Facts and Figures: Cadillac Mountain is a mountain situated on the eastern end of Mount Desert Island on the coast of Maine. It is the highest point of elevation in Acadia National Park (1,530 feet) and the highest point on the eastern seaboard north of Rio de Janeiro. The mountain lies in between two smaller, semi-parallel mountains, Pemetic Mountain and Dorr Mountain.

As part of the national park, Cadillac Mountain is criss-crossed by many hiking trails with varying degrees of difficulty. There is also a road leading to the summit, with a souvenir shop and sightseeing venues. Due to the high elevation, the summit affords its visitors with the opportunity to be the first people in the United States to see the sun rise on any given day.

Geology: The rocks composing Cadillac Mountain were first formed during the Cambrian and Ordovician Periods (~4-500 million years ago), and were then subjected to hundreds of millions of years of metamorphism, folding and erosion. Over the last several thousand years, glaciers further weathered the mountain, giving it the familiar roche moutonee form and carving deep, U-shaped valleys between the mountains on the island. The rocks are typically granites, gneisses and gabbros.

Personal Experience: I visited Acadia National Park during the summer of 2001 while honeymooning with my wife. One afternoon, we decided to hike the mountain trails, electing one of the "hard" difficulty trails. As we were too cheap to purchase one of the guidebooks, we half-memorized the trail route before embarking. A wrong turn led us to the summit, which was supposed to be the midpoint of our hike, not the beginning. Feeling adventurous, we left our car at the peak and marched down the northeast face of the mountain. Soon, we came to steeper parts, some of which required handrails and even iron ladder rungs that were bolted into the rock face. At the base of the mountain, we followed a series of horsedrawn cart trails which led us to the start of our ascent. It was here that we realized our error. While the northeast face of the mountain had a shallow slope, the south face was extremely steep, reaching inclines of 75 degrees -- and this was on the marked trail. Nevertheless, we hauled our out-of-shape asses up the mountain, pausing often to catch our breath and to take in the beautiful scenery. We finally reached the summit again following several hours of climbing, just after the sun had set. The next day we'd realized how much the mountain had kicked our asses, and were dead to the world.

National Park Service - http://www.nps.gov/acad/geology.htm
Acadia National Park - A complete guide to planning your stay
Tectonics (1995), Eldridge M. Moores and Robert J.Twiss

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