Rediscovering Acadia National Park


In late September, 12 honors students embarked on a four day camping trip to picturesque Acadia National Park in Maine. Jack Ausmus, first year history major, was one of the 12 who seized the opportunity to step out of his comfort zone and venture into the wilderness with the other students whom he had met just briefly prior.

The trip began on Thursday afternoon when they left campus around 12-o’clock. Taking turns behind the wheel, they drove about 11 hours from Delaware through Massachusetts and New Hampshire to finally arrive in Maine late at night when the crystal clear sky showed an array of stars untouched by light pollution. On Friday morning, they woke up early to pack in the most hiking and sightseeing before sunset. Jack had been to the park before, so he was thrilled to be able to hike his favorite mountains and see the park during a season when all the trails were open; previously, he visited Acadia during the summer when certain trails were closed due to the Osprey nesting season.

Their first hikes were Dorr Mountain and Precipice Trail, 1.9 miles and 1.5 miles long, respectively. “Both hikes are difficult because you gain about 1,000 feet in elevation and are walking alongside a rocky and steep edge of a cliff,” Jack expressed, “Most students on the trip had at least some prior hiking experience, but we definitely saw a lot of other people struggling.” Jack explained that Precipice Trail, especially, allows for a very low margin for error because of a large rock about halfway through the trail that you have to circumvent while holding onto guardrails with your arms while your feet dangle down.

On Saturday, the students began their second day of hiking at Jordan Pond, where they swam and ate at a large cottage on the shore. “The water was so pristine and clear that you could see right through it all the way to the bottom” Jack told me, “And the cottage has been there for many years so they served traditional food that we ate before we began our hikes for the day.” Later, they did two more trails, Gorham Mountain and Beehive Trail, that were easier than the other ones in terms of potential risk and elevation increase.

Before they drove home on Sunday morning, 9 of the students made a last minute decision to wake up at 3 a.m. to hike Cadillac Mountain, the first place the sun rises in all of North America. Tired but eager to see such a unique view, they hiked Summit Road for 3.5 miles and arrived in ample time to catch the vibrant colors of the nascent sun rising against the span of water and mountains. Jack described it as one of the most beautiful and rewarding sights he had ever seen, and said that the sleep deprivation was absolutely worth it.

Story by Katie Kornienko ’20, Honors Communications Intern

For more information on Honors Adventure Club and future excursions, students can follow @UDHonorsProgram on social media and read the weekly e-newsletter, the UDHP Update.