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ACADIA: Mind-Blowing Geology

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Hidden : 3/23/2007
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Geocache Description:

Welcome to the Acadia National Park EarthCache Program!
This is an exciting multi-EarthCache that is available seasonally (mid-April to November, weather permitting).

For 100 years, the National Park Service has preserved America’s special places “for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.” Celebrate its second century with the Find Your Park GeoTour and explore these geocaches placed for you by National Park Service Rangers and their partners.  

This National Park Service-sponsored recreational activity leads you to some of the park’s significant geological resources. Using your own Global Positioning System (GPS) unit and a set of written clues obtained from the website and hidden along the journey, you can guide yourself to a series of sites in the park. You will undertake educational tasks as part of this program and so meet the EarthCache guidelines. To make your experience an unforgettable success, please read these guidelines and suggestions.

What you will need to participate:

1. GPS unit
2. Information about the program obtained from the park website at
3. Detailed map of Mount Desert Island or an Acadia National Park map
4. Piece of paper and pen
5. Compass (optional, but it may prove useful)
6. Logbook, if you are a letterbox enthusiast
7. Enthusiasm to learn and explore Acadia!

General information:
  1. This program requires the use of park roads. Most park roads are closed to vehicles in the winter due to snow and ice. The roads required to access the featured geological sites are generally open (weather permitting) from April 15 through November 30.
  2. All of the sites are located on trails or hardened surfaces. There is no need to go off trail, and doing so will take you farther away from the site.
  3. As with all EarthCache sites, there are no physical caches to be found. You do not need to find a physical box to continue the program. Instead you will be required to search for hidden clues.
  4. Parking is available at or near each coordinate.
  5. As with all park visitors, you are required to pay the park entrance fee at the Sand Beach Entrance Station, visitor center, or one of the other fee stations in the park. The Acadia Annual Pass, America the Beautiful Annual Pass, America the Beautiful Senior Pass, America the Beautiful Access Pass, or America the Beautiful Volunteer Pass can be used in lieu of paying the entrance fee. There is no fee to participate in the EarthCache Program.
  6. Park visitor center hours of operation:

    Park Headquarters Winter Visitor Center (Route 233, three miles west of Bar Harbor) - Open All Year
    Hours of Operation:
    April 15 to October 31 – 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday
    November 1 to April 14 – 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. seven days a week (closed on Thanksgiving, December 24 and 25, and January 1)

    Hulls Cove Visitor Center (Route 3, north of downtown Bar Harbor) - Open April 15 to October 31
    Hours of Operation: Open seven days a week as follows:
    April 15 through June – 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    July and August – 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
    September – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    October – 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

How the program works:
  1. Use your GPS and provided clues to search for and find multiple EarthCaches. You will be required to read a limited amount of background information and solve a clue at each site to discover the next site’s coordinates. “The Story of Glaciers” will provide coordinates for your first stop.
  2. Keep a record of all coordinates.
    You will need them to solve the final clue.
  3. With the successful completion of the program, you can obtain the hand-carved Acadia National Park EarthCache Program stamp imprint, enter your name in the program logbook, and earn the opportunity to print off a completion certificate from the park website.
  4. Depending upon your familiarity with your GPS unit, the estimated time to complete the program is four to six hours. The tour will take you over much of the park, and you are guaranteed to see and learn about some striking glacial features.
  5. Most of all, HAVE FUN!

Background Information: The Story of Glaciers

You are about to embark on an exciting journey through time to discover how glaciers have shaped Acadia National Park. Glaciers have the amazing ability to form unique features, demonstrating the immense power of massive sheets of flowing ice. Rocks, mountains, valleys, and cliffs tell a story, a story of nature and its ability to create and change the natural features we see today.

Consisting of more than 47,000 acres, Acadia National Park preserves more than two dozen glacially sculpted mountains and valleys, glacial lakes and ponds, and one fjard known as Somes Sound.

Acadia National Park was formed by a series of geological events that began 500 million years ago. As you look around the park you will notice a lot of exposed rocks. All three different types of rocks—metamorphic, sedimentary, and igneous—are found in the park. Rocks have laid the foundation of Acadia National Park and our story here. Their location, formation, and appearance demonstrate the power of glaciers.

Starting one million years ago, several great ice sheets called continental glaciers covered much of North America, including Maine, for various periods of time. The last glacial period ended 18,000 years ago. Glaciers are formed when more snow falls than melts. As snow accumulates over thousands of years, the weight of the snow compacts and causes lower layers to turn to ice. Frozen ice pack moves in the same fashion as water following the forces of gravity to the lowest point. The rate of travel, however, is much slower. The massive mile-thick glacier that covered this area moved only a few yards each year. This slow glacial movement crafted some of the most impressive natural features you see on Mount Desert Island today.

Before there was Mount Desert Island, there was the Mount Desert Range. When the last continental glacier reached the Mount Desert Range, the high mountains temporarily obstructed the forward movement of the massive glacier. The high peaks in the northern section acted as a dam, holding back the forward momentum of the glacier until additional ice accumulated and eventually spilled over the mountain peaks. The last glacial event carved the trough known today as Somes Sound, dividing the mountain range in half and giving Mount Desert Island its characteristic horseshoe shape. As the glacier continued to flow 400 miles into the ocean, it carved deep saddles in the mountains, and the erosive power of the glaciers eventually deepened these saddles into valleys. The result of the last glacial event was a reorientation of the mountain range from east-west to north-south.

Eventually the glacier thickened, and it buried the newly formed Mount Desert Island. The glacier left its mark as it continued to move along. Your journey through Acadia National Park’s EarthCache Program will unravel the story of glacial activity. Each site will demonstrate some aspect of the glacier’s sheer power to transform the landscape.

Use the clues and information provided to get from one place to another, but remember that although the glaciers have subsided and melted, the story of nature is not over. In fact, it is an everlasting story, and if we aren’t careful, our use of the land can impact nature just as drastically as the glaciers. The plants and their ecosystems that have flourished as result of nature’s story are fragile. Where we step will change the plants and ecosystem of the area, so remember that all sites are on the trail—there is no need to go off trail. Please travel only on trails or on other hardened rock surfaces.

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

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Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)



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