest with you, it’s because those areas are so developed that it’s very difficult to find places to camp. As I’m sure you have gathered by now we’re not established campground kind of people. Less because you have to pay for them than how loud and un-peaceful they can be.
We quickly made into the northwestern corner of Massachusetts with our sights set on the White Mountains for the weekend. We were stopped short by the towns of Williamstown & North Adams.
Williamstown, home of William’s College, is an incredibly beautiful town that Owen and I had no plans of stopping in. We drove through town past some of the college’s stately looking buildings and immediately pulled over to bask in their glory. As suckers for old architecture, we were smitten. After Williamstown we went just a few minutes down the road before we again were compelled to stop and take in the art and architecture.
We liked the town of North Adams so much that it made us start an official list of cities that we could see ourselves living in someday! If you’re unfamiliar, North Adams is a small art heavy town due east of Williamstown. With an artist studio, gallery/art museum, or ancient pub every few pacesl we were hooked! So let it be publicly known, North Adams is on the list!
After a spin around North Adams we pointed northeast to find some trails in the White Mountains.
A few hours after leaving North Adams we found ourselves in the parking lot to the popular Franconia Ridge Trail. A friend of ours recommended we hike the Franconia Ridge Trail if we were going to be in the area, and as luck would have it he was also going to be camping that night elsewhere in the White Mountains! So the plan was made to quickly knock out this 8ish mile hike and meet him for a nice night of camping. Side note: While I was pulling up specifics about the trail so that I could accurately recount these events to you, I learned that a National Geographic article has listed the Franconia Ridge Trail as “World’s Best Hikes: 20 Dream Trails”, and for good reason.
With plans made we packed our day packs, laced up our trail runners and started for the trail head. We decided to take a look at the map of the trail to be sure that there weren’t any intersections on the trail that we needed to worry about. Turns out they recommend 7+ hours to complete the hike. Glancing at our watches we noticed that it was 2:15pm… seven hours of hiking would put us well past dark and rolling into camp pretty late. Owen and I being the people we are, laughed and said “There is no way we’ll need that much time” and set off on our hike.
The word hike is not fully appropriate for what we encountered on this trail. It was a climb. The New England area does hiking a bit differently than the rest of the USA does. The trails aren’t graded for pack animals, meaning that there are no switch backs. If you need to go up, you go straight up. The trail quickly beat us into submission with an elevation gain of 3,480 feet in just 4 miles. It didn’t take us long to be concerned about the “land speed record” we were planning on setting.
To date this is probably one of the hardest day hikes that we’ve ever done. It wasn’t that the distance of nearly 9 miles was a lot. It was the sustained grade of the trail! Even once we got onto the ridge you climb up and down 3 separate peaks before you start the equally grueling down hill climb. I’m totally selling this hike aren’t I?! As challenging as it was, it was breathtaking to walk along the ridge from peak to peak. We later learned how lucky we were to get such bright and clear weather that held out for us the whole time. The views we nothing short of epic. By the time we made it back to Lando, it was a little after 7pm. We were just happy it didn’t take us the full 7 hours to complete!
The next morning after our epic hike, and a lovely evening of camping with our friend Kyle, his girlfriend, and her mother. We woke to a rainy day and realized our plans to drive to the top of Mount Washington were out of the question due to the high price for little to no visibility. We decided instead to head towards Maine in hopes of finding some indoor activities and shelter from the weather.
Full transparency, when the weather is bad, it can be very difficult to live out of a truck with no awning of any kind. We knew that this was going to be the case, but in an effort to save money for our next rig we decided to forgo the luxury of an awning. We also decided against a tarp because of a lack of room to carry one.
We made it to Portland, Maine and found this band of delightful human beings. <3
Let me introduce you to Lindsay and Nick! Nick is an acquaintance of mine from college turned friend since our paths have crossed so many times since! Nick is a thru-hiking, photographer extraordinaire. We linked up with him on a zero day in Ashland, Oregon when he was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2016 (a trail I’m currently trying to convice Owen we need to do). Then last year we saw a guy crossing the street in front of us in Glacier National Park. Low and behold it was Nick! We ended up seeing him one more time while we were heading into town and gave him a lift. We met Lindsay for the first time when they dropped by for a visit while we were working on Amelia in Orlando. Let the record state that I’m Lindsay’s #1 fan! These two are a never ending source of creative and adventure inspiration and it’s always a pleasure to be in their company!
Sorry for the diversion, I just think that it’s important to make note of how the road has a way of bringing people together like that.
When we got into Portland we reached out to these new Mainers and dropped in for a visit… turns out our visit lasted a few days. They sheltered us, gave us a place to work long hours, fed us, showed us around their new town, and we watched Shark Week together. It was a magical few days.
After our stay in Portland we decided to work our way up the coast. After promising a kind man in the parking lot of Lindsay and Nick’s apartment that if we were going north we had to do the entire drive on Highway 1. His parting words were that “Maine isn’t a place, it’s a state of mind”.
Acadia has long been on our National Park bucket list. As we drove up HWY 1 well before we even got into the park we could feel we were headed towards something special. The coastal drive through Maine is spellbinding.
Once we were in Acadia, Bar Harbor, and the Ellsworth area we spent over a week working early in the day and enjoying all that the park had to offer in the afternoons and evenings. In that week we stayed at a Walmart parking lot every night with a group of regulars that never seemed to acknowledge one another despite my feeling of “being in this together”. It was easy to find historic libraries to work from, and then epic hikes to wear us out in the evening enough to not feel too bad about having to return to Walmart.
While in Acadia it felt like the days ran together. We took so many photos that I think I will now just break them down by hike and include a little info about each spot. Though, for the most part I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
Pemetic Mountain Hike
About 6 miles if you do the out and back from Jacob’s Pond. Instead we continued down the other side to Bubble Pond and then caught the bus back to Lando. Total distance hiked, insert shoulder shrug here.
Beech Mountain Fire Tower Hike
About 1.2 miles of gentle climbing to a cool fire tower on Beech Mountain. Amazing views of the water in all directions. We did this hike at sunset because it gave us one of the few western facing peaks (other then Cadillac Mountain) giving us a clear view west for sunset and the golden hour. We did this hike super slowly because we had just showered we didn’t want to break a sweat. ;)
Once we got down to the parking lot for the fire tower hike, Owen spotted a boulder that he wanted to climb. We spend about an hour climbing all over it.
The Beehive Hike
This hike was our first taste of a via ferrata style trail, which is Italian for "iron path". There are only a few (non paid) via ferrata’s in the US and this actually isn’t technically speaking a via ferrata because we didn’t need to clip into anything with protective gear. None the less, it was really exciting to do this 2 mile loop that has numerous rock scrambles, iron ladders, and runged sections. We like to call hikes like this “spicy” because they have an extra element of excitement to them. I wouldn’t recommend this hike if you are not comfortable with heights, exposed edges, and are not confident in your stability.
The Precipice Trail
Online it says that this hike is a 2.6 mile loop, but we’re waving the BS flag on that. We clocked this hike at nearly 4 miles because of the longer descending trail. The Beehive trail was just a little warm up for this via ferrata style hike. The Precipice trail was ever spicier with steeper climbs and even more exposure. We started the hike later in the day so we could be on top for sunset. I’m not sure if I recommend this unless you’re really comfortable hiking in the dark down steep rock piles with just the light of a headlamp to aid you. Despite how sweaty we were, we had huge grins on our faces the entire time. These are the kind of hikes that we live for.
The last bit of climbing was a bit rushed because we wanted to make it in time for sunset. It was worth every bit of effort.
We did end up camping in the park for one night (at the tune of $30/night) just to stay close to some of the activities that we wanted to do the following day. We also had the chance to try some local wild blueberry pie. Please enjoy the following pictures from our adventures around Acadia.
Our month of July ended before we left Acadia NP. So when we pick back up with the month of August we’ll finish our time in the park. But before I sign off I want to tell you about a project that we recently started with a dear and talented friend. We’ve started carrying dresses from The Law Bridal and have been photographing me in the dresses in various places during our travels. We picked up our first dress while in Portland and took our first photos in Acadia NP. It was a beautiful backdrop for such incredible dresses. It was fun to hike with the dress and spend some time feeling beautiful in such a beautiful place. We’ll update you with more images from this project as we take them.
You should do yourself a favor and check out the incredible dress collection from our our dear friend Megan: The Law Bridal