While most of us lie asleep in the pre-dawn hours of Jan. 1, 2013, David Burgess will lead Boy Scouts from Troop 102 in Orland up Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. They will be among the first people to see the New Year dawn over the United States; on New Year’s Day, sunlight strikes Cadillac Mountain before any other place in the country.
Burgess first led a half dozen boys and several adults up the Cadillac North Ridge Trail last year. They had to leave home around 3 a.m. to begin hiking by 4:30 a.m.
After all that work, the dawn was overcast, and the sun barely visible in the frigid morning. “The mountain was covered in frozen fog; everything was covered in a half inch of hoarfrost,” Burgess recalled. “We brought stoves to make hot chocolate, but ended up hunkering down behind boulders to get out of the wind.”
Burgess and the Scouts are returning this year with a larger group to see the New Year’s sunrise again.
He said that last year at least 30 people were spread out across the eastern side of the mountain’s summit. Lili Pew, who has been hiking Cadillac Mountain each New’s Year Day since 2005, said, “The numbers bounce around from 10 to 60, weather depending.
Some people hike Cadillac the evening before and camp on the mountain. Others, including Pew, pedal their mountain bike up the auto road in “low snow” years. Pew pointed out that her bike has studded tires; even hikers should have ice grippers on their shoes. Even without much snow, the trail is usually icy and slick.
Greeting the New Wear atop Cadillac Mountain requires extra gear. Hikers are encouraged to bring extra layers to put on while waiting for the sun. Many people bring mats on which to sit or even sleeping bags in which to rest. Even on a mild night, the weather will be cold and windy atop the mountain.
This year the moon will be nearly full, making the hike much brighter, unless the sky is cloudy. There are several routes up Cadillac Mountain that people could take. Because the Park Loop Road is closed for the season, some routes involve long road walks to get to the trailheads.
The shortest and least strenuous way to the top is the route that Burgess and Troop 102 will take. They will park along Route 233 where it crosses beneaththe Park Loop Road just west of Bar Harbor. Then they will follow the Loop Road on foot east toward Sand Beach. After about a mile, they will come to the Cadillac North Ridge Trail; from the Loop Road, the trail is 2.2 miles one way to the summit.
There are certainly more relaxing ways to welcome the New Year, but for those who have watched the first sunrise of the year from atop Cadillac Mountain, there is none more rewarding. “Last year was tremendous. The cloud cover parted just about 5 minutes before the sunrise time, and there was for 30 seconds a pink hue over the distant horizon. Then back to zero visibility,” recalled Pew.
She would love to see you at the top this year.