Posted by: Sally Ingraham | January 10, 2012

Icy Gifts

I made plans to go walking with a friend today, but it was a stroke of genius that we chose to actually hike. There isn’t any snow on Mount Desert Island at the moment, and the ice isn’t as abundantly treacherous as usual on the trails in Acadia National Park, so we ran up the backside of The Beehive to The Bowl with little difficulty aside from lungs that gasped a bit as they sucked in cold air.


When my family first started coming to ANP in the mid-90s, my sisters and I cut our teeth (sometimes literally) on the trails around The Bowl and The Beehive, and since I have lived in or near the park I have made a point of continuing to hike in the area several times a year. It seemed fitting to make this one of my last hikes before I leave the Acadia region.


This jaunt through the sunny woods was a treasure hunt with ice formations standing in for delicate handmade lace, sparkling gems, and a ballroom floor made of crystal. The Bowl, a pond cradled in the arms of the surrounding mountains, was frozen solid. I skittered and slid out across it, stopping to marvel at the suspended bubble explosions and geometric designs left in the snow, and pausing to listen with new astonishment (every year I am astonished again) to the drumming of the ice.


Have you heard ice music? The booming, clicking, popping, whistling of ice shifting and settling and thawing and refreezing? Honestly I don’t know exactly what causes it – especially the sounds I heard today. They had a particularly bizarre resonance – a thwack-pop with a truly melodic quality, accentuated and reverberated by the mountains swooping above. I stood in the middle of the pond and felt the sound move through the ice and up through my body, catching my breath as it ricocheted off and away. Not quite frightening, but certainly awesome in the true sense of the word – awe-inducing, knee-weakening, tear-sparking brilliance.


I could have stayed out on The Bowl for hours letting that sound vibrate through me while the sun poured down, running and sliding when the mood struck me or the cold bit through my layers of fleece. I did stay for a long time, but there were a few more sights to be seen before the end of the day.


Dusk found me at Compass Harbor, the scene of many a picnic and sunbathe over the years. Today I watched the sun set, scattering pink confetti over the ocean swells and across the distant form of Egg Rock Lighthouse. A loon surfaced in front of me and preened for a minute before diving beneath the silver-flecked waves again. It was peaceful and cold, increasingly cold as the sun faded.


I hurried back to town, knowing that good friends and fish sandwiches and pints of Guinness awaited me at The Thirsty Whale – a cozy end to my second-to-last day (for awhile) on MDI.

I have one last date on Friday with the Island that I have lived on or near-to for six years. I won’t try to plot out the perfect last day, but will let it unfold naturally like this one did and accept whatever parting gifts Acadia has to offer me.


  1. Ow wow!!! what a stunning view.
    What is DSC02432 supposed to be?

    • That was what the ice looked like – shot through with bubbles. That picture is of a spot where the ice and bubbles were doing something particularly interesting. I liked the swirl of the bubbles. I wish I understood how such things are formed – so cool!

      • ice looks like that? that is so cool!!

      • I am constantly surprised by NEW-to-me forms ice takes – it is a versatile natural sculpting material! On my walk I saw more ice formations than I showed here. Pretty amazing.

  2. I really enjoyed this post. Such lovely photos. Enjoy Friday! I can tell it will be awesome.

    • Thanks Ti! I’m hoping for another sunny day, but Acadia looks pretty stunning even in a drizzle so it will be good either way.

  3. Fascinating photos. I have never heard of ice music. Surprisingly we don’t get any ice in this part of Switzerland, not even snow.
    It’s a beautiful region that you are leaving but I’m sure you’re going to another wonderful place.

    • Where exactly in Switzerland are you? I like to pour over maps and pick out details like that. I would love to travel in Switzerland someday…

      I think the Oregon coast will be just as beautiful as Maine, and on my way there I will spend time in New Mexico and Utah where the landscape is completely different but so incredible. I’m super excited to visit the Southwest again. I do love the sea, but I was born in the desert and I believe my heart yearns for it. Oregon has a bit of both actually, so that’s one reason I feel confident that I will like it!

      • I’m in Basel, on the German/French border. Flatland. No mountains. It’s an ideal location. I’m in Paris in 3 hours by train.
        And really only 5 minutes to be either in Germany or France.
        It’s not picturesque like Lucerne or some of the cities on lakes but we have the Rhine which is huge and a pretty intact old medieval part. Almost 40% of the population are not Swiss, tons of expats from English speaking countries… It’s diverse.
        Switzerland is interesting I only hear people say it’s too expensive to travel. We have the strongest currency, no Euro. For us it’s of course great. But I pay almost 3 dollars for a lettuce… You can imagine prices in restaurants…
        I would love to see New Mexico and Utah. I have only been in San Francisco and stayed in the city the whole week.

      • That sounds like a fun location, especially with it’s proximity to other countries…! I am eagerly anticipating your promised blog posts about your travels this year – I can at least visit Switzerland, Germany, France, and wherever else you go vicariously through you. 🙂

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