Tag Archives: Mountain

Climbing St. Sauveur Mountain via Acadia Mountain in Acadia National Park

Contributed by Katie Levy of Adventure-Inspired

View from St. Sauveur Mountain at Acadia Mountain National Park

Image Credit: Katie Levy

This summer, the Pocket Ranger blog featured information around why Maine, also known as “Vacationland,” is worth a visit and why every visit should include a trip to Acadia National Park. Then we covered why hiking one of the park’s scariest trails should also be on your to-do list, if you’re up for the challenge that is. While most of the trails and scenic spots that the oldest national park east of the Mississippi is known for sit on the eastern side of Mount Desert Island, there’s still plenty to see on the western side of the island including St. Sauveur Mountain.

On a trip to Acadia this summer, friends and I spent three days hiking and exploring as much of Mount Desert Island as we could. The first day’s hike took us up Dorr and Cadillac Mountains while we climbed the Beehive and Champlain Mountain on the second day. On the third day, we drove over to the western side of the island to explore a part of the park none of us had seen before.

Getting to the Acadia Mountain Trailhead

Our group spent the weekend at Blackwoods Campground, and to get to the trailhead, we took Route 3 west until it joined route 198, then took Route 102 south to the trailhead parking lot just south of Ikes Point along Echo Lake (44.321759, -68.332956). If you reach Southwest Harbor driving in from the north, you’ve gone too far. Though if you do make it into town, stop at the Quietside Café for ice cream!

Climbing Acadia Mountain

Two hikers at Acadia Mountain before hiking St. Sauveur Mountain.

Image Credit: Katie Levy

After parking in one of the last available parking spots around 10 a.m., we walked back up Route 102 to the start of the Acadia Mountain Trail. All trails in Acadia are blazed blue, which makes keeping track of your progress easy, and clear wooden signs are placed at every junction we found in the park.

As we started up the mountain, the trail steepened almost immediately, which we discovered was normal for trails up peak in Acadia. The trail wound through dense trees, across flat, exposed granite, and up granite faces with strategically placed steps. We climbed from 200 feet above sea level to the summit at 655 feet in approximately 3/4 miles, reaching the summit for stunning views of the Somes Sound, the Narrows, and Valley Cove.

Once you’re at the top, the trail down the eastern side of Acadia mountain drops all the way to sea level in a 1/2 mile; it’s quite steep, and I found myself sitting down to lower my body over rocks along parts of the route. But views of the Somes Sound the entire way down made it well worth the trip.

Climbing St. Sauveur Mountain

Group of people along the path of St. Saveur Mountain.

Image Credit: Katie Levy

At that point, hikers have the option of heading back to the Acadia Mountain trailhead via a service road or picking up the Valley Peak Trail to extend the trip to the top of St. Sauveur Mountain, which is what we did. After dropping all the way down to sea level on the Acadia Mountain Trail, our group had to climb back up over 500 vertical feet along the Valley Peak Trail to reach the top of St. Sauveur Mountain.

Though the mountain’s summit doesn’t offer views to hikers, the entire Valley Peak Trail traverses cliff edges with beautiful views of the Somes Sound. After climbing through thick forest, exposed granite made up most of the rest of the trail to the top. We followed the much tamer, flatter St. Sauveur Mountain Trail back down over rock, beds of pine needles, and through dense stands of trees. The Valley Peak Trail joins the Acadia Mountain Trail after a little more than a mile, bringing hikers back down to Route 103 and the parking lot. Take a look at our entire route and timeline here.

Things to Know Before You Go

Bring some seriously sturdy hiking shoes with good traction. The trails in this article along with the majority of others we took on our trip to Acadia are steep, rocky, and without good traction, you’ll be in trouble quickly without reliable boots. Reconsider taking any of these trails in wet weather as they’ll be slippery. The parking lot at the base of the trail was full at 10 a.m., and we visited well after the high season. Make sure you arrive early, and investigate taking the free Island Explorer bus around Mount Desert Island as much as possible.

Have you been to Acadia National Park? Have you climbed Acadia Mountain or St. Sauveur Mountain? We’d love to hear from you!

How to Avoid an Avalanche

Whether you’re hiking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing through the mountains, avalanches are not to be regarded lightly. We’ve all seen enough video clips and movies to know that they are a force to be reckoned with and one to be avoided at all costs. Even in situations where you played by all the rules and did everything you were supposed to, Mother Nature still sometimes throws a curveball and you might find yourself on a remote snow-covered mountain that’s showing the signs of an avalanche. Here is some information on what exactly you’re up against as well as how to properly prepare yourself.

What Triggers an Avalanche?

Snow crashing over a snowy cliff

An avalanche at Mt. Rainier [Image: environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/natural-disasters/avalanche-profile/]

An avalanche occurs once the weight of the snow is too much and the snowpack fails and collapses under the pressure. It’s hard to determine what the strength of a snowpack will be since the snow grains vary depending on size, density, temperature, airflow, received sunlight, difference in terrain, and more. A lot of avalanches occur naturally either during a storm or when the snowpack changes, such as by partially melting, but can also be triggered by exploring visitors. There are three different types of avalanches to look out for: slab, powder snow, and wet snow.

Slab Avalanche

A hiker trapped in a series of snow chunks breaking away from the snowpack.

A slab avalanche [Image: www.wayneflannavalancheblog.com/2012/01/i-have-this-picture-on-my-wall-in.html]

A slab avalanche occurs when covered layers of weakened snow fracture and collapse. They mostly happen during and up to 24 hours after a storm that leaves 12 inches or more of fresh powder. This new snow overloads the existing layers and creates a break. These avalanches can be huge chunks of snowpack, sometimes spanning an entire mountainside, and typically carry downslope for a long time with the possibility of reaching up to 80 mph. Approximately 90% of avalanche-related deaths are due to slab avalanches—many who find themselves involved in a slab avalanche will rarely escape alive.

Powder Snow Avalanches

An avalanche coming down a mountainside appearing like a cloud.

A powder snow avalanche [Image: www.planat.ch/en/images-details/datum/2011/06/21/schattenbachlawine-walenstadt]

Powder snow avalanches occur with fresh, dry powder and essentially become a snow cloud. These are the largest avalanches to form out of turbulent suspension currents. Typically these avalanches are able to move along flat surfaces for long distances and only make up a small amount of injuries or deaths comparatively.

Wet Snow Avalanches

A smaller avalanche coming down a mountainside made up of clumps of wet snow.

A wet snow avalanche [Image: www.mtavalanche.com/images/10/loose-wet-snow-avalanche?size=_original]

Although wet snow avalanches move slowly, they can take up a large amount of space, can result in serious injury, and end up being pretty destructive leaving trees, boulders, and most of what they come into contact with in their wake. They occur from a loose snow release in snow packs that have a lot of water saturation and are close to melting point. A lot of times these avalanches occur toward the end of winter as the snow is warmed by the longer daytime hours.

How to Prepare for Avalanches

A diagram of a man trapped underneath snow putting an arm above his head and another across his face to create an air pocket.

What to do if trapped in an avalanche [Image: www.artofmanliness.com/2011/12/14/how-to-survive-an-avalanche]

When going on a wintertime adventure on a snowy mountaintop, it’s best to be prepared for even the most extreme situations. Always check avalanche forecasts with park headquarters before heading out for a trip. At the bare minimum, you should bring a shovel, beacon, and probe with you. Beacons (or avalanche transceivers) are important because they can receive signals from other devices to help locate buried victims. A probe is used to dive into the snow and find a buried victim and works especially well when coupled with a beacon. Avalanche airbags and Avalungs are fantastic items that make it so a buried person has a higher chance of surviving and being rescued.

Sometimes even the most diligent and prepared hiker, skier, or snowboarder will hear the terrifying creaks that signify an avalanche. The first thing you’ll want to do is get off the breaking slab as quickly as possible by moving to the side. Snowmobilers are sometimes able to crank the speed and outrace a broken slab. If unable to escape the mass of traveling snow, try to grab onto a sturdy object such as a tree or rock instead. Humans are denser than other debris and will sink faster in the snowpack. Once the snow settles, it refreezes and makes it nearly impossible to move. Throwing a hand above the snowpack and making room in front of your face are the most important things to do if you find yourself trapped. Some claim that spitting will help you determine which way is up or that swimming will get you away from a traveling snowpack quicker, but there is no proof that either actually works. The longer a victim is submerged under the snow, the less chance they have of surviving the incident (usually being buried for more than 15 minutes leads to hypothermia and a lower chance of survival).

Hopefully, this article gave you some new information and makes you feel a bit more prepared for any winter journeys you may be planning. Download our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps to find a park to explore near you!

Hiking in Signal Hill, CA.

Contributed by Al Quackenbush, The SoCal Bowhunter

Signal Hill, CA

One of the many scenic views you get from atop Signal Hill, CA.

Living in Long Beach, CA has many advantages. You live close to the beach, there is always plenty to do, and while there might be tall buildings and lots of traffic in most places, if you look hard enough you can usually find something outdoorsy and fun to do. One of those things is hiking in Signal Hill, CA. Signal Hill is a spot totally surrounded by the city of Long Beach, and while full of beautiful homes, it does have miles of hills to climb and some scenic ones, at that.

Signal Hill Hike

Many people ask me how I get into hunting shape. It is very simple, I exercise!

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were looking to go do some hiking, and honestly, the only spots we could really think of were fairly flat trails. While they are fun and have a natural feel, they are still flat and they are shorter than two miles. Our friend, Camille, sent us a message that we should hit up one of her favorite local spots on Signal Hill. She shared where to begin and some of the landmarks to look for. Then she invited us to meet up with her group that meets on Thursday evenings. We decided to do just that!

A large group of us met at the base of Hill St. and began hiking at 6:30 PM. We started by climbing Hill St. and the name says it all: it’s a steep hill! Climbing this for the first time punished my calves and my lungs, but it also got me focused on my breathing, which was very heavy, but I knew that would improve the harder I worked.

Signal Hill View

Some of the sights you see are spectacular.

One of the great features of this hike is the stairs. While many people dislike stairs, I love them! You get a great burn in your legs and they get your lungs working. But they look more intimidating than they really are. They are just a minute portion of the hike and aren’t that bad.

Sidewalks and side streets cover a majority of the hike, but you do get to head up some dirt trails that give you a rare look at the city of Long Beach, the Port, the Airport, and if you go at night, you get to see it all lit up. It really is a beautiful way to end the day.

The entire hike is roughly 6.25 miles and lasts around two hours. For me the hike goes rather quickly. It’s a great way to get some exercise, see the surrounding area in a new light, and meet some new people. I encourage all of you to get out and try a new local hike. You might be surprised what you find!

Whether you are hiking with a group or by yourself, this hike is worth it. With so many intersecting streets and trails, you can set up your own route and have a great time! My wife and I have hiked Signal Hill a few times now and we have taken different turns or gone up different streets, just to see where the adventure takes us.