Edward Muennich has sore legs — but he’s definitely not complaining about it.
On Saturday, the Maine resident ice skated for nearly three hours through part of Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, after an area typically used for day hikes flooded and froze, creating a natural rink that threaded through the forest trees and across marshy land and trails.
“It was absolutely — it was perfect conditions, and it was just amazing to be able to skate,” he said. “I haven’t skated that much in awhile.”
According to Acadia National Park officials, recent winter storms and flooding, closely followed by a cold snap, encased the Sieur de Monts Nature Center, nearby parking lots, bathroom structures, the Spring House, and Wild Gardens of Acadia “in more than a foot of water and ice.”
Officials said the full extent of damage from the water and ice is unknown.
“I have been here 40 years and I haven’t seen anything like that before,” said Earl Brechlin, communications director for Friends of Acadia, the nonprofit which helps preserve and protect the national park. “The nature center and the trails are all underwater and frozen.”
The scene attracted residents and tourists looking to explore the park in a new light: on their ice skates. Muennich, a carpenter and photographer, agreed that it was unlike anything he’s seen in his 22 years living in Maine.
He said at least a few dozen people showed up to bob and weave through a tunnel of trees in the park, while others turned nearby Great Meadow into an outdoor ice rink.
“What was really neat was just how many people in the community all kind of flocked down to the Great Meadow and were skating,” he said. “They were skating through the woods and suddenly someone you know comes through the forest on their ice skates. It was a big community party.”
This was the second weekend that people were out skating through the park. On Jan. 19, Friends of Acadia posted a video to Facebook that showed visitors zipping along the trails on skates. It was shared more than 6,000 times.
Employees of the nonprofit returned over the weekend. A second video from Great Meadow was also posted to the group’s Facebook page.
“It sort of sums up the spirit of Mainers,” said Brechlin of the Friends of Acadia. “Here you have something that’s unusual and people that understand a connection with the land and the park, they said, ‘Here’s a great opportunity to experience it in a new way.’”
Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.