Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sparky Solos on the Carriage Roads Or Aunt Betty's Pond Loop

Mount Desert Narrows  RV Park   High: 80  Low: 63

Bet lots of people have an Aunt Betty in their family. We don't, but someone who settled on Mount Desert Island must have, because the biggest pond without vehicle access on the island is called Aunt Betty. Nobody knows for whom the pond is named. Oh, my English teacher would be proud of that last sentence, I think!   The name shows up on maps dating back to 1890.
starting point at Eagle Lake for many carriage road trails
Because Eldy doesn't enjoy biking up inclines, sometimes steep ones that are just about on every carriage road in the park, he chose to stay home by the phone for a distress call from one navigationally challenged Jeannie Sparks, a.k.a. "Sparky" for our newest followers.

The call came shortly after Sparky left in the car, following a NEW ROUTE which she successfully used a map to find, and it was a little shorter way to Eagle Lake on Norway Rd. That was not the problem. The problem was, Sparky forgot to take the little guide book how to do the carriage road bike trail! And to compound her navigational difficulties, the cell phone service is extremely spotty on Mount Desert Island. It flipflops all over the place with the bars, at least it does with AT & T. You could be talking one second, and get dropped the next. Sparky called Eldy. 

"Uh, honey....I forgot....."  
"WHAT? You are cutting out, I can't hear you!"   
"I need directions what to do for....."   
"You are cutting out really bad!" 
"OK, never mind!" I tried texting him...PLEASE SEND DIRECTIONS FROM THE LITTLE BOOK. He sent a partial set to get me going, but I was already on the way.....THE WRONG WAY. At that point, the signal on the phone quit. The phone works some of the time on the trails, but it can't be counted on for help in the park consistently if you run into a problem.

These are what the signposts look like:

Here are the directions that Sparky SHOULD have done:

Park in the Eagle Lake Parking Lot about three miles west of Bar Harbor on Rte. 233. (If you are thinking that Sparky has all of a sudden gotten navigational skills, WRONG!) She's copying the written directions out of a little pocket guide book purchased at the Acadia Visitor Center, called The Carriage Roads. "Walk west along the footpath to where you can turn left..." Sparky has no clue what direction west is. (It was a cloudy day, folks) Go under route 233 (Sparky figured that was the 233 overhead on the overpass, brilliant!) "....and at #6, continue straight along the west side of Eagle Lake.  Sparky didn't see post 6, so she already had taken the wrong turn.  She turned right at the first signpost. "The first mile is flat"--NO, it wasn't! But that's because she took a right turn and not the left. "The second mile climbs to 468 feet at #8.  Turn right here."  Further instructions tell you at intersection #10, the carriage roads "intersect in a "K" shape. Stay to the RIGHT."  Well, Sparky didn't have the little book, but she DID have a map, but it DIDN'T have the intersection numbers. She turned the map round and round trying to figure out which way....What did she do? The signposts are well marked but you can be on a carriage road for a LONG time until you see the next one. She stayed to the LEFT!

But it all worked out ok....Sparky passed two female rangers and told them she wanted to see the "Seven Little Bridges". They told her to stay left, which she had been doing, and she would see them! They DIDN'T say that the incline to get to them is LONG and steep. Sparky asked the next biking couple passing her going back the other way for some information  about the Seven Little Bridges. They DID mention the steep incline SEVERAL times. Guess they thought Sparky might not be up to the challenge. HA! She started off..hey, this isn't such a bad incline.....

Miles later.....the REALLY steep incline started. The steep ascent to get to the seven little bridges seemed like miles long, it wasn't. But Sparky had to get off her bike and walk it some of the way, then she'd get back on her bike to try and ride some of it. When she stopped to get off, the mosquitoes attacked! She forgot bug spray....Note to self: Put bug spray in the bike bag! As the incline seemed like it would never end, the little bridges started showing up. And as you are huffing and puffing up the steep incline, the next bridge is in sight as you are passing the first one, a little bit of motivation to keep going....

They were really pretty and the carriage road scenery is exceptional on this particular carriage road.  You get to see views of Cadillac Mountain, Eagle Lake, and beautiful Aunt Betty's pond.

If you are in good shape, Sparky highly recommends biking this trail. Even if you are not, Sparky, (that's me) highly recommends it anyway. The scenery is just fabulous. We've been on several carriage roads and this one is one of the prettiest. 

It's great exercise, and hey, if you have to get off and walk your bike, that's ok, too!  Little guide book says it's a 5.9 trail ride...Sparky says if you go her way, it's probably more....One more caveat...if you get off onto another trail by accident, be sure to have some kind of GPS tracker or travel with someone who is navigationally savvy. Sparky knew she wanted to return to Eagle Lake eventually, but she encountered a signpost that said nothing about the lake in ANY direction, and that's where it got confusing. It took a 12 year old guiding his mother and me back towards the right direction. He knew, but we didn't, which way to go.....Which made the last half hour of the ride very enjoyable. His mother ( I didn't get her name, sorry!) was a very interesting lady, from Vermont, and we chatted all about travel and the RVing life for the next half hour on our bikes. It was great, and Sparky enjoyed meeting her.  

Tomorrow, Eldo has promised Sparky he will do a hike! It's in print, it's official!  :-)  See you on the trails......


  1. Great story. Had me laughing all through. You must be like me, so anxious to get going that you don't make sure you have EVERYTHING you need. I'm definitely putting this biking on my list of things to do whenever I FINALLY make it to Acadia. Maybe I'll start my list now of what to take with me......directions, mosquito repellant, water, snacks, phone that works only part of the time, mmmmmmm what else???

    Sounds like you had a GREAT time even without those first two. Keep up the good work of showing me what I want to do when I get there. You are really doing a FINE job of finishing your summer off in the right place doing terrific things.

  2. No Aunt Betty here either.
    Who or got it right!
    Wonderful ride.

  3. hmmmm. . .I was thinking I would need to add a compass to that list. . .I have one on my phone, but that's not much help if the phone doesn't work. . .right?

    I'm thinking of getting an electric bicycle. . .I wonder how it would work on those inclines. . .should be helpful I would think. . .and I will probably be doing the same as you. . .riding solo.

    Beautiful day. . .