Update 7: September 20, 2006

Scorecard: 153 days; 14,948 miles (Car: 5,664, RV: 9,284); 21 states; 20 National Parks; 5,732 photos.
Adirondacks, New York: September 2-10, 2006 (Location 39 and 40 on the Map)

After stops at Niagara Falls and Saratoga Springs, we arrived in Adirondack Park, a 6-million acre park in upstate New York. We camped near Whiteface Mountain, not far from Lake Placid.

We were looking forward to getting back into our hiking routine. With over 2000 miles of hiking trails in the park, we easily found enough to do. On one of the hikes, a moderately-strenuous trek to the top of Cascade Mountain, Susan realized how much her belly has grown over the course of the pregnancy. This particular trail involved stretches of steep uphill hiking. Susan found that in order to make the big steps upward, she had to move her legs slightly out to her sides in order to avoid knocking her knees into the baby. On these hikes, she gets a lot of double-takes and comments from other hikers, many of whom struggled just to get themselves to the summit. They seem impressed that a woman in her sixth month of pregnancy can go where they can.

We also took a car ride to the top of Whiteface Mountain in hopes of getting good views of the Adirondacks and Lake Placid. Justin gets tired of riding in the carrier when we hike, so this trip was a nice change for him. He got to walk though a long underground tunnel to an elevator that deposited us at the very summit of Whiteface. Once there, he spent at least an hour climbing around on the abundant granite formations, and was quite upset when it was time to go back down.

For photos from Niagara Falls and the Adirondacks, Click Here
White Mountains, New Hampshire: Sept. 10-14, 2006 (Location 41 on the Map)

We were impressed with the Adirondacks, but they were nothing compared with the White Mountains of New Hampshire, our next stop. We stayed at a campground near North Conway, a great central location to New Hampshire's many outdoor-recreation offerings. (While the location is ideal, the town itself is not. It's overgrown with outlet stores, and even has buses that come into town carrying bargain-seeking tourists who don't realize they're traveling through one of the most beautiful areas in the Northeast).

We did several hikes here, getting to the tops of some of the smaller summits in the area, including Black Cap, Pine Mountain, and Mount Willard. On these summits, as with most in the area, we were rewarded with numerous granite outcroppings for Justin to climb around on. And, of course: spectacular views.

On one of the summits, we talked to a couple who had retired in nearby Shelburne. We told them how impressed we were with the area and all of the hiking, climbing, and skiing opportunities. They talked about how they had the luxury to retire anywhere they wanted, yet chose the White Mountains. When we asked about the horror stories we heard about the harsh winters, they laughed and said that the folks in the area tell those stories in an effort to keep the mountains to themselves. Apparently the winters aren't as bad as the stories make them out to be.

For photos from New Hampshire, Click Here
Acadia National Park, Maine: September 14-19, 2006 (Locations 42 on the Map)

If we lived in New Hampshire, which after visiting we now think could be a possibility; we would no doubt take numerous trips to our next destination: Acadia National Park in Maine. This was one of our most-anticipated stops on the trip, due mostly to pictures we'd seen of the incredible coastline.

We were not disappointed. Most of the park is located on Mount Desert Island, and includes not only the rocky coastline, but also miles of tree-covered hills, granite-studded mountains, beautiful lakes, and over 50 miles of old carriage roads for biking.

The hikes we did here featured some of the best landscapes New England has to offer. We hiked along the coast past Sand Beach and out to Otter Cliffs. We did the loop around Jordan Pond and took a short (but steep) side trip to the top of a summit called South Bubble. We spent some time at the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the island. I also sampled a couple of what the park refers to as "non-technical climbing routes". These are not hiking trails as much as they are 4th-class routes to a couple of small summits in the area. They're steep enough (as in vertical) in places that the Park Service has installed steel rungs and ladders to aid upward progress. Even though I'm used to being a couple of hundred feet off the ground while climbing, it's usually with a rope attached to me. These routes kept my attention, because if I slipped somewhere or lost hold of the rungs, I wouldn't have a rope to catch me!

Speaking of slipping, I had yet to fall down while carrying Justin in the carrier on my back. Until our Acadia visit, that is. While Susan and I were hiking down a short climber's trail that leads to some climbing routes at Otter Cliffs, I suddenly found myself toppled over and laying on the ground, having apparently lost my balance or missed a step. Susan thought Justin had hit his head on the rocks on the ground, but after taking stock, we realized that I suffered the only injuries in the fall. Even though it didn't end up being a big deal, it scared me. I always thought I was so sure-footed, especially with Justin on my back, but here I had lost my footing on a trail just like any other we'd been on. It was a good wake-up call for me to start paying more attention to what I'm doing. After all, Justin is not getting any lighter, and I'm not getting any younger, so the chances of this happening again are good if I don't take it easy.

For photos from Acadia National Park, Click Here

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