by Glenn Nelson

Find_Your_Park_150ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine – Much of what I read about the East’s first national park referred to Cadillac Mountain as its crown jewel. If that’s true, Jordan Pond is at least Acadia’s centerpiece.

With its crystal clear glacial water and the two Bubble Mountains sitting like camel humps beyond its northern shores, Jordan Pond is the park’s most instantly recognizable landscape.

During a visit with my daughter Sassia (to celebrate her Masters in Occupational Therapy from the University of New England), I tried hard to make nice with Acadia’s iconic scene. The first two tries were nullified by excessive fog and marine layer. The third time was a charm – sort of.

It wasn’t until our last day at Acadia that we had any kind of sustained periods when much of the park wasn’t socked in by fog. By the time Sassia and I got to Jordan Pond to try for a sunset shot, the cloud cover was scattering. The later we stayed, the more it scattered.

(NOTE: Clicking on an image will reveal a full-size gallery).

We hiked partially around Jordan Pond and found some rocks for foreground elements and the Bubbles still prominent in the background. As I began to photograph the scene, we heard the howl of a coyote. It was getting dark. A while later, we heard another call, this one a lot closer. And it was answered.

“They” seemed to be closing in. We didn’t need any more hints, packed up and started back to civilization – where Jordan Pond House and the parking lot were, up the hill from the south end. By the time we got there, the clouds had vacated.

It was a great opportunity to take some starry night shots. Acadia National Park has the largest expanse of dark skies east of the Mississippi. I got to haul out my favorite lens, a Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8, that I hadn’t been able to use all week.

We made laughable attempts to orient astronomy apps to figure out the location of various constellations. I had taken about a half dozen long-exposure shots when there arose such a clatter. We’d heard a few of the haunting loon calls in the darkness, but they began in high-decibeled earnest, both the “wolf howl” and “crazy laugh,” along with at least two coyotes baying.

During the blood-curdling cacophony, Sassia blurted out, “Are those coyotes eating the loons?!” That’s what it sounded like; it really was time to go.

I feared the skies had not turned “starry” enough for a decent image, but I suppose if I had waited longer, I wouldn’t have gotten the nice glow from the under-horizon sun.

We donned our head lamps, packed up and hauled up the hill to the parking lot. When we got there, it not only was pitch dark, the fog had started to roll in. All of a sudden, we heard the “thump” of a car lock from out in the darkness, freaked and got the heck out of there.

After all, the scariest animal of all are humans.